I have discovered that the perception among many people is that ‘home staging’ is simply putting furniture in a vacant home on the market or decorating an occupied home on the market.
But staging is so much more than furniture and just the opposite of decorating!
Vacant homes, even new vacant homes, are often difficult to sell because most people have a great deal of difficulty visualizing the home as it COULD be. They are probably thinking, “Can I fit my queen size bed in this room? Will my sofa fit in that space? I hate this colour on the wall….what would the room look like painted a different color?” This is where home stagers shine. They stage the room to PROVE you can fit your queen bed in the room and your sofa can fit in that space…or it cannot fit in that space but here is another way to arrange your furniture so that your sofa will fit. They choose paint colors that will appeal to the majority of potential buyers. The furniture chosen has to be the correct size, color, and style for the house.
But vacant staging is so much more than just putting furniture in a home. Just as important is the soft furnishings such as window treatments, rugs, cushions, throws, bed linens, towels, mats etc. and the accessories such as art, mirrors, large plants, vases, lamps, floral arrangements. These are all the things that make a house a home and appeal to the emotions of the buyers. If a potential buyer has a good emotional response to the home, the chances of selling it to them increase considerably. They have to be able to imagine themselves curled up in that cosy chair in front of the fire, or stretched out on the chaise to watch TV. But if there is no chair, no fire, no chaise and no TV, it is difficult for them to get that emotional response to entice them to buy the house.
Occupied homes are sometimes difficult to sell for the same reason basically. Buyers cannot see the house as it COULD be without all the clutter, personal belongings, bright wall colors, etc. They are thinking, “This house does not look like it has enough storage for my family” (probably because the closets, pantries, etc are overflowing) or ”That colour on the wall would clash with my furniture” (probably because the walls are not neutral), etc. That is why home stagers strongly recommend neutralizing, de-cluttering and de-personalizing the home BEFORE it goes on the market.
To appeal to the broadest range of buyers as possible, use neutral colors on the walls (and there are lots of neutrals besides beige), pack away as many of the small things as possible, remove family photos, diplomas, collections, etc. They were great for the owner while they lived there…it helped personalize the place for them and made them feel at home….but now the house is a commodity and it has to be marketed as a commodity.
That does not mean to de-clutter and de-personalize and neutralize to the point of making the home seem void of any personality. This is also where home stagers can help immensely. They know just how much to remove, what to re-purpose, how to best place the furniture and accessories, and what colors to paint. They know if they need to bring in some extra furniture, or replace the furniture, how and where to hang wall art, if the window coverings or rugs should be replaced, etc. When finished, the home should look like anybody could just move in their own things here and feel at home.
Staging is actually marketing tool, not decorating. So do not decorate a house to sell. Decorating is very taste specific and if most of the buyers don’t have the same taste, (and they likely won’t) it will be difficult to sell the home. But staging a house to sell ensures it appeals to a much broader market and the chances of it selling quickly increase significantly.