Home Staging Tips | Free Home Staging Course (Unit 3)

Tips For Home Staging - SHS

Home Staging Course Unit 3

Home Staging Tips for Color and Interior Design Principles

This section will be all about home staging tips related to color and design. This unit will help you with some of the aesthetic decisions you’ll make when you stage homes, and we’ll get into some of the best decor tips for making irresistible interior spaces that will activate buyers’ senses and help them start connecting to the home.

If you’ve missed the beginning of the course or just want to review, go back and check out Part 1 of our home staging course.

Color & Human Response

Humans are extremely responsive to color. We have direct physical and psychological responses to color, so when you?re staging a home, you need to understand these principles. This section ties in to home staging psychology, one of the most fascinating aspects of this field.

There are plenty of books on the topics of color psychology and using color in decorating (I have read and recommend the one above), and we could go into great detail here, but I want to give you the most important home staging tips about color that will be useful to you in your everyday staging projects.

Generally speaking, warm colors (pink, red, orange, yellow, and yellow-green) are associated with energy, excitement, activity, and sometimes happiness and love.

These colors can convey a physical sense of warmth.

Cool colors (blue, blue-green, blue-violet, gray) are associated with water, snow, and sky.

These colors can convey a cooling sensation.

Cool colors are calming, soothing, and restful.

There are variances within each hue such as cooler oranges and warmer blues, but the primary hues will fall into the category of warm or cool.

Greens and violets can definitely vary quite a bit in terms of being warmer or cooler.

Grays can be quite warm but generally they are classified as cool.

Brown and beige shades fall into the warm category.

Make sure you stick with very light shades when you?re choosing room colors for home staging, since a color can look a lot darker on the walls than you thought it was when you looked at the paint chip.

This is due to the changes in how we perceive the color in a large area like an entire room. It just looks different on the two-inch square that you see on the chip.

So, factor this in when you?re selecting colors and always err on the side of lighter rather than darker. An exception would be when you?re really trying to make a room look smaller, but this isn?t usually the case in home staging.

Let?s talk more about specific colors and how you can use them in your staging.

Home Staging Tips: Using Color in Home Staging


Green is associated with nature and it makes us feel calm. Strong green shades like grass green or emerald should be used sparingly, as accents, and are especially appropriate for bedrooms due to their soothing effect.

Pale, earthy greens like sage shades can be used for walls in any room.

Keep wall colors light.

Clare Color Genius – Take the quiz to find your perfect paint color!


Red is a high energy color, and as such, it is appropriate to use in smaller doses for staging.

Areas like dining rooms where you want to encourage social interaction are great places to use red.

I like using red in the more problem rooms such as a dated kitchen or bathroom where you really want to lead the eye away from trouble spots.

When you use red in three small areas in a space, it helps move the eye around and can make the space seem more alive.

In a kitchen I might use a red teapot, a red (or partially red) throw rug in front of the sink, and a vase full of red flowers such as dahlias.

The key to using red is to use it strategically to say ?look here!? ? be aware of the attention it will attract, and use it to achieve your staging goals. If I really want someone to focus on the beautiful fireplace, I might think about how I can use a pop of red to make sure it isn?t missed.

In bedrooms, red can lend a romantic vibe. This can be fine for staging, as long as you keep it from being over the top. Remember, small doses.


Yellow is probably the color associated with happiness more than any other hue. It?s also very easy to overdo it with yellow, so it?s another one that I would suggest using strategically in smaller doses.

Yellow is definitely a go-to color when you want to add a sense of light to a space. It?s the color of the sun so we automatically make the association with daylight.

I like using it subtly such as in a throw pillow, fresh (or good-looking faux) flowers, or artwork. It?s great for cheering up a laundry area.


Orange works much like red and yellow but it can be trickier to use successfully. One reason is because orange isn?t high on most people?s list of favorite colors.

I would definitely use prints that feature orange, and orange accents like a big bowl of oranges (especially if you?re lucky enough to have an orange tree on the property and you want to highlight it as one of the home?s nice features), flowers, candles, or throw pillows.


When you ask people what their favorite color is, blue is the most common response. You can be pretty comfortable that when you?re using blue, people are much more likely to love it than dislike it.

