New home stagers often worry that they won’t know what to recommend when they get to a client’s home. I’ve picked four rooms here from my own clients which show fairly typical problem areas.
Test your talents of observation by reviewing each of these room photos and add your comments to this post to share your staging ideas and what you’d recommend for each of these rooms:In future posts, I’ll share my own observations as a home stager and what I recommended to these clients along with the best comments from readers like you.
So please share your observations and home staging recommendations by commenting on this post!
If you’d like to learn more about design for home staging, I’ve written a very comprehensive resource that will take you through every room in a home (and outside for curb appeal too).
It’s a best-seller called, “Staging Diva Ultimate Design Guide: Home Staging Tips, Tricks and Floor Plans”
> Click here to read the full table of contents and description
Jessica Woodard says
The kitchen need a good cleaning and any unnecessary equipment removed from the counters. The kitchen towel needs to be removed from the cabinet door.
The living room needs the toys removed and the family photos removed from the wall.
In the living room seen from the dining room, the sofa creates a barrier between the two rooms. There seems to be too much furniture for such a small space. The sofa might work better in front of the window. It is hard to tell what the cabinet is on the left. There is a picture of a family member on the wall in the dining room. The cabinet in the dining room may need to be thinned out some.
The master bedroom looks like someone moved in, made the bed and forgot the rest. All the clutter needs to be removed. The lamps are too tall and not the same height, I believe. They are not really appropriate for this bedroom. The bed is on the floor. Putting the bed on a frame and adding a headboard would help. Something simple could be arranged. Adding smaller, matching bed side lamps would be good. I cannot tell with all the clutter if there are really bedside tables that work next to the bed. Some art on the wall would be good.
These are my first thoughts.
Joanne Schamber says
Hi Debra . . .I still can’t afford your course due to being unemployed, along with some other financial burdons right now, but I plan to as soon as I can.
In regards to what is wrong with the above rooms:
The kitchen countertops need to decluttered, leaving only the small appliances used everday and they need to be sparkling clean. No kitchen towels in view and perhaps a fresh flower arrangement in the open corner. The living room needs to look like a living room and not a playroom. All toys need to be removed to a designated play area and put into some baskets or bins for easy clean up. The living room view from the dining area has some major flow issues, as its blocking off the natural pathway saying DO NOT ENTER. The couch should be moved to open this passage way making it more inviting. The master bedroom needs to be decluttered of all the junk and boxes stacked around the bed. Leaving the bed and endtables with proper lighting. A few complimentary cushions and a light throw at the end of the bed and already it will appear more like a master bedroom and less of a dorm room.
This is so much fun I wish I could do this all day long!
Simone Cook says
De Clutter kitchen then acess the room’s decor.
Remove all childrens toys, change art work to a solid print, calm down the furniture with pillows and throw blankets to take away from the purple add large lamps adjacent to either side of the couch to frame it in. Take away the three tiny pictures add a tropical plant.
LIVING ROOM 2 :
Solid curtains to add punch to walls to pull in the couch colour or bold bamboo blinds. Move couch to side wall to open up room, slip cover chair, change all lamps to create a consistent theme ( antique bronze finish and darker shade) Accent wall colours to a warmer pallete. Examine table and see if size and shape is working for the room.
Add side tables and bring hieght with lamps. Add art work above bed. Bring in candles large pillows on bed and a throw to draw the client into the cozy space.
Debra Gould says
Jessica, Joanne and Simone:
Thanks so much for sharing your staging ideas! Isn’t it amazing that people don’t just do these things on their own? That’s why they need us and will pay for our expertise. They just don’t know what to do on their own!
Readers, keep those thoughts coming. It’s awesome to see the staging talent out there and I promise to share all the best ideas in a future post.
The kitchen needs to be decluttered. Too much stuff on the counter tops.Towel should be taken off door. A good cleaning would make the place look nice.
Living room needs to be de-cluttered. All kids toys put away. Some up-dated art on the walls. Make the couches more cozy. Leather has a cold look unless you put some pillows or throw. A coffee table to put a nice book on.
The bedroom looks really unwelcoming:) The bed needs a frame and a headboard. It also needs some end tables with a couple lamps. Some art work on the walls.
