Living Room Staging 101: The Key to Selling Your Home Quickly

An image of a virtually staged bedroom

When it comes to staging a home for sale, it's not just about selling four walls and a roof – it's about selling a whole lifestyle! 

And there's one room that shines as the perfect representation of this: the living room. It's the heart of the home, where we gather with loved ones, unwind, and create lasting memories.

So it comes as no surprise that the living room is the most commonly staged room, according to a survey of sellers' agents for NAR's 2023 Profile of Home Staging, with an impressive 91% staging rate. 

And it's not just the sellers' agents who recognize its significance – buyers' agents are on board too, agreeing that the living room holds the utmost importance when it comes to staging.

The real question here isn't whether you should stage your living room, but rather how to stage it in a way that maximizes its selling potential. 

Here's an overview of the topics we'll cover today:

Choosing the Right Approach to Staging Your Living Room

When it comes to staging your living room, you've got options! The approach you choose will be influenced by various factors, such as your budget, whether you're still living in the property, and the time available for staging.


When it comes to professional staging services, you can expect skilled stagers to assess your space, curate furniture and decor, and create an appealing atmosphere that captures the attention of potential buyers. Just keep in mind, this option does come with a heftier price tag and requires more time investment compared to the other alternatives.

Let me shed some light on the numbers: According to a 2023 article by, traditional staging costs can include an initial design consultation ranging from $300 to $600, followed by a monthly fee of $500 to $600 per room that is staged.

Now, here's the catch: Many professional home stagers typically require a minimum three-month staging contract, regardless of whether your home sells within the first 24 hours. 

With 20% of agents reporting a 1-5% increase in the value of staged homes, it's important to note that the costs of traditional staging could potentially offset the additional earnings. In other words, what you gain from staging might need to be spent on staging itself. So, it's vital to carefully weigh the financial implications before making a decision.


Simply put, DIY staging refers to the practice of using your own skills or enlisting the assistance of your agent to enhance the visual appeal of your space. When you opt for DIY staging, you get to decide how much time, effort, and money you want to invest.

One of the major perks of DIY staging is cost-effectiveness. You can utilize existing furniture and decor, or explore budget-friendly options to bring out the best in your living room. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median dollar value spent on staging when sellers' agents personally handled it was $400.

It's worth noting that the majority of sellers (79%) undertake at least one improvement project when selling their home, as highlighted in the 2023 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report. This can include painting, redecorating, or upgrading appliances, all of which contribute to enhancing the overall appeal.

However, let's not overlook the fact that DIY staging may require more time and effort on your part. While it can be a rewarding and enjoyable process, remember that you will need to stay up-to-date on design tips, market trends, and ensure your staging aligns with the expectations of potential buyers.


Vacant rooms are virtual staging's best friend. Instead of physically moving furniture and decor around, virtual staging works its magic by digitally incorporating top-notch furniture, decor, and other elements into an empty or minimally furnished space.

Virtual staging offers several enticing advantages. First and foremost, it is incredibly cost-effective compared to traditional staging. With virtual staging, there are no expenses for purchasing, renting, or storing physical furniture and decor. 

Instead, virtual staging usually requires a single payment, with the cost calculated on a per-image basis. The cost of virtually staging an entire home can range from $72 to $360, while a living room can be virtually staged for under $50, even if you opt for multiple perspectives.

Additionally, the turnaround time is often significantly faster, thanks to the remote nature of the process. In fact, at, you can get your virtually staged photos back in an impressive under 8-hour timeframe. Perfect for those sellers who are in a hurry, as a notable 16% of home sellers report feeling that sense of urgency.

Finally, virtual staging doubles as a powerful marketing tool. Its eye-catching designs and visually appealing transformations are perfect for grabbing attention and generating interest among potential buyers. In fact, a whopping 48% of buyers' agents consider virtual staging to be as important, if not more important, than listing photos, according to NAR’s 2023 survey.

Living Room Staging Tips and Ideas

When it comes to preparing a living room for sale, it's crucial to follow a 4-step process. The initial three steps involve important preparatory work, setting the foundation for the final highlight: actual staging. Skipping or neglecting these steps would be a mistake, as they can greatly affect the overall quality of our end result.


An image of an unfurnished living room, pre staging

This step is of utmost importance, considering that sellers have reported that 30% of offers fell through due to issues raised in inspection reports. While it's true that most repairs in the living room tend to be cosmetic in nature, addressing them early on is essential to prevent potential buyers from fixating on negative details. 

Here are some some simple yet effective solutions that can make a world of difference when it comes to the initial impression your living room makes:

  • Revitalize your flooring: 

There are several things you can do to breathe new life into them. 

