DIY Home Remodel & Staging A Home For Sale

Published By: Shades Of Light

Date Published:

Last Updated: July 06, 2022

Traditional dining room with wood dining table

Preparing your home for sale can be a daunting task, usually adding an avalanche of bullet points to your to-do list. Cleaning, packing, donating any belongings you no longer have a use for, finding a new home and a realtor, scheduling showings and open houses--the list seems endless, even before you start considering any work your home may need before it's market-ready.

Depending on how long you've lived in your house, it's likely you already have a running list of minor repairs, room design ideas, and projects waiting for you around your home, but there may be more you haven't considered yet. We know how overwhelming selling your home can be. This home remodel guide will take you through your house room by room so you can break down your entire project into more manageable tasks and make your home market-ready without breaking your back or the bank.

House Remodel and Home Staging Costs

House remodel and home staging costs can be surprisingly affordable in the right circumstances. Many cosmetic projects require more time than cash and taking on these projects yourself can save you tons on labor costs, so you don't need a particularly robust remodeling budget to make your house look shiny and new. Whether you're looking for quick ideas like freshening up with a coat of paint, or you want to add strategic eye-catching pieces like a new area rug or bathroom mirror, we've outlined some common home remodeling ideas and home remodeling projects that won't give you sticker shock or require a lot of DIY home remodel experience.

If you'd consider your home a fixer-upper in need of some more severe renovations or improvements, you may find yourself weighing the cost of the project against the increase in sale price. In that case, keep in mind that for roughly every $2,500 you spend on remodeling costs, you should see around $10k increase in the final sale price of your home-- spending more for a smaller return probably isn't worth the time, labor, and of course, money, that you will have invested in that project.

Similarly, staging a house for sale doesn't have to be a costly project. The average cost of staging a home for sale falls around $300 on the lower end (usually if your realtor stages the home for you) to $1,500 if you hire a professional staging service, making hiring a professional a very cost-effective option. Of course, you can take those numbers much lower if you take on the project yourself! Below, we've offered room-by-room home staging tips so you can take on home staging with confidence.

DIY Remodeling and Home Improvement Ideas

DIY remodels and home improvement projects may vary in cost, time, and personal labor depending on the size of your home, but the long-term value of these improvements can be reflected in the sale price of your home. Certain projects are better left to the professionals, as some DIY jobs can decrease the value of a home if not performed properly. But there are plenty of simple projects – from giving household surfaces a facelift to updating furniture and décor for staging – that don't require a hired contractor to complete.

Painting walls, installing new hardware, knobs, and pulls on cabinetry, and replacing stained faucets are all relatively minor upgrades that can make a big impact on the look and feel of your home. These sorts of simple DIY home improvements can be attractive to potential buyers who may be less inclined to purchase a home in need of cosmetic repairs. Some other cost-effective DIY home improvement ideas include replacing torn, stained, or outdated countertops—although adding a backsplash can be a simple and beautiful alternative—and replacing carpet or vinyl flooring with hardwood or tile. You might also consider finishing your basement or attic. These sorts of projects should only be attempted by experienced DIYers—otherwise, they are best left to professionals.

Replacing worn, broken, or outdated light fixtures is another simple project that can have a massive impact on the perceived value of your home. Old fixtures are an eyesore, and dim, dingy lighting can make an otherwise lovely home look dark, cramped, and unappealing. Installing new ceiling lights in bathrooms and bedrooms, new chandeliers in kitchens and dining rooms, and new wall lights in bathrooms, powder rooms, or hallways is guaranteed to give your home a facelift and draw in picky buyers with an eye for trendy home decor. For truly cutting-edge designs, browse our new arrivals in lighting, furniture, and home accents to get a feel for what's trending, and check out our Inspiration section for lighting and room design ideas.

On-Trend Light Fixture Recommendations Under $500

Hanging Brass Pendant Ceiling Light

Halia Pendant
Tip: Try it where task lighting is needed, like over a kitchen island or kitchen table.

Classic Dome Enameled Ceiling Light

Classic Dome Enameled Ceiling Light
Tip: Try a sleek modern fixture in any room that has a visibly out-of-date ceiling light.

Small Hexagonal 2-Light Vanity Light

Contemporary Hexagon Vanity Light – Small
Tip: Try it in a downstairs half bath that will get lots of use by both owners and guests.

Once you've planned out the bulk of your home renovations and DIY projects, don't forget to check hallways, entryways, closets, and pantries for potential cosmetic and lighting upgrades. Lights for these rooms can be simple, with an emphasis on functionality—naked sockets or cracked or flickering fixtures are off-putting, as are dark and dim walkways.

