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-to-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 Sept 13-15 for our last RESA-accredited course of 2018? 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.

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28 thoughts on “The Home Staging Mistake You Are Probably Making

  1. Susan Dahlstrom says:

    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!

  2. Ann says:

    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?

  3. Kerry says:

    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?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Thank you, Kerry! I hope the staging does the trick for these homeowners. 🙂 The color I used in the living and dining room is one of the 15 in my Psychological Staging Paint Color Toolkit. The kit includes 12×12 inch painted sample boards of my BEST colors with instructions on the back of each, explaining exactly when and how to use a given color (depending on existing elements like tile, granite, carpet, etc.). There is also an instructional video that shows exactly how to use the kit. I’ve sold this kit to many hundreds of professional stagers, Realtors, and homeowners and it’s pretty much fail-safe! We make them in small batches and there are only a limited number available until we can produce more, but you can find out more about it here: https://thedecorologist.com/product/psychological-staging-paint-color-toolkit/

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Thank you, Cheryl! This color is one of the 15 in my Psychological Staging Paint Color Toolkit. The kit includes 12×12 inch painted sample boards of my BEST colors with instructions on the back of each, explaining exactly when and how to use a given color (depending on existing elements like tile, granite, carpet, etc.). There is also an instructional video that shows exactly how to use the kit. I’ve sold this kit to many hundreds of professional stagers, Realtors, and homeowners and it’s pretty much fail-safe! We make them in small batches and there are only a limited number available until we can produce more, but you can find out more about it here: https://thedecorologist.com/product/psychological-staging-paint-color-toolkit/

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Debbie,
      Thank you! This color is one of the 15 in my Psychological Staging Paint Color Toolkit. The kit includes 12×12 inch painted sample boards of my BEST colors with instructions on the back of each, explaining exactly when and how to use a given color (depending on existing elements like tile, granite, carpet, etc.). There is also an instructional video that shows exactly how to use the kit. I’ve sold this kit to many hundreds of professional stagers, Realtors, and homeowners and it’s pretty much fail-safe! We make them in small batches and there are only a limited number available until we can produce more, but you can find out more about it here: https://thedecorologist.com/product/psychological-staging-paint-color-toolkit/

  4. Kim says:

    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. When she was done it looked fabulous but the primary focus was the architecture of the home. It was a 1920’s Tudor style home with beautiful architecture, hardwood floors, Spanish plaster, beutiful moulding, etc. and we had an offer after the first showing, and two months later we sold. I love your blog posts! The transformation on this home is beautiful and haha those definitely are boob lights. We put a white ceiling fan in our kitchen at our last home and it blended in with the ceiling. You could walk in but barely notice it was even there.

  5. Amy Dennison says:

    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? 🙂

  6. Jenny B. says:

    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?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Jenny,

      We had 3 pairs of lamps in the house to work with. The shades on the ones on the entry table were very yellow-y, so we didn’t love them with the new wall color. Plus, the glass bases looked great in the master bedroom – so we put them there and changed the shades to white to complement the bedding. This pair looked better here, plus the black bases played off one of the black tables in the room. Did you also notice the entry table is different? This was switched out from the den – it looked less Victorian and was a bit thinner than the previous one (which is now in the den).

      Thank you, as always, for your comments and for noticing the details!!! 😉

  7. Ivanosdesign says:

    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 is not bad.

    • Jane says:

      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.

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