Strong blues are great where you want to give a cool, calm feeling, and are best used as accent colors. Pale blues are very pleasing to the eye and can be used in any room.

In a bathroom, pale greens and blue-greens can convey a serene, spa-like feeling. Pale blue bedrooms look like a relaxing space for relaxing and resting.


White is a nice background where you can make your colors pop. Avoid using too much white, since it can come across as dull, cold, and lifeless.

Use white in conjunction with color so that your spaces feel happy and alive.

Warm whites are the best shades to go with ? colors like antique white, cream, and into the light parchment and linen shades.

White is popular for just about any room in the house, especially kitchens and bathrooms as they give you a fresh, clean look.


Natural shades are very pleasing and will impart a warm, satisfying feeling. Humans love natural materials. Use light tan shades for walls and make the space come to life with pops of color.

Choose linen-colored throw pillows or bedding to convey a pleasing, tactile sense that will be very appealing to buyers.

Even if buyers don?t actually touch anything when viewing the home, the look of natural materials (like these gorgeous baskets) is so enticing that it works psychologically.

I?m not suggesting that you decorate with beige and khaki, but use these peaceful colors in conjunction with your accent colors to give the eye a pleasing balance of liveliness and comfort.

What are the Best Home Staging Colors?

Want some home staging tips that you can literally take to the bank?

Here?s some recent data about color and home sales straight from Zillow:

  • Blue bathrooms in shades like powder blue and periwinkle can boost a home?s sale price by an average of more than $5,000.
  • Cool, natural shades are also desirable for bathrooms.
  • White bathrooms are not as desirable, with an average of $4,000 taken off the sale price.
  • Grayish beige exteriors (greige) sell better than medium brown or tan.
  • Front doors painted in shades of navy and slate can add about $1500 to the sale price.
  • Terracotta dining room walls can take about $2,000 off the sale price.
  • Dining rooms painted in slate, pale gray, and navy can add about $2,000 to the sale price.
  • Yellow kitchens are not as popular these days. It can take around $800 off the price.

Home Staging Tips: Decorating and Style

Let?s go over some key decorating points to keep in mind for home staging.

Buyers want lots of space in a home. They want rooms that feel open and airy.

Go through the home and find all of the ways you can create a spacious, open feeling.

We already talked about removing clutter and excess furniture so let?s talk about other things you can do.

Closets & Cabinets

Closets are important areas where you should create space.

Closets are a huge deal, and nobody wants a closet that?s going to be a challenge due to its size.

While you can?t do anything about the size of the closet, you can make them feel as spacious as possible.

You can do this by having the sellers organize and thin out their wardrobe.

Seasonal items that aren?t needed can be packed and stored in preparation for moving.

Encourage sellers to find ways to make more closet space through organizing, storing, or possibly even donating stuff.

Cabinet space is also important and buyers may peek in to make sure they seem roomy. Make sure all storage areas look like they are sufficient by avoiding an overstuffed, unorganized look.

Aside from the space issue, any kind of disarray is undesirable in staging.

Buyers will want to check to make sure the home meets their needs right down to whether it has enough cabinet space or not.

Define Spaces

When you have a very large living area with undefined spaces, it may make the room seem more functional if you separate the spaces by using different paint colors, such as an end wall painted in an accent color.

You can accomplish the same separation with area rugs.

Having two well-defined areas can actually make a large random-feeling room seem larger and more useful.

Light & Space

Make sure you keep the window treatments nice and light as much as possible, so that you can bring the outside in and add light and an airy, open feel.

Large mirrors can help create space, especially when they are positioned so that they pick up reflections of daylight coming in through a window.

I like using modern, semi-abstract landscape artwork on walls because it?s not going to put people off, and it also adds a sense of space to the room.

Choosing Accessories & Decor

As far as decorating style when it comes to home staging tips I can give you, stick with a tasteful and up to date style that isn?t too taste-specific.

I often refer to Pottery Barn style as an ideal for appealing d?cor that appeals to a wide range of people.

Classic, yet current.

I?m definitely not saying that your items have to be from Pottery Barn.