Yes, remove the clutter and clean well first. The black/white kitchem welcomes a vase with warm collored flowers or a fruit bowl.
Living room: pillow covers could be in white, beije, and possibly some green; on the floor, a neutral rug; at least one side table with a lamp, a coffee table in front of a sofa with a plant(?) or… Family photos should be removedm from the wall (frames can be used);
Dinning room blue carpet out neutral floor in; set the table with candles; create a living room close to the window; change pictures on the walls to help to define areas.
Bedroom: messy and naked bed should be higher, and lights need shades; bed cover changed or some pillows added; consider painting at least some walls…hanging a painting on the bed wall.
The kitchen needs to have all the “stuff” taken out: dirty dishes,and garbage. Clean the well. Maybe paint the cabinets a lighter color and put some updated hardware on the doors.
The living room with the purple couch needs to have the toys put away, and the couch could get a neutral slip cover over it, a grown up coffee a side table and a couple of table lamps and new pillows for the couch.
The white paint is not warm and inviting a new coat of tan paint.
The entrance to living room with the blue couch is too crowded.
There is no space to walk around. I would take the glass cabinet out of the room to help depersonize the space, rearrange the furniture as well.
I would have to be in the room. I would also up date the curtains to something more neutral, and add some art work on the walls.
The master bedroom needs to have all the boxes removed, take all of the personal “stuff” out.The room probably needs a fresh coat of paint
in a new neutral color that would complement the bedding.
The bed needs some sort of headboard, I
can’t tell if the bed is on the floor or not. If it’s on the floor it needs
A couple of small nightstands and a couple of lamps, a small vase
fresh flowers on a table and some simple art work, above the bed.
Lillien Curtis says
Kitchen – clear all benches and tea towel away , plus any wash up items under cupboard. If a small kitchen remove rubbish bin if on floor and away.
Remove toys into a box if space in kids room or playroom. Remove photos on wall on right. If art work kept above couch the cushions need to be recovered in another shade to compliment art work. Maybe a nice rug placed in front of couch too if there is one in house or if budget permits to purchase one.
Living room from Dining Room
Move couch for access to other area, perhaps place on angle or against wall. Avoid in front of window if possible as it will block light. Depending on space may have to remove grey chair to accomodate or furniture on left. Not knowing dimensions. Black chair move to left or right of table and placement of lovely bowl from clients china set if compliments curtains and couch, if not some seasonal flowers on table. I have also found succulants a great architectual plant that last!
If bed comes off floor lamps may be ok as long as they are matching as with side tables. A de clutter excercise and an appropiate print above bed (at eye level) or bed head, small cushions as previous comment. I find sometimes throws can look a bit too staged,but find a large throw across the end of the bed seem to work better.
I am constantly learning and amazed. Your environment is so important even if you are not selling.
Robin Bennett says
Clean & de-clutter. Remove all towels, unnecessary appliances – make sure the ones that are left are sparkling. Add stainless burner covers to sleek up outdated appliances… Switch out light bulbs to get rid of the yellowish-green cast… Consider adding hardware to cabinet doors…Low height of overhead cabinets seems to prevent any florals – they probably aren’t sleek enough anyway. After everything was cleared, I’d to a low trough type candle holder under the cabinets – unscented of course.
Living Room (w/ leather sofa):
Remove all evidence there isn’t a separate playroom. Childrens furniture may be re-used in their bedrooms, but otherwise it should be packed. Toys should be packed except for what they can store in their closets. Remove the three pictures on the right (can’t tell if they’re photos?), and lower the artwork over the sofa by a couple inches. Add an area (either relatively dark or colorful) to define the space, but also balance out the depth of color in the sofa. Add a neutral (but richly toned) chair. Add coffee table (nothing too heavy – maybe glass w/ wood frame for children’s safety?). This area seems oddly porportioned to the windows on the right, so chanced are that would need some tweaking, but if we are just concentrating on the picture, I’d add a table w/ lamp ( & access) on one side, and a floor lamp on the other.
