"Mirrors can make a space feel brighter because they bounce the light around the room," says Breining. But placing one in the wrong spot can be almost as bad as not having one at all.
Put mirrors on walls perpendicular to windows, not directly across from them. Hanging a mirror directly opposite a window can actually bounce the light right back out the window.
Set The Tone at The Front Door
"Red is a lucky color in many cultures," says Lara Allen-Brett, a New Jersey-based stager. A red door meant "welcome" to weary travelers in early America, and on churches it represents a safe haven.
If you want your house to make a great first impression, paint the front door a fun, glossy hue. Two other hues gaining favor: orange and yellow, according to San Francisco-based stager Christopher Breining. Both colors are associated with joy and warmth. One thing that should go: an outdated screen door. Get rid of it or replace it with a storm door with full-length glass that you can switch out for a screened panel.
Paint Wall Colors Light and Neutral
"You want to minimize jarring transitions," says Breining.
Stick to colors like beige or gray, especially on the first floor, where flow is important. Neutral walls give you the greatest decorating flexibility, allowing you to easily switch up your accessories.
Let The Sun Shine In Your Kitchen
"When it comes to heavy, outdated drapes, a naked bank of windows is better than an ugly one," says Lynne.
If your room gets a lot of sun, opt for light colors that won't fade. The most recommended lightweight fabrics for panels are cotton, linen, and silk blends because they tend to hang well.
Scale Artwork to Your Wall
"There are few things more ridiculous-looking than hanging dinky little art too high on the wall," says Breining.
The middle of a picture should hang at eye level. If one person is short and the other tall, average their heights. Also take scale into account; for a large wall, go big with one oversize piece or group smaller pieces gallery-style. For the latter, don't space the pictures too far apart; 2 to 4 inches between items usually looks best.
Layer Your Lighting
"Placing a canister uplight or a torchiere in the corner will cast a glow on the ceiling, making a room seem bigger," says Breining.
Every room should have three kinds of lighting: ambient, which provides overall illumination and often comes from ceiling fixtures; task, which is often found over a kitchen island or a reading nook; and accent, which is more decorative, highlighting, say, artwork. For a living room, you should have at least 3 watts (42 lumens) per square foot. One visual trick Breining swears by: using uplights.
Anchor Rugs Under Furniture Feet
"In a living room, all four legs of the sofa and chairs in a furniture grouping should fit on it; the rug should define the seating area," says Breining. "At the very least, the front two legs of the sofa and chairs should rest on it," he adds.
Even living rooms with less than generous proportions usually require an 8-by-10-foot or a 9-by-12-foot rug to properly accommodate a seating area. Go too small with the rug size and everything looks out of scale.
Give Old Finishes The Cinderella Treatment
"A 1980s brass chandelier can get a new lease on life with a quick coat of hammered-bronze or satin-nickel spray paint," says Breining.
Got dated fixtures? Reinvent them with spray paint and inexpensive refinishing kits. Even outdated kitchen cabinets benefit from a few coats of white paint and new hardware. And if you thought there was no hope for Formica countertops, think again. Breining swears by Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations, a DIY counter-coating product that mimics stone, making even the ugliest 1970s counter look fresh. What's left to do: Swap out cracked and mismatched switch plates and outlet covers for updated matching ones. Says Lynne: "Nothing drags down a refreshed space like a dingy, almond-colored switch plate."
Call in a Pro to Declutter
The longer you live in a house, the less you see the mess over time. Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes. You can hire an organizer for a few hours (expect to pay $35 to $150 an hour, depending on where you live) to tackle bookshelves and closets, which stagers say are often packed with twice the amount of stuff they should hold. Breining suggests whittling down what's on your shelves by 50 percent. Then mix horizontal stacks of books among the vertical rows and intersperse decorative objects, such as bowls or vases, among them.