Note: I like doing staging shopping through this cash back program; I like the quarterly checks that come from things I was going to buy anyway.

I?m a big fan of Wayfair, Saks Off Fifth (here’s a free shipping coupon), IKEA, CrateandBarrel.com clearance, Wisteria sale and clearance, and places like Ross for accessories.

Be sure to mix in accents in trendy prints or colors. You can liven up a blah sofa with fresh throw pillows. I've gotten gorgeous, beautifully-made pillow covers from this shop. There’s nothing more affordable for a high-impact update.

If mismatched furniture is an issue and you?re not able to swap for new pieces due to budget or time constraints, slipcovers might be an option.

A quick word on kitchen staging: please don’t use this type of artwork when you stage a kitchen. It’s a clich? that needs to be retired.

Putting It All Together

When you arrange furniture in a room, be sure to keep things balanced.

There is not a one-size-fits-all home staging tip that will apply in every situation, but when there is an imbalance, you?ll be able to see it and correct it.

Trust yourself when you think something isn?t quite right. When in doubt, less is usually more.

Lighten and brighten areas that are too dark by using light natural paint colors.

You?ll create an open feel while maintaining warmth when you stick with shades like straw, cream, and linen.

Mix in natural textures by using baskets?and tactile fabrics. Add shiny items like candle holders / candlesticks or vases for contrast.

Finally, make sure each room has a distinct purpose when you stage.

A bedroom used as a sewing room or office is OK (bedrooms used as bedrooms is the ideal way to stage) but when a room looks like a multi-purpose craft room/guest room/workout area, it starts to be less attractive.

You want each room to make an impression.

A dining room that?s also a shipping area for a home business is going to be less appealing than a dining room that just looks like a beautiful dining room.

Yes, it is possible to see past some of the current uses for spaces, but it really helps buyers see the home?s lifestyle potential more clearly when we keep rooms clearly defined.


1. Find a room in your house that you can stage. Practice with hands-on activities like rearranging items, placing throw pillows, or making the bed as attractively as possible.

You don?t have to physically make every change that would be helpful, but go through the steps in your mind. Think about the paint color, the artwork, and the personal items that would need to be removed. Get some practice in styling by rearranging and editing objects on tables, night stands, or dressers.

2. Go through some real estate listings online. Do a search for starter homes in your area and go over the photos of each room. Look at the rooms the way buyers will.

Make a list of all of the changes you would make, including anything you think would be reasonable to do for staging such as painting or changing light fixtures. Be sure to make notes about the homes best features as well as features you want to de-emphasize.

6 Interior Design Principles You Need to Know

Let?s go over some of the important information you should be familiar with when it comes to interior design.

This is going to be a quick overview with home staging tips that will give you a good basis for understanding how to make good decorating and design choices.

My personal belief is that if you?re interested in home staging, you probably already have a knack for it and understand good decorating in an instinctual way.

My dozen or so years as an instructor has shown this to be true time and time again.

I?ve never had a student turn in bad work.

And in many cases, the student turns in work that looks like it could be in a magazine.

This is just because people who are drawn to home staging are drawn to it because it taps into their natural abilities.

Even if you are a Realtor interested in becoming certified, I would feel confident in saying that you probably already have a knack for putting a room together.

And Realtors look at so many homes that you can?t help but develop a good eye after a while.

Having said all that, let?s get into some design principles.


Balance in interior design refers to the idea of using the visual weight of objects in a room to create visual balance. Balance is one of the ways you can give the room a sense of things just looking right.

Sometimes when things feel off, something isn?t quite right and you?re not sure why, it?s probably balance.

You will most commonly use symmetrical balance and asymmetrical balance. When using asymmetrical balance, it?s all about using unlike objects that have the same visual weight.

home staging bedUnity

Unity is a way to give a home a sense of flow and harmony throughout each room.

This isn?t something you?ll have total control of as a home stager, since you?re going to be working with a lot of design choices that have already been made.

Color is one of the ways a home can have a sense of unity. If one room is painted hot pink and every other room is done in earthy neutrals, that?s going to be shocking space to walk into.

If all of the rooms are painted in bold colors then the hot pink makes a lot more sense.

