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Dozens of Affordable Staging Ideas

Staging On a Budget?

Here are Dozens of Affordable Staging Ideas

Entice them at the Entrance:

  • Please a seasonal wreath on the front door and leave it for the new buyers.
  • Tighten all loose door knobs, doors and oil any squeaky hinges.
  • Re-paint the front door and trim. Paint any outside trim, or nicks on the home - especially where the potential buyers come into the home.
  • Trim the shrubs and weed the front gardens. Add greens or a colourful planter at the front entrance. There's nothing more cheery than a front step or porch that's bright and cheerful with planters filled with well-maintained plants and flowers.
  • Change the outdoor lamps to fluorescent bulbs and leave them on day and night: A well-lit home is a welcoming home.
  • In the wintertime, make sure your sidewalk, walkways and driveways are clean and clear of snow and ice. Most buyers and real estate agents are courteous enough to park on the street and not in your driveway, so try to make sure they don't have to climb over a snowbank or through slush to get to your sidewalk. Place a mat and boot rack inside your front door so your visitors can remove their footwear when they enter your home. Make sure the mat is large enough to be able to close the front door without having to step on your floors.

Add a Splash of Colour Everywhere:

  • Over half the homes we view with buyers are vacant and look very sterile in photographs. We also ask our sellers to neutralize their wall colours and carpet, but then we discover all the photographs of their homes look similar and unappealing. Our best staging tip is to add a splash of bright, bold colours to each room. The living room can benefit with bold complementary coloured cushions, and vases or a colourful picture over the mantle. Neutral bathrooms can benefit with boldly coloured towels like burgundy, red, royal blue or black. For vacant houses, even a single folding chair or artificial plant breaks up the monotony and gives the potential buyer a sense of the size of the space. Empty rooms feel smaller in real life than they do with furniture -- even though most people would assume they should look larger.


  • Remove as many counter top accessories as possible. Today's buyers are looking for spacious countertops.
  • Clean and put away any dishes you may have used that day. Empty the dishwasher, too.
  • Accessories like towels, or vases in bright colours create a feeling of drama.
  • Place a vase with dramatically coloured flowers on the kitchen island.
  • A bowl of bright red apples and fresh oranges on the table adds a splash of colour. Stay away from bananas as they turn colour much too quickly.
  • Try setting the kitchen table for an elegant dinner -- complete with stemware and napkins.
  • Remove some of the contents of the cupboards. Creating an air of spaciousness is key.

Living Room:

  • Create a single focal point -- arrange the chairs around the fireplace. Or arrange the living room furniture to create a "chat room" for conversations or entertainment. Potential buyers should be able to easily envision themselves sitting in the space where they can easily talk without having to move a chair or turn around completely.
  • Pick out a most visible corner of a room and put in a large plant - silk trees work well. Set up a spotlight behind it so that it lights up the leaves and throws an interesting shadow on another wall. It really creates a dramatic effect and makes a difference in your potential buyer's perception of space.
  • Remove the furniture "dents" in the carpets - rearranging or removing furniture from a carpeted area always leave an indication of where you had it. Most modern carpets today can benefit from the removal of these indentations. Try placing an ice cube in the imprint. As it melts, the compressed carpet fibres tend to expand and erase those dents almost completely.


  • Have an empty bedroom? Try placing moving boxes into the shape of a bed and then dressing it up with nice bedding. Or try an inexpensive inflatable bed. Once the bedding is on and staged, it's hard to tell an inflatable bed from a real one. After the home sells, you only have to deflate, fold and pack it up.
  • For the drab master bedroom, buy a new luxurious comforter set with a bed skirt, throw pillows, and matching valances, etc. A dramatic set will totally transform that drab bedroom into a luxurious hotel suite.
  • On the master bed, drape a luxurious house coat or two over the foot of the bed.
  • Make sure the bedstand lights are kept on.
  • If you don't leave all the lamps on, then make sure you change any fluorescent bulbs to the highest incandescent bulbs permitted by the fixtures. You don't want potential buyers to enter a room, turn on the lights and leave it before the bulbs have a chance to reach their highest intensity. Bright is beautiful.
  • In the daytime. open all the blinds and curtains to brighten the space.
  • For closets, remove most of the clothing that you don't regularly wear. It's a start to getting you packed since you'll be moving anyway and it creates an illusion of more space. Also, try arranging the closet contents so that shorter hanging clothing is near the door and longer clothing is hanging near the back. This too makes the space appear larger. Your buyer's "ideal" closet will have significant space.


  • Get some decorative towels, tie a sheer ribbon around them, and place them on the towel racks in all of the bathrooms. This does wonders to dress up the bathrooms.
  • Add some dried flowers, candles or candies in complementary colours to add a little more pizzazz. 
  • In the master bathroom, drape a black night gown over the door or across the bed. Your buyers will unoubtedly remember your home over the dozens of others they may see.
  • On a daily basis,
    • Make sure the mirrors sparkle and remove all water droplets from the sinks and showers,
    • Ensure every light bulb works,
    • Close the toilet lids.



About Real Estate Professional Tom Bushey:
Tom Bushey is an experienced real estate broker and REALTOR® in Calgary, Alberta. He's passionate about family, friends, technology and specializes in northwest Calgary condos and prestige homes. He welcomes the opportunity to earn the business of you, your friends, neighbours and associates for buying or selling real estate in the metropolitan Calgary area.


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