It’s no secret that staging your home will help it sell faster and for more money. But if you’re overwhelmed by the thought of renting furniture for your entire house or having to pay a professional to stage it for you, we have good news: You can do it yourself—cheaper and faster—if you know where to focus your attention.
In fact, successful stagers secretly turn to a few select rental items when they’re putting a space together.
“Rentals give people an idea of possibilities,” explains event producer Richard O’Malley of New York City. “Which is the key to any sale—to make an impression.”
So consider this the CliffsNotes of DIY home staging. (Of course, your first rental, which isn’t on our list, should always be a storage unit. If you haven’t started moving out yet, now’s the time to pack away the old grungy chair and the dog bed.) Opt for these four wow-worthy items to transform your home.
1. Big statement sofas
If your first course of action is to replace your ratty, coffee-stained couch with something nicer, you’re on the right track.
“When it comes to staging a home, sofas are the most important items,” says New York City–based interior designer Melody Vaughn. “They help show the size of the room and give a feeling of someone living there.”
But don’t opt for a petite and delicate settee. Big and bold is what can make buyers fall for your space.
“Large, modular couches can make a real statement, but they need to be more artistic than functional,” O’Malley explains. “Visual impact is key.”
Vaughn uses striking pieces like the ones available to rent through Greenroom to add depth and warmth to her clients’ spaces that catch buyers off guard.
“Regardless of the style of sofa, I say the funkier the better,” she adds, citing the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams collection at Greenroom as her inspiration of the moment.
Yes, conventional wisdom encourages sellers to choose neutral pieces. But it’s important to remember that when renting big-ticket items, you want to make a statement—which isn’t exactly something a floppy, flesh-colored couch will achieve.
“Even if [the buyer doesn’t] go with the style you chose, it gets their own imagination engaged in the possibility of that home,” O’Malley says.
To rent a Greenroom sofa, prices start at $300 for eight hours, and go up to $1,500 for a four-week rental.
2. Gallery-level collections
Colorful sofas aren’t the only way to draw in buyers and make them remember your space.
“There are an increasing amount of art leasing programs—online galleries that make it easy to choose short-term options at reasonable costs,” explains Logan Link, a real estate agent in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When staging for her clients, Link chooses artwork that corresponds with the property’s price. For very high-end properties, she might rent a few pieces from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For something more modest, she taps into the local creative community, borrowing key pieces from independent artists who, she says, appreciate the exposure.
Why does art perform so well? Because nothing elevates a space quite like it, Link explains. Art injects a space with style and energy that excites buyers.
Another great component of art rentals is the magic they make in an otherwise minimally staged space.
“Even an empty house with a collection of large-scale pieces can have a cool gallery effect,” she explains.
If you’re looking for a rental that’s a bit more affordable than a piece from the MoMA, Link recommends using sites such as Hang Art and Turning Art, where you can find three-month rentals for under $200.
3. Room-altering LED lights
We hear it time and again: Good lighting sells homes, specifically LEDs.
After years of staging events and homes, O’Malley explains why he keeps using LED uplights: “They are small, versatile, easy to set up, and affordable to rent or buy.”
Using remote-controlled LED lights, O’Malley can uplight a room’s key piece, warm up a space or make it brighter, and even completely change a room’s color at the buyer’s request.
“You can turn the venue you have into the venue you want,” he says.
You can rent LED uplighting from places such as DIY Uplighting, with free delivery anywhere in the country. Rentals start at just $17.
4. A giant-flower wall
Forget the drooping bouquets you see at every open house, and instead opt for this feel-good piece that will make a lasting impression on potential buyers.
Companies such as New Jersey–based Kravets Flowers are making it easier than ever to customize a floral design that’s perfect for your needs, whether that’s a flower wall or a hedge or even 4-foot-tall rose displays.
For a faux-flower wall, rental prices start between $300 and $800 depending on the size and design of your display. (If you’re in the market for a real flower wall, you’ll need to have a much larger budget, explains O’Malley—since these are far more labor-intensive to build.)
“Hedges or flower walls are great for open floor plans,” O’Malley says, “because they divide the space with flair and add warmth.”
No matter what decor pieces you choose to take your sale to the closing table, remember this: “Don’t be timid—be bold,” O’Malley says. “You’re doing this to be memorable and create buzz. As long as everything you use is high-quality, you needn’t worry about going too far.”