Staging a House for Sale

Once your DIY home improvement projects are complete, it's time to stage that house for prospective buyers! Staging a home for sale may seem like a hassle, but it's a worthwhile endeavor— staging a home can lead to a 5-10% increase in selling price and can help your home sell faster. However, to stage a home properly, it's important to understand what the point is. Staging your house helps prospective buyers more vividly imagine themselves living in this home, and to achieve that end, a properly staged home acts as a sort of outline that allows prospective buyers to fill in the blanks that matter to them. Staging your home also gives you a chance to address any awkward or strange spaces in the home, since showing the buyer how you use the space can help them visualize how they might use it in turn.

If you want to stage your home like a pro, remembering the following rules is essential for setting yourself up for success.

Clean from Top to Bottom

When you show your home, it should be spic and span. Carpets should be steam cleaned (ideally by a professional). Hard water stains should be scoured from sinks, tubs, and toilets. Every nook, cranny, baseboard, and corner should be dusted, no matter how out of the way. Clean fingerprints and scuff marks of any walls, floors, cabinets, or high-traffic areas like light switches and around doorknobs. Even cleaning lampshades should be on your list – you never know where stains will show up!

Woman Using Lamp Shade Cleaning Eraser

Small Brown Lampshade Cleaning Brush

Declutter Your Spaces

Chances are, you've accumulated a lot of stuff over the years you've lived in your home, and prospective buyers don't want to see it. Too much clutter can make your living space feel small, so box up and move out all but the most essential decor pieces (which you can save for staging!), preferably off the property if possible. If that's not an option (for example, if you are still living in the home) take pains to move what you can to a storage unit and organize whatever is left. Try not to rely on garages, attics, basements, etc. to store your belongings— packing these rooms with boxes and unused furniture can make them appear smaller and inadvertently signal to prospective buyers that the storage space won't be large enough for their needs.

If you are still living in your home while it is being shown and need to obscure day-to-day living items, consider staging with accent furniture that doubles as storage. Great options include storage benches, cubby shelves with wood or fabric boxes, or console cabinets with doors. As an added bonus, once your property sells, you can take these versatile pieces with you to your next home!

Accent Furniture & Décor That Doubles as Storage

Wooden Storage Console with Weaved Baskets

Pink Storage Bench with White Towels

Natural Oversized Woven Basket with Handles

Leave Something for the Imagination

Buyers want to envision themselves in your home, and that is harder to do when it's clear someone else lives there! For the time being, pack family photos away and stick with neutral wall decor. Pare your furniture and coordinating decor down to the essentials and move anything loud, quirky, or strikingly unique into storage. Consider furniture rental if your personal furniture isn't particularly suitable for staging, or if it's being used in your current place of residence.

One clever way to fill space without imposing a strong style on a space is to make use of a thin-framed minimalist mirror. Mirrors can make empty walls feel complete while also creating a sense of a larger, more expansive room. See our Where to Hang Mirrors guide for more tips on which rooms could benefit from strategic mirror placement during staging.

Neutral, Neutral, Neutral!

This staging trick is so important we said it three times! Buyers don't exactly want to see a blank slate when they look at your home, but they don't want to see a lot of personal flair either. Stick with light, neutral colors when you paint. Dark or bold colors can make a room pop, but they are risky for home staging. If a prospective buyer hates the color of the primary bedroom walls, they may consider repainting an essential and immediate project they'll take on once they take possession of the home— and if there are any other cosmetic (or otherwise) upgrades needed in the home, some buyers might start to wonder if the home is worth the hassle. Floors should be neutral too. Choose neutral rugs, carpeting, tile, or laminate in grays, off-whites, creams, and ivories, and lighter browns like taupe or beige, and for hardwood floors, stick with natural wood tones. Unsure where to start? Check out our Natural Neutrals Catalog for more neutral room design ideas.

Let there be light

Make sure the lights in your home are in working order and turn lights on for showings. We recommend replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs– select bulbs with cooler color temps and a high CRI, so buyers can get a true sense of the colors, tones, and finishes throughout your home.

Once you've finished staging your home, it is a seriously good idea to hire a professional photographer to photograph the space. Most home buyers will scope out your house online first, and sleek, professional photos to go along with the listing are essential for generating interest in your home.

Exterior and Outdoor Design Upgrades

Modern outdoor patio design with outdoor rug

When sprucing your home up for sale, the exterior should be just as attractive as the interior. Yard maintenance, like neat lawns, tidy hedges, and clean paths and walkways, is just one facet of creating a picture-perfect house potential buyers can daydream about calling their home. Fresh, new exterior lighting is an incredibly important piece of that picture. Outdoor lights don't just look great— they serve an invaluable safety function. Outdoor lights chase away dark shadows and even act as a security feature since would-be burglars are less likely to target a well-lit home.

