House Staging Hacks

It is finally time to let the cat out of the bag – we are MOVING! AAAAH!

My hubs just got headhunted for an amazing position a little farther north – so we are packing our bags (and kids, and dogs, as well as new cat) and are on to a new adventure. I will miss New Jersey and the friends we have made here, but am excited for things to come.

Along with moving, we are also selling our beautiful home. We were so excited to purchase it just a year ago, but unfortunately the house can’t come with us. So, we have put it on the market. Luckily, I love the process of staging and sprucing up the house – it is actually one of my favorite parts of the real estate process.

Considering selling your house? Here are some house staging hacks to make sure you house is ready for market!

The biggest part of getting a house ready to sell is to make sure that potential buyers see the house in its best light, and feel that they could make it their own. Deciding to just throw a for sale sign up in front of your house one day is not a good idea – potential buyers can tell if you are lazy when it comes to preparing your house for market, and will infer that you are also lazy about taking care of your house in general.

Here is my list of things that everyone should do before putting your house up for sale. They can be done in as little as a week (trust me, we got this house ready in a week) or can take a month or more – depending on your commitment to the process and how much time you have to devote to house prep.


If you have a basement, attic, or other storage receptacle, this will come in handy. You will need to take pretty much everything that is not nailed down off of your counters, under beds, on bathroom counters, and anywhere else clutter exists in your home. Take all of this and either sort (to donate, sell or give away) if you have the luxury of time, or throw in large boxes and hide in your chosen storage area. Decluttering has two advantages – you are already preparing the process of moving, AND you remove YOUR personality from your home. Buyers think it is cute that you have kids, but do not want to feel like your house is Toys R Us at 11pm on Christmas Eve. Your adorable collection of cat figurines is adorable, but not when they take over an entire room. Will you no longer enjoy your space? Probably. But you don’t plan on living there much longer, right?

Take Care of Deferred Maintenance

That annoying stair that squeaks? Clogged gutters? The hole in the wall? Burned out lightbulbs? All of those little things that annoy you, but you never bother to deal with? DEAL WITH THEM. Hire a handyman for a couple hours, take a weekend afternoon, or just fix the lightbulb the next time you switch on the light and get annoyed. These things don’t cost a fortune, but they change the way that your house looks to potential buyers. They are telltale signs that you don’t take care of the bigger issues, even though they are small annoyances. Do them, check them off the list, and enjoy walking through your house before you sell it.


I know this is a given, right? But really, you really need to clean. My husband and I spent a delightful afternoon with grout cleaner and tiny scrub brushes cleaning out the grey grout on our lovely white tile entryway. Guess what I don’t want in my next house – white tile. But just cleaning that space makes the entry so much prettier, and you don’t feel like you are living on dirt. I also take the time with a magic eraser to clean the little marks on our wood floors and the walls where little handprints abound. Taking the time to remove all the little dirt and grime turns your ok house into something special – especially when other houses on the market could use a little scrubbing. Don’t get me started on the houses I went through that were flipped properties and they didn’t bother to sweep the dusty floors before showings. Yuck.

A little scrubbing never hurt anyone!

Add Some Color

My front yard looks pretty nice (when the lawn is mowed) but a few pretty colorful flowers by the front walk help. Bright colored hand towels in the bathrooms add some flair. And my kitchen counters still have pretty bowls of fruit and the occasional item from our travels. It isn’t enough to have a sparkling clean house, you also need to have a little bit of (tasteful) personality. If you are living in your house, you want to let people know – so they can see what it would look like if they “lived” there.

Take Care of Your Yard

This may be a given – but you need to mow your lawn. And weed. And powerwash your driveway (that was SO FUN). You don’t have to put in a new patio or replace your grass – just maintain what you already have. You may be amazed at what a weekend spent with the lawnmower will do for the curb appeal of your house.

The Power of Powerwashing

Show off Your Space

I admit it, we bought furniture to stage this house. Our playroom was an entire room of toys, even though it was meant to be a sitting room. I went to a furniture rental company that actually sold off it’s “worn out” furniture (not fit to be rented anymore – but still pretty nice) and got a sofa and chair to make our playroom a “sitting room”. You do not have to go to that extreme – but definitely take the furniture you have and make your space make sense to potential buyers. Our sitting area in our bedroom was a little awkward when you walked through the house, so we changed the layout slightly. It wasn’t our favorite way to have the furniture (we didn’t want to see the TV from our bed) but it made sense more in the space. Changing up your furniture (or even clearing out extra pieces) goes a long way to show off your house to potential buyers. If you need an extra eye, your real estate agent or opinionated friend can help you out.

A little furniture makes the playroom more functional.

A New Welcome Mat

This is my biggest hack. Go to your favorite home improvement store – or even homegoods store – and get yourself a brand new pretty WELCOME mat. You might have a cute one. You might even have a relatively new one. But unless you bought one last week – go spend the $15 bucks and get yourself a pretty new WELCOME mat (it has to say WELCOME, not anything cute or snarky – my personal favorite) and put it at your front door. It is a small touch, but it is the first impression before they open the front door, and sets the tone for the inside of your home. Let the first impression be a welcoming one.

As you can see – I didn’t say renovate your house. I didn’t say buy a ton of art to decorate, and I didn’t say paint (although if you need to – do so). None of these are overwhelmingly expensive. Our purchased furniture was only a few hundred dollars and was the bulk of our expenses for preparing the property for market. Keep careful track of what you are spending as well – the little trips to the home improvement store can add up. Knowing what you have to spend before you start helps to prioritize what you can do. Also talking with your real estate agent prior to doing any work greatly cuts down on your expenses. I ran out to the carpeting store the day we decided to move to get prices, and the agent said there was absolutely no reason to replace the carpeting in our office and staircase. That save a BUCKET of money.

I hope these house staging hacks help you prepare for the long process of preparing your house for market!

More Servings of the Halfway Homemaker

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