Living Room (w/ teal sofa):
Wood cabinet needs to go. I assume it houses a television, but they can either do without one for a while, or mount it on the wall on the chair side. (Ideally, centered & framed) Sofa needs to rotate to that left wall. Add an light neutral area rug & glass coffee table to catch the light & keep the room open and welcoming. Throw a sweet – but modern – pillow on the antique-y chair and a buttercream throw w/ a couple of light neutral but silk-y feeling pillows on the sofa. If placing the tc on the chair wall, flip the table & lamp to the other side of chair, if not, remove or lower quite a bit the tiny artwork hanging there. It should be within the vignette of that side table. Add two small bench/ottomans (or 1 med) under the window to balance colors and complete the seating area.
Everything needs to be removed except absolute necessities. There won’t be much left, and it looks like the layout is tricky – why else would the bed be pushed over that far? I’d consider placing the bed on an angle, keeping one of the floor lamps – probably adding a shade – adding a simple headboard, and a small chest for storage & a lamp on what is now the headboard wall. If the bed is on the floor, of course it will need to be raised with a frame, but it kind of looks like there are rails in the pic. May just be the boxspring. If there are rails exposed, I’d consider darkening them (staining or painting black so they disappear) and then adding a few decorative pillows to the bed, and artwork to the walls.
Karen W says
What more can be said that hasn’t already been said?
DECLUTTER DECLUTTER DECLUTTER
(Do people really live like this?) They need our help….
Remove everything and re-insert key furniture items (Sofa,Bed, Tables, Lights,& Big Art) with unobstructed trafffic flow. These
rooms need breathing space so as to see the house for sale and not the stuff.
Kelli M says
The kitchen countertop needs to be free of clutter, completely clean it up and leave one appliance on counter. Maybe have a small orange flower plant. Take away the towel hanging on door.
Livingroom: Take away all the toys and replace pillows with solid gold color. Take away all pictures on wall, find a picture with some gold and burgundy to hang over the couch or go with black ikea shelves. Put smaller picture frames on the shelve like artwork.
Living room view from dining area: Couch is blocking pathway, need to remove and open to invite people in. Replace curtains with solid fabric in brown color. Put brown slip cover on blue couch. Not sure what that wood stand is on left wall (tv?)replace with something lower height and open.
Master Bedroom: Needs to take away all the clutter, give solid night tables in dark brown and add lampshades. Get rid of comforter on top of bed but keep brown sheets and throw on red comforter with a cream color throw at end of bed. Put cream and brown decorative pillows on bed. Put up red artwork on the wall. Add a red vase on night table with cream flowers.
Pia Delmeire says
Hello Debra, I agree with all the above comments but I want to add some more. I think there is much to different furniture in different styles. I would decorate it in one style and remove the others. I would put the round table at the smaller place with the window where the bleu sofa is, paint everything in white including the table and chairs, put white long curtains and hang them in front of the 2 walls next to the window so it seems that the window is much larger, put some white stores and pull them up.Then hang a long mirror on the wall, so this room will enlarge, add colors with flowers on the table, put a long small side table in front of the window and ad on this table two litlle lamps with a silver foot and black top, in the middle of this table you can put glass with tealights. The other area I would paint white as well exept one wall I would paint in the collor of the big leather sofa, and put this sofa against this wall so the sofa doesnt look that hughes any more and remove all other stuff. For the bedroom after decluttering it, I would paint the wall behind the bed in the same collor as the wall behind the sofa and put the same color of sheets on the bed combined with pillows in softer tones. Using the same collor in different rooms gives the impression that it is more pure and that rooms are floating in to each other. I want to add that I am from Belgium and that therefor my Englisch is not always correct. Kind regards Pia Delmeire
jill monczunski says
ditto … ditto … ditto. isn’t it interesting that not EVERYONE sees the potential and ‘gets it’? such simple changes.
Staging To Sell
Home Staging & Interior reDesign
Dianne Stanislawski says
I’m also one who would love to take your course & right now is not a convenient time as I am currently staging my own home for sale here in Georgia. So, here goes with my thoughts on these rooms:
Declutter most definitely.
Can’t tell if cabinets are wood or metal like material. If wood, would consider painting white or off-white to match the stove, sink & flooring in order to tie those in together. Only essential appliances on the countertops. Remove kitchen towels. Would add small vase (black in color) with some bright colored flowers, possibly yellow. If painting cabinets not an option, would definitely give a good cleaning to remove any greasey film to make them shine. If flooring is linoleum, would definitely need to update to tile. All this from just what I see in the picture.
