10 Stoopid Staging Ideas

By Justin Riordan , Creative Director at Spade and Archer

Not all home staging is created equally. Staging Darwinism is real and only the smart survive. Below are the top ten stoopidest home staging ideas.

  • 10. “Bake cookies right before your open house.”
    Our sense of smell is very closely related to our sense of memory. True enough, for some people, the smell of freshly baked cookies may bring back fantastic memories of days past when their loving mother baked cookies every Saturday afternoon. However, I use to work at Mrs. Fields, and my boss was a real jerk. Whenever I smell freshly baked cookies... I get slightly nauseous and a bit angry.  Your house should smell like nothing when it is being shown. Scented homes lead to one of two reactions: 

    • Buyers who are chemically sensitive get headaches, irritated eyes or nausea and want to leave immediately.
    • Buyers wonder what you are trying to cover up and immediately become suspicious that you are a shyster.

  • 9. “My house won’t sell unless it has plants in it.”
    Live plants or flowers in a vacant house tend to become dead plants very fast. Unless you are dedicated to checking on these plants regularly, you need to skip them, because nothing stops a house from going pending like dead plants. Fake plants are just that, fake. When it comes down to it, staging is creepy. You are in a house that appears to be occupied and yet, it is not. Every time you add something fake, it is one more reminder that this is not real and thus adds to the creepy factor.

    Home with no plants

    Image from 22pages

  • 8. “If they can’t see past that ‘__________'  then they don’t deserve to buy my house.” The truth is, if they can see past “____________” then you did a poor job preparing your house for market. If you find yourself saying this, think again.

  • 7. “I can just lightly stage this room and it will work.” Light staging or, as I call it, 'the placing of random objects in a room', like a chair and a rug in a bedroom, does not help sell houses, it will actually slow the process down. Staging is only meant to do three things: 

    • Show the room’s purpose
    • Show the room’s scale
    • Add light to the room

    Random objects in a room serve only to draw attention away from the house. Light staging is like hiring a clown to dance in front of a rack of dresses to help sell the dresses. Your buyers end up paying more attention to the clown then they do the dresses.  Either stage the room completely, or don’t stage it at all. 

  • 6. “I am paying for the staging, you should only stage with things I like.”
    You are correct in that you are paying for the staging, but you are incorrect in that you think you are the customer. Really when it comes down to it you are now a retailer, trying to sell a product. You have hired a stager just as a department store would hire a visual merchandizer to display their items to sell to a customer. Your stager is concerned about what the potential buyer will like. You should be too.

  • 5. “The style of the staging should match the style of the house.”
    Nobody has an entire household full of mid-century modern furniture. When staging a home we want the house to look obtainable. We want our clients to say, “Hey, I could do that!” By staging with an eclectic mix of furniture that does not necessarily “go” with the house, we prove to people that their mis-matched, rag-tag lot of furniture could look good in the house as well.

    Home Staging

    Image from 22pages

  • 4. “We should make everybody take off their shoes before they enter.”
    Why in the world would you ask people to be uncomfortable in their new home, the first time they see it in order to protect floors that will no longer belong to you in a matter of weeks? Regardless of how or if you ask, thoughtful people with dirty shoes will remove then before coming through, thoughtless people will leave them on.

  • 3. “We should pull out the staging as soon as the house goes pending.”
    Uh-oh! You pulled out your staging before the inspection period ended in order to save a few bucks on rental furniture. Now your sale has failed because the buyer didn’t like the condition of the water heater. I see that frowny face. Next time leave it in through the inspection period, better yet, through the financing contingency.

  • 2. “Staging can fix anything.”
    I so wish this was true, but often, it is not. Sometimes things are so bad, they need to be fixed prior to, or in lieu of, staging. If your entire house is painted in rainbow tie-dye, no amount of staging can help you. 

  • 1. “Staging is easy”
    It is amazing how many stagers I meet on a daily basis. Nearly every single day somebody calls me to explain to me why they don’t need staging services. They say they know exactly what their house needs in order to sell, and how they have a lot of experience doing what I do and they could just do it themselves. I always wonder to myself, “Then why are you calling me?” The truth of the matter is, home staging is not as easy as it looks.

I often compare it to women’s gymnastics. You know you are doing it right when it looks effortless. If you get a chance google "Nadia Comaneci, perfect score" and watch the video, I don’t think she even broke a sweat. Good home staging looks like that.

What it all comes down to is that "staging is easy" is the number one biggest myth we would love to perpetuate.

In the end, stoopid staging does nothing to help you and could actually hurt your sale. Make sure you find a competent staging professional when you decide you want top dollar for your house. 

Justin Riordan, LEED AP, is founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency headquartered in Portland Oregon with offices in Seattle and Palm Springs.