A few simple hacks can save a considerable amount of money when it comes to home staging, says Catherine Smith, who helps Kiwis groom and declutter their homes.

Clever touches such as removing all the cables from a TV or standard lamps can make a real difference. You never see cable spaghetti in real-estate photography.

Smith's other great hacks on a budget:

Go modern

You may not like modern design but it appeals to the widest possible audience.


At least for the home staging period, consider giving your home a more modern look.

Check out open homes in your neighbourhood for an idea of how to stage your home.

Ask advice from your friends
If you don't want to pay for a home stager, ask everyone you know who is interested in home design and get their feedback.

Go Pinterest
If you have a few months up your sleeve, leaf through home magazines and Pinterest and collect ideas you can copy to give your home a straight-out-of-a-magazine look. Search terms such as "style vignettes", "home staging" and "sofa styling" for ideas.

Buy your own furnishings
The advantage of buying your own towels, bedding, cushions and throws is you have them for your next home.

Or you could sell them on Trade Me when you've finished. Go for white and fluffy for the basics, then a few colour co-ordinated items such as throws.

Update your furniture
If the home stager can use your own furniture it's going to cost you less. You'll need to admit when your style is out of date. But you might be able to give some furniture a lick of paint or varnish and replace old handles with something modern.

Make tea towel artwork
Replace all your mismatching artwork with tea towels stapled on to canvases. You can often get tea towel designs by leading artists such as Glenn Jones and Dick Frizzell from Mr Vintage, Texan Art Schools or the Auckland Art Gallery shop.


Get a new welcome mat
Buy the biggest coir mat you can afford; it will always look classier than anything with words on it.

Borrow, borrow, borrow
Live the zero waste life, don't buy new. Borrow cushions, vases, books, plants, candles or other ornaments to liven, beautify or modernise your space. Make sure before you start borrowing that you've removed all your clutter.

Some other hacks include adding strategically placed mirrors to amplify the light and space; organise your clutter into modern, stacked boxes; and remove the blinds and drapes to allow more light in.