Remove the toys to child’s bedroom or play area. If not able to do this, would consider some sort of storage option, maybe an
ottoman cube for example. Remove small pictures to right of sofa. If picture above sofa does not match sofa color, would suggest adding wrought iron art work in black. Add some lamps to existing end tables for lighting. If only one end table, would add
floor lamp for further lighting option. Remove child’s table & chairs & bring in coffee table & anchor with oval shaped rug with colors matching sofa to tie in sofa color & black art work as well as
to tie it all in (oval size chosen to break up the “squareness” of the seating arrangement–not sure what the rest of the room looks like & if I would be able to rearrange furniture or not). Add some type of black iron candle holders for the coffee table decor. Add pillows & throw with colors contrasting the color of the sofa but that would tie in with the rug.
Living Room 2:
Declutter cabinet along the wall seen in the forefront of the picture. Add small flower arrangement with bright flowers to tie in with colors in living room area using a black vase, bowl, etc. Remove personal picture from above cabinet & replace with small black framed artwork, as well. Anchor sofa along the left side of wall & place small table with lamp to the far end of the sofa. Move TV cabinet to flank the right wall (unable to see if there is a door to the right that leads off into another room of the house). Move chair to opposite corner from where it sits now & anchor it with a small table with
reading lamp. Replace present curtains with neutral colored sheers. Anchor the space with small area rug in neutral color containing color that matches sofa under small table in front of sofa. Place stack of small books on table next to chair
to establish this as reading space. Place small flower arrangement with bright flowers, picking up colors from rug & sofa. Looks like black wrought iron curtain rod so would continue
to tie this in with some small black wrought iron art work on the walls.
Remove all clutter. Would suggest painting room in neutral color. Place bed on frame if not platform bed. If platform bed, would afix make-shift headboard to wall just above bed & replace all bed coverings with comforter in neutral colors with some possible contrasting reds in it. Would finish bed with some bright red pillows & red throw placed across bottom of bed at an angle to add interest. Place bedside tables on either side of bed & add matching lamps of suitable size for the bed as well as the room in either brass or gold tone to contrast with the red bed coverings. Add art work picking up colors in bed coverings & finish the room with light blocking solid red curtains with brass or gold tie backs to tie in with the lamps. Anchor the space with a small area rug in red alongside the bed closest to the door to catch the eye. Add small vase of bright yellow/white flowers on one bedside table & a
small alarm clock along with a small stack of one or two books on the other.
Heather Cook says
I agree with all that has been said. Here are a few things I would add:
1) Kitchen – hard for me to tell the colour of the cabs (I am guessing white) however to update them I would suggest adding stainless steel handles to them. De-cluttering is the obvious suggestion however instead of flowers I would recommend a bowl of colourful apples or glass containers filled with lemon/limes, tri coloured pasta and such to add the colour here. Flowers die and clients have to keep buying fresh which in my experience they do not do.
2) Living room – Make this an adult area by removing all the toys/furniture for the kids. Add grown up end tables, coffee table, table lamps, table centerpiece. Switch out the art for a framed mirror, take down the 3 prints to the left and then layer the sofa with cream/black accent pillows. Add a cream rug to anchor the space and accessorize simply.
3) Move the sofa so that it is along the long wall with the window to the left and the dining room to the right. Take out the armoire, flank the sofa with end tables & table lamps. Add a rug and coffee table to anchor the conversation area, angle the chair towards the sofa. Framed mirror or neutral art over sofa, cream accent pillows and throw on sofa. Accessorize simply. Change out patterned drapes to chocolate brown panels to contrast the wall colour and add richness to the space.
4) Everything around the bed needs to be packed away. Bedding will work – add ice blue or apple green accent pillows and throw for visual contrast and fun. Ideally, add a headboard, matching end tables & table lamps and neutral artwork over the bed.
We see this kind of thing .. and worse, every day. For a lot of people they don’t think anything is wrong with it. And its not – when it comes to living in the space, but its a whole new ballgame when it comes to selling!
