How to Stage Your Home on a Budget
Written by Nicola Brown

Friday, April 12th, 2019

You know that feeling you get when you see a really beautifully designed room and fall in love immediately? That's the power of good staging.

Luckily, with a bit of time and creativity, transforming a normal room into a magazine-worthy one can be done even without professional help. It can also be done on a budget.

First Impressions Mean Everything

I've worked closely with Toronto real estate agent Brandon Ware for many years, and he's witnessed firsthand just how transformational a bit of staging can be for renting and selling properties.

"First impressions are incredibly important, and real estate is no exception. We are visual creatures and everyone loves the idea of living in a clean and beautifully presented house," says Ware.

But is it worth it? Ware typically sees a return on investment from staging between 3-10 times the amount put in.

How Much Does Staging Cost?

Professional staging costs can range depending on the quality and quantity of furniture needed for the space, and the cost of the stager.

As a rough estimate, Ware says it can cost $3.25-$3.50 per square foot. For example, staging a 1,000-square-foot 2-bed, 2-bath condo could cost between $3,250 and $3,500, whereas a 500-square-foot space would be closer to $1,750. This is based on the cost of furniture rental for 30-40 days, so if your home doesn't sell, you'll need to pay for subsequent rental months.

Do-it-yourself staging is cheaper.

5 Budget-Friendly DIY Staging Tips and Ideas

Good staging is all about cleanliness, organization, and design, says Ware. Whether you're planning to rent or sell a house or condo, here are some of the staging tips that will give you the best return on investment.

1. Focus your staging on the prominent rooms in your house

Focus your efforts on the living room, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom. "Don't get caught up staging the back corner of the guest room in your basement when 90% of buyers will never see it. Highlight the positive attributes of rooms people will spend the most time in," says Ware.

2. De-clutter

A cluttered home is not a home a buyer wants to live in. It's always better to have too little on display than too much. Don't forget to de-clutter inside closets and cupboards too. An interested buyer will be opening all the doors!

3. Paint

The major surfaces (i.e. walls, ceiling, floor) of your home contribute significantly to its overall atmosphere.

"It's amazing how much impact a fresh coat of paint will have. This simple task can have an enormous return on investment, and also helps get rid of stale odours in a home. Opt for neutral and warm colours that don't distract buyers," says Ware.

Neutral colours are also more widely appealing and can help buyers envision their own furniture in the space. Keep colours light to help the space feel more open and airy.

4. Furniture Placement

The question of furniture is where you'll want to ask a friend to help you out for perspective. It can be hard to assess objectively what your own furniture actually looks like in your home. It may be a question of just adding some new cushion covers and a nice throw to freshen the appearance of your couch, or it may mean renting different furniture instead.

5. Small DIY staging tricks for big impact

Staging is all about creating an atmosphere that will woo buyers, and sometimes it's the smallest things that have the biggest impact.

  • Buy a few plants to introduce some greenery into the main areas of your home, and fill a vase with fresh flowers for your dining table or kitchen island on open house days.
  • Swap out old, dull bulbs for slightly higher wattage ones to make rooms feel brighter and fresher.
  • A couple of well-placed arrangements can help your home feel lived in. Try out two coffee table books stacked at an angle to each other with a potted succulent or small candle on top. Or a woven basket by the fireplace or TV area with a colourful blanket draped over the side.

Finally, it may seem a bit cliché, but having freshly baked goods and some bottles of water available for open houses will make your visitors feel more welcome.

Staging your home to sell doesn't have to break the budget, but it's worth the extra time and effort for a potentially substantial return on investment.


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