Staging vs. Decorating…Buyer Psychology?


Yes, of course the very basics of Home Staging are declutter and depersonalize.  You really should clean the house too – again, basics (I hope).  But it’s necessary to understand the difference between decorating and staging….and if you aren’t clear on these differences, you might not sell your house as quickly as you like.

An important aspect to selling your home is realizing that your home is now a house on display, and chances are, no one wants to see the realities. In fact, they’re probably distracting and counterproductive to your goal.

Staged Eating Area


When preparing a home for sale, you’re striving for a look that is fresh and welcoming, cozy and inviting.  Potential buyers need to feel that they can make this Home if they purchase it.  Your own personal taste and lifestyle is secondary to the goal of selling.


Living Room Before Staging


Living Rm after Staging


Your goal is to have buyers describing your home as warm, well-designed, spacious and stylish. Getting rid of clutter and having less, but more significant accessories is a must.

Before Depersonalizing & Styling


Staging is about strategic editing and depersonalizing, rather than decorating and personalizing.  Striking the balance between stark and cold and inviting but neutral.


Edited Shelving


The selling feature here is the beautiful built-ins – removing the “life being lived” stuff, and instead presenting them as very edited and styled ensures they, and not the “stuff”, is noticed.


Any very unique decorating style or colours will need to be scaled back or toned down – otherwise, you risk appealing to only a small pool of buyers with that same taste.  Making sure your home isn’t “taste specific” doesn’t mean beige, beige, beige – but keep color schemes simple and flowing.  Add dashes of colour and pattern to make it fresh and dynamic.


Staged Family Room


Furniture arrangement when you’re on the market is not about what functions best for your family;  creating floor space and a smooth traffic flow is critical.  It’s also crucial that rooms are presented as what they’re intended to be – a separate dining room is an important asset in a house, and though it makes more sense for you to use it as a sewing area, that probably won’t be the case for most buyers.  (The lighter paint and new light fixtures were also important.)


Before & After Dining Room


A room arranged symmetrically and centered on any architecture is an aesthetic that appeals to most people.  Ensure that the special or unique features your home offers are well presented, and highlighted. 


Dining Room


Before & After Living Room


Dated is definitely dismal, as is neglect.  If you’ve chosen to overlook torn carpeting or damaged walls, now is the time to set things right – buyers won’t be attracted to a poorly maintained home, and will doubt that it’s only on the surface.  If you’re selling a dated home, it’s well worth the expense to make even some updates, like lighting or painting kitchen cabinets.  Finishing an unfinished space prior to selling means buyers don’t have to ‘use their imagination’ (or their wallet).


Finished vs Unfinished


Maybe you’re moving because your family has “outgrown” the house – but if that’s in evidence in every room (extra cabinets, storage totes, piled high vanities), then you’re immediately telling buyers ‘this house is too small, and doesn’t offer enough storage”.


Fresh Neutral Spaces


Realize that buyers respond to clean, well laid out spaces; but the added touches of fresh cut flowers, a stack of fresh towels, and crisp linens add to the neutrality of the spaces because they remove your life from the picture – think hotels – thousands have stayed in that room, but there’s no sign of that.


Bathroom Accessory Staging


Sure, this may not be what the bathroom counter usually looks like, but doesn’t it look better than the usual toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.?  You’re selling the house – make sure buyers are noticing something special!


Staged Liv Rm


The house I’ve shown in this post was a recent project with motivated (and very lovely!) homeowners – they approached their sale very astutely, acknowledging that their busy household and everything that entailed was not what Buyers wanted to see.  We edited…a lot;  they painted rooms and changed light fixtures; we mixed rental furniture with their own pieces, and added some well considered accessories very deliberately.  They rose to Buyer expectation….They sold in 2 weeks, for full list price, which was well over $1.5M. 

It can be difficult to look at your home with a critical eye and be objective.  Having a Home Staging professional assist you with this objectivity and provide you with a clear and concise plan makes this process infinitely less daunting.

If you’re planning to re-decorate, re-design, or renovate, I can help you create the extraordinary. Fall in love with your home again.

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  1. Wow! What a remarkable difference. This is great information for me to “tuck away” for the next 12-24 months when we plan to sell our existing home and downsize. Would you consider a “road trip” to Illinois? xo

  2. Lisa @ HouseofFabForLess says:

    Hi Tracy! I found you through Serenity Now. I am a home stager as well. This is a really nice, to the point post on what staging is all about! Well said and I love your before and afters!

  3. Nichole says:

    Awesome!! Very well said!

  4. I saw and red many articles on difference between staging and decorating but I found that your view on “Staging vs. decorating…Buyer Psychology??” are comprehensive and you are able to express your ideas very clearly. overall it is great effort. Thank Tracy