I was reading through the latest issue of Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine and came across an article about companies that offer "house staging" services. This is a service for people who are selling or renting a home and want it to move quickly or for more money (and who doesn't want that?) These companies come in and redecorate the entire house or just a couple rooms in a neutral but inviting way so that potential buyers or renters will feel at home. It's also useful if your house has an odd shaped room, such as a triangular room. If such a room was empty, viewers might wonder how they could furnish it and, not having any ideas, that room could turn into a negative selling point. But if the house is staged, the viewer can see an idea of how to furnish it, easing their fears.
If your house is empty, the company will bring in furniture, paintings, window dressings, etc. If your house is furnished, they will modify your decor so that it reflects less of "you" and more of a "generic homey feeling."
The article didn't mention prices, but they claim customers get a 40% return on their investment. One person interviewed for the article said he got a 300% return. I don't think I'll do this on the house I am currently fixing up, simply because I've already put more money into it that I wanted, but I will keep this in mind for future houses. I think a service like this would help most when an investor is selling a house they fixed up, since those homes are typically empty.