The Worst Home Staging Advice Real Estate Experts Have Ever Heard

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(Image credit: Jill Ruzicka)

If you’re trying to zhush up your home to sell, you might be obsessively collecting staging ideas. Home staging helps present your space as well-designed and ultra-livable, showing potential buyers that your home is an especially great place to live. However, not all tips are good ones. I asked real estate experts which staging moves may end up hurting your sale (and what to do instead) — here, find five of their favorites.

Bad advice: Add a lot of your personality.

Andrew Weinberger, founder of PropertyClub, a real estate startup in New York City, says that homeowners usually veer towards adding too much of their personality when staging their home for sale. “There could be too much art or clutter relating to their personal hobby, for example,” he says. “Whatever it is they love about the home and what they like in terms of decor is probably very different from what potential homebuyers will like.”

What to do instead: While you may want to veer away from adding too much of your personality into your staged home, it should still feel like someone lives there. Krista Watterworth Alterman tells Apartment Therapy that adding details like a pair of shoes or a purse on the floor of a master closet can make a space look a little lived-in and helps potential buyers picture themselves living there.

Bad advice: It’s better to leave the house empty.

“I have often heard people say that staging just gets in the way of people imagining their own furniture in the house,” says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, a staging company in Portland, Oregon. “This is true for roughly 10 percent of people. I bet the majority of potential buyers need a sense of scale and layout to understand a house.”

What to do instead: This one’s easy — just keep your home furnished.

Bad advice: Go crazy with color.

There’s a limit to the amount of color you should have when you’re staging. For example, white kitchens are often the easiest to sell. Also, some color palettes can drastically depreciate your home’s value by thousands (yes, even though walls are super easy to repaint!)

However, some pops of color can be helpful: “This is a tricky one because subtle punches of color can help potential buyers remember certain rooms once they get home,” Riordan says. “For example, ‘Remember the house with the red kitchen,’ or ‘I think the green bedroom should be your office.'”

What to do instead: Use color as a differentiator between rooms, but try to stick to a more neutral palette.

Credit: Trinette Reed | Stocksy

Bad advice: Mirrors are a bad idea.

Evan Rosenfeld, an agent at Citi Habitats in New York City, says that he was told by a designer to never use mirrors when staging an apartment. The reason? People will get distracted by their reflection and not pay attention to the home.

“I always thought mirrors opened a space and made it look bigger,” Rosenfeld says. “When I mentioned this advice to other stagers they couldn’t believe what they were hearing.”

What to do instead: The Rosenfeld and the stagers are right on this issue: Mirrors can make a space feel much more spacious, open, and airy when strategically placed, so do use them to amplify your home.

Bad advice: Ditch the area rugs.

“Some people think you should remove your area rugs to show off the flooring when you stage a home,” says Derik Keith, a real estate agent with the Keith Home Team at Metro Brokers in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “This is a bad move because area rugs make a room feel warm and comfortable. If staging is about the feel of a home, then an uninviting living room that feels sterile or cold is going to leave a bad impression on your prospective buyer.”

What to do instead: The Dude was right — rugs really do tie the room together. So, when staging, add some proportional rugs to section living areas to add warmth.

Feel overwhelmed at all you’re going to have to do (and buy) to stage your home? Just make a call to your real estate agent—many of them have storage with extra furniture to lend for this express purpose!