People who stage houses for a living swear by these 40 cheap tricks to make homes look 10x better

Your same house, only better.

ByChristina Wood
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When I sold my home, my realtor insisted I hire someone to stage it before the open house. I cleared away the clutter, cleared out, and let her do her thing. When I returned, my house was so appealing I almost changed my mind about selling. Everyone who came to the open house felt the same way and it sold for more than I was asking. Why did I wait until I was leaving to stage my home? The things she did were simple, aesthetically pleasing, and smart. You can do those right now, wherever you live. People who stage houses for a living swear by these 40 cheap tricks to make homes look 10 times better.


Dress the garden in fairy lights

"An often overlooked aspect of home and interior design is landscape lighting,” says Tyler Horn, owner of Luminism Design, a landscape lighting design and installation company based in the Hamptons. “After all, it's the first thing we see when arriving at a property.” These solar garden lights create an enchanting vibe and are easy to install. Plant them in the garden and they will sway as they throw fairy lighting amid your flowers.


Update your outdoor lighting with solar sconces

"While landscape lighting design and installation can be costly, modern technology offers budget-friendly options,” says Horn. You can even add a porch sconce with nothing more than a couple of screws. These solar sconce lights are motion sensing so they come on only when you need them. Or set them to come on at sunset and turn off during the day. They have integrated solar panels to absorb lots of power from the sun.


Add solar-powered string lights to your yard

“Solar-powered LED lighting [...] can be placed just about anywhere and require(s) no wiring or electrical work,” says Horn. Hang this set of solar string lights along a fence, in a tree, or draped over a patio or deck to create a warm, lit, outdoor room. A solar panel powers it with the sun. A remote lets you control the lighting without getting up. “Outdoor lighting can complement your home and create an extension of the interior so the mood is set before ever stepping foot inside,” says Horn.


Create colorful mood lighting around your house

"Many of these LED lighting systems allow for changing the color or the temperature of the light,” says Horn. “So it's possible to make adjustments should you change (or) update your interior." With this outdoor flood light set, for example, you could create colored lights in the landscaping, bright white light where you need to see the stairs, and warm lighting on a porch — and you can change it with the remote anytime you like.


Use wood accents for homey warmth

“Implement reclaimed wood accents, such as a rustic mantel or barn door, to add warmth and character to your home's interior,” advises David Mason, an interior designer and the founder of Set this olive wood utensil holder, for example, on a granite counter to warm the cold mood of stone and hold a few decorative kitchen tools to make your kitchen look lived-in and cozy.


Plant flowers in wooden planters

This wooden farmhouse planter makes a great pot for some herbs or flowers. The Acacia wood will soften the effect of a concrete or stone path while remaining easy to move and repot. Line several of them on a flight of stone stairs to create a grouping. A drain hole in the pot means you can plant directly into it or set a nursery pot inside.


Accent your home with wood pieces

This bamboo lazy Susan adds a bit of natural wood to whichever room you use it in. Set it in you bathroom to display all of your skin care products, leave it in your kitchen to hold your spices, or use it as catchall at the center of your coffee table. It’s such a low-lift way to integrate wood accents into your home.


Create the look of wood paneling

When it comes to adding wood, the look is as important as the actual material. So if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, Mason has some advice. “Use peel-and-stick wood panels for an affordable and easy-to-install option,” he says. This peel-and-stick wallpaper works well for this. The blonde, vintage-look wood looks convincingly like the real thing, comes in lots of sizes, and is easy to afford and install.


Use peel-and-stick panels as backsplash

These wood grain peel-and-stick backsplash panels are an affordable, easy, and effective way to turn any wall into one that looks like wood paneling. The distressed wood look has texture and is easy to install simply by peeling and sticking the tiles to the surface. The results are water resistant.


Install an eye-catching backsplash for a bold statement

"Make a bold statement in your kitchen by installing a new backsplash featuring eye-catching colors or patterns, which can be an affordable upgrade that significantly alters the space's look,” says Danielle Elderkin, an interior designer based in the Poconos. This is so easy with these tin peel-and-stick backsplash tiles. In just a few minutes, you can create an unique look that will make your backsplash pop.


Add a pop of color to your bathroom

Use these emerald green peel-and-stick kitchen backsplash tiles to bring a pop of gorgeous color to your kitchen or bath. Each of the 10 panels looks like 12 tiles so the application is quick and simple. Cut the sheets with scissors and apply them to your wall. There are 10 colors to choose from and the effect is surprisingly realistic and easy to clean.


Replace your cabinet pulls for a modern update

"Transform the look of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets by switching out old hardware with new knobs and pulls, available in various finishes, shapes, and colors, for an instant facelift,” says Elderkin. This is so simple to do. Unscrew your current pulls and screw in these black cabinet pulls with a modern simplicity that will update the appearance of your cabinets. This is a pack of 30, which is likely more than enough.


