How to Stage Your Home for Sale

That lime green sofa you picked up at the thrift store was a real find! The tie-dyed rug is a serious conversation piece. It is perfect for your taste. The lava lamps create an ambiance that moves your soul. It is so you! If you’re serious about selling your home, that could be a problem.

People have such varied tastes. Some love lava lamps. Others find boho decor abhorrent. When it is time to sell your home, it is also time to neutralize (but we’re sure the green sofa was just made for your new home). Sorry, not everyone loves lava lamps. You’re special. Professional stagers are trained to create stylish spaces using neutral colors in an open environment free of personal treasures. The idea is to allow people to imagine their family pictures on the wall or their Victorian-period furniture in what is now your boho abode. It can be neutral, and not be blah.

A little less personality, please

While it’s a great idea to update your home’s look with on-trend, decor, it’s easy to go overboard. Pay careful attention to the living room, primary bedrooms, kitchen, and dining room. The idea is to engage your potential buyer without overwhelming him or her.

Clean it up and clear it out

When preparing your home for sale, start by removing as many personal items as possible. Pack them up and store them in a safe place like your garage, your basement, or a rented storage unit.

Clear items from all surfaces including bookshelves, the mantle, and countertops. Take personal items off the walls. This will give you a headstart on packing, and it will allow you to clean. 

When a home is staged for sale, it needs to be generally appealing. If you have design experience, you might be tempted to stage it yourself. Remember, you have an attachment to this home. Your design might get a little too personal. Hey, we like you! But when we are trying to sell your home, we don’t want it to scream your personality (it’s a good personality, take no offense). There are professional stagers who will bring in their furniture and accessories to decorate your home.

When a homeowner lists a home for sale with me, I hire and pay for professional stagers. The home’s appearance is just that important to me. I also hire cleaners, a handyman, a landscaper, and a professional photographer to make sure my listings look their very best.

To stage or not to stage, that is the question

Some people live in homes decorated by professional designers. Those are not the homes we are talking about here. Most people live in their homes and decorate them to suit their tastes. That’s great until it’s time to sell.

So, if your home is empty, people can imagine their belongings in your home for sale and that’s good enough, right? Sorry, if your house is completely empty listing photos look drab. Without some furniture and simple decor, it is hard for home buyers to comprehend spatial relationships. It is difficult, for example, to determine how big the dining room is compared to the family room without some point of reference like a table, a sofa, or a chair. We don’t want so much “stuff” in a room that it looks cramped or crowded. We do want just enough furniture and accessories to give it a homey feeling that sparks the buyer’s imagination. “Minimize the negatives and accentuate the positives of a property to make the best impression,” Stern said.


  • Keep it neutral.
  • Keep it clean.
  • Keep it simple.

Pros of staging your own home:

  • It’s less expensive (unless you’re listing with Utah Real Estate).
  • You can heavily influence the outcome.
  • Items around the house are readily available for use.
  • You don’t have to remove your belongings unless you want to replace them.
  • It’s less awkward than having a stranger re-arrange your personal belongings.

Cons of staging your own home:

  • It’s hard work and physically demanding
  • You are limited to the decor and items you have on hand, or you have to buy new items (so much for the savings).
  • Unless you are a trained designer, there could be a learning curve.
  • It is time-consuming.
  • It’s hard for non-professionals to create a professional look.
  • There are many elements to consider including natural light, electrical lighting, furniture placement, color combinations, etc.

Pros of hiring a professional stager:

  • The staging team does all the heavy lifting.
  • Professional stagers have furniture and accessories to make your home look like a scene from a magazine.
  • Professionals are trained to make the best use of light and space so potential buyers feel at home.
  • 99% of millennials first shop for their homes online (NAR). Professional photographs require professional-quality staging. Both significantly influence buyers when they shop online.

Cons of hiring a professional stager:

  • Staging can be expensive.
  • People you don’t know will rearrange your home.
  • It’s hard to not take it personally when someone completely changes the look of your home.

Home Staging Tips

There’s a saying among stagers, “Minimize the negative, accentuate the positive to make the best impression.”

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Whether you do it yourself or hire someone else to do it for you, staging your home for sale is an investment that does give you a return. The Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) reported “with an average investment of 1 percent of the sale price into staging, about 75 percent of sellers saw an ROI of 5 percent to 15 percent.”

The National Association of Realtors released information from a recent survey performed by the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. The study showed that staged homes sell three to 30 times faster than nonstaged properties. Staging can help increase the sale price by an average of 20 percent.


  • Keep it simple.
  • Take full advantage of special electrical lighting and sources of natural light.
  • Clean the home thoroughly before staging.
  • If you add furniture or accessories, take something away.
  • Use minimal furniture, throw rugs, and accessories, but make the ones you do use count by highlighting them with accessories, lighting, and art.
  • Avoid using bright colors.
  • Painting can be a part of staging. Stick with neutral colors.
  • Do not use scented candles (some people are allergic or are put off by certain scents).
  • Shop yard sales for amazing accessories to replace some of your personal items.
  • Replace personal photos with art where appropriate.
  • Keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
  • If your furniture is worn (or just plain ugly), consider renting new furniture to give the home a whole new look.
  • Find great decorating ideas on Pinterest and other social media outlets.

The easiest way to stage your home? List it for sale with me and I’ll have a professional stage your home for sale and even pay for it. That includes cleaning, some painting and repair, and even landscaping. Call me today to hear about my all-inclusive listing program. 801-673-3333.

Joel Carson - Utah's # real estate agent

Joel Carson is the President and Principle Broker of Utah Real Estate with over 30 years of experience buying and selling real estate in the greater Salt Lake City area.

Have questions? Call or text me at 801-673-3333

Article Last Updated: February 24, 2024

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