Budget?? Stagers Don't Need No Stinkin' Budget!

Home Stager with House Dressing



Yes, Stagers love a large budget—rental furniture and accessories selected just for that house but….There are clients who need our help and have no budget for staging and we can still improve the looks of their house with a change in furniture placement, clutter control and more lighting. Personally, I love that challenge and this house in Sussex County, NJ provided that. 


The room to the right was called the LivingEntry before Room. It was the first room you walked into. The REA hired House Dressing to come see what could be done—I suggested we change the name and purpose of this room to the entryway because there was another living space and this room had neither the space nor the furniture to be considered a Living Room.  The agent, her colleague and I went to work—we took the hutch apart, took the shot glass collection off the mirror and started moving furniture.  The agents cleaned and dusted as we went. 

Entry after


We moved onto the Family Room—a nice large room but you missed the fireplace and it felt gloomy.


We threw open the windows and rolled up the shades and tackled the clutter and congestion in this room.  The furniture placement made it difficult to move through the room and didn’t show off how large a space it really is.Family Room before

The homeowner had been resistant to bringing in a stager—a relative is a REA and told her it was an unnecessary expense.  When we arrived she left to run an errand—she returned an hour later and was amazed to see the changes we had made. 

Although her agent had hired me, the homeowner decided to pay me.  The open house the next day  had more interest than there had been in the previous year of having the house on the market.

Family Room after

Could I have done more with a bigger budget? 

Of course, but in these times homeowners are often in distress and money is tight. Luckily for this house, the listing agent “gets it” and is willing to team with House Dressing to give the house its best chance on the market.   

Even with a small budget Stagers can still make a house shine and help the homeowner move on to the next phase of their lives.

Posted by

Deb Brodhecker

House Dressing Real Estate Staging & Interior Redesign, Sussex County, NJ



Comments (14)

Lorraine or Loretta Kratz
Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions. - San Marcos, CA
Certified Negotiation Consultants

Hi Debra:

I recently went on a listing appointment and the home was definitely in need of staging. When I approached the sellers about scheduling a stager to come out and evaluate the home. The seller said that without a doubt his home was just fine the way it is. After a few minutes of discussing the pro's and con's of using a professional stager, he turn to me and said the following:

If a buyer is looking at my home they can see past the furniture. So, how would you handle a situation such as this?

May 10, 2008 01:05 AM
Tanya Venable
Orlando, FL
SEO, Mobile SEO, and Internet Marketing Consultant

Good post Debra! You can always make enhancements even with the smallest of budgets!  Using what the client has to the best of it's fullest potential is key!

Lorraine and Lorretta - What you may want to tell the buyer is that only 1 out of 10 buyers can imagine what a house will look like.  The other 9 really CAN NOT see past his furniture, therefore he could be loosing a lot of potential buyers.  You may also want to give him some staging stats. Check with the stager you were planning on using and get there stats to give the client.  You may also want to check out the home's he is competiting with and let him see how his home shows as oppose to the competition.

May 10, 2008 01:19 AM
Pam Joffe
Solaris Realty - Tampa, FL

Good morning Debra- I liked your pictures. they did a good job showing before and after. You did a good job on without a budget.

May 10, 2008 01:19 AM
Patty Carroll
Vancouver, WA

This is a great post, and it is so true we have found that most buyers see only what is in front of them not what can be.

May 10, 2008 01:51 AM
Debra Brodhecker
House Dressing - Branchville, NJ
House Dressing, New Jersey

Thanks for your comments!


Lorraine and Loretta, I think Tanya's comments are valuable and I would ask him how he would sell his car--with a dirty, smelly interior and bugs plastered to the widshield?  Most guys get the car analogy.

May 10, 2008 03:21 AM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Well, I agree with Tanya about what to say, well said.  The majority of people are NOT visual, and the staging to showcase the home and not your possessions will be the difference between a sale now or no sale and/or a sale before the market drops again...   They have to emotionally see themselves there if they are going to buy it. 

May 10, 2008 05:08 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Debra- The entry you created is a perfect example of why sellers need stagers. Most buyers wouldn't even be able to figure out what a room could be used for, without a little help from us! Great job!

May 10, 2008 05:42 AM
Michelle Hall
Century 21 Hecht - Denver, NC

I really try to read up on the statistics of home staging.  With today's market, I realize home staging is becoming an almost necessity.

May 10, 2008 09:53 AM
Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

One of our greatest challenges is educating the public (and many realtors).  But just like with anything else, repeating helps.  This homeowner may not get it until his home sits on the market for a few months.  Then they'll call you and the agent will be so impressed, that you'll have a steady client. 

Don't let it frustrate you - it's part of being a fairly new industry.

May 10, 2008 11:58 AM
Phyllis Pafumi
ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey - Old Bridge, NJ
ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ

We need to work with ALL budgets and in today's market doing what is best for the seller is what we are called to do. ANY IMPROVEMENT is better than NONE AT ALL. Great job

Phylis pafumi

May 10, 2008 07:12 PM
Debra Brodhecker
House Dressing - Branchville, NJ
House Dressing, New Jersey

Thank you all for stopping by and commenting and thank you for the gold star--it means a lot. 

Because staging is visual as Terrylynn pointed out we need educational props to use with agents and sellers and our before and after photos are the best way to do that.  We all love to show off the spectacular high budget staging jobs we do but we should also have some low budget and even home owner done transformations in our portfolios to show potential clients that the magic can happen without a lot of dollars being spent. 


May 10, 2008 10:52 PM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

At least 75% of my business is re-using and re-arranging what the client already has.  So many sellers these days are in financial distress and we just have to work with what they got!

May 11, 2008 03:17 AM
Renee Pratta
Renewed Rooms - North Myrtle Beach, SC
Renewed Rooms - SC

I know what a challenge an occupied with no budget can be.  You did a great job...it is so important to highlight each room for its intended purpose and show off the architecture, create flow and delete the owners imprint.

May 11, 2008 04:46 PM
Cindy Lin
Staged4more School of Home Staging - South San Francisco, CA
Host, The Home Staging Show podcast

Great story! Yes, we are in the visual business and a lot of times it takes visual aids like before and after photos for the sellers to recognize what they need to do.



May 12, 2008 01:06 PM