As a home stager you might not be painting every room.

But if you keep unity in mind, you might be able to make and jarring transitions a bit more subtle. In this example, you might be able to lessen the shock of the hot pink by adding some bold punches of color in other rooms.

Or in the hot pink room, you might be able to calm it down with some neutrals in other elements like artwork, bedding, rugs, etc.

And of course they could always paint the room! You can use unity as a reason, instead of having the homeowner think you are questioning their taste.


Humans like visual rhythm. It helps the eye move around a space and creates some visual interest.

Two ways you can use rhythm are with color and with what we call progression, which is basically a series of identical or similar objects that range in size.

Emerald green throw pillows and an emerald green vase on the mantle would be an example of using color to create rhythm. An arrangement of small white, blue-green, and orange pumpkins creates rhythm through progression.

Use rhythm in small doses.

Scale & Proportion

This principle is exactly what it sounds like. It?s about putting the right size pieces together, and making sure your furniture is the right size for the room. Make sure the coffee table looks like it?s the right size for the sofa.

Don?t put a tiny table in a family-sized dining area. It isn?t difficult to discern problems with scale and proportion, and it comes down to common sense in most cases, more than having to do with special home staging tips or formulas. Trust your eye.

Contrast is another way to add some visual interest to a space. You can use color, form, and space to create contrast.

When you put contrasting items together, what you?re doing is highlighting the differences between them, which in turn enhances each one and makes them look better.

Use contrast in small doses or the space can become too busy.


Emphasis is about choosing a particular focal point for a room.

You can use design elements to draw attention to an area like a fireplace, giving the room a focal point, and in the case of staging, emphasizing a desirable feature at the same time.

With these home staging tips, you’ll be able to stage any home with confidence.

Home Staging Course Unit 3 Assignments

1. Find three rooms in your own home or in a friend/family member?s home that you would paint if you were staging it. Working from a photo of each room, explain why a color change would be an improvement, and choose an exact shade that you would use when you repaint.

Try to pick a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams color as these are the two most commonly used by painting companies.

2. Discuss the use of color in the room below. What would you change, add, or remove? Is it appealing as-is? Aside from color, what staging steps would you take?

home staging assignment

Now that we’ve covered home staging tips for color and decorating, let’s move on to the next part of the course ? our home staging checklist.

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Home Staging Checklist | Free Home Staging Course (Unit 4)

Home Staging Checklist - School of Home Staging

Home Staging Checklist – SHS Free Staging Course Unit 4

Our home staging checklist will walk you through staging any home.

If you’ve missed the beginning of the course or just want to review, go back and check out Unit 1 of our home staging course.

Home staging checklist for outside areas and curb appeal

  • Tidy, trim, and mow all lawn areas and beds.
  • Patch bare spots in the lawn and make sure the grass gets watered so it’s nice and green.
  • Remove branches that might be blocking windows, lake, mountain, or other nice view sight lines, or giving the yard an overgrown look.
  • Add some pretty potted flowers near the front door, if seasonally appropriate.
  • Make sure the porch, deck, and walkways are washed and free of leaves.
  • Put away yard tools, empty pots, toys, trash cans, and lawnmowers.
  • Make sure the pets are picked up after. Hire a pooper-scooper service if necessary.
  • If the front door is painted and could use a new coat, consider using red if it works with existing house colors. Red front doors look great and convey an energetic feel upon entering.
  • Make sure the exterior, porch, and deck areas are spic and span and free of cobwebs and dust.
  • Make sure outdoor light fixtures are in good working order.
  • Remove cobwebs and clear any corners where leaf debris may accumulate.
  • Think about hiring someone to pressure wash your hard surfaces and give the house a soft wash – choose your service carefully so you’re using a company that won’t cause damage to your home. Read reviews and see how long they’ve been in business.
  • Consider an updated mailbox and house numbers.
  • Add fresh new doormats outside front and back doors.
  • If the home has a large porch, make sure there’s a seating area or porch swing.
  • Make sure the pool and hot tub areas are clean and free of leaves.

