When buyers are looking for their next home, first impressions are everything. A cluttered space or a bad choice of wall color can be enough to make potential buyers turn around and walk out the door. If you’re planning to put your house on the market, you are probably hoping to sell as quickly as possible and get your asking price.

Successful staging provides two effects: it gives the home aesthetic appeal, and it allows potential buyers the opportunity to imagine themselves living in the house. Professional stagers know how to stage homes that appeal to buyers and make a positive impact by selecting great decor pieces while utilizing space.

Here are some helpful staging tips to turn a listing into a sold home in no time.

Know your audience.

Staging is less about your personal style, and all about the buyer or renter you’re trying to attract. You must always know your audience in order to create a successful staging design. You want your home to appeal to potential buyers. Discuss this matter with the broker, and research the neighborhood to understand the demographic that will be looking to purchase or rent your home. You can bring your personal style back into play in your new home.

Clear away all clutter.

If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go. It’s not easy, and it may even require storing your belongings temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble. Clean and clear surfaces, floors, cupboards and closets show how livable the space is in the eyes of potential buyers, so get rid of anything unnecessary or unsightly. Strike a balance between clean and lived-in. Think vases of flowers, a basket of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter, etc.

Pick the right furniture.

Home staging is meant to show the full potential of how a space can be used. Try to have as many functional pieces of furniture as possible without overcrowding the space. Steer clear from oversized or bulky furniture. Details like this make home feel cluttered. Opt for full size beds with two night stands, armless side chairs, lifted case goods and round, pedestal-base tables. Sometimes it’s a good idea to complete the picture. Even if you think a dining table crowds the space, at least show a two-seat dining set, as it’s more important to show that it could work than leave it out entirely.

Choose sophisticated colors.

Now is not the time to experiment with that “fun”-looking lime green. But that doesn’t mean you need to go all white, either. Rich midtone neutrals like mocha and “greige” create a sophisticated backdrop that makes everything look more pulled together. The goal in staging is to enhance a space, not distract from it. Usually a safe bet is to create a neutral space that any person, regardless of their taste, can appreciate. Bold colors and daring decor could be loved by some and loathed by others. For instance, walking into an overwhelming yellow bedroom can make potential buyers forget all about those beautiful marble counters in your kitchen. The last thing you want is for buyers to remember your staged space as “the one with that tacky yellow room.” That said, you shouldn’t be afraid of color. A trendy color applied in a tasteful way could leave buyers referring to the home as “the one with the gorgeous teal wall.”

One last thing to keep in mind is that staging doesn’t have to break the bank. Be creative and consider DIY options when you’re designing your space. In most cases, just keep these tips in mind and remember: Less is more. A few simple changes and you’ll be on your way to a space that other people are eager to live in.

Have other tips? Share them in the comments with us.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.