Even if your bowling trophies and musty shag carpet feel like home to you, they might turn off potential buyers.  That’s why staging – as seen on TV – has become a popular technique to help sell houses.  But home staging is more than just redecorating; it’s a way to help potential buyers feel like your house could be their next home.It might seem counterintuitive to spend money on a home that you’re leaving, but the cost might be worth it.  According to StagedHomes.com, a leading home-staging organization, the final sale price on staged homes increased an average of 3 percent versus those that were not.  Staged homes also typically spend 80 percent less time on the market.

Staging doesn’t have to be expensive or overwhelming.  If you don’t know where to begin, talk to your REALTOR®, who can offer advice or help you find a professional stager.  A basic consultation with a home staging professional might cost $200 to $400 depending on the market, but some are complimentary.

If you want to do it yourself, start outside.  Clean the sidewalk and driveway and, if possible, add a fresh coat of paint to the house, garage door or railings.  Use potted plants and new light fixtures for flash at the front door.

Inside, keep things clean and clutter-free.  Pick impersonal art over family pictures.  Purge unnecessary belongings, and stow what you can’t throw away in decorative baskets.  Sparsely arrange furniture away from walls.  Add accents with mirrors, plants, rugs, pillows, colorful cookbooks, fruit bowls and other accessories.  Focus on lighting, from soft bedroom lamps to natural light from open drapes.