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Home Staging or Redecorating? – A Few Tricks

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This is Part 1 of a 3 post series highlighting a house that I staged for a client.  You can follow the Home Staging  series by clicking on the links at the end of this post.

It took me a few days to do the entire house and I am happy to say that the house sold in 4 days.  If your house is on the market or you are going to be putting it on the market soon – staging is an absolute must. You don’t have to go crazy like they show on the HGTV shows,  but  you do need to put a little bit of effort into de-cluttering, de-personalizing, and neutralizing. If you at least do these three things in every room you will be a few steps ahead of the competition in your neighborhood.  It is a tough economy right now and the real estate industry has taken a huge hit. To sell a house, you need to do as much as you can to make the house desirable to a wide array of buyers.

I started with making the glass fronted kitchen cabinets look more appealing. The homeowner had very colorful dishes that where just begging to be shown off.

Home Staging tips and TricksStaging-a-kitchen-cabinet-a

I used to do staging for a living.

Long story short. I had a staging business with a partner – we were very successful – never go into a business partnership – end of story.

After I sold my share of the business I went back to working in display, then in January I left my display job to pursue blogging full time, but still get calls to stage homes.  I enjoy doing this – my display background comes in pretty handy when I need to make little changes like tweaking not only what  is displayed in glass fronted kitchen cabinets, but bigger changes, too – like changing this formal living room

Home Staging Tips and Tricks

with a neutral pale yellow (Benjamin Moore Greenmount Silk HC-3) to coordinate with the rest of the first floor rooms.  The room looks open and airy now.

I also updated the window treatments – I could not find long 95-inch long panels for the windows in a color that coordinated in the set budget, so I ended up draping un-sewn fabric yardage over $13 WalMart rods. The ends puddle on the floor.  I will show you how I did this in my next post.


Working on getting this home ready for the market reminded me of all the tips and tricks I use and take for granted. I learned most of them in my early days of working in display- back in the 80’s.  YIKES! I have been doing this kind of stuff for a long time.   I don’t even give the way I do things a second thought, but thought I could start a series to share them with you.   They can be used when just decorating your house, too – not just for staging a home.

I am still working on this house and will be finished on Friday. I wish I could say staging is just like you see on the HGTV shows, but most of the clients I help do not have $1000 budgets to buy lots of decorative accessories, plus pay my hourly fee.   On HGTV  the stager’s fee is never mentioned, only what they had to spend on paint, new furnishings, and accessories.

I only buy the absolute necessities – and each home is different in what it needs. What I do is search every nook and cranny in the home for items to use. I am usually pretty successful.  Most homeowners don’t mind me snooping around and I have unearthed items that the homeowner forgot they even owned.  I use things I find in kitchens in the bathrooms and relocate items from the garage in the family room.

Staging or just making your home look more fresh and modern using what you already own comes down to three things.

1. De-cluttering – enough said.

2.  Keeping things larger in scale. No dinky junk – knick-knacks, small throw rugs, etc.  Lots of little items have no impact.

3.  Try to make the rooms on each floor flow easily into one another. This is done by picking a few colors and implementing them in each room. The rooms don’t have to match, but if one room has green walls, add a bit of green to the adjoining room by adding a green accessory, area rug, or in the artwork.  Visually the rooms will feel more connected when you do this.

Always keep in mind to make any room look fresh and appealing to the eye –

Less is more!

Take away a few things from time to time in each of your spaces. Move them to different rooms or use them for different purposes.  You may like them better in their new place/purpose.

Experiment – it is free.

Here are 3 things I did today.


1.  I needed picture hanging wire

No need to run to WalMart –AGAIN!   I just make a paperclip chain and attached it to the back of the frame with two staples using my staple gun.    You could also use dental floss – just double it up and tie each end under each side’s staple.


2.  I left furniture dents on the carpet after moving furniture.

To fix all the unsightly dents I put a few ice cubes in each dent, let them melt a bit, raked the dent with a fork in all directions, let the ice melt more, raked again and let it dry.  By the time I left for the day the carpet was smooth.  If you have a very deep dent you may have to do this process a few times.

You can also place a white cloth over the dents and use the steam from a steam iron to remove the dents. Do not do this without putting down a white cloth first!  If your carpet fibers are synthetic then you could melt your carpet!!!  Take it from me, I know this fact from experience.   Which is why I like the ice method better.


