In a recent post I highlighted the difference between home staging and decorating.
One of the key differences that struck me is that staged homes showcase the way someone would dream of living in a particular home.
A 2002 Forbes Magazine article called home stagers “the dream weavers of real estate.”
It was one of the things that inspired me to start a home staging business that year.
The idea of “weaving dreams” was really appealing.
Plus, I loved real estate and interior design and had no desire to become a Realtor.
Staged homes are aspirational
No one lives in a home the way you see it in a magazine, there’s a stylist at the photography shoot.
Home staging—or decorating a house to sell— is about styling the ideal home life to appeal to real estate buyers.
A staged home is aspirational. It is often less practical than how one would live in a home day-to-day.
Few adults inhabit a completely spotless, uncluttered house.
We don’t always have perfectly placed towels and accessories, fresh flowers and everything in good repair— unless we have OCD. Or no pets or children, and employ a staff to keep everything picture perfect.
But that doesn’t mean staged homes are misleading. Home stagers, who work with integrity, do no hide structural defects.
Staged Homes Get Repairs as Well as Styling
A proper home staging consultation includes a list of recommended repairs, it’s not exclusively about decluttering and the styling of rooms.
Typical problems that a home stager identifies are what you’d expect to find in the normal “wear and tear” of day-to-day living.
Things like: dirty and damaged wall paint, leaky taps, cracked tiles, doors that don’t open and close smoothly, burned out lightbulbs, moldy bathroom caulking, etc.
These relatively minor repairs are important. Flaws distract from the home’s beauty and can scare off buyers who want everything “move in ready.”
Once repairs are complete, and the place has been decluttered, the property is ready for “styling” or what I call the more creative side of home staging.
This is where home stagers get to show off the best features of each room and arrange appropriate furniture.
We bring in accent colors in accessories and artwork, while avoiding silly home staging tricks.
One of my favorite pieces to a home staging project is creating those special vignettes that help buyers fall in love and imagine themselves living in the home.
Does Selling the Dream Make it Unrealistic?
So does highlighting how someone might “dream of living in a home” make it unrealistic?
Home stagers are property stylists. Just like you would have a food stylist at a photo shoot for a recipe book, or a wardrobe stylist if you’re a celebrity preparing for the red carpet.
Home staging is just as realistic as dressing up for a date.
Perhaps it sets an unrealistic expectation of what you will look like in daily life (or first thing in the morning). You know, when there are kids and pets and no staff – or stager – putting you together 🙂
What do you think? Please share in the comments section.
Evan K. Martin says
In my Staging Seminars for Realtors I explain that Interior Design is designing to stay and live in and Staging is designing to sell. As an Interior Designer I believe you need to qualify the two.
Debra Gould says
Thanks for commenting Evan. Great point, the distinction between decorating to sell (home staging) and decorating to live (interior design, decorating, or redesign), is exactly what I was getting at with this previous article, What’s The Difference Between Home Staging and Decorating
lisa sachleben says
I have also likened staging to dating, or going to a job interview and it makes perfect sence to show the home in the very best possible light.
People want to be romanced! Who want to go look at ugly, unkempt houses? No one. Of course it’s never going to look that way on a consistant basis once the kids and dog move in and life happens but it shows what the true potential of the home actually is and helps buyers dream!
Leslie Todd says
We also use the analogy of getting a car detailed before selling…having said that, it’s not just about removing the trash and trinkets, but polishing and waxing exterior, cleaning the leather interior so it reveals the soft cowhide etc. etc…
Debra Gould says
That’s a great analogy Leslie. I use that one too, especially with doubting husbands!
Kate Perry says
The purpose of home staging is to create the atmosphere that buyers visualize themselves living in…..to bridge the distance between shopping with logic and buying on emotion. Right? So, who wants to walk through a house that’s cluttered, with mismatched furniture, dirty dishes in the sink, a mound of dirty clothes on the laundry room floor, and beds that aren’t made? Yes, that’s real life that takes place long after the romance has fizzled. I liken the experience of home staging to the butterflies I felt in the beginning of my relationship but now I get butterflies from the finished product that says “welcome home” to buyers!
Barb Hutson says
Great post, Debra! I agree with what you’re saying. Effective home staging creates the ideal lifestyle and shows a better lifestyle than what the buyer is living presently. The market for the property determines the style of staging. It’s merchandising.
Debra Gould says
Thanks for commenting Barb, well said!
Mary Ann Benoit says
I think of Interior Design as highlighting the story of your life and home staging as highlighting your house and the life you could have in it. Having less in the house for staging than you would normally live with helps show off the house, rather than the decor.
Debra Gould says
Well said Mary Ann! Thanks for commenting and looking forward to speaking with you in our Staging Diva Dialog call later today!
Jennifer Johnston says
I think “decorating” is adding things to make a space more attractive to that particular person(s).
Staging is focusing on the architectural details of the home – more removing items that hide/don’t showcase the structural features and floor plan.
Decorating is personal.
Staging is removing specific tastes to appeal to as many buyers as possible.
ALL PEOPLE buy homes for one reason (IMHO!) : to improve their lives.
Stage with the goal of making the home welcoming, functional and peaceful is a winner!
I don’t think it’s unrealistic … it’s just showing buyers what they need to see to make the best decision.
Debra Gould says
Great points Jennifer, thanks for commenting!