Home Staging – What NOT to Do

I spent much of the Labor Day weekend preparing the presentation and manual for my Psychological Staging Training in a little over two weeks. In reviewing and gathering old staging photos to use in my presentation, I stumbled on a blogpost I wrote over four years ago that I thought I would share with you guys.  I think you’ll get a kick out of it:


Did you know that staged homes sell for about 15% more money in 1/4 of the time of unstaged homes?  Good home staging is a must in today’s difficult real estate market.  You have only one chance and about 15 minutes to make a prospective buyer fall in love with your home.  With fewer eligible buyers, you have to make every showing count – big time.


The following photographs are “befores” of some of my early clients’ homes.  All of my clients are wonderful and talented people – but everyone needs a little help to make the sign in the front yard go from “For Sale” to “Sold.”  Names are withheld to protect the innocent and the unstaged.

It doesn’t matter how much money your house is “worth” –  it isn’t likely to sell if you do the following things:

1.  Ignore the architecture.   Placing a big screen television and all its components in front of the fireplace is NOT the way to emphasize the positive features your home has to offer.



2.  Turn your living room into a playroom.  If you want buyers to see your house as a place they’d like to entertain adult friends, it’s not a good idea to set up Romper Room in your formal living area.



3.  Hang blankets or sheets over your windows.  Draw attention to the views, not your poor choice of window dressings.   It’s better to have NO window coverings than makeshift, bad ones.



4.  Store extra beds, exercise equipment, or your ping pong table in the master bedroom.   A master bedroom should be a retreat, not an obstacle course.



5.  Hang on to dated furniture and accessories.  Unless you’re trying to sell to the someone who’s obsessed with “That 70’s Show,”  you’re better off with NO sofa in your living room than one like this.  And please, no microwaves in the living room.



6.  Embrace bad wood paneling.  Ok, get over it already, guys.  Bad wood paneling is simply bad.  In the name of all things good and holy, paint it already!!!  If you need justification to convince your husband of this, click here.



7.  Overlook your master bath.   A good master bath can sell a home.   Leaving a dated bath in dated condition may make a buyer turn and walk away.  Sorry, but peach paint is dated.  That cactus isn’t helping things, either.



8.  Block windows or doors with furniture.  There is nothing that makes a space look smaller or more cluttered.  If the room is too small for your furniture, a prospective buyer will automatically draw the conclusion that it’s too small for theirs.



9.  Paint your rooms in neon.  Ok, it’s fine when you are living there if that’s what you love – but paint over it before you put it on the market.



10.  Decorate with ducks.   It’s hard to see them on the television in this photo but, believe me, they are the first thing you notice when you walk in this room.  Remove any other overly personal collections, as well.  Keep it neutral, people.



11.  Showcase your gun safe.  This and the boxes of ammo might freak someone out a little.  Doesn’t reflect positively on the the safety of the neighborhood.



12. Use patio furniture indoors.   Must I explain?



13. Let clutter ruin the vibe.  Do not allow your personal taste to dominate the property for sale.  You are attempting to sell the house, not the furnishings or your personal style.


Any questions?  If you’d like to learn how to become an Expert Psychological Stager™ and aren’t already signed up for my September course, your next chance will be January 29-31, 2015!


Photo Credits:  Kristie Barnett .


  1. Michele Q

    Great tips, we were searching for a home last year and ran into pretty much every thing you just listed. Would love to see your after photos of the same rooms.

  2. Julie

    What is “good” wood paneling? 🙂 We have dark knotty-pine in our basement. I’ve heard it used to be called barrister paneling because only lawyers could afford it? I want to get.rid.of.it. but if it could be charming I don’t want to take it away.

  3. Paula Van Hoogen

    Phew, Kristie—those were GOOD examples! Yikes. But this well illustrates the power of photographing your space, BEFORE staging. The amazing reveal that a photograph shows!
    Question: how do YOU (personally) convince a client that their not-for-sale space needs to be purged.
    I am working on a kitchen plan for a lovely, sweet pastor’s wife. The kitchen is part of a great room space and and cannot be disconnected. The great room/dining room is filled with clutter & outdated furniture. I have sent her photos that I took while there(FL). We have a nice relationship, but I need to tell her the truth. House was built 35 years ago. All things in there are 35 years old too.

    • Kristie Barnett

      That’s a tough one! If a client is asking for my opinion about what they have in a space, I definitely tell them – but I’m careful not to give them advice they aren’t asking for unless it effects another decision we are trying to make for the space. If you are suggesting specific things for the kitchen, maybe you can tie in the idea that certain other things will detract from this new great thing you are doing/adding. I find it VERY helpful to look at photos to see the raw truth of how a room looks – when you are living in it or even standing in it, it’s harder to see what’s off. But it’s glaringly obvious in photos!

  4. Emily

    The people who lived in our house before us converted the only bath tub into a large shower. The bathroom is nice and modern but I’m wondering if this is a big turn off for most buyers, because it was for us. But we haven’t converted it back.

    • Kristie Barnett

      Everyone needs to have at least ONE bathtub in their house, in my opinion!

      • Jacquie

        Kristie, You are correct! In Ohio at least, it is in the building code that you MUST have at least one tub in the house.

  5. Kath Barry

    I agree with all of the above points LOL….these make me laugh.
    Some people just don’t understand these 13 points.
    and then some.

  6. kelly

    So funny! That is a great ‘what not to do list’! I have listed a few of these before also but I still see them everywhere! Good post!

  7. Jacquie

    Ohh Krisite, Your photos made me laugh! But on the other side it is sad to think that there are those out there that just don’t get it. I know budgets can be tight but like you, a microwave in the living room??? really?
    We have a house that has been on the market for way longer than we would like to discuss. It is beautifully staged but because of the school district has proven to be a challenge. I know the importance of making the home as inviting to as many potential buyers as possible but folks before you buy, remember….location, location,location! Thanks for your post.

  8. Susie

    Literally LOL!!! Love you Kristie!!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

paint color training course

Staging Certification

paint color training course

Color Certification

paint color training course

My Staging Book

paint color training course

Small Wall

paint color training course