Pat MacKay INTERIOR THERAPY! says
Hi Debra! I’ve been waiting all week for a few minutes worth of time to resond to your quiz!! So I am purposely NOT reading the other responses before I send you mine :}
1) The photos are small, but it’s very easy to see that the KITCHEN needs a great deal of decluttering on the countertops.The area should be clean, bright and mess free. When a buyer sees something like this, there is an automatic little voice in their heads saying “There isn’t enough storage here” and then they begin to look for other drawbacks to the space. I would also get rid of the towel hanging on the cabinet door. We know it’s tough to always have the home “show ready”, but it’s really critical to have it seem organized and clean. I would also put a set of brightly colored canisters on the cabinet. It will pull the eye and create a simple storage solution. Viola!
2) The Living Room is currently being used for two purposes – kid’s play space and family gathering area. This is really common when we have limited space, but the toys and paraphernalia must be put into some storage containers. There are large wicker or rattan storage bins that double as benches and have safety catches on the hinges. They are well worth the price. The children’s table should be removed to another area if possible. I would also add pillows in solid colors taken from the color scheme of the floral chair just peeking out in the picture. There seems to be family photos on the wall beyond the sofa. They should be packed and something else put into their place. The walls would benefit from a deeper color, not dark but something like Benjamin Moore Mohave Desert. I’m pretty sure that the picture makes a burgundy leather sofa look almost eggplant, right?
(3) Living Room #2 from Dining Room. Yikes! Move That Bus!!! Really, the sofa is creating a wall between the rooms. The current configuration is like a giant STOP sign. Additionally, anyone sitting in the sofa as it’s originally shown would have people at their back in a group setting. Not great to turn your head around to speak to someone at the table, right? I cannot see the perimiter of the room clearly, but I’m thinking that the wall to the left may be a place to station that sofa. There seems to be a television on a stand on the left now. I would move that across the room toward where the lonely blue chair is sitting. Introduce the sofa to the chair and maybe they could hang out together, right?? By moving the furniture around, you could creat a gathering space where people can converse readily and be comfortabe in doing so. (The sofa may also work under the window…). I’d love to get my hands in there…
(4) Master Bedroom? Oy Vay as we say here in Jersey!! What is happening here? Bring in a bed frame to support these people and create a focal point and resting place for the bed. It should really “master” the room and right now it’s being gobbled up by STUFF. (now you know we would NEVER say these things to people, right?! ) Put the cork boards somewhere else. They are not appropriate for a bedroom. Get rid of the boxes and clear off the nightstands. There seems to be an excess of books on the nightstand shelves – take at least half away and pack them up. Some moving companies store boxes until a customer is ready to move. That’s a good option if there is no basement or other area to temporarily store packed boxes. Be sure to label everything well and keep a list for yourself. I’d really like to see either some different bedding (something simple and yummy) and or a wall color that is warmer than the white. Artwork is absolutely necessary here. It should depict two of something, anything (well almost anything…). Remember, I am Miss Feng Shui when I do my showcasing. I’m always bringing it in, especially in a bedroom. We want the Ideal Buyer to automatically, consciously be able to SEE themselves in this room. Right now it’s not asking me to stay…
Well, Debra, this has been FUN! Thanks for the opportunity to write. All my best, Pat
Debra Gould says
So many wonderful suggestions and ideas from both aspiring and established stagers. Keep those ideas coming! After making your own suggestions to test yourself, then have a read through some of the other comments.
One thing you might take away from all this is that there is no single “right” answer!
Nice kitchen but there is to much mess every where. it needs to be cleaned up removed and a few touches are needed, like flowers or a plate of cookies. why is the rag there hanging out of the lower cabinet ? oh my! smile
the master bed room needs some work. there are no pictures on the walls and there is no head board, the lighting is all wrong and the room also needs to be cleaned and organized. I cant see the other area of the room but placement of the bed may need to be changed. lighting needs to be softened and not so stark. are there any side tables or is the room to small? floating tables may work here. I need a better view of the room. smile what color are the walls the glare from the lights and the bedding color my be bleeding on to the walls.
Some great observations! Just to add my interpretation….