Home staging checklist for throughout the house

  • Put away clutter.
  • Remove excess furniture.
  • Clean thoroughly. Hire professionals if cleaning is not your strong suit.
  • Paint, if needed. White and neutral colors work best, and the paint should be in good condition and look fairly fresh.
  • Replace window coverings, if needed.
  • Put away seasonal items that aren’t needed, along with valuables, wardrobe items that aren’t needed, and knick-knacks or excess artwork/decor.
  • Make simple updates like new switch plates or cabinet pulls.
  • Depersonalize
  • Straighten books on shelves and please remove books about controversial topics and books about dealing with health problems, divorce, or other serious life concerns that buyers do not need to be thinking about as they tour the house. Yes, everyone does face life difficulties, but in staging we are creating an environment that doesn’t need to contain reminders of life’s challenges. We want to focus on the positive.
  • Remove plants that aren’t thriving, add new plants if desired.
  • Use psychological staging to edit or add.
  • Make decor updates like throw rugs and pillows.
  • Add vignettes.

Now let’s get into the room-by-room home staging checklist:

Entry and living areas

  • Remove any clutter that may accumulate near entryways such as shoes, coats, leashes, and mail.
  • Edit and arrange decorative items on mantle and tables.
  • Make sure artwork is appropriate and that the space has been properly depersonalized.
  • Arrange throw pillows and style other accessories as needed.
  • Add flowers/plants.


  • Make sure countertops are clear of clutter. Leave only the most essential items in order to accentuate counter space.
  • Remove refrigerator items like magnets, photos, lists, etc.
  • Place a pretty bowl of fruit on the counter.
  • Update dish towel and throw rug if necessary.
  • Organize cabinets and other storage areas.
  • Make sure there are no trash odors.

Dining room

  • Make sure the dining room is functioning as a dining room and not a multi-purpose room. No sewing machines, printers, bill-paying stations, or spill over from the kitchen like bulk packs of cereal and paper towels, or occasionally used small appliances.
  • Set the table as if a dinner party is happening. (Silverware can get stolen easily, I hate that it’s an issue but it’s something to think about, so you may want to skip using it.)
  • Check to make sure artwork is appropriate and the room is depersonalized.


  • Replace shower curtain, rug, and towels if necessary.
  • Remove all clutter and personal items from counter tops. Keep grooming items in a drawer. Zero people want to see your toothbrush and shaving stuff!
  • Make sure everything is sparkling clean, including grout.
  • Keep all step stools, kids’ bath toy baskets, laundry hampers, etc. out of the way (ideally, put away in a closet) to maximize floor space.
  • Create a spa-like atmosphere with luxury towels, pretty soaps, etc. if desired.


  • Update bedding if necessary. A new duvet cover can do wonders – you don’t have to buy a new sheet set if you have a white or neutral set in good shape, just go for a new duvet cover.
  • Remove all clutter and make sure the room is depersonalized.
  • Make beds neatly and style with throw pillows.
  • Edit and style decor items on dressers and night tables.
  • New nightstand lamps can give you an inexpensive update.


  • Remove seasonal items (winter coats etc.) that aren’t needed.
  • Create space by editing and organizing.
  • Make sure items are neat and tidy.
  • Create more space by packing up items and putting them in storage.
  • Make sure closets appear spacious, not cramped. Do this by paring down to only what you need during your listing period, which will hopefully be a short time frame due to these staging tips!
  • The more stuff you can put away in a POD or storage unit, the better.


  • Have the sellers keep litter boxes clean – scoop at least once per day.
  • Avoid smoking in the house. Nothing will put buyers off like the smell of cigarette smoke.
  • Air out the house.
  • Use Febreze as needed.

It can seem like a lot but try not to skip anything on this list. Each small detail adds up to an overall impression of your home, even the smallest details that buyers may not even consciously recognize can contribute to the level of appeal your home holds. You’re creating space, order, a sense of calm, a sense of contentment, and you want buyers to walk away with the feeling that things in the home have been taken care of and that life is good and secure in this house. You don’t want chaos or a sense of things being ignored and not cared for.

Now that you have the home staging checklist, we’re ready for step-by-step instructions for how to stage a house.

Some recommended products may use affiliate links. schoolofhomestaging.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc or its affiliates.
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