Staging a guest room/office… at no cost

Recently, some close friends decided to put their house up for sale.  They had very little time to complete dozens of projects, and asked for my help to clear out and stage their office slash guest room.

Quote, “can you come over and do what you do?”  Haha, of course I will.  The part I loved most about this challenge was finding ways to make the most of the space, furniture and decor at no cost, just using clever tricks.

Here are some before and afters of this home staging project.


Originally, this is what you saw when arriving in the room.

To the left, a single mattress and boxspring served as a spare bed, while two connecting reclining leather chairs sat at the center of the room, facing the TV.

left-side original view

 To the right, the TV sat on a shelving unit of cubbies, which housed work materials near the desk.

right-side original view
On the same side was the desk, filing cabinet, printer, office supplies and so on that my friend needs to run his successful business from home.

Original office area

First things first, we needed to address the layout.  To have more space to work and pack up boxes, we needed to remove the double recliners from the center of the room.  So in came the muscle and out went the chairs, to be stored off the premises until the move.

I suggested moving the bed horizontally under the window and lining it with pillows like a daybed, which could make the room feel more welcoming to visitors.

Also, we could center the rug instead of having it near the desk (as a protective layer for the rolling office chair).  Oh, and we could flip it 180 degrees in the other direction to hide an unsightly stain under the bed — oh how I love solutions that don’t cost a cent.

It was simpler to leave the desk where it was because all the wiring was already set up (and my friend needed to keep working in his office).  However, we removed the extra pieces like the filing cabinet (being used mostly for archives) and some stacks of office supplies for more breathing room.

The TV and entertainment unit were to be moved to the other side of the room to balance things out.


Next, we needed to pack up all the excess stuff to bring the room to its bare essentials.  We needed to show visitors the room’s potential as both a guest room and functional office…  So everything else being stored in there had to go.

My goal for the room was to be spacious enough and clutter-free that you could actually see the baseboards and get a good sense of the size of the room.  We tend to shove a lot of stuff up against the walls, and some people have a hard time visualizing a space.  Can we pull it off?  We shall see.

Our friends had already begun packing up some excess supplies and work stuff, so I finished the job for them.  I packed up every conceivable item they felt they wouldn’t need to access for the next few months.

Note: if you’re helping friends pack up their homes (especially if you’re dealing with important work-related things) make sure to really be as clear as possible when you’re labeling the boxes.

Group like with like so things are easier to find, and always put your description in the same spot on the boxes (I like to write on the top and on one side) so when they’re are all stacked up, someone can immediately spot what they’re looking for.

Also, I like to write ‘heavy’ really big across the top of the box, so the poor soul who has to come and lug it away can brace themselves 🙂

packing away all the excess

now’s the time to clear out the laundry 🙂


Why keep things neutral?  Because you want people to see themselves in the space, not get distracted by too many details of your personal life.   Who wants strangers peering into their private business anyway?

Down came the awards, trophies and goofy photos to make way for some cool art found when my friend lived in the South Pacific, creating both a sense of symmetry and highlighting the room’s cool ceiling architecture.

Neutral can also be true for the wall colors.  Many people have a hard time seeing past forest-green ceilings and fuchsia walls.  If you’re trying to sell, stick to easy, pale and earthy tones that work well together.  Or if you’re really stumped, paint everything white.  Luckily, this room was already a calm ivory color, and had a lovely chocolate-and-tan damask wallpapered accent wall that you can see below.  No need to repaint a thing!


The bed

I knew of an office/warehouse that was closing and looking to get rid of all its stuff, including wooden pallets.  I looked up the measurements of a twin bed online and found that a full pallet plus a 1/2 pallet butted together were the exact width and length of a twin mattress.  So I picked up two sets and built a makeshift platform for the bed (all for free!  yay!) 

Pallets raise the mattresses off the floor, giving the illusion of a regular bed

The new daybed, which also acts as extra seating.  The rug is centered, the art is up.

From outside the room

The office

The desk was centered on the right wall and pared down to its functional minimum

The entertainment unit

On the left, the cubbies hold clutter-busting baskets and a few decorative items

See what you can re-purpose from elsewhere in the house.  These four baskets were a perfect fit.

The room is how simple and straightforward, yet still has everything it needs.  As an added bonus, it feels huge.

* * * * * 

So, ready for those before and afters?

From the doorway: Before

From the doorway: After.

Office Area: Before


Office Area: After

Entertainment Unit: Before

Entertainment Unit: After

So there you have it.  All in a day’s work!  This project was so much fun.  I can’t get enough of this stuff!
What do you think?  Would you have done it differently?  Do you have any tricks to share?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below, we love to hear what you think.
Till next time, 
xo Val

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Val Lonergan is the founder of, where she shares happiness hacks for purposeful people. To get the ZenShmen cheatsheet to jumpstart your joy - 10 easy things you can do right this minute to hack your way to increased happiness - join the free newsletter.
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  • Val

    Thanks very much. This site is on Blogger (aka Blogspot) and is the "Simple" Template. I played around with the colors, layouts and fonts until I was happy with it. P.S. If you ever would like to know what platform and/or template a blog uses, it's often indicated all the way at the very bottom of the main page. Hope this helps.

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  • Reply

    Thanks so much! Yes, I'm a big believer in re-thinking and re-purposing as opposed to buying more stuff. Glad to know that you like that too! And thanks for the lovely compliments.

  • Reply

    GENIUS!! What I mostly love about your work is that it requires re-thinking NOT re-buying. You are so innovative when it comes to thinking about what people already have, how they use the space and how to use a space that's not necessarily typical. Lovely room!

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