Is Your Home Decorated or Staged?

As a home stager, I go into many well-decorated homes to show the owners how to prepare their homes for sale. Some initial comments I get from homeowners are, “I had a professional interior designer create this,” or “Everyone who comes over always comments on how lovely my home is,” or “But these are my favorite things, why should I get rid of them?”

While these homeowners have lovingly decorated their homes, decorating is not the same as home staging, and does not necessarily prepare the home for sale. When we decorate a home, the purpose is to create a personalized space for our own enjoyment. We decorate for many reasons. Sometimes it is to surround ourselves with our favorite things or to make the home look beautiful to us. Other times it might be to impress our visitors or showcase treasured travel items or collectibles. In some homes, it may be strictly for the function of everyday life.

Staging is very different. When we stage, we must create an environment that appeals to the greatest number of potential buyers and evokes emotion in them. The end goal is to sell the home quickly for the highest price possible. Think of it as a marketing tactic.

Although in decorating, a designer might create a dynamic setting with bright or bold colors, most times the color would be taste specific and would likely be a turn-off to some people, reducing the buyer pool. With staging, we keep the house neutral, which opens up the potential to appeal to many more people.

When we stage, we work to create and define spaces by minimizing and rearranging furniture and décor. We want to accentuate architectural features of the home. After all, buyers are buying the home, not the items in the home. Home staging will keep the focus on the house by minimizing the things that draw the eye away, such as figurines, collections, or unusual and bold pieces of art.

It is important to remember when transforming a home from decorated to staged, the home will be marketed with pictures online. This is where potential buyers will develop their first impression of the home. Your pictures can either say, “Come see me!” or “Don’t bother.” Sometimes the items we decorate with are not going to photograph well. A professional stager knows which items photograph well and which items do not.

I know going through the process of a staging consultation can be difficult. Often it feels like the stager is criticizing your home and it’s easy to take offense. It might even feel as if the stager just doesn’t like your decorating at all. This could not be farther from the truth. I personally go into many beautiful homes I love that can still benefit from home staging. As discussed here, decorating and home staging are two different things.

I encourage you to try to be open to the suggestions given by your home stager, knowing this will increase the appeal of your home to potential buyers, and therefore bring you a quicker sale and increased home value.

Teresa Costantino is owner and founder of Home Preppers, a home staging company based in New Jersey ( Teresa has spent her career in real estate as a top-producing Realtor, a home stager, and real estate investor. She has a passion for all things real estate and enjoys helping sellers uncover hidden equity and shorten marketing times. She juggles her time between managing her company, being a wife to her husband Mark, and being mom to her 4 children.

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