Swap in ceramic knobs for a softer look

If you want a soft and pretty look in your kitchen, these ceramic cabinet knobs will take you there in minutes. With delicate patterns and muted colors, they bring energy and a boho mood to your space. Choose from five colors.


Restore old & thrifted furniture with wood polish

Sometimes you don’t have to spend a lot to get beautiful furniture. "Hunt for one-of-a-kind vintage furniture pieces in thrift stores and at Facebook Marketplace,” says Elderkin. The pieces don’t have to be perfect. “A bit of furniture polish or a fresh coat of paint can rejuvenate these finds and give your home a distinctive style,” she says. This wood polish and conditioner is easy to apply with a soft cloth and it quickly restores tired-looking wood with a meal of beeswax and orange oil.


Repaint furniture to upgrade what you have

If the piece you find needs more than cleaning and polishing, a coat of this Country Chic paint will turn it into a thing of beauty. Choose a color — there are 56 to choose from — and start painting. The primer is built in so there is no need for multiple steps.


Paint vibrant & fun colors to accent your walls

"Enhance your home by using vibrant and fun colors to paint architectural details around archways and doorways, bringing a modern flair to traditional spaces,” says Elderkin. Use this acrylic latex paint for larger projects, indoors or out. It is easy to clean up. Choose a gloss, satin, or flat finish — and make sure to get enough of it. There are four sizes.


Keep your spaces free of clutter

"Clear clutter from all surfaces,” says Joy Aumann, a licensed realtor (CIPS) and co-founder of La Jolla Life. “Kitchens and baths should have empty counters and a minimalist look. In living spaces, limit accessories to create a spacious feel." You don’t have to get rid of everything you own. Just get serious about storage bins. These clear ones fit on shelves, have integrated handles, and let you see what’s in them.


Keep bathroom & kitchen counters clear

It’s surprising how much room you will find under your sink to keep items you use often, once you install this under-sink organizer with drawers that slide out. This is a pack of two has enough storage space to make that messy space under the sink useful. It’s clear so you can see what’s in it.


Pack away clutter that you don’t need right now

Bag up extra linens, coats, and other bulky items into these vacuum storage bags and use your vacuum to suck the air out of the bags. That gear will take up a fraction of the space it demands now so you can clear away the clutter while keeping expensive linens available and ready for the season change.


Swap in modern light fixtures

Aumann also suggests you look at your lighting. "Improve lighting with inexpensive fixtures and smart bulb placement,” says Aumann. This architectural ceiling light, for example, will boost the lighting and style in a space for very little money. If the lighting is too bright, “install dimmer switches to set the perfect mood in each room,” she says. Focus on lights that “Illuminate dark corners and highlight architectural details," says Aumann.


Replace outdated lighting in important places

Replacing the lighting in the bathroom is easy to do and super affordable, especially considering what a huge upgrade it is in that small space. All at once, it can boost the lighting in the room while bringing in a piece of elegant detail — and getting rid of something that looks dated. This vanity light with Edison bulbs and glass shades is effective and pretty.


Add in wireless lighting where you need it

You don’t need to run wires to add more lighting. This wall-mounted sconce peels and sticks to a wall, headboard, or mirror to throw light wherever you want. The sconce and base connect magnetically so you can remove the light to charge it or when you need a flashlight. It has four levels of brightness, three color temperatures, seven colors, four modes, and a timer.


Put a floor lamp in dark corners

Sometimes a floor lamp is what the space demands. Those can be very expensive. But this simple industrial floor lamp is affordable and has a minimalist elegance that works in many situations. You can choose from several base colors and configurations and change the bulb to create whatever style or light color works best in the space.


Move your furniture around to give your space a refresh

"Rethink your furniture arrangement to define spaces and allow traffic flow,” recommends Aumann. “Pull pieces away from the walls and remove excess items that cramp rooms." This is much easier to do if you set the feet of your furniture on these furniture sliders. Even heavy pieces will be easy to move without damaging the floors. That way, you can move everything around to see how it looks as many times as you want.


Use mirrors to make your space look bigger

"Add a large mirror to visually expand smaller spaces,” suggests Aumann. “Lean one against the wall or hang (one) horizontally above a sofa to make ceilings appear higher." This arched full-length mirror is big enough to make even a tiny room feel spacious and the architectural shape becomes a style element in the room.


Put mirrors on your wall to add depth to a room

This decorative mirror that’s shaped like a window makes a great piece of art over a couch or in an entryway and the reflection will expand the space and reflect light to brighten it. It comes in three sizes so you can choose the right size for your space or create a grouping. The frame is available in black and gold.


