3 Myths About Home Staging

By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource

There’s been a lot of talk about staging a home to sell these days because for the first time in a long time, sellers are getting above asking price offers! Making the most money on the sale of the house is the name of the game, and the agents who can do that for a neighbor/friend becomes the agent of choice.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few myths about home staging that need to be corrected…

Myth #1 – Staging is mostly “decluttering.”

FALSE! Staging is about “styling for the photo shoot.”

While removing the extraneous in a home in order to give the seller a view of the architectural details is a part of staging, completely clearing off the kitchen counters, dining tables, and coffee tables is most definitely NOT what a good home stager recommends.

kitchen_blankslateListing photos online often show kitchens, for example, with completely cleared countertops and that are overall lifeless.

But an expert home stager works with the home’s integrity to capitalize and merchandise the space into something that will resonate with the buyer online first — so they’ll then want to see the home in-person.


Photo credit: Karen Scovie of Staging Consultants, staging consultants.biz


Myth #2 – Staging is mostly for vacant homes.

FALSE! Staging is more critical in occupied homes because it costs a lot less and has a huge impact.

Consider this photo online originally for this room (another overly “decluttered space”).

june carter before living

Once June Carter of www.homestagecraft.com stages the space using updated accessories the photo and room is transformed!

june carter cafter living

Myth #3 – Staging is about neutralizing and painting all the walls beige.

FALSE! Staging is about working with what the seller has, so that the more expensive cosmetic changes don’t need to done.

For example, look at this dark bedroom. It likely would benefit best from paint.


Debra Ostrus of Spaces Streamlined works first with the owner’s furnishings to inexpensively rearrange and photograph the space using the color scheme provided.


The challenge for most real estate agents is finding the kind of home stager who understands that staging is an art form in merchandising. We are creating a space the buyer will fall in love with. When we do this, the demand for the product goes up and thus the price too.

What are some other myths you are seeing?

phpgKLtM0AMABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audra Slinkey is president of the Home Staging Resource, a RESA Accredited home staging training and certification company. Slinkey has personally trained over 3,000 stagers worldwide and is a bestselling author and international speaker. She also serves as president of the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners. Connect with her on Facebook!

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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  1. The kitchen picture should have shown the same kitchen with different styles like the other two examples. Using a dark kitchen and a light kitchen is misleading. Adding everyday kitchen items and some fresh fruit in a bowl for color is a great idea. Staging is about making the home look inviting and interesting. Not so vanilla that it has no heartbeat.

    Adding pillows and pictures to the living room with a nice throw on the back of the chair was a nice touch. But the windows blinds should have remained closed or the photo taken at a different time of day. The glare is very harsh and doesn’t translate well.

    It looks like the bedroom was completely redone. Not just new paint like the article states. The picture on the wall is larger, the bed set is completely different, the linens are different. Adding the fake plant for color was a nice touch, and cleaning up the dirty laundry area with a wicker basket is a great idea. Also, leaving the blinds half open to let in extra light was another good one.

  2. Great article! Thanks so much for this…. 🙂

    One other myth that I often encounter is people believe that staging is super-expensive and they can’t afford it. When in fact it can often be done reusing their own furniture with some accents (as you have shown) and the return on investment is more than worth it.


  3. Audra, thanks so much for including my project in your article! It still amazes me how staging can make something that is not ideal “work”. In this case, adding the light neutral bedding made a huge difference in the feel of this space- now I love the wall color!
    Thanks again,

  4. This is a great article for our sellers. The myths are right on. I have encouraged my clients to use a stager when it is needed, and have given some of the above tips to them – and it does make a world of difference. The other one is “clear out all personal photographs”. I don’t necessarily agree with – with the exception of the wall of “through the years” going up the stairs or every surface covered with frames.

  5. Myth #4 – Staging is not worth the time or money.
    Staging helps to sell a home more quickly and for is market value. Staging is a must when competition is strong.
    House A – market value $400,000 listed at $405,000, Not staged, shows tired and poorly, initially has several buyers through, but results in disappointed seller and disappointed buyers. Continuous showings disrupt seller due to long days on market, and cause additional selling stress. Seller reduces price and eventually sells at $387,000.
    House B – Market value $400,000, lists at $405,000, Staged, gets same amount of initial buyers through but sells relatively quickly. Happy seller, happy buyer. Sells for market value $400,000. Price of staging $5,000. Total sale equivalent: $395,000.
    Who is the winner? House A or House B?
    This is just an example, and not intended to resemble any particular likeness or sale. Numbers can vary depending on market condition and market value for area.

  6. Eliane Capdeville

    The problem with “staged homes” is that they look “staged” and most of the staged homes look more like hotels than homes
    How about making a house look more lived-in?

  7. Connie Nikiforoff Designs

    Great advice and myth busting! 🙂

  8. Great article. One thing I would mention is that.. people generally think of staging when it comes to more expensive homes. Very little thought is given to staging properties that are inexpensive (mobile homes or home under 100k). IF you were to stage these homes and take professional photos… you greately increase your opportunity to sell through greater visibility and higher photo click through rates.

  9. Hi Audra

    Thank you for writing this article. I have been tirelessly trying to educate realtors that decluttering is NOT staging and have found overall that the majority do not get it. We focus on vacant homes now because of this. I appreciate that you write such fantastic blogs and articles. ..keep up thr great work!

  10. Roy Mason Hudgens

    I just finished the staging of a 7500 square-foot home. My clients are having another home built out-of-state and did not want to put all of ther furniture in storage & they did not want to purchase new pieces to stage their current home. I moved furniture’ & accessories from room to room basically merchandising their home to to be photographed and sold. I used a few personal photographs to let the potential buyers know that there was love in that home. The library has books and artifacts strategically merchandised on the shelves rather than left empty. The kitchen is decorated with accessories on top of the cabinets and some pieces on the countertops. We will have fresh flowers for every showing on the table and counters. One important area was the large garage. My client has many tools and other equipment that were pretty much stacked on top of a worktable. I de-cluttered and cleaned up the garage, merchandising all of his tools and equipment in the garage closets. It looks like a True Value hardware store! Any man’s dream!
    I got my start as a teenager merchandising & window display for Sea World of San Antonio. Once it’s in your blood, it never leaves you.

  11. Seller should always stage their home before the photo shooting

  12. Derrick, the bedroom was NOT repainted (at least the way I read the article), but was restyled, which made it look bigger and more modern. I personally would have re-hung the curtain panels farther out from the window to make the window look larger and let in more light as well.
    Eliane, as a stager and designer, I feel the “hotel look” is preferable to most buyers over the “lived-in” look, but I agree some staged rooms tend to look too sterile, so adding a few books, plants, and throws certainly helps. Also depends what you mean by “lived-in”: clutter is definitely NOT a good luck.

  13. Candace

    Myth: depersonalize the space. People take this to mean, Remove every trace that humans live in the space. But good depersonalizing removes only excessive or controversial personal items. Think of pictures frames–they’re always sold with a stock photo–the buyer gets to imagine that if they buy that frame, they will become the person in the photo. Displaying a happy family photo helps people imagine they will be a happy in this home. Setting the table for a dinner party lets them imagine they will have wonderful gatherings in this home (even if they aren’t a cook and don’t have a big friend group, they wish that was the case). Putting a book and a throw in the living room lets them imagine they’ll sit by the fire and read (even if they aren’t a reader). A completely depersonalized house lacks warmth.