3.  Needed to hang framed art on the wall and didn’t want to make a big hole.

This is the only way I hang items on walls – heavy duty straight pins or Bank pins.  Hammer them in on an angle – they hold almost everything. I buy these by the box and one box will last a DIY decorator a lifetime.  In the display profession – these pins are an absolute must in a toolbox.  No big holes left when displays are changed week to week.  You can find small boxes at sewing stores like JoAnn’s Fabrics or order them from display catalogs online.


To follow the series, click on this link –

Staging or Decorating Tips and Tricks, Part 2

Staging or Decorating Tips and Tricks, Part 3

Do you have any tricks that you use and don’t even think about that may help others do things more easily?  I would love to hear them.

Priceless Staging tips for selling your home. You only have one first impression to sell a house, get it right the first time. 

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  1. Hi Diane:
    I googled for some tips to decorate the home for sale and I found your posts. Looks good and interesting. I have in mind of selling my house so wanted to ask about the hourly fees and how many hours would you suggest approx. I know there are lot of other parameters in deciding the cost factor. But we I wanted to initiate and go from here.

    1. Hi Sharath –

      Home staging pros charge different rates depending on the city you live in. In large metro areas the cost would be higher than in smaller towns. Here in the Phila area most stagers charge around start at about $75 – $125 an hour. Most homes I did ran around 2 -3 hours depending on the size of the house and amount of changes that had to be documented for the homeowner to do.

  2. We are working to stage our home for sale but we have pets…3 cats and a guinea pig. What do we do with them and their belongings when the house is being shown? They are indoor only cats. My biggest concern is people who may be allergic, the litter boxes (just that they even exist) and how to keep our pets safe while strangers walk around. Any advise is welcomed warmly!

    1. Hi Jennifer – Having pets in the house is always the hardest thing to deal with when getting a house ready for sale. If it is possible, it is best to remove them from the house when a showing is taking place. Cats are harder to deal with then dogs as you can simply take the dog for a walk when the showing is taking place.

      Cats and their litter box smells are a huge turn off to buyers. I would get an honest opinion from your real estate agent or someone who does not live in your house – to walk in and see if they can smell the cat litter box. If they can – you will be have to be vigilant in keeping it clean.

      If you can put them in a crate in your garage while buyers are looking at the house is the best way to handle the situation. This way the cats won’t escape if a buyer stands with the door open or doesn’t like to deal with cats. The guinea pig is a bit easier. Just make sure the cage doesn’t smell. If it can be carried to a garage for the showings – do that. If not, place it in a child’s room or extra room. Don’t have it in the kitchen or dining room. If you have a real estate agent – make sure they add to the showing information – that their are indoor cats in the house, so that when other agents show the house they know this and can tell prospective buyers up front if they are allergic. Best of luck with the sale and your move.

  3. I love your postings and your site. Would you or anyone know of a staging course that one could become certified as a stager ONLINE? Thank you,

    1. Thanks Barbara – I do not know of any online course. When I was doing staging – design online was not around yet. :) Did you do a Google search for “Online Staging Course” I am sure there must be a few of them. Try that and see what pops up.

  4. Read all the series to date…GREAT job!!! It’s not as easy as HGTV makes it look. Tactfully telling someone that their decorating style is making the house unsellable is an impossible situation to be in.

    Know where you are coming from on the partnership thing…been years and I don’t know what I miss more- the business or my best friend. No amount of money is worth that.

  5. I stumbled in and have to say I see why you were successful in your business.
    Any-one can re-decorate if they have a B—Load of money, it takes some-one talented to do it on a tight budget! GREAT JOB~ Think I shall “stumble in” again soon. :)

    Good Luck!

  6. Trying to sell our house now while building a new one. Usually hate to go “home” after staying in the RV at the new place but now I can’t wait to go and try the ice cube trick and other staging tips. Thanks. Enjoyed the series. P.S. Nobody’s buying much here but the deals are great for building right now! What a tossup!

  7. Hi Diane, great ideas! That room looks so much better, I’ve never understood painting the entire room a dark color – accent wall yes, but whole room, no! Sorry to hear about your bad biz experience – it’s too bad that you had to be the one to sell out. On to bigger and better, right? :)

  8. I can relate to a lot of what you said- from the partnership, to the pins. the ice, and finding treasures in people’s homes! I am still working on bigger statement pieces for my own home. It’s just so easy to bring home all the little ones! :) One trick I use if I’m not sure how something is looking and I’m on the fence with it is to take a photo and look at it in the preview- sometimes it looks better, other times it helps to see when something needs to be tweaked.
    The staging looks awesome! amazing how much light is in the living room now!