When selecting outdoor lighting, pay attention to the specific needs of your home and outdoor space. If your house is located near any beaches or coastal areas, marine-grade outdoor lighting is specifically designed to withstand saltwater and harsh weather. Home design is important, too—an ultra-modern house might look strange with traditional or vintage-inspired lighting fixtures. Accent doorways with outdoor sconces and use outdoor pendant lights or outdoor ceiling lights for covered porches. Outdoor ceiling fans are ideal for any covered areas a potential buyer might use to relax or host guests in warmer summer months. If you have a particularly impressive or spacious porch, an outdoor chandelier makes a grand statement. Be sure to view our entire outdoor lighting collection and our outdoor lighting guide for inspiration.

Outdoor Staging

When preparing your home for sale, remember the exterior will be the first thing prospective buyers see! To spruce up your home's exterior, move any belongings you keep outside (like bikes, kids' toys, or gardening tools) off the property or into neat and tidy storage areas. Make sure all pathways are clean and clear, and power wash siding, pavement, and wooden decks. Complete any overdue landscaping projects and make sure the lawn and hedges are neatly trimmed.

Once you've got a clean canvas to work with, style with outdoor rugs, pillows, and poufs. Try to create a welcoming picture on your deck or patio so you encourage buyers to think about all the lovely summer evenings they'll spend using the space with friends and family.

Outdoor Rugs for Under $250*

Neutral Palm Pattern Indoor Outdoor Rug

Black and White Striped Indoor Outdoor Rug

*Larger sizes of these styles may be priced higher than $250.

Kitchen Lighting Remodel

Wicker Ceiling Lights Over Rustic Wooden Kitchen Table

The kitchen is arguably the most important room in the house to tend to when it comes to proper lighting. Kitchens are remarkably versatile spaces, often used for both preparing meals and sharing them with friends and family. Layering your kitchen lighting is the best way to set up this space for success since cooking a meal requires different lighting needs than consuming the meal does. To showcase your kitchen in the best possible way, make sure you have all three lighting layers covered. Flush mount ceiling lights, track lighting, or recessed lighting should serve as your base ambient lighting layer. Pendants, swing arms, and kitchen island chandeliers are generally used for task lighting to shine a spotlight on kitchen workspaces. Finally, use decorative hanging lights or wall lights like picture lights and sconces to supplement ambient lighting and to accent any stylish features of the kitchen.

To begin your kitchen remodel, first clean or replace any fixtures that are looking worn and dated, then consider if your kitchen is lacking in any of these essential lighting categories. If your kitchen (or any other room in your home) isn't built to accommodate task lighting or accent lighting, consider using plug-in sconces or pendants to bring in light where you need it.

In addition to upgrading the lighting, you can also consider other common kitchen remodel ideas. Replace worn kitchen counters or bring new life to the space by adding a stylish kitchen backsplash. Clean and paint kitchen cabinets, and replace hardware and drawer pulls. Paint the walls and make sure all appliances gleam. If your kitchen floor is covered in tired vinyl, consider refreshing the existing flooring with a fresh new neutral pattern, or, if possible, installing tile that will be more attractive to modern home buyers. Remember to always stick to neutral color choices— bright colors bring joy to a room, but they can be off-putting to potential homebuyers who want to impart their own style on the space.

Kitchen Staging

Kitchen staging is more about taking things out of the kitchen rather than bringing things in. First, give this room a thorough deep clean—hire a cleaning service, if possible, to be sure you scour away any built-up grease or hidden dust. Scrub down all your appliances, inside and out, and do the same to cabinets and drawers. Take small appliances that may normally live on the counter (like coffee makers or toasters) out of the home or tuck them away and out of sight. Tidy kitchen dining tables and add a centerpiece with fresh flowers.

Bathroom Lighting Remodel

Industrial 3-light vanity lighting

Since bathrooms are usually the smallest rooms in a house, any bathroom lighting upgrades you can bring to this room have an even greater impact on the look and feel of the bathroom than similar upgrades in other areas of the home. Bathrooms are important! They often top the list for rooms requiring a remodel or upgrade for new homeowners (the kitchen is generally considered the best room to start a home renovation project) and are an easy choice for cosmetic upgrades. Assuming everything in the bathroom is in working order, cosmetic repairs and improvements can be quick, simple projects that may sway buyers' opinions of your home.

When you start your bathroom remodel, replace anything stained, broken, or in otherwise obvious disrepair. Replace old faucets and handles with shiny new ones. Bring in a sleek vanity mirror or add one with a built-in medicine cabinet. Lay down a fresh coat of (neutral!) paint, make sure all cabinet drawers and doors are in working order, and check any towel bars and hooks for damage or tired designs. Swap old shower heads for new ones and consider re-caulking the shower and tub if the caulk is stained or peeling. Experienced DIYers should also replace tile or vinyl flooring with updated patterns or colors.