If your hardwood flooring is in need of some tender loving care, refinishing might be the best course of action to address any significant damage or wear. On the other hand, if your hardwood floors are still in decent shape and simply need a boost, giving them a fresh coat of polish can do wonders to restore their natural beauty and shine. 

For those who have carpeted living rooms, steam cleaning is a highly recommended course of action. By engaging in this process, you can eliminate stubborn, unsightly stains while simultaneously leaving your carpet smelling fresh and clean. According to Zillow, the average cost for professional carpet cleaning nationwide, when preparing your house for sale, is approximately $140.

  • Refresh your walls:

As a first step, be sure to patch up any holes or blemishes on your walls where pictures or wall art were previously hung. This will ensure a clean and polished appearance as you prepare your living room for the next stage.

If you're looking to make a significant impact, repainting your walls is definitely worth considering. It's a common and effective improvement that many home sellers opt for, with the average cost for interior painting nationwide around $1,245.

When selecting a paint color, it's wise to stick with neutrals. Research suggests that using brighter colors can create the illusion of a larger space. Additionally, neutral colors have a broader appeal, making them more likely to resonate with a wider range of potential buyers. 

  • Upgrade your lighting:

Brighten up your living room by replacing any burned-out light bulbs, as creating a well-lit environment is crucial for showings.

Give careful thought to the type of light bulbs you choose, particularly their warmth level. Warm bulbs are preferable for living rooms, as they exude a cozy ambiance, while cool lighting can make the room feel clinical and devoid of character.

If you really want to impress potential buyers, consider upgrading to smart light bulbs. Not only do they offer advanced functionality, but they also allow you to customize the lighting to suit various moods and preferences, adding an extra level of sophistication to your living room.

  • Inspect your fireplace:

If your living room has a fireplace, it's wise to have it inspected and cleaned. A thorough inspection ensures that any potential issues with the fireplace are addressed before they become a concern during the buyer's inspection. 


Once you've completed the necessary repairs, it's important to give your living room a thorough deep clean. By doing so, you not only eliminate any remaining dust, stains, or odors, but also create a pristine and inviting atmosphere that showcases the true potential of your space. According to national averages, professional house cleaning services typically amount to an average cost of $160. 

If you prefer taking on the cleaning yourself, here's a helpful checklist to ensure you cover all bases when tidying up your living room:

Living Room Cleaning Checklist created by
  • Dusting: Wipe down surfaces, including shelves, coffee tables, side tables, and entertainment centers, using a microfiber cloth or a duster.
  • Vacuuming: Vacuum the entire living room thoroughly, including carpets, rugs, upholstery, and fabric-covered furniture.
  • Floor Cleaning: Depending on the flooring material, sweep or mop the floors. Vacuum or mop under furniture and in hard-to-reach corners.
  • Window Cleaning: Clean the windows, both inside and outside, using a glass cleaner and lint-free cloth for a streak-free shine.
  • Baseboards and Molding: Don't forget to dust these as well. Use a damp cloth or a soft brush to remove dust and grime from them.
  • Light Fixtures: Dust and wipe down light fixtures, including lamps, ceiling lights, and chandeliers.
  • Electronic Care: Dust and clean electronic devices, such as television screens, using appropriate cleaning materials.
  • Upholstery Refresh: Vacuum and spot clean upholstered furniture, paying attention to stains or spills. If necessary, consider using a fabric cleaner suitable for your furniture type.
  • Air Freshening: Use air fresheners, open windows for ventilation, or light scented candles to ensure a pleasant fragrance in your living room. Consider using simple scents, like pine, citrus, or jasmine. 


An example of living room virtual staging

Once the repairs and cleaning are completed, the next vital step is to pare down the personal items and furniture in your living room. By doing so, you create a more neutral and spacious environment that allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in the space.

  • Declutter and depersonalize: 

In order to create a blank canvas for potential buyers to envision their lives in the space, it's essential to remove all personal items, mementos, and nicknacks from the living room. By doing so, you create a neutral environment that allows buyers to mentally picture themselves living there.

Focus on decluttering surfaces, such as shelves, coffee tables, and mantels, removing personal items like photographs and trinkets. This allows the living room to feel more open and spacious, giving buyers a clearer perspective on how they can customize the space to suit their own tastes and preferences.

The act of decluttering goes beyond simply creating visual space in the living room. It plays a crucial role in helping potential buyers focus on the task at hand, which is evaluating the space. Fascinating research in neuroscience reveals that environments filled with excessive clutter require us to exert more effort to concentrate on tasks, ultimately leading to feelings of fatigue.

