Question: Can I stage my home myself?

Getting a home ready to sell requires some work.  Sometimes a lot of work.

Every time I speak with someone who’s thinking about listing their home there are a variety of questions that come up.  One of the big questions revolves around staging and it’s a question that doesn’t really have one simple answer.  Staged homes do grab a buyer’s attention and there’s no question that a home that looks fresh, clean, uncluttered and attractive can bring a higher price.  Everyone seems to agree that staged homes look great, but the question frequently comes up, Can I stage my home myself?

Years ago, before I worked in real estate I was selling my home.  The agent came over and said – wow, your home doesn’t need any staging!  Of course, she didn’t realize that I had been preparing to sell for quite some time and all of my work resulted in the house looking like it was staged.  The photos of my home looked great and it sold quickly, for asking price. In my case, my real estate agent didn’t need to bring in a home stager because I had done the work myself.  You can too, but professional home stagers offer an excellent service, especially if you don’t have an eye for design, or you just plain don’t have the time. If home design and decor just aren’t your thing or if you’re too busy to take on the task (it can be a lot of work), your best course of action is to bring in a professional.

two chairs with glass table on living room near window
Photo by Vecislavas Popa on

Of course, having your home professionally staged comes with a price tag.  Most realtors, including me, pay for a consultation with a home stager when we are listing a home. A staging consultation can range from $200 to a higher price. The cost of actually staging the home depends on how much is required in terms of labour and products.  Most home stagers will work with a client’s existing furniture as much as possible and just add accents and pops of colour.

For others, the job is bigger.  Sometimes a home staging can be a major overhaul.  It can involve painting, changing light fixutres, removing some of your furniture and replacing it with different pieces.  For a vacant property it can mean furnishing several of the main living areas. Once the actual work is done, the staging cost continues as a monthly expense (covering the cost of the rental of the furniture and accessories).

Is it worth it?  I think any level of home staging is ultimately worth it.

But here’s my advice.  When you know you’re going to be selling your home, start the staging process yourself.  No matter how much you love your home and how it looks, you need to take a step back and look at it without emotion and sentimentality.  Ask your realtor to give you advice as to what you should do.

Here are a few things you can do to get ready to sell and start your own staging process:


I know it sounds simple.  Just put away the knick-knacks and you’re done.  NO!  Decluttering is actually a bigger job than that.  A professional home stager in some cases will actually come in and remove up to 50% of what is in the home.  If you’re doing it yourself, start with clearing the counters and cabinet spaces.  Pick up anything extra that’s taking up floor space.  Then, when you think you’re done, take a step back and start again.  Remove extra furniture pieces that don’t have a major function in your day-to-day life right now.  The more space you create, the bigger your home will appear.  And take note of furniture that can “date” your home.  The heirloom dining room set with the huge china cabinet may be gorgeous, but sometimes large, heavy furniture can make a room look very small, and I can tell you that sometimes I’ve been in homes and had clients remark that a home looks dated — with my response being, picture it without the furniture.  It’s not dated at all.


crop unrecognizable person in yellow gloves cleaning white surface
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Cleaning your house to sell is a much deeper cleaning than you do on a regular basis.  Often it is advisable to bring in a professional cleaning company to get the job done.  They will clean everything from the obvious (floors, windows, counters, appliances, bathrooms), to the not so obvious (blinds, light fixtures, all the nooks and crannies).  I always say if you don’t do any other preparation before selling, at least tend to the cleaning.  Make your house shine!


brush painting the white wall
Photo by Kaboompics .com on

I think that painting before putting your home on the market can really make a big difference.  And be mindful of the colour you select.  A fresh, light, neutral colour is best.  It makes the home look large and clean.  Sometimes very dark, or bright, or deep colours can turn off a buyer, even if they love everything else about the house.  And it’s just paint, so why not do it?


If your house seems dark, changing the lighting can make a big difference.  The more light the better!  Turn on all of your lights and take a look at where you can improve it.  You can change the main light fixtures, or in some cases all you need to do is to bring in some additional lighting like lamps, and make sure that you are using the strongest bulbs your fixtures can safely accommodate.

Kitchens and Bathrooms

This is a bigger considerations.  The old saying is true, that updated kitchens and bathrooms really do help homes for a better price.  However, you need to weigh the cost of renovation versus what you will get for your home.  Talk to your real estate agent and discuss the options.  If your home is in a very desirable neighbourhood, the demand for the neighbourhood can greatly outweigh any improvements and upgrades the new owner may need to do.  If you really want to improve the look of your kitchen or bathroom, consider ways you can do it without taking on a renovation which can run into the tens of thousands.  Refacing cabinets, new hardware, new faucets — all of these things can have a big impact.  However, the biggest thing you can (and should) do to your kitchen and bathrooms and make sure they’re spotlessly clean!

Beyond these preparations which you can take on yourself, chat with your realtor about whether you need the services of a home stager, or whether you can just purchase accessories and do the job yourself.

If you’re thinking of listing your home and want to talk about what you need to do to get ready, contact me anytime!

Sharon Caddy, Sales Representative, RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc

905-466-3585 —

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