Elegant Home Staging on a Budget


To pursue a fusion of home design and organization consultation is a big dream of mine. Recently I was asked to come in and consult on a home stage for Yen Design Inc. They recently remodeled a home belonging to one of the owners and were preparing to sell. They let me know their hopes and limitations – simplified below.


1- Not to spend money on renting. Renting can be expensive and there is no gain after the month term – just loss of cash.

2 – To be able to use any new furniture in their company store front – they wanted some modern, simple furniture that represented the architectural side of their business.

3 – Spend as little as possible to attract and appeal to a wide range of buyers – the special target however were families, either first time home buyers or new families.


I created a plan, we adjusted and they designed some custom furniture to fit the space and we were set. 2 weeks later we were setting up the house and putting in final touches.


Here are some tips I use when designing a home / staging.




Have at least 2 feet walking space around the furniture, like coffee tables, for ease of travel. It also gives the impression that the room was large enough to fit walking area comfortably.


Try to leave room behind and around furniture, like space behind a couch. Putting furniture on the walls can make a room seem smaller and cramped. There are exceptions to every rule, but leaving a perimeter open for people to walk makes the space feels larger.


Add pillows to the furniture and throw blankets to jazz it up. Keep patterns to a minimum and add pops of color with an accent pillow or two like a floral for spring or a pillow with wording.


Use an area rug. I cannot begin to express how big of an impact an area rug has on a space. It anchors furniture, adds color, adds a sense of completion, elevates the sophistication of a room and gathers people to the comfort of inclusiveness it provides.



An empty table is just begging to be loved. Don’t over crowd with a ton of items. I say a family of 5. A tray, a tall vase and a short object (vase or candle). A couple books, a small plant or an eye-catcher piece like this carved elephant from Cost Plus. Keep it light, not too many colors and it really takes the look to the next level.


Go shopping in your home, Ikea and Home Goods always have great finds too!




If it is too big, don’t use it. Leave it empty because a big table is too choking in a space and can really turn a buyer off. It says there is barely enough room instead of conceivably more. If your room COMFORTABLY sits 8-10 people, seat 6 tops. Leave ample room around the table.


In this situation we could have done a 6 seating table but it would have cluttered the view through the living room to the kitchen. So I placed the extra chairs on a lonely wall to leave inspiration for larger gatherings but to give lots of visual space under and around the dining area to the kitchen.



An empty dining table may be common in an everyday home but in a staged home you are inviting people over, they are guests and that table represents holidays or family gatherings. Set the table so they can feel welcome and excited about bringing other people over.


Dishes can be bought pretty much anywhere for a great price. Go with simple modern and clean lines and you will always elevate the space.


A centerpiece is a great anchor and always a must. Usually I would go tall on a centerpiece to add height to the space but since there was a chandelier hovering above, this vase with simple hydrangeas was magic.




Counter clutter is a BIG NO. So many people try to leave their appliances out and this is a mistake. It takes away visual counter space, it looks dirty (even if you scrub there is something in the way of seeing a streamlined surface). Having other things on the counters like spice racks, jars of flour and sugar, etc. Those things say, ” I don’t have cupboard room for these things so they have to sit out.”


RULE OF THUMB. One appliance max – make it a coffee maker or a blender. People want to imagine their everyday joy like fresh brewed coffee or using a luxurious mixer to bake for guests. No one wants crumbs and burnt toasters.


Or be creative and leave wine glasses and a bottle. Maybe a cheese cutting set and marble top. A bowl of lemons is SO impressive when placed correctly.




These are always over looked but still hold power with people. Home buyers want to know if the house comes with a washer and dryer and they want to see them!


Usually these puppies are tucked away but I still say, place a couple of hand towels and a candle or bar of soap or something visually interesting like this plant on top. It draws the eye and says this is simple, clean and the kind of space you want to wash your clothes in.


Linen Closets are also frequently missed. A couple of towels, fluffed, neatly folded, tied with a ribbon and a bar of soap on top make the closet look and smell fresh. Do it!




Bathrooms are meant to be clean. So I love using fresh whites. White always says clean and crisp and it is always classy. I also like a fresh white shower curtain in any bathroom. It also helps to brighten up the space by bouncing light around the room.


Clean rolled hand towels by the sink and a soap dispenser add some interest but keep it simple.


I love plants, can you tell. It is so important to add plants in any space you are selling. Plants mean life, green is fresh, natural, and invokes happiness and a general sense of well being. When entering your home, you want people to feel like this is a healthy environment. Plants do that.


I used plastic plants because they look just real enough but never die. If there is anything worse than not having any green it is having dead plants.


NOTE : Dead plants are a HUGE turnoff and invoke a lot of negative feelings consciously and subconsciously. Most importantly people can read dead plants as – if you don’t take care of plants for a short time in the most important time of home ownership (the selling), what else did you not take care of??





I love a comfy and inviting bed. Make it fluffy, soft and textured. White is always a safe bet. It screams hotel and elegance. Lots of pillows, especially if you are missing a headboard, adding luxury to a space. Keep the patterns to a minimum. Usually I advise 4 rows. Euro pillows (2 for queen and 3 for king), 2 standard, 2 standard and throw pillows. Add a little edge to the throw pillows like beading or stitch work.

Throw blankets. Textures and layers can crowd a bed so keep it to one, and don’t add another pattern if there is already one present. Keep it solid and fluffy.


End tables anchor the bed and add interest. They also say you have enough room.



I also added a bench because the room was deep enough and it is always nice to have a chic item that adds another welcoming factor. Dress them up with accessories and done!





That’s pretty much it. I say less is more, if you aren’t confident in the pieces you are bringing in, don’t bring them. Buyers are entering a home prepared to imagine themselves living in it. The furniture and accessories you bring in are meant to assist and elevate their expectations but if you don’t have the right pieces it can hurt the buyer’s impression.


Keep it bright, light, simple and elegant.