Expert tips on styling a house for sale on a budget

31 August 2021
Selling your home isn’t just about the number of beds and baths you can offer – it’s also about the emotion potential buyers feel when they walk around it. Many buyers start house hunting with a set list of criteria, but often the home they are drawn to is the one that evokes positive feelings. This is where styling can help.

According to well-known real-estate commentator Barbara Corcoran, the industry magic number – that is, our average attention span and the amount of time it can take for potential buyers to decide whether they are interested in your home – is eight seconds, meaning first impressions can be critical.

After working across a variety of properties from both ends of the pricing spectrum, I have learnt a number of ways to style homes to look their best while sticking to a budget.

Here are my top seven tips for using staging furniture to maximise your sale price without breaking the bank.

My top 7 tips for home styling on a budget

1. Focus on the entry

When it comes to first impressions, the entryway to your home can be vital.

Whether they are aware of it or not, the first thing many people notice is whether a home ‘feels’ right. Consider how your home looks, feels and smells when a prospective buyer walks through the front door.

Some ways you could potentially boost the overall ‘feel’ include adding some fresh foliage to the console table, changing the orientation of your sofas so you’re not looking at the back of them or adding a floor lamp for some soft light.

entry image styling home
Source: Foxy Home Staging

2. Less is more

De-cluttering, I believe, is vital to creating beautiful marketing photos and a lasting first impression.

My tip is to keep in mind that blank walls can be just as important as hanging artwork. Many sellers think it’s important to hang art on every wall, but this can create clutter.

In my experience, creating one focal point within each room, such as using a piece of art that mirrors the colours you’ve used in the styling, provides a more open and aesthetically pleasing space.

less is more foxy home staging
Source: Foxy Home Staging

3. Make sense of your floor plan

Changing your furniture can actually be one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your sale price. This is simply because the way we live in a home (focussing on comfort) and the way we sell a home (looking impeccable) are for many of us, completely different things.

Firstly, ensure rooms are styled the way they were designed to be used. If it’s a bedroom, get a bed in there. If it’s a formal lounge room, take the television out. Buyers need to be able to easily visualise how amazing it could be to live in your home if it is optimised to its potential.

Remove possible confusion by making rooms easy to understand and navigate. This could include removing oversized furniture, as this can confuse a floor plan. My rule of thumb is to use a chaise (a sofa with a backrest at one end) and modular sofa (made up of multiple pieces that fit together) in media rooms, with three-seater sofas placed in combined living areas.

foxy home staging floor plan
Source: Foxy Home Staging

4. Fill your home with light

It’s not a secret that many buyers are drawn to homes that are filled with light – as can be seen by marketing photos taken of homes with all the lights on. Investing in lighting could help to create an ambience that buyers remember.

You can pick up bedside lamps for as little as $15 or so from Kmart and when looking for a centrepiece, one of my personal budget-friendly favourites is a timber tripod lamp for around $99 at Target.

There are other ways to increase light without spending money. For instance, you could try trimming back hedges and trees that block window light, leaving your blinds or curtains completely open or hanging a mirror opposite a window.

light bedroom foxy home staging
Source: Foxy Home Staging

5. Give it new life with paint

A new lick of paint on your walls could potentially instantly freshen up any space.

I prefer sticking to white paint, as it can modernise the space plus brighten a room by reflecting any light.

It can help to keep it simple and use one colour throughout your home, as this consistency could create a higher-end feel and avoid a scenario where a potential buyer is deterred by a bold colour.

foxy home staging kitchen
Source: Foxy Home Staging

6. Make your bedroom magazine worthy

A beautifully presented master bedroom can be the reason a potential buyer remembers your property after a long Saturday of open homes. My advice is to do a little research – find your inspiration from property stylists on Instagram or Pinterest and replicate to create a feeling of luxury.

As a starting point, I like to use fresh white linen, stand euro pillows upright, add colourful cushions (around three is my preferred number – don’t overdo it) and a throw rug. I’d also recommend adding one piece of art above the bed that ties the colours together.

I think bedside tables and lamps are a must and I like to remove all other furniture from the room, including dressers and televisions to open up the room and keep it simple.

bedroom foxy home staging
Source: Foxy Home Staging

7. Remember your home’s exterior

There is not much point in creating a beautiful interior if your buyers can’t find your front door or have a negative feeling before they even step inside.

Spend some time in the garden trimming trees and hedges, and make sure the pathway to your front door is clearly visible, along with your street number.

I find hiring a gurney to give the driveway and house a high-pressure wash can make a big difference to help it shine on open day.

house exterior home styling
Source: zstock (Shutterstock)

Final checklist of things to do

Before the big day comes and you open your home to potential buyers, here’s an overall checklist of things to consider:

  • Focus on giving the entryway an inviting feel
  • De-clutter the home and give each room a focal point
  • Arrange furniture so rooms are easy to navigate
  • Make sure the home is filled with light
  • Freshen spaces up with a new coat of paint
  • Research ways to present your bedroom beautifully
  • Give the exterior of the home a clean and tidy up the yard

Whether you style your home yourself or hire a professional stylist to assist, presenting your home in a way that highlights its potential and doing so within your budget may help you achieve a quicker sale and maximum value.

Phoebe ShorterAbout Phoebe Shorter

Phoebe Shorter is a full-time professional property stylist and has personally staged over 300 properties for sale. She’s a part-time renovator, mum to three kids and the founder of Foxy Home Staging in Brisbane.

Cover image source: Foxy Home Staging