  • Edit your furniture selection:

In the world of living rooms, the philosophy of "less is more" reigns supreme. These spaces often become the unintended dumping grounds for a myriad of unnecessary items. As a general principle, aim to retain essential furniture pieces, including a sofa, rug, coffee table, accent chair, and a media console.

By scaling down the furniture selection, you accomplish two significant goals: creating an illusion of spaciousness and granting potential buyers ample room to freely roam around and evaluate the room's layout and potential. This uninhibited exploration allows them to envision how they would utilize the room and personalize it to suit their own tastes and needs.

Pro tip: Pay close attention to the scale of the furniture you choose. In a small living room, bulky furniture can easily overwhelm the space and make it feel cramped and crowded.

Another thing that you should pay attention to when it comes to your furniture is to keep it as neutral as possible, steering clear from any bold patterns or colors. Neutrals have a broader appeal and make it easier for potential buyers to envision their own style in the space. 

  • Remove window treatments:

At first glance, this might seem like an odd recommendation. However, if your objective is to maximize the amount of natural light in the room, it makes complete sense to eliminate heavy window treatments and fully pull back any curtains.

Why is natural light so important? Well, its importance cannot be overstated as it offers a multitude of benefits that go beyond simple illumination.

Extensive research has delved into the effects of natural light on our psyche and subconscious, revealing fascinating insights. Studies indicate that the amount of daylight in a home significantly impacts our perception of happiness and sadness, with increased daylight positively influencing our emotional well-being. 

Another study conducted on the Chinese real-estate market shows a strong correlation between indoor sunlight levels and property valuation. 

Additionally, natural light has the extraordinary ability to visually expand and open up any space, making it feel larger and more spacious than it actually is. When sunlight floods through windows, it fills the room with a sense of airiness and a captivating glow, instantly transforming it.


An image of a virtually staged living room with a fireplace

Welcome to the last step, where we bring everything together into a cohesive and visually pleasing final outcome. This is also the stage where the most remarkable transformation takes place, showcasing the difference between the "before" and "after" of your living room.

  • Choose a focal point:

A focal point in your living room is an element that stands out and naturally captures attention due to its visual impact. Common examples of focal points in a living room include fireplaces, built-in bookshelves, captivating artwork, or even large, picturesque windows. These focal points create a sense of drama and draw the eye, serving as central elements that anchor the space and contribute to its overall aesthetic appeal.

Arrange your furniture around the focal point in a way that maximizes both comfort and functionality. Ensure that seating areas are oriented towards the centerpiece wherever possible as this creates natural conversation zones and a welcoming ambiance.

When deciding on your layout, make sure that there is enough space to move around the room. This ensures potential buyers can navigate comfortably through the room, with a clear path to your focal point, which they'll undoubtedly want to inspect. A helpful guideline to follow is leaving approximately 18 inches between furniture pieces in smaller rooms, while doubling that distance for larger spaces. 
  • Bring in decorative elements:

Now that we have established a solid foundation, we find ourselves with a neutral space. While this provides a versatile canvas, we don't want it to be completely forgettable. To truly leave a lasting impression on potential buyers, it's vital to sprinkle some visually appealing elements that capture their imagination and create a memorable experience.

One effective way to accomplish this is by introducing an accent color. Select a vibrant hue that complements the overall aesthetic and weave it through the room via artwork, decor items, and accessories like throw pillows. However, it's crucial not to go overboard and overwhelm the space. By striking the right balance, you can add a memorable touch that sets your space apart from the rest.

Why stop at colors alone? Let's take it a step further by playing around with different textures and patterns. This instantly adds depth, visual interest, and a cozy ambiance to any space. You can strategically incorporate layers of different textures and patterns using elements like throw pillows, area rugs, and other decor pieces.

An image of a virtually staged living room

Another way of bringing color into the space is by including house plants or fresh flowers. By bringing nature into your space, you not only add visual interest but also create an inviting environment that evokes positive emotions for potential buyers, making your home even more memorable.

Want to effortlessly make your space appear brighter and more spacious? One simple trick: mirrors. These versatile decor pieces have the amazing ability to reflect light, instantly illuminating even the darkest corners.

When it comes to arranging small decor pieces, here's a pro tip: embrace the power of threes. Grouping items in sets of three can create a visually pleasing and balanced display. Whether you're styling a shelf, creating a vignette on a side table, or arranging artwork on a wall, grouping decor pieces in threes brings a sense of cohesion and harmony.

  • Add vertical height:

When it comes to maximizing your space, don't forget to utilize the vertical real estate. One effective way to draw the eye upward is through strategically placed artwork. By hanging artwork higher on the walls, you create a sense of vertical elongation and add visual interest to the room. 

