5 Design Trends You May Want to Avoid in Staging

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Stagers are embracing some of the latest home design trends in freshening up homes for-sale (view this “Dressed to Sell” slideshow). But some trends, they’re thinking twice about incorporating.

“If you’re too trendy, you run the risk of not being able to sell a home for the top-dollar you want for it,” warns stager Patti Stern with PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating in Cheshire, Conn. “When you stage a home, you want it to appeal to as many buyers as possible.”

Staging in trendy fabrics, colors, and finishes may offer up buyers a feeling that the home is up-to-date and move-in-ready. But getting too trendy can also backfire, particularly if it’s too personalized, stagers say.

Here are some popular interior design trends that some stagers are staying clear of:

1. Wallpaper: Wallpaper is gaining popularity once again in interior designs, from black and white damask prints to bronzed and antique silver metallics, earthy dimensional weaves and more. Wallpaper can add more personality to a room — but maybe too much for homebuyers envisioning moving in their own belongings. Instead, many stagers are sticking with paint.

2. Bright-colored walls: Not so fast with the Radiant Orchid, the bold purple-pink hue that Pantone has crowned as this year’s color of the year. Using the hottest color trends – like navy and purples — to paint an entire room may be too bold for the majority of buyers. Instead, stagers are using a neutral wall color, such as in soft tones of grays or white, and then bringing in the on-trend colors through small accents, like toss pillows, throws, lamps, and bedding or rugs.

file92012414568103. Brass fixtures: Brass is back, but tread cautiously — at least for now. Most stagers aren’t ready to swap out the fixtures for brass, which had its last heyday in the ’80s. But stagers are starting to welcome back brass in small doses, such as a gold-vintage mirror, lamp, or accent table.

4. Doorless cabinets: Open shelving is a big trend in interior design. Designer magazines are showing off simpler kitchens without doors on the cabinets. The look puts perfectly organized dishes on display. While it can offer a sleek look, some stagers don’t want to field questions from buyers: “Where are the doors?”

5. Tuscan-themed: The Tuscan design style – featuring browns and earthtones – has been a popular interior trend, but it may be showing signs of waning in popularity. The National Kitchen and Bath Association noted the highly ornamented Tuscan – as well as French Provincial – styles are decreasing in popularity, as well as country and rustic styles. Instead, more remodelers are showing a preference for contemporary designs, featuring clean, simple lines, less clutter, and less ornamentation, according to NKBA. Transitional styles – a mix of traditional and contemporary – remain the most popular, NKBA notes. But NKBA notes that contemporary styles may soon overtake the popularity of transitional.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Being a home stager there are way too many trends to keep up with when helping someone get their home ready for sale…bottom line, organize, clean & follow the rules! Making someone’s home ready for others to see is always difficult…you will never make everyone happy…this is an interesting job, meeting many new people, seeing many homes & just helping everyone to get the home of their dreams!
    Thanks, Pat

  2. Sue

    Brass is definitely not back in. Earth tones mixed with hues of spa colors, rubbed bronze & satin nickel fixtures, eclectic pieces of furniture with comfort and warmth in mind. No wallpaper – just a nice flow of fresh air colors. Mix it up, repurpose. Wood pieces of furniture for accents painted with a pop of color mixed with natural wood pieces. Light and airy panels on window ends to finish off a look but bringing in the outside. French country is really a great look that many buyers love. You can mix all this up and come up with a fabulous look that intrigues many buyers today.

  3. Spot on! Good points, Melissa!

  4. The secret to a successful staging? – appealing to the demographic and psychographic of the buyer . . . and, of course, making thoughtful changes that are never too taste-specific.

  5. Keep it clean, organized, spacious, simple and work to appeal to a large audience.

  6. Sherri Campbell

    It’s good to keep abreast of the current trends. Keeping it fresh, bright and free of too many items is always a good start.

  7. Oh my – no shiny brass please. It’s runs in the same vein as mixing several types of granite/marble/stone in the same room. It’s true money can’t buy taste, and the more personalized the taste, the smaller the buyer pool for the property.

  8. These are some great tips! We make sure that all of our investors follow a similar set of parameters before renting or selling their investment homes.