• by Desiree Mastracchio, DMDesign

The Top 5 Staging Mistakes . . .

. . . And how to avoid them!

Most real estate agents and homeowners agree that staging is critical to selling a house. But when it comes to carrying out the staging process, beware of pitfalls. These common mistakes can keep a property from showing its full potential, meaning a longer time on the market and invariably a lower sales price. Hire a certified professional home stager to ensure your house appeals to the majority of buyers!


Too many sellers think that once a buyer sees X -- their master suite; their beautiful deck; their updated kitchen -- he or she will fall in love with the house and not be concerned with its flaws. But failure to lay the groundwork to properly show your home can cost you a sale. That groundwork begins with the first impression, and your mother was right - you really do have only one chance to make a first impression so it better better be good.

It's critical to set the stage so that from the moment buyers arrive on the driveway, they are receptive to the possibility that this house might be their next home. Therefore, make sure your curb appeal says this is a neat, clean, and well cared for property. This goes beyond lawn maintenance and a neat mailbox to an attractive and inviting front door area. Furthermore, a buyer's first peek inside the home better be good too - a light, simple entryway flowing smoothly into neat, uncluttered rooms is essential. Those first few steps in the door will create a visceral response from buyers that will be difficult to overcome. It simply must be a positive one, if you are to sell your home.

What buyers see as soon as they enter the house matters.


The longer we live somewhere, the more comfortable we become in it... kind of like an old shoe. Even though a hallway is narrow, we add a table because they's where we place our keys. We keep the leaf in the dining table despite it crowding the room, because we only use it when extended family comes at Christmas. We add an extra recliner to the sofa and love seat in the family room, because everyone wants their own spot for watching their favorite TV show. And even if things feel cluttered, we barely notice because we're just used to it.

But living in a house and selling a house are two entirely different things. When selling, it's critical to edit the furnishings to sufficiently open up the floor plan and make the house feel bigger. Most of us have way too much furniture for the space, and removing 30-50% of it can go a long way in helping to better present the home to buyers.

Another pitfall is not properly placing furniture to seamlessly flow from one space to the next. Furniture should never impede access to a doorway, block a window, or close off a portion of the room.


Every room should have one, and only one, focal point. That area usually is some organic aspect of the house - an architectural feature like a fire place, windows, a kitchen island, etc. When we add a second focal point, it creates visual dissonance because two areas are competing for your attention. It makes buyers uncomfortable at a subconscious level.

Furnishings and decorative items should be placed for the sole purpose of showcasing the property's natural elements. You're selling the house, not the "stuff". The "stuff" is there only to make the house look good. So when a large piece of artwork on the back wall distracts your attention from the lovely fireplace and built-in shelving straight ahead, this creates a problem. If a coffee table is so full of large decorative items that buyers don't notice the wall of windows to the private back yard, you are defeating the purpose.

Decide what the focal point is, and draw attention to that area.


Light is the gold standard for real estate. All homes provide some natural light - after all, every house has windows. But not all homes are blessed with southern exposure, oversized windows and open floor plans which allow light to reflect. So when natural light is at a premium, it's essential to preserve as much of it as possible, to make the house feel large and open.

First and foremost, let in as much natural light as possible. Take down heavy window treatments, and open all blinds and plantation shutters. Move furniture away from windows, and trim bushes or branches outside the windows to allow as much light as possible to enter.

Adequate lighting is essential

Add several layers of artificial lighting to cover any darker areas of the house. Most rooms should have overhead lights such as ceiling or recessed lights. Add ambient lighting with a floor lamp, and task lighting with table lamps.

And last but not least, paint all walls the same light, neutral color which will reflect light and allow the home to feel larger and lighter. Failure to address lighting is one of the worst mistakes when staging a home, because it truly is the easiest problem to correct.


Almost as bad as not doing enough is doing too much. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.... staging is not an "everything must go" proposition!

When kitchen counters are completely bare, without even a coffee pot or a bowl of fruit, the space feels cold and uninviting, and it lacks personality. A master bathroom without fluffy white towels or a basket of pretty bath soaps just looks like a public restroom. Coffee tables need a few books or magazines, some flowers or wine for relaxing by the fireplace. Without these personal touches, buyers can't connect with the home. And although many won't admit it, buying a home is indeed an emotional decision!

Personal touches help buyers connect with the home.

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