Tips for Staging an Empty Home on a Budget

Some buyers might be able to imagine themselves in an empty home, but not a lot of people can do that. Staring at an empty floor, ceiling and walls do not help a lot of buyers to visualize their own furniture and belongings in the home. If buyers can’t see themselves living there, they are not likely to purchase it. This is where home staging can make a difference. Staging sparks people’s imaginations and evokes their emotions, making them fall in love with the house enough for them to want to buy it.

You may not want to bother staging an empty home because it needs a lot of physical effort to furnish a blank slate. However, staged homes stay on the market for a significantly less time period than vacant houses. If you want your house to get sold right away, stage it. It doesn’t have to cost a lot – you can do it even when you’re on a budget. Hence, it even pays you more money in the end. These are some budget-friendly tips to help you stage an empty house.

1. Clean the house thoroughly1. Clean the house thoroughly

Cleaning is the first and foremost important step in staging any home. It’s easier to clean an empty house than a furnished home as you can move more freely than when there are pieces of furniture around. Also, you don’t need to declutter anymore. Sweep up and mop every floor, including the patio or porch. Scrub the grout on the tiles. Shine the windows. Polish the kitchen chrome. Remove visible dirt or stains, and when it’s not possible, hide them. Wipe the baseboards. Polish the doorknobs and clean the bulbs. Touch up the paint if needed. Make sure the house looks and smells fresh and clean.

2. Pick a simple color scheme for the walls

A fresh coat of paint on the walls can instantly bring life to an empty, unlived home, without costing much. Choose paint colors wisely – it’s safe to settle for simple neutrals like off-whites, creams, grays, and beiges. Then, consider adding an accent wall with a stronger hue for visual interest. Picking a simple color scheme would make hunting for furniture and accessories much easier. Besides the walls, add paint to any woodwork, trim or built-in cabinets that look dated. If the kitchen cabinets look like they need a makeover, paint them as well. You may need to stretch your budget a bit, but it will be worth it.

3. Furnish the house with used furniture

Renting furniture is an option, as there are a lot of companies that offer rental furniture with accessories. But since you’re on a budget, renting could be expensive, especially when you don’t know how long you will need it. Instead, borrow some furniture from your family or friends. Or loan the house with some of your own furniture for the meantime. If there are not enough furniture available, you can buy cheap furniture from garage sales, curbsides, thrift stores, estate sales or Craigslist. Just make sure that the furniture you choose is of high quality, stylish and doesn’t look dated.

4. Buy furniture or items that you would actually use in your new home

If there are not enough furniture or accessories you can borrow or use for the meantime, might as well buy new ones that you would actually use for your new home. Let your purchases for the new house serve first in staging your old empty home. This way, you buy not just for staging, but for actual future use.

5. Stage selectively

When staging a vacant home, you have to choose your rooms strategically. The living room, the dining room, and the master bedroom should be your main focus. If there are a lot of bedrooms, then you can stage two rooms and leave the others empty – it would be enough. And remember, it’s best to showcase the space you have, so don’t fill every room with furniture. The living room doesn’t need to seat eight people and every bedroom doesn’t need a dresser. You just need to help the buyer visualize possibilities with the space and let them see how their items will fit in the rooms.

  • For the living room, you might only need a sofa, two chairs, two side tables, and an ottoman or a coffee table on the center. If the room is really big, you may add an additional loveseat or an entertainment center with an old TV. Add an area rug to make it look more comfortable.
  • For the dining area, a dining table with four chairs would suffice. Simply add a nice table runner, a simple centerpiece and groups of basic tableware.
  • For the master bedroom, get a queen-sized bed and two bedside tables. A dresser won’t be needed if there’s already a built-in closet present. Here’s a trick for staging the bedroom: Instead of buying a new bed, get a frame then buy an inexpensive air mattress, then simply dress it up with neutral-patterned bedding you have.

Don’t forget to accessorize these rooms with vases of flowers, lamps, mirrors, and wall hangings like paintings and photographs that are not too impactful. Keep the buyer’s attention focused on how livable the home is, not on how pretty the items you put in there to stage it.

6. Add some props to the kitchen and bathrooms

The kitchen and bathrooms in an empty house are easy to stage since they don’t require additional furniture. You only have to focus on setting the right tone by adding decorative touches.

  • For the kitchen, display a couple of your old, small appliances on the countertop or island. Hang oven mitts and kitchen towels. On the countertops, place decorative glass jars with pasta, flowers on a vase, a basket of fake fruit, silk plants and some cooking magazines. You don’t need to fill the cabinets with stuff.
  • For the bathroom, hang clean fluffy towels on the rack. Add a clean shower curtain, if there’s an empty shower rod. You may also place a small houseplant to keep the bathroom looking fresh. Place an attractive soap dish and fancy-looking decorative soaps or candles to complete the look.

7. Maintain curb appeal

Impress your potential buyers starting with the exterior of your place. If the curb is not appealing, many prospective buyers will simply pass by the house. Make sure the grass is cut and green. Rake up the fallen leaves and keep the landscaping maintained with hedges trimmed. Get rid of any junk or any tattered constructions as they ruin the view of the curb. You may also need to paint the fence and the front door, and clear out the gutters. Make it welcoming by adding fresh potted plants and blooms, and a clean welcome mat by the front door.