What, if any, meal should you set them up for? And if you are setting the table for a meal, how far do you go with the items and accessories? Just the place mats, dishes and glassware? Or do you also need cutlery and a center piece? What about chargers and bowls?
I don’t believe there’s a single rule of “yes you should set the table” for home staging or “no you shouldn’t.” Ask yourself these 6 questions to help you decide in any given home staging situation.
- Who is the likely real estate buyer for this home staging project? What might they expect to see?
- Will setting the table be a distraction in this room or will it add to the ambiance I’m trying to create?
- Is it too difficult to imagine how someone would use this room without setting the table?
- Will showings and open houses be well supervised? Cutlery is easy to steal and you don’t want kids playing with knives.
- What will you use to set the table? The client’s own tableware or will you have to rent or purchase what you need?
Who will be responsible for broken dishes and glasses and are you prepared to deal with this?
When I Set the Table for Home Staging
I’ve been staging my own real estate properties to sell since 1996. In 2002 I started Six Elements, my own home staging business. Since that time, I’ve only set a table twice in hundreds of home staging projects!
In both cases it was because it was a very high priced home with a very large dining room. I wanted to showcase how elegantly and comfortably 20 people could have a sit down dinner. After all, this would be an impossibility in most homes.
We used the client’s fine china and crystal for home staging.
I felt it was especially important to set the dining room table in these homes because their layouts made them ideal for entertaining. Plus, the target market for such high priced, conservative homes in these “old money” neighborhoods was senior executives and their families. They would likely want to do some serious business and personal entertaining.
In smaller dining rooms I’m not a fan of setting the table for home staging. I think it’s distracting to see plates and glassware when the table top visually takes up most of the room.
In my opinion, setting a breakfast island looks too gimmicky. It’s clear what a breakfast island can be used for so I don’t think it’s necessary to set up a contrived meal scenario. Unless of course the counter top is really ugly and you’d like to break it up a bit with placements, cereal bowls, etc.
As a general rule, when home staging typical family homes my preference is a nice centerpiece on a dining table rather than going with place settings. I generally use a bowl of fruit on a kitchen counter and a simple flower arrangement on the kitchen table.
Overall, you could say I’m not a fan of setting the table for home staging. There will undoubtedly be different opinions on this and I’d love to hear thoughts. Please share your experience or point of view in the comments below!
In a future post, I’ll share my own 9 tips for setting a table for home staging. If I can add some of your tips from the comments below, I’ll definitely give you credit for them in my article.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Home Staging and Voice of Possibility Group Inc.
Home Staging expert Debra Gould also known as The Staging Diva knows how to make money as a home stager and has taught over 8000 students how to do the same. She is the author of several guides including the Staging Diva Ultimate Design Guide: Home Staging Tips, Tricks and Floor Plans.