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Definition of home staging

Home staging became a part of my world in 2002 when I sold my first home. Back then I didn’t call it home staging. It was just a way to get the house look nice and presentable to home buyers.

You didn’t want to leave the house a mess or have laundry everywhere because that would leave a bad impression. And you didn’t want buyers to have a bad impression of you or your house.

According to google, home staging is “the activity or practice of styling and furnishing a property for sale in such a way as to enhance its attractiveness to potential buyers.” But what is home staging and how do you do it? You may have seen some examples of it on TV or as you walked through houses yourself. 

I talk about this in my Creative Home podcast and you can listen here or continue reading below.

what is home staging

How TV shows portray home staging

Sell This House was one of the first TV shows I remember watching around 2003. It showed Roger Hazard and Tayna Memme going from house to house and showing how some simple changes can make a big difference. They then had people come in and make comments before and after the changes. It was very telling on the feedback they received and the impact they made with their changes. I think this show was more realistic with the staging process because they reused what the homeowners had and rearranged them or removed them as needed.

The show also explains how much money they spent on the changes they made but it makes it seem like these changes are done overnight. In the real world, staging can take days to even weeks depending on the size of the home and what needs to be done. So the shows aren’t as realistic as we are led to believe. Unfortunately, home buyers were fooled into believing these TV shows. 

In the 2016 National Association of Realtors survey, 63% of home buyers thought the homes should be staged like they were portrayed on TV. Buyers were disappointed when they didn’t see the same level of effort in homes. Luckily in 2019, only 10% of buyers thought homes should look like it does on TV shows.

home staging dining room

So what is home staging?

As mentioned before it is a way to make the house more appealing to buyers. I tell my clients that home staging is neutralizing their home decor. You may decorate your home with your favorite wall colors, design style or sporting decor but that’s not something that all buyers want to see.

Home staging is the opposite of home decorating.

We need to attract a broader audience by neutralizing colors and decor in the home. That is what home staging does because it allows homeowners to envision themselves living in it and adding their own flare to the home. In fact, per the National Association of Realtors “47% of buyers agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers’ view of the home.”

Almost half the people! That’s amazing and not something that homeowners are aware of.

Here is another fact:

“82% of buyers agents said staging a home made it easier for the buyer to visualize the property as a future home”.

Once you go through the process of staging your home (or get it ready to sell whichever term you prefer), the house looks better and is ready for buyers to move in.

Home staging myths

#1 Empty the house and remove all your furniture

This is not necessary. You may think your furniture is old fashioned and you have the budget to get rental furniture. Everything has to be cohesive and you bought furniture for your home to fit the style. That is why I prefer to reuse the furniture you already have in your home.

#2 Your own décor is fine and you don’t need to stage

Remember home staging is where we are decorating to sell and not decorating to live. So your décor may be too much. There was one house that I staged where the couch blocked the entrance and there were too many pots, home décor and just stuff! We moved the couch away from the door, removed a few items from the room and now the room felt larger and more inviting. If you think your décor is fine, think again. You’re going to need to pair down the home décor to help stage the house.

#3 Home staging costs a lot of money

If you just need a consultation that will not be that costly. Home staging consultations cost between $150-$600 for up to 2 hours to give you an idea for your budgeting purposes. Home staging will cost less than a price reduction. If you have to lower the price of your home, it will normally be $10,000 or more. Home staging costs significantly less than a price reduction. By reducing the price, that is less money in your pocket as the homeowner. Home staging helps increase the perceived value of the home which then translates to a higher offer price on your home.

#4 Home staging is only for expensive houses

Not true. I’ve staged houses that ranged from $100,000 to over $1 million. Every house can do with some sort of staging. Now not every home will need all the same changes but the changes will be enough to make a difference in the overall appearance. I would not add expensive couches in a $100,000 home but there are things you can do to help make it more appealing to buyers.

What home staging is not

  • Home staging is not meant to hide serious flaws
  • Home staging is not just decluttering or depersonalizing
  • It’s not just adding a few fancy pillows
  • Home staging is not setting a dining room table.

So what is home staging?

Home staging is a process

I like how my mentor, Debra Gould The Staging Diva, explained how people pick homes. She says, “house hunting is like speed dating” where you need to create a great first impression of your home. You see so many houses in a day and you pick the ones that you love. I want to take a bit further and say that your house is going out on a date.

When you get ready to meet somone for the first time, you get ready by taking a shower, pick out a nice outfit, put on your makeup and do your hair. Do you remember taking the time to do that? The same attention to detail needs to happen to your house.

Which is why as a home stager, we start with decluttering because it’s the foundation we need to get to first.


“Clutter is no more than postponed decisions” Barbara Hemphill

One of the most common home improvements that real estate agents recommend to homeowners is to declutter the home. Photos will be taken of your home and posted online so you want to make a great impression. Don’t show the pile of laundry in the bedroom or the stack of toys in the playroom. Clutter just makes the room feel smaller and you want buyers to feel like the room is bigger. Most people think that just decluttering is enough to “stage a home” but there are more steps.


Once you removed the clutter, you will most likely find that you need to clean behind whatever is left in the room. Cleaning may also lead to painting walls because you may have found some scuffs. This is all part of making your home look presentable. Remember you are trying to make a great first impression. So far these two steps should be common things you should do to get your house ready to sell.


home staging living room
selling your house

Fix things around the home

If you have burned out lights, broken doors or damaged walls, these are things you need to fix before you put your home up for sale. I had three contractors in my house to put in new recessed lighting in a master closet, a carpenter to finish some show molding we never got a chance to finish in a living room and a tile guy to change out the countertops in our master bathroom. These took some time to schedule so be aware of how soon you need to get your house on the market and get the work done.

Rearranging furniture

If you’ve removed some clutter, you may have realized that the furniture doesn’t work in the room anymore. Or maybe the room still looks too small. By rearranging the furniture, you can make the room look better and larger! This is where hiring a home stager can help you because they know the best way to set up a room. You don’t know the number of times I’ve heard people say, “now why didn’t I think of that?” after I moved a few furniture pieces around. It’s because you live in your home day in and day out and you don’t see it anymore. As a home stager, you get a fresh set of eyes looking at your home.

Some homeowners may not want to deal with using their furniture to stage a house. If you want to get rental furniture you can but know that there can be a minimum cost per month and sometimes companies require a 2 month minimum to rent out the furniture pieces even if you sell your home in less than 2 months. Most homeowners have all the furniture they need in the home but sometimes you need a piece or two. In one home staging project, the owners did not have a dinette set for the eat in kitchen, so we rented out that small set to show off the space. 

Final home staging touches

The final touches in staging will include staging small areas like a fireplace mantel or a coffee table. Adding pillows in the best colors on the bed or the couch. These are accessories that help complete the picture. You don’t want to go overboard because then we go back into the “clutter” territory.

If you do all these steps in the home staging process, you now know the answer to “what is home staging?” Home staging encompasses all these steps to make the home look presentable and inviting to homeowners. Think about the homes you walked through when looking for a home. Did it look homey and inviting or small and dark?

I hope this gives you a better idea of what home staging really is, what it is not, bust some home staging myths and then give you an actual breakdown of the home staging process. But if you feel overwhelmed or need some help staging your home, feel free to contact me via email to do a consult. My home staging consultations are normally in person but I have done them over video chats and internationally! So let me know how I can help you get your house ready to sell.


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