top of page

6 Tips for Staging an Occupied House

As real estate photographers who have captured a LOT of homes, we are big fans of staging. We can attest that good staging makes a huge difference in how well a house presents, and will help your listing appeal to the widest pool of potential buyers. If the house is vacant, or if the furnishings are outdated, we'd definitely recommend professional staging. A pro will bring the space to life and give buyers that feeling of HOME. However, if the homeowners already have great furniture & decor, all you may need is to do is guide them with some DIY "staging" tips to get the details dialed in and ensure their house is totally photo-ready.


1. Look at your house through buyer's eyes. Try to be objective and pretend you're walking into the house as a buyer (with critical eyes). Make a list of any potential red flags or anything that looks off-putting. Then take care of as many of those items as possible! Wipe down grimy walls, wash the windows, replace burned out lightbulbs, touch up paint on the walls or trim, clean the grout, and replace any stained bedding or towels.

2. Declutter. Prepping a house to sell is different than cleaning up for guests. You're aiming to make each room look spacious and clean, and you want buyers' eyes to be drawn to the selling features of the house (like the counters, tile, and appliances). To that end, it's important to clear surfaces off as much as possible. Remove toasters and blenders from your kitchen counters, take cards and artwork off your fridge, hide charging cords, and remove toiletries from showers. Make sure the high impact spaces are totally decluttered (for your photo shoot, you can hide extra stuff in the closets and garage).

3. Depersonalize. This part can be kind of hard sometimes. After all, the parts of our house that are personal are what make it feel like home to us (the family photos, the collections on display, and the bookshelves full of favorite books & decor)...but remember, we're not trying to make it feel like home to YOU anymore. We're trying to make it feel like home to the widest pool of potential buyers. Creating more of a blank slate will make it easier for them to imagine themselves living there (nothing against your cute family photos).

4. Add in cute items that actually make sense for the room. Now that you've decluttered & depersonalized, it's time to add some life back! We love seeing details that actually make sense for the room. In the kitchen, this might mean a bowl of fresh lemons or clementines, a bottle of wine + wine glasses, cookbooks, or bottles of San Pellegrino. In the bedroom, that might be a stack of books, a nice candle, or a cute clock on the nightstand. Creating these little vignettes will make your real estate photos more appealing and interesting.

5. Use plants! Plants are our favorite staging "item." They literally look good in every room, and with any style of house. Big plants are great in the corner of the living room or dining room, and little plants are perfect in kitchens & bathrooms, to add some vibrance & softness to all the hard surfaces. If you don't already have some plants to "stage" around the house, take this as your excuse to get a couple. No green thumb? We love faux plants—they can be used even in rooms with no light, and they'll be easy to move after the house sells!

6. Don't forget the exterior. We all know how important curb appeal is for making first impressions. Besides cleaning the siding and front door, pressure washing, and mowing the lawn/raking the leaves/shoveling (depending on the season), a couple little things we recommend are to set out a brand-new door mat and add a wreath to the door. It'll instantly look a little more photogenic & appealing. As for seasonal decor, it's always safe to keep your decorations more neutral. That said, if you're listing right away, a few touches of the current season can be really appealing to buyers! Think small things that are more about the season and less about a specific holiday (things like pine branches in the winter, a few pumpkins in the fall, or fresh tulips in the spring).

Want more tips? We have a room-by-room guide over on Instagram, as well as a checklist for homeowners.

Could your listing use professional staging? We have great relationships with many of the stagers here in Spokane and North Idaho! Contact us and we'd be happy to give you our recommendations.


bottom of page