Add a plant near your entryway & in living areas

"Fresh flowers and potted greenery immediately boost curb appeal,” says Aumann. “Cluster blooms near your home's entrance and in the main living areas." Set them in this indoor plant stand so they aren’t all clustered on the furniture or windowsills. The simple bamboo legs and slender shape won’t distract from the beauty of your greenery and you can choose from two heights by flipping it over.


Substitute with fake plants if your thumbs aren’t green

If your green thumb isn’t working at the moment, this three-pack of potted fake plants will step in to bring the effect you are looking for. You can choose from four styles. And, since they don’t need light or water, this trick works to bring life to parts of your home that don’t get enough light to support it and will stay green even if you aren’t there to water the plants.


Line your home’s entrance with plants

Use this wooden planter box on the porch, deck, or in window boxes. Or create a line of them on a window sill. The wood is warm, homey, and decorative so you can quickly drop nursery pots into it for a fast boost of nature that is easy to change out as the flowers fade. It comes in three sizes and has drain holes in the bottom.


Lay down a neutral rug to anchor your room

"Roll out an affordable rug in a soft neutral tone to anchor a room,” says Aumann. “Make sure it's large enough for all furniture legs to fit on top." This area rug is perfect for the task. The faded-looking, vintage pattern makes it look like an heirloom while the easy-to-clean, durable fabric won’t cause you worry. It comes in 53 shapes and sizes and 12 colors.


Replace heavier curtains with ones that let light in

One easy swap you can make? "Replace heavy draperies with breezy linen or cotton curtains in a light color,” says Aumann. These linen curtains come in 18 light shades and have an airy look that won’t darken the room while it elevates the style in your space. “They'll let in natural light and give a relaxed vibe,” she says.


Create a drop zone near your entryway

"Creating an instant drop zone near the entryway to your home ensures that clutter like keys, bags, and outerwear have a designated place, keeping the rest of your home tidy and organized,” says Heather Knight-Willcock, interior designer and expert for Something simple like this bamboo shoe rack serves well, fits into a small space, and gives you a place to sit while you put your shoes on.


Complete your drop zone with a space for keys & mail

Mount this key holder to the wall above a bench to create a complete entryway solution. It has hooks to hang your keys, bag, and jacket. There’s a rail that’s perfect for sunglasses and the dog leash. A shelf above is the perfect place to drop the mail and your wallet. Drop zones are a “practical solution (that) not only streamlines daily routines but also sets a welcoming tone for visitors, making them feel immediately at ease in your home," says Knight-Willcock.


Put some fresh flowers in a vase

"Always add a plant or fresh flowers to instantly set the vibe for the rest of your home and bring a smile to your face,” says Knight-Willcock. This ceramic jug vase set makes it easy to display a few flowers picked from the garden or to split a store-bought bouquet into several displays around your home. The organic shapes and texture create a calming vibe while hiding the messy water and stems.


Add live plants for some greenery

This live houseplant collection is a quick way to drop some greenery in your home. The set of three live, 8-to-10-inch tall plants arrives in decorative pots, ready to set in a bright space where they will look pretty and keep your air clean. There are lots of options to choose from and each one comes with growing instructions.


Upgrade surfaces with a marble-patterned contact paper

"One of my favorite affordable tricks is using peel-and-stick wallpaper or contact paper to give surfaces a new look,” says Chenise Hinds, an interior designer, home stager, licensed realtor, and contributor for Momooze. This marble contact paper works well and comes in whatever size you need to match your project. “For example, lining the backsplash in a kitchen with a marble-patterned contact paper can give the illusion of high-end countertops on a budget,” Hinds says.


Add a decal to a plain wall

Decorate with these hanging wall vines around windows or above the bed to create a hand-painted mural effect with very little money or commitment. (It’s removable.) They go up in seconds. Just peel the backing off and press them onto the wall.


Create a statement wall with peel-and-stick wallpaper

When you want to create drama, this peel-and-stick wallpaper delivers. With a rich, dark pattern torn from history, it gives an entire wall — or a small space — a lush look. Choose from five patterns and sizes, find a wall that needs color, and transform that space in minutes.


Add a few throw pillows or upgrade the ones you have

"Beyond paint, carefully curating accessories makes a big difference,” says Hinds. “I advise decluttering first and then adding key decorative items like throw pillows, mirrors, candles, flowers, and other greenery." You don’t have to drop a small fortune on new throw pillows. Start with these pillow covers to coordinate your mismatched ones or turn an inexpensive pillow insert into a custom throw. The textured fabric comes in a range of beautiful colors and sizes.


Introduce key decorative items like candles

This set of three pillar candles will dress up a mantle, entry table, or bedside and throw a beautiful warm light without smoking or overwhelming the space with scents. Choose from two sizes and seven colors to create vignettes that reflect your home’s colors or that add a punch of color to a neutral background.