    1. Hi Madigan-

      Thanks – I have pins in a few different lengths and sizes. They are really strong and can be re-used many times. If you look close at the photo of them you can see one has a bit of rust on it. It has a history of hanging out in a few wall – I have had it a loooong time.

    1. Hi again Mike –

      Working in retail display I learned that so many things can be faked out. Corporate always wants BIG BIG BIG results but gives the visual display department a teeny tiny budget – so you gotta be resourceful. I worked with some very creative people.

  9. awesome tips! Thankfully when I sold my former house 2 years ago, my realtor gave me staging advice since I was investing $ in repairs and changes anyway. She had me remove almost all the furniture in the house except 2-3 pieces per room. She kept large scale artwork and accessories and brought in some pieces from her own stash. She also moved my antique china hutch into the bedroom and although I was surprised, it really did look fabulous. I’m impressed with the creativity that real estate home stagers use to make properties look more spectacular than they are!

    1. Hi Diane-

      I just finished the house today and a few of the homeowners neighbors came over to see all the changes. They loved what I did and said it looked like a model home, but were surprised that I removed so much of the furnishings. Like you mentioned – Stagers try to make the most of the architectural features of the house that are going to stay – not the homeowners things. You were lucky to sell your house 2 years ago before the plummeting prices of homes on the market today.

  10. Diane, I am going to have to try this ice trick. I have some really bad dents in the carpet upstairs where we moved furniture.

  11. Loved your ideas! The ice trick really does work. All these years I’ve thought my husband was nutty for using pins instead of picture hangers. Who knew this was a designer trick! I can’t wait until your next post.

  12. I love reading your posts because they generate so many ideas, and this one is no exception.

  13. Thanks, Diane, this was good information. One of my favorite books is “Use What You Have Decorating”. It’s a little dated now, but the principles are very good. The before and after shots of that living room perfectly display what staging can do. As you know, I’m crazy about your blog and can’t wait to see what is next!

  14. Great post Diane. I’d forgotten about how to remove furniture dents. Thanks for all your good tips and reminders.

  15. I loved reading this post, Diane! It’s clear from the before and after pictures that very little money was spent updating and refreshing the living room, yet the results have big impact. I think this is the type of staging/redecorating the majority of homeowners can afford and accomplish. I’m really looking forward to more of your tips. I got excited when I read your post’s title first this morning and couldn’t wait to drop the kids off at school so I could come home and read in peace and quiet! Thanks~ Yvonne

    1. Hi Yvonne-

      Every home owner is different. Some give me a big budget, others no budget at all except for my fee. For this home I have a very small budget. I also do consulting staging – where I just tell the homeowner what needs to be done. This is the most economical for the homeowner who can take on the task themselves – they just need ideas and a list with specifics. I do these consultant types the most.

  16. Great idea for a series of posts, Diane! I do much the same as you, try to buy as little as possible. Of course, it was harder when I had to do my own home two years ago before going on the market! I really like those pins; I’ll have to look for them. I usually use a common nail – nothing huge, but I like the head to be wide enough to actually hold the picture or whatever I’m hanging. These look perfect. Picture wire or D-clip hangers I use those ‘ook” hooks (I think that’s what they are called). Love them!

    1. Hi Kathy-

      I have seen the ‘ook’ hooks – now that I know they work I will have to try them out. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Hi Traci –

      I am still deciding what I want to be when I grow up. :) Actually when I went back to work after selling my staging business – It was just a part time job so I would get a discount on clothes, but they liked me and it turned into a full time job, then my hubby lost his and we needed medical benefits so I kept working until January when things began changing way too much at the store I worked at. I prefer being my own boss and will start doing online dec consults soon – just want to wait until I know where hubby’s new job is going to take us. Once that is settled then I feel I can give 100% to building that end of my business again.

  17. Great post! I love staging and love reading about staging. :)

    I would like to add: Never get a neighbor a job at a job that you LOVE. It does NOT work. :) I’ll leave it at that…

    Enjoy your week!

  18. great tips! i never thought about the stagers fee….they always make everything look and sound affordable on tv..the truth comes out.


    1. Or how much it would cost to have a carpenter re-work kitchen cabinetry or woodwork etc. They “ignore” those costs also.