The Home Staging Mistake You Are Probably Making

There are many hapless stagers out there making a common home staging mistake, not even realizing they are putting the emphasis on the WRONG THING.

Confusing decorating and real estate staging is why many people think they don’t need to hire a professional home stager if their home is already decorated. Contrary to popular belief, home staging isn’t about making rooms pretty.  Let’s see if you’ve made an all-too-common home staging mistake that could cost you time and money:

home staging mistake you don't want to make

 

In the Expert Psychological Stager™ training course, I teach my students how to use the concepts of visual perception, architectural harmony, and memory points to put the focus where it belongs – on the architectural selling points of the home, NOT on the furnishings. Our June graduating class experienced firsthand how to apply the concepts they learned in this historic Nashville property that had been on the market for six months.

Take a look at the first impression view of this occupied home. Don’t think about it or analyze it – just focus on your emotional response. How does the room make you feel? What are the first things you notice? What will you remember?

Viewing those two photos, you may have felt cramped and tight. Perhaps you felt put off by the gold walls. Maybe you noticed the piano, the scrolly sconces above the fireplace, the Tuscan boob lights.

Ok, now let’s look at the EPS™-staged version of the space and ask yourself the same questions. How does the room make you feel? What are the first things you notice? What will you remember about it later?

staged historic living room white white millwork fireplace and light gray green walls

antique newel post and transom windows in historic home

antique newel post detail in historic home

Do you feel the difference? In the first set of photos, you may have focused on the furnishings, on the dark wall color, on the dated light fixtures. In the second set of photos, you likely noticed the architecture: the sense of space, the hardwood floors, the fireplace, the millwork and transoms, the staircase newel post. A big home staging mistake is unwittingly putting the focus on the furniture rather than the architecture.

Here’s a “before” shot of the room’s focal point:

before

You definitely notice the fireplace, right? But there may be questions or objections that arise as you look at that photo, like:

 

“How do I navigate through this space?”

“Will my furniture fit in this room?”

“Do I like the style/vibe of this space?

“Could I feel at home here?”

“What color should I paint this room?”

 

This is how the same vantage point appeared after we psychologically staged the room:

staged historic home with architecturally balanced furnishings

 

Now there’s a sense of architectural balance and ease. There’s a natural focus on the architecture – which is what we are actually trying to sell. The room feels more expansive, the eye is drawn to the views outside, and it’s easy to see all the positive features of this space.

I know what you’re thinking – the furnishings are different, and that’s the trick! Well, look again. All of the furnishings you see were existing to the homeowners. Some items were moved from other rooms in the home, while others were removed and stored away. The only “new” items are the paint color in the living and dining room (which makes a huge difference, amiright?), the less obtrusive light fixtures, and a few pillows and florals. Here’s a before/after from a different angle:

before

light green walls, Benjamin Moore Paris Rain, in historic homeafter

You tell me – how much LARGER does this room appear? Both of the images above were taken from the same vantage point by a professional real estate photographer with a wide angle lens.

Here is a pair of before/after photos from another angle, photographed by yours truly:

before

home staged by Expert Psychological Stagersafter

Maybe you thought only vacant homes need to be staged. Maybe you thought home staging always requires bringing in new furnishings. Hopefully you can see from this example that the goal of successful staging is to market a property by highlighting its best selling points. Because we’re trying to sell the architecture, NOT the furnishings! Have you made that home staging mistake?

And hey, if you are interested in pursuing a career in professional home staging, why not join us June 13-15 for our next RESA-accredited certification course? There are so many specific techniques and staging secrets (including the best paint colors for staging and where to use them) that I can’t wait to share with you! You can find out more about how to become an Expert Psychological Stager™ here. Register by April 15th for our Early Bird Discount!

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Jan Orphan Martinez
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Jan Orphan Martinez

What did they do with the piano?

Linda Sewell
Guest

It’s in the adjoining room where it fits much better!

Susan Dahlstrom
Guest
Susan Dahlstrom

It is lovely! The new paint color made the room lighter and actually enhanced the look of the upholstery colors on the furniture. Moving the sofa and removing the bulky piano opened up the room so you could focus on the beautiful fireplace. Amazing makeover!

Amy
Guest

Always love you before and afters! Great job on this project.

Ann
Guest
Ann

This is the first time I’ve really understood the difference in decorating and staging.

This is very interesting. Can you write some type of article about how much a typical home stager makes and how they get started? I know you may cover this in your class but maybe a sneak peak?

Elizabeth Scruggs
Guest

THE BEST example I’ve seen about the difference between decorating and staging- incredible work, and such a wonderful and educational post!

Robin
Guest
Robin

Nailed it! The gold paint made me want to run awayyyyyyyyy lol. Really great job.

JL
Guest
JL

Such a huge improvement! Great job.

Amy White
Guest
Amy White

The absolute essence of what staging can do. Hard to explain in words, the photos tell the story. Bravo! !

Kerry
Guest
Kerry

I would love if you did a follow up on how fast this home sells now…this is an amazing transformation! What is that lovely paint color in the fireplace room?

Cheryl P
Guest
Cheryl P

Love it! What is the name of wall color you used that freshened it up so much?

Debbie
Guest
Debbie

Wonderful Job! It looks so much better. What was the paint color you used?

Kim
Guest
Kim

I learned this when selling our home last year. Our real estate agent was awesome. She did all the staging and even before then we had already done a good amount of decluttering on our own. Everything was fresh paint from basement to second floor, every nook and cranny was scrubbed and cleaned and the place was pristine. She came in and had us decluttering even more – taking out excess furniture, excess art that wasn’t needed and afterwards I understood exactly what she meant when she said there’s a difference between decorating and staging. Wow, she was so right.… Read more »

Amy Dennison
Guest

Nice! As always, I love seeing your work! I wish I could come back and “audit” another class with you! 🙂 Is this anything you’d ever consider for old graduates? 🙂

Jenny B.
Guest
Jenny B.

Very nice! I didn’t even notice the dining room until the wide after shot. Also, the paint color looks amazing with the painting between the cased openings. I’m wondering why you switched out the lamps on the entry table?

Ivanosdesign
Guest
Ivanosdesign

I have to say, I dont like the couch covering the windows. As a homebuyer if I see any furniture: beds, sofas or TVs blocking even a tiny bit of the window, it’s a no for me. I have to be able to see the outside from the inside. A much better idea in this case is to get rid of the furniture all together. The simple light fixtures are horrible too. Even the tuscan “boob” lights as you call them had a bit pf character rather than those walmart cheap plastic things you replaced them with. The wall color… Read more »

Jane
Guest
Jane

Ivanosdesign, if you remove the furniture, a potential buyer cannot see how they could “live” in the room. You apparently are not a stager. Kristie is spot on with this transformation. The changes highlighted the great architecture of the home. The tuscan lights were heavy and dated. I think you maybe woke up on the wrong side
of the bed.

Donna
Guest
Donna

In a long narrow room one doesn’t have much choice where to put the couch. I have some of that Tuscan lighting and now I hate it it.we invested so much money in them my husband refuses to change them. Your room looks great and I’m considering your paint color as well. Love your blog! One of the few I love because you are more classic and I hate trends that come and go.

Linda Sewell
Guest

Looks great Kristie, as always!

Sandi Lanigan
Guest

Fantastic! I have been a stager for 15+ years. Trying to get a Realtor to understand the huge impact owner occupied staging will have on the sale of the house has been my biggest challenge. So many Realtors don’t see the value….and their sellers don’t know how they even need staging (which all homes do!) Thank you for your fabulous insight.