If you think the flooring in your bathroom was installed pre-1980, leave this bathroom remodeling job to a professional, as vinyl flooring from that time period may contain asbestos and can be hazardous once damaged. When in doubt, always call in a pro!

Once your bathroom looks brand new, it's time to complete the look with fresh bathroom light fixtures. Lights can change the look of a space all on their own, and since bathrooms tend to be compact, replacing the vanity lights will have an even greater impact. Check out our Bathroom Lighting Guide for all the essential info and bathroom remodel lighting ideas you'll need to pick the right lights for your space.

Bathroom Staging

The bathroom has staging requirements similar to those of the kitchen— start with a thorough and detailed deep clean. Then, look at your bathroom decor—replace the shower curtain (or the liner), bring in fresh bathmats, and hang fluffy (subtly-colored) towels and hand towels from your towel bars or hooks. Clear off the vanity counter, leaving only the absolute basics—like a matching soap dispenser and toothbrush holder—visible. If you are still living in the house, make sure your shower toiletries are either moved out of the way or neatly arranged on any built-in shower shelving.

If the bathroom is particularly small or oddly shaped, leaving clever storage solutions visible can be a good idea to help buyers imagine how they might use the space. For example, if your bathroom has a pedestal sink with no vanity cabinet, it can be smart to leave in place the wall-mounted shelf where you keep your toiletries—just make sure everything is stored in a tidy manner, for example, using cute baskets or fabric boxes to keep hair ties and brushes together, or transferring cotton balls or Q-tips from their bag or box into an easily accessed decorative glass jar.

Wall Mounted Shelves Under $100

Industrial Style Grid Shelves with Bathroom Products

Natural Style Wood Shelf with Plant and Vases

Finish off your bathroom staging with some good smells— light a candle or plug in an air freshener and make sure the sink is stocked with fresh hand soap. Be sure to choose subtle scents, and it is usually wise to remove scented (non-soap) items before showings. Leaving an air freshener plugged in for a few days or lighting a candle a of couple hours before guests arrive will help your home smell nice and clean while removing the item immediately prior to showings will keep sensitive noses from feeling overwhelmed. If possible, open windows to combat stale, stuffy air.

Living Rooms, Dining rooms, and Bedrooms

Boho-style bedroom with circular wooden wall mirror

With the kitchen, bathroom, and exterior of your home taken care of, it's time to look at the rest of the house. Living room, dining room, and bedroom upgrades are often more a matter of refreshing and altering home decor than the actual room itself. You may find these rooms don't have as much space for upgrades as the previously reviewed areas. Some common improvements you'll need to make before showing the home include: patching and painting the walls, including repairing any blemishes left from hanging decor, replacing any damaged chair rails, upgrading old carpet with hardwood flooring, and of course, updating all the light fixtures, including ceiling fans and lamps and shades. You can find more info about how to properly light these rooms in the design guide section of our website.

Staging Living Rooms, Dining Rooms, and Bedrooms

Staging these rooms is arguably where you'll get the most return on your DIY staging. By arranging room-specific furniture in each room, you help define the space, so buyers know how you chose to use the space. Perhaps you turned the formal dining room into a spacious home office and have family meals at the kitchen table, or used your finished basement or attic as a playroom. However you have arranged your home, encouraging buyers to be inventive with the space will go a long way toward securing your sale.

Remember, less is more with home décor staging. For living room staging, as well as dining rooms, and other general gathering spaces, arrange furniture and home décor as if you expect conversation. Face chairs and sofas toward each other instead of a TV, and add decorative pillows and decorative blankets to make the area look comfortable and appealing. Soften hardwood floors with area rugs and fill empty walls with stylish mirrors (they'll make your room look bigger and help disperse light!) Choose timeless furniture for home staging and move those pieces off the walls to reduce that cluttered feel--even if you are staging a small living room. For bedrooms, ensure the bed is made (with subtle, neutral linens). Pack up most of your books, knick-knacks, and other odds and ends, and leave only what you need to keep the space from feeling too empty. And add some fresh flowers to an end table or mantelpiece!

Staging Mirrors & Rugs Under $250*

Neutral Vintage Style Area Rug with Handbag

Neutral Vintage Style Area Rug with Handbag

Small Metal Bathroom Mirror with Shelf

Octagonal Black Bathroom Mirror

*Larger sizes of these rugs may be priced higher than $250

Staging Pillows & Throws Under $75

Neutral Velvet Accent Pillow

Neutral Tasseled Accent Pillow

Copper Throw Blanket with Tassels

Neutral Handwoven Chic Throw Blanket with Plant

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