Staging your house: 5 Tips for a quick sale OR a more peaceful place to live

In preparation for putting our house on the market, our realtor had a stager come through the house and give us tips for making it “show ready.” We did a walk through of each room taking notes and making our to-do list.
Some of the suggestions were things I wouldn’t follow unless you actually are moving (like removing all photos of people :( ) but most of the rules were actually quite helpful.
A story of selling our house in 4 days after staging it (and why I wish I would have done this years ago!)--Do this even if you're not moving!

The following are my top five house staging tips (that I wish I had done years ago):

They made my house feel spacious, organized and welcoming versus overflowing, cluttered and chaotic.  

1. Nothing on the kitchen counters

I’ve seen this on Pinterest and various blogs but figured it was impossible for me with a toddler. It took some leg-work, but we went through the kitchen cupboards and made room for the items on the counter. They basically all stayed in their exact same location, just in the cupboard directly above their previous home.
A story of selling our house in 4 days after staging it (and why I wish I would have done this years ago!)--Do this even if you're not moving!
It meant getting rid of a few things to make room, but we didn’t really need 30 coffee mugs anyway. I realized I was keeping many of the items because they were given to me but they had never been used. We fill the space we have, but we don’t have to. By purging kitchen items that hadn’t been used in the last six months we made room for everything on the counters, which makes sense because those are the items we use the most, so they should have a proper home.

2. Put everything in your pantry in bins

I’ll admit, I told my husband I thought this was ridiculous. We spent maybe $20 at Home Depot on the bins for the pantry, and honestly, I would sit and write in my pantry now it is so clean and tidy. Get everything up off of the floor and organize your food groups into bins. It took an hour tops and it is so much easier to find things when you’re cooking.
A story of selling our house in 4 days after staging it (and why I wish I would have done this years ago!)--Do this even if you're not moving!

3. Get rid of extra pieces of furniture

We’ve inherited a lot of furniture over the years. Items from friends and parents that are no longer wanted. I have a hard time turning down a free piece of furniture, but it was amazing to see how much bigger our house felt by eliminating a couple extra coffee tables, nightstands and random chairs. If we didn’t use it at least once a month, it went out the door.
A story of selling our house in 4 days after staging it (and why I wish I would have done this years ago!)--Do this even if you're not moving!

4. Clean out your closets

Here’s the thing: I wear the same 50 clothing items over and over again, but I keep another 200 around “just in case.” That backup stash was causing way more stress than I realized. I would torment myself getting ready for work by shuffling through ALL my backup items just to land on one of my go-to pieces anyway.
So get rid of the backups. I only work in an office two days a week, so I don’t need ¾ of my closet to be filled with formal work clothes. I need maybe ¼. I realigned my clothing selection to match my life: 50% casual wear, 25% work wear and 25% lounge/workout wear.
A story of selling our house in 4 days after staging it (and why I wish I would have done this years ago!)--Do this even if you're not moving!

5. Have empty space

I learned it is ok for not every shelf, wall and closet to be occupied. Throughout the staging process we had to create empty space to hide dirty laundry and other unmentionables in case of a showing. Those empty spaces made it so much easier to find the items I was looking for when needed.
We were told not to have anything on the top shelves of our bookcases; the items should be contained within the shelf. A decorative shelf should only have a dozen or less items on it. It was amazing what a difference it made. This principle was applied to our kitchen as well with the exception of one decorative item.


We had a lot of small to-do items in addition to the tasks already mentioned (rearranging pictures, moving furniture and touching up paint). We worked for a week straight and completed about 80% of what we had been instructed to do. It’s hard to say how much of an impact the staging had on the sale of our house sale, but it definitely didn’t hurt.
The house sold at full asking price after being on the market for four days. The funny part is once we had done all of the work to purge furniture items, organize the pantry, clean out our closets and reorganize our cupboards, I didn’t want to leave the space…which is why I wish I would have done these things sooner.
Do you have suggestions for keeping your home clean and tidy? I would love to hear them!
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Let’s keep in touch:

Caitlin-Bio-PicMy name is Caitlin Hogan and I blog over at I started Hogan’s Haven last August because I love to write and wanted to share some of my family’s story. At the time my husband Zac and I had one son, Finn, who was ten months old. I was trying to find that ever-elusive work-life balance and was feeling totally overwhelmed with my new role as a mom. I didn’t know it at the time, but our story was about to get really interesting. 
We took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in January of 2014 and by December 2014 we had paid off just over $23,000 in credit card debt. The blog was our way of sharing the ups and downs, ins and outs of our debt reduction with friends and family. 
Fast forward a few months and we are now expecting our second baby at the end of July. To make things even more exciting, we’ve decided to build a tiny house. Our income was going down with me cutting hours at work to be home with Finn more, but our expenses are constantly rising with our growing family. People have asked if we are doing this to be entirely debt free…kind of. We do want to be debt free, but we also want to experience a different type of lifestyle. One that requires us to practice restraint, humility and simplicity. 
Our goal is to live in the tiny house for two years starting this December once the tiny house is complete. During that time we will save up for our next house and hopefully be able to pay for most of it in cash. Sometimes I think we are crazy, and when reality hit this past weekend and we moved into our friend’s basement, I wanted to back out. It may not be easy, and it might not last a full two years, but God will be with us in all of it and we are trusting that He had this plan laid out for us long before it ever crossed our minds. Plus, even if it is completely awful, it will make for hilarious blog content. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.