Kitchen: totally denude down to the bones. Black and white a good start. I would introduce stainless steel element covers and a ss. benchtop appliannce to modernise. To tie the house colours together using what the home already has, I might introduce some blue glass canisters. The kitchen dining table would be set with black placemats, white china, silver ware and a white centre bowl with perhaps aubergines, (to include couch colour). Print over table to have black frame and kitchen feel print including a little blue and aubergine. Maybe a black slimline blind to window.
Living room: Remove all evidence of a lack of child space or storage. If the walls are as they appear a soft grey, I would repeat this in a shaggy grey floor rug. A low hung longer black frame with abstract art incorporating black grey and aubergine (assuming couch colour) to frame couch. One over sized lamp, thinking maybe brushed stainless steel with black shade. On other side table a couple of large books casually stacked.
#2 Livingroom: Remove all but blue couch and grey chair. Replace print drapes with simple blue grey drapes. Check rods are black, linear and substantial. Place couch to left side wall with a not too large rug in front. Three black framed square pics over couch. (not too large) Grey chair to remain in corner with a small low side table on right wall. A couple of tall blue glass and ss candle holders or a lamp with a book on table. Cabinet in dining to be staged with appropriate coloured glass ware. A large pewter like framed mirror above would give this cabinet some height. Check table shape for appropriateness. Possibly paint a glossy black. Set with white crockery and silver ware, with a floral centre piece in a modern abstract style using some aubergine and black twisted sticks. Be sure all chairs match and are the gloss black.
Bedroom: Declutter… raise bed. Matching side tables in white. 2 super large continental pilows in white (in lieu of a bed head). Black and white linen, including some extra cushions with different fabrics or textures. SS lamps with black shades. Aubergine fluffy/tactile throw, casually on end of bed. 2 thin black framed medium pics on right side table, can be pets… in black and white.
All of this modernises this setting and ties it all together. Neutral but not with out some personality. Hope this isn’t all a little to Aussie!
Sally Flynn says
Clean up the kitchen, get everything off the counters except a few choice pieces, functional and decorative. I would also suggest getting rid of the blue on the walls , maybe a more gray blue, with some red accents in the accessories.
Work with the sofas in the living room but get rid of the floral pillows and get more contemporary one, take away all the kids thing and get a real coffee table and complimentary rug. Also, the placement of the wall art is wrong, get new or move something more appropriate from another room, storage or make something.
Obviously, you need to move the sofa probably to under the window, get more transitional draperies and it is hard to see but it looks like a big entertainment center which is making the narrow room look smaller, take it away and bring in a console with a picture above it and a couple well placed accessories on it.
A rug and some pillows on the sofa would help. The wall color seem tan, which I don’t mind but if it isn’t rich enough Benjamin Moore has some wonderful, rich, tan colors to choose from. The furniture is very traditional and depending on the market they may want to invest in more contemporary furniture.
The bed needs to get off the ground and get a headboard, there are many inexpensive ways to create a headboard. Get rid of all the boxes and get proper end tables and lamps. Depending on the condition of the bedding it could be layered with some cream bedding pieces and decorative pillows to make it look richer and the perfect color on the walls which I can’t really suggest because I can’t see the colors well enough.Maybe a quite a few shades lighter than the bedding with cream drapes, it would be a dramatic contrast.
stacy goade says
In general, lots of decluttering is required and that would be the first task I coordinate with the home seller. I think it would add immediate calm and be de-stressing for the owner, and the stager! 🙂 This would also be a good time to use Debra’s tips and ideas for helping home sellers store personal/ child items if they are living in the home while trying to sell it. this will help to keep the home looking great. The next thing I would do is change out all of the “dated’ items in the home to bring a more contemporary feel to it. Out go the floral pillows, cover up the black and white linoleum with a neutral kitchen rug to tone down the floor, remove “old-ish” looking pictures and replace with more neutral artwork that pulls colors in the room together, paint walls that feel dark and use lighter colors, and add complimentary, matching lamps that will provide brightness and be in character with other furnishings in the room. The rooms require more thought and work but I am only commenting on what first steps I would take.
My suggestion for this room was replace kitchen cabinets color, clean, and hang microwave from bottom cabinet.
Debra Gould says
Thanks for commenting Rochelle! Are you a home stager?