Home staging Advice from an Interior Designer: The why, what, AND how


In my many years as a real estate stager and interior designer, I have witnessed countless occasions where a seller, whether it’s a homeowner wanting to sell their current residence or a fix and flip investor trying to sell a recent flip or a builder listing their latest spec home, has made the decision not to stage their property.

If I were to go on the MLS right now and do a search for properties that have been on the market for longer than 30 days, 7 out of 10 of them have not had professional staging. Now believe me, there are MANY other factors for why houses don’t sell.

But the biggest mistake I see is the lack of staging.

Image Source: HAR.com (Gorgeous Houston Listing- No staging)

Image Source: HAR.com (Gorgeous Houston Listing- No staging)

Staging Helps Sell Houses.

This topic is often discussed in real estate circles and even though studies have proved the efficacy of staging with the results showing unequivocally that STAGING HELPS SELL HOUSES, there still seems to be some debate in people’s minds!

There could be many reasons for this. Perhaps they simply don’t really believe it will help their house sell faster and for more money if staged, despite the proof, therefore don’t want to spend the money on that service. OR they imply don’t have the money. That is a realistic obstacle since so many Americans are very cash poor. There is just no room in their budget for staging.

Whichever camp you fall into, let’s break down a little about staging and see if we can convince you of the importance of spending that money upfront, if possible.

It’s hard, but so worth it and here’s the WHY, WHAT and HOWs of staging:

A) Why we stage Homes

We “stage” a house to evoke an emotional response from buyers. There is something about a well-staged home that has a deep emotional impact on buyers.

REI Design Solutions Staging

REI Design Solutions Staging

An article in Forbes discusses the various reasons why staging makes an impact.

“When a home is empty, it might be harder for someone to really imagine themselves living in the space. Things may even feel cold and uninviting, and you definitely don’t want potential buyers to feel anything but welcome and, well, at home. It’s important for potential buyers to see the home as a place they could immediately move into and begin enjoying. It’s all about creating an emotional connection: Once someone has fallen in love with the space, it’s much easier for them to commit to buying.

And another article discussing the physical and psychological responses to well staged homes:

"Emotional reactions occur when a potential buyer feels a psychological link to your home. Buyers will often describe this feeling by using the words, “I can see myself living here” or “This is the house for me”.

Once buyers have these strong feelings registering in their conscious minds, the subconscious has already become quite attached to the home. Losing their chance to own the home will cause them emotional stress and possibly even physical reactions, such as crying, headaches, depression and malaise. The strength of their attachment will often dictate how far they are willing to go to possess your property for their very own."

Don’t you want a buyer to get headaches over your property!!!?!? Well, ok that’s pushing the envelope but you get the idea!

B) What Areas to Stage for the Most Impact

So now that we understand the emotional impact we need to evoke in the “heart” of the buyers when they walk into our house, the WHY we stage, now we need to determine WHAT spaces to focus on creating that impact.

This may seem like a logical conclusion. You may be thinking… “of course you would stage the main areas in the house such out the living room, dining room, and master bedroom, right” and I would answer RIGHT! But why? WHAT is it about those areas that will bring about that desired response to your property in that buyer?

For starters, those areas are most likely to be gathering places or sanctuaries.

REI Design Solutions Staging

REI Design Solutions Staging

These are the areas in the home where family time, quiet time, celebrations and sleep happen.

We need to create spaces that they can truly see living in every day in YOUR house making it THEIR home.

They need to envision themselves sitting on that sofa and eating popcorn while watching a movie with the family. Tucking in after a long day and reading a bit before bed. Serving Thanksgiving Turkey with their loved ones gathered round.  These are the visions we want in their heads and the only way most people can do that kind of visualization is if something tangible is in those spaces to spark their creativity!

The best way to ensure they buyer sees themselves living in your house, is to make it as neutral as possible for listing pictures and while it’s listed. Here is some good advice from other homeowners in Realtor.com

"The best home-staging wisdom I've heard is that potential buyers need to see themselves in your home. That’s why real estate agents tell you to clear out any personal pictures you have on the walls. You don’t want buyers to think of it as your house, because it’ll make it harder for them to picture themselves living there.”

C) How to Make the most emotional impact

Lastly, we want to discuss HOW to go about making the most impact on buyers.  What sort of elements need to occupy those spaces we discussed above that will really resonate with buyers?

Well, that is where the “art” of interior design and staging come in.  People LOVE well designed homes. Having your home look like an Interior designer touched it makes it highly desirable in the eyes of buyers!

We are living in what I call a “Interior Design crush culture”. My tagline is “be surrounded by beauty” because there is something transformative about being in spaces that are beautiful and awe-inspiring.

Think about the first time you saw the Grand Canyon or any other amazing natural wonder.

What happened to your psyche?

Were you awed and astounded? Now put that same principle into play with interior spaces. The beauty an interior designer or stager can create in your vacant property can transform the psyche of the potential buyers and bring about a longing to dwell in that space.

We use furnishings that are trendy and posh, artwork that draws the eye, accessories perfectly placed and the list goes on. That is HOW we transform lookers into buyers!

REI Design Solutions Staging

REI Design Solutions Staging

So next time you’re considering listing your property without staging, might I suggest performing an unbiased walk-through as if you were thinking of buying it yourself.

What did it do for you?

Did hearing the echo of your voice off of the plain walls make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Could you envision family time in the living room, or cooking your favorite meal in the kitchen. If you struggled a little bit then imagine how the buyers feel when walking a vacant house.

Ready to Try Home Staging Services That Sell Homes?

Let’s get on a call if you need a staging quote!

To your success,