Another clever method to achieve vertical elongation is by positioning your curtain rods closer to the ceiling. This allows you to create a floor-to-ceiling curtain look that adds a touch of sophistication and height to the room. 

Living Room Staging Before and After

Presented here are a series of digitally rendered before and after transformations of living rooms, showcasing the remarkable effects of virtual staging:

Living Room Before and After Transformation done with virtual staging

Improvements between the "before" and "after" images include:

  • - clutter and toys
  • - outdated furniture
  • + better furniture layout
  • + neutral colors and patterns
  • + greenery
Living Room before and after transformation done with virtual staging

The before image in this case was already stunning, so it didn't require any significant improvements. However, the trick here was choosing a design that would complement the amazing architectural details present in the space — namely the large arched windows and vaulted ceiling.

Therefore, any staging done in this living room would need to be neutral enough not to compete with the space, but also very elegant and sophisticated, so it doesn't feel out of place. I think that our team of 3D stagers knocked it out of the park, don't you agree?

Staging a Fireplace Mantel

An image of a living room with fireplace staged virtually

When it comes to staging a fireplace mantel, there are several key principles to keep in mind. First, consider creating balance and symmetry by placing matching items on either side of the mantel. This could include pairs of candlesticks, vases, or framed artwork.

If you’re unsure how many items to place above a mantelpiece, a good rule of thumb is create groups of three, as this can achieve a visually balanced composition. Avoid overcrowding the mantel with too many items, as it can appear cluttered. Instead, opt for a few statement pieces that make an impact.

Next, think about the scale of the items you choose. You'll want to ensure they are proportionate to the size of the mantel and the surrounding space. 

One popular staging technique is to incorporate a focal point above the fireplace, such as a large mirror or piece of artwork. This draws the eye upwards and adds visual interest to the area.

Lastly, pay attention to the details. Ensure that all items are clean, dust-free, and arranged neatly. Keep in mind that less is often more when it comes to staging a mantel, so aim for a curated and visually appealing arrangement.

Staging Shelves in the Living Room

To effectively stage shelves in your living room, begin by decluttering and organizing the space. Remove any unnecessary items and ensure that the shelves are clean and tidy. This will provide a clean canvas to work with and allow your staged items to shine.

Next, create balance and visual interest by arranging items of varying heights. Incorporate a mix of books, decor pieces, and personal items to add personality to the space.

Consider utilizing the rule of thirds by dividing each shelf into three sections vertically or horizontally. This can help guide the arrangement and prevent it from looking too crowded or unbalanced.

Play with different textures, colors, and shapes to add visual intrigue. Mix in items like plants, vases, artwork, and decorative boxes to create a layered and curated look.

Remember to leave some open space on the shelves to give the eye some room to breathe. This will also prevent the shelves from looking cluttered.

Lastly, step back and assess the overall arrangement. Make adjustments as needed and ensure that the shelves are visually cohesive and pleasing to the eye.

How to Stage a Small Living Room?

An image of a small living room virtually staged

Unlocking the secret to staging a small living room is simpler than you might think. By focusing on a few key principles—decluttering, paring down, maximizing light, and embracing bright colors—you can effortlessly transform your compact space into an inviting and visually appealing living room. 

First you need to declutter and depersonalize. Start by removing any unnecessary items and personal nicknacks from the room. Keeping the space clean and minimalistic will create a sense of openness and make it feel larger.

Once you've decluttered, the next step is to carefully curate your furniture selection. Simplify the arrangement by including just a few essential pieces that best serve the purpose of staging the living room. It's crucial to choose furniture that is appropriately scaled for the space, avoiding bulky or oversized items that can overpower a small living room.

Incorporate ample lighting into the room to make it feel brighter and more spacious. Utilize natural light from windows as much as possible and supplement with strategic placement of lamps or recessed lighting. Additionally, mirrors can work wonders in creating the illusion of more space. Position a large mirror on a wall opposite a window to reflect light and make the room feel larger.

And lastly, stick to light colors as they can help create an illusion of space in a small living room. Opt for a neutral color palette, such as whites, creams, or pastels, for the walls, furniture, and accessories. This will make the room feel brighter and more airy.

Living Room Staging Final Thoughts

Homebuyers everywhere agree that the living room is the most important room to stage. Lucky for you, there are plenty of options to make this space shine. Whether you go the DIY route, hire a professional, or go virtual, the end goal is the same: create an irresistible living room that grabs the attention of potential buyers. 

Remember, an inviting and well-staged living room can make a significant impact on buyer perception and influence their decision. So, whether you're aiming for a cozy and traditional aesthetic or a modern and sleek ambiance, investing time and effort into staging this central space can be a game-changer when it comes to selling your home.

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