Last month, we sold our house in Denver. Just a month previously, our realtor had walked through the house and suggested that we list it, in the current condition it was in, for $245,000. We put $5,000 worth of materials into the house.

Just one month later, we sold the house for $285,000.

That’s a $40,000 difference.

If you subtract the $5,000 in materials we put into the house, and $10,000 for the crazy-good Denver market at the time we sold, we still increased the value of our home by $25,000 in 3 weeks time.

How? The rest of the difference was labor and proper staging.

Can staging really make that much difference? You bet it can! Read on to find out how we made $25,000 from staging our house to sell.

I want to make it abundantly clear that I give God the thanks for this one. We were incredibly fortunate that the Denver market is smoking hot right now. Even if we had done everything right in a different market, we might not have made the same profit. Sometimes real estate is about being in the right place at the right time.

Still, the following tips made a tremendous difference for us and I believe they will for any house.

We are currently looking at houses to purchase in our new state, and there are VERY FEW houses I have seen that are staged to sell. About 1 house out of every 20 is staged well, if not fewer. If you follow even some of the tips below, your house will stand out from others on the market in your area.How We Made 25,000 From Staging a House to Sell|The Holy Mess

Why Stage a House?

A home is a huge investment, but it’s also a highly emotional purchase in more ways that you would imagine. Help the buyer see themselves in your home, and they will overlook many flaws.

To be honest, when we first started this process, I was not too keen on the process of staging. Since when did staging become a “thing”? It all seemed fake to me.

In my mind, Home and Garden network, Fix-It-Up TV shows, and all that hoop-lah had made this all too complicated. (Yes, I went into this process grouchy.) But now that we’ve been through both buying and selling a house, I get it.

Buyers need to see a clean slate so they can picture themselves in your house.

Your job is to change your home back into a house.

Get Help

This is an area where you need eyeballs helping that are not your own. Your home is simply too personal and emotional for you. You won’t see it properly.

We had great help from Nancy at Look at me…NOW! who walked through and gave us specific staging advice. If you are in the Denver area, I cannot recommend Nancy highly enough. Click on the link for her information.

Our realtor Kevin Chambless took gorgeous photos and gave us great advice, and we had so many friends who came over and helped us with painting and other work on the house. We could not have done it without them.

If you cannot afford to hire a professional, at the very least bring in one of your friends who is not afraid to give an honest — and I mean honest  opinion. (Your friend who will tell you if your outfit is ugly? That’s the friend you need.)

How We Made $25,000 From Staging Our House to Sell

Here are the biggest things we did to improve our house, ranked in order of what I feel was most important. (See below for photos.)

  • We moved out about one third to one half of our stuff. I am absolutely, totally serious about how much stuff we got out of the house. This is by far the best thing we did to stage our house. I was shocked when Nancy came in and suggested we move out some of our best furniture, but once we did, it opened up so much space and made our house look bigger. We were moving anyway, so why not? It’s okay to have moving boxes in the basement or a POD in the driveway. Anyone looking at the house knew we were moving and would not be concerned to see this. Moving boxes strewn all over a messy house is a whole other issue.
  • We moved out everything personal. We took down all our family pictures from the walls, religious artwork, and anything specific to our family. The idea is to create a space where the next family can picture themselves in the home.
  • We painted and re-carpeted the whole house in neutral colors. With the exception of a couple bedrooms, we painted the whole house a clean, bright white. I know it’s the rage these days to paint your house other colors besides white (beige, gray) and that’s fine too when done well, but it’s tough to beat plain white for erasing stains and adding brightness and light. The main thing is to stick with neutral colors. It’s a personal choice if laying new flooring will be worth it in your housing market. If it’s not worth replacing, have it professionally cleaned. To give a flooring allowance does not give the emotional impact you need. The difference when we replaced our 15 year old carpet was simply amazing. Our whole house looked transformed.
  • We de-cluttered what was left and used attractive boxes and bins for storage. Don’t get rid of everything. The next owners need to see the space being used. Use half the closet space and put something on each shelf so it looks like usable space, but there’s still room to spare. Three boxes is a good number. A closet shelf with 3 boxes (any size, any type) is appealing to the eye.
  • We cleaned house like there was no tomorrow. We made our house sparkle! Our teenagers pitched in and we cleaned until we could clean no more. We washed windows. We wiped down cabinets and got rid of grease. Every wall and baseboard was cleaned. The cabinets were cleaned and polished. I wrote a whole blog post about this product I discovered and used to clean my entire house. New caulk in all the bathrooms and around the windows (our house didn’t have replacement windows) made a world of difference. I won’t kid you — some nights I fell into bed so exhausted I could barely move. This was not fun time, but at the end of this whole process, obviously it was totally worth it.
  • We cleaned up the yard and painted (some of) the outside trim. With the help of friends, we gave the yard an overall cleaning, trimmed bushes and branches, and laid down mulch to spruce up neglected spots. We focused on the front door area since people will stand there waiting for the realtor to unlock the front door, and first impressions matter.
  • We added a few simple decorative items. This is another area where it’s helpful to have a friend with a simple, clean eye for decorations. Do you have a friend who has one of those houses that looks great — but not overly stuffed with clutter? My friend Janet walked through my house and even loaned me a number of items for our open house and photo taking. Much of our froo-froo stuff was already packed by the time our house showing came. Just a few items in each room brought in classic charm without being over the top.

Before and After Photos: Staging Our House to Sell

Check out this blog post for the whole story about how we went from before to after.

Dining room before after|The Holy Mess

Family room before after|The Holy Mess


Josiah room before after|The Holy Mess

Zack room before after|The Holy MessBefore

House Picture Before

“Before” Upper bedrooms and bathroom.

House before picture

“Before” Bathroom, Teens bedrooms and Storage room.

Before pictures

“Before” Living Room, Family Room, Kitchen, Dining Room


After, outside of house

After, outside of house

How We Made $25,000 by Staging Our House to Sell|The Holy Mess

After, Front Door, Living Room, Kitchen

How We Made $25,000 Staging Our House to Sell|The Holy Mess

After – Dining room, Family Room, Bathroom, Master Bedroom, Kids Bedrooms


Sara Recommends

After the Boxes Are UnPacked — book

Moving with Kids — book

Moving Boxes

Moving Stretch Wrap –highly recommend!

1-800-Got Junk — removal company, highly recommend

Moving Supplies

Have you staged a house to sell? Share your tips in the comments below.

How We Made $25,000 From Staging Our House to Sell|The Holy Mess