• Tenay Benes, Owner

Four Staging Mistakes To Avoid

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

We love our clients! Yes, we do.

We especially love educating our clients on the best way to approach staging so that they can get the biggest bang for their buck.

After all, depending on the type of service you choose, staging a home for sale can cost upwards of $3,000 in Central Maryland and Washington D.C!

That's no small investment.

So you should know how to get the biggest return on your investment. Here are four staging mistakes to AVOID and what you should do instead:

1. Under-staging AKA "Light Home Staging"

An empty dining room with a chair and a floor lamp in the corner.

A family room with a loveseat and no wall art or decor.

A bare bones living room with a rug, a chest and two dining chairs.

What are these rooms communicating???

"I don't know what to do in this room." That's what.

We have been asked by potential clients whether we offer "light home staging" in order to help them cut costs. Although this seems reasonable at first blush, our answer is always the same: "Sorry, we don't provide that service because when you stage a room halfway, you don't actually get any of the key benefits of staging which are:

a) Indicating the FUNCTION of a room;

b) Providing the SCALE of a room;

c) Demonstrating the POTENTIAL of a room."

Is this a family room? How come there are no sofas? Is there no room for a sofa? I can't tell.

That's right. We actually turn down business because we believe "light home staging" is a non-value-added service. If you only have a couple of hundred dollars to invest in staging a vacant house, you might as well invest that money into virtual staging so that at least your internet traffic can increase. You won't get the full benefits of real vacant staging but at least you'll get some.

2. Over-staging AKA "Staging Every Room"

On the other end of the spectrum is staging every single room in the house. While we DO offer this service, since staging every room does provide the three key benefits of home staging, we do not recommend it. When our clients ask us why not, we refer to staging statistics which show that the most common rooms to stage in 2o19 were: living room (93 percent), kitchen (84 percent), master bedroom (78 percent), and the dining room (72 percent).

In addition, we recommend "weird spaces" (like a small nook in the hallway) and "high-value spaces" (like an extra bedroom in the basement) be staged. These are areas that need to be helped (as in, "Here's how you should use this space.") or highlighted (as in, "Don't forget how special this feature is!") So, we ask our clients about main level living and eating areas, master bedroom and weird or special spaces in order to scope their recommended staging project. This can usually save our client upwards of $2,000 on their staging project, which they can put back into their house budget jar!

3. Mismatched Staging AKA "Make Inventory Fit"

Most vacant staging companies operate by charging you labor and travel to move THEIR rental inventory from their warehouse into your house and back again. Since most staging companies are small operations with less than 20 houses worth of furniture, it is highly unlikely that they will have the right type of inventory for EVERY architectural style and interior design imaginable.

This staging company used an outdoor IKEA dining set in a transitional, indoor dining room, thus making the room look cheaper.

This is why even though we provide a free, itemized estimate over the phone, we do not commit to the project until we send a stager to the house. Every once in a while, the stager will report with an honest assessment: "Our available inventory does not match the style of this house well." This is usually the case in homes with lots of wood detail or in very large homes greater than 5,000 square feet. In either instance, it is better to consider a rental furniture company like Cort, which offers live inventory availability and has traditional, wood- or leather-centric or full-size items. Of course, the drawback is that you must rent their inventory for at least three months and this usually costs more than our inventory.

4. Virtual Staging AKA "Photoshop"

The average virtual staging project costs about $250 whereas the average vacant staging project costs $2,500. The different in price is due to the fact that virtual staging requires about 4 manhours of work with no inventory while vacant staging requires 18 manhours of work and inventory.

PROJECT: It is difficult to tell the purpose of this vacant room and its adjoining space.
BEFORE: Virtual staging inaccurately showed this room as a family room, leaving potential buyers confused when they arrived for the on-site showing, 42 times.
AFTER: Vacant staging correctly showed this room as the master suite, resulting in an offer within the first 30 days of relisting!

Ultimate, while virtual staging provides three of three key benefits of home staging (scale, function, and potential) for internet listings, it still does not provide ANY of these benefits for on-site showings. The impact is usually really high internet traffic and showings with no offers because most people still can't imagine in person what they saw online.

That's it! What do you think? Have you ever seen other staging mistakes to avoid? You might also be interested in this article: Stager Horror Stories

Calm Castle Industry Blog


We are available to provide face-to-face services, again! For your comfort and convenience, we will continuing to offer virtual occupied staging & interior design consultations for our high-risk Clients. 

Please contact us for details at 443-990-1110 or contact@calmcastle.com.

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Calm Castle | "As Unto the Lord"

(443) 990-1110 | contact@calmcastle.com