Whether you are staging a home for sale or staging a home for living, the goal is the same – to make a home more appealing. But… and this is a big but… the process and methodology of these types of staging differ from one another. For example, a lot of the techniques used for “staging to sell” are not realistic for “staging to live”. Sure, all the shelves on those HGTV shows look gorgeous and are styled to perfection, but where on earth are you supposed to put your 1963 First Edition Amazing Spiderman comic?! And Grandma’s vintage teacup your Grandpa brought her back from Vietnam would look so out of place on those shelves. There’s no soul!

There are actually BIG differences between “staging to live” and “staging to sell”, both in purpose as well as styling. Let’s dive in!

Staging To Sell

Picture this scenario. You have been house hunting for a while. You’ve gone to a few showings, but you are still waiting to find “the one”. Finally, you see a listing that you’re REALLY excited about. And oh goodie! There is an open house coming up.  

Composition of candles with juniper in vase on  white table against the background of  sofa with plaids and pillows. Cozy home concept

When you pull up, you have butterflies. The house is even more beautiful in person – the curb appeal is so welcoming. It’s too early to tell, but you think it might be love. You open the front door, eager to start exploring. You are taking mental notes as you make your way through each room, but you find that you’re having a hard time envisioning your life in the space. You can’t put your finger on it, but you are feeling a bit… distracted? Confused? Hm. Maybe it’s the photo wall in front of you full of a stranger’s family vacation that’s throwing you off. 

You are confronted with the same feelings when you make your way upstairs. Kids’ rooms are decorated with trophies from sports games. The closet in the master bedroom is filled with clothing and shoes that are not your taste. At this point, you just feel uncomfortable, like you are invading someone’s privacy. How can this be YOUR dream home when it is clearly someone else’s? 

When staging to sell, it’s important that the home tells the story of the lifestyle a family living in the home can achieve. This story is told through the furnishings, finishes, and styling – however, personal pieces should not be included in the mix. As the earlier story illustrates, it’s hard for a potential buyer to see themselves living in a home that’s filled with someone else’s memories. The process of selling a home is so much more than cleaning and listing, especially if you want to sell your home for more, faster. 

Think about the spreads in any home-style magazine. These homes have been staged to sell. The purpose of each room is clearly defined and shows the viewer a dream life that this room can provide. But can it really? Is that room realistic for your family to sustain? Unlikely. There are always so many pillows! Who needs that many pillows? Depending on the story you are trying to sell with the home, you may need to redesign, paint, rent furniture, and style surfaces with magazine-quality vignettes to achieve that look for selling. 

It is really important to have a stager come in and consult on what needs to be changed and packed before real estate photos. We are an unbiased, fresh set of eyes who know how to style for the current market. We know what buyers are looking for and can help sellers declutter, accessorize appropriately, and create welcoming vignettes that clearly identify the purpose of each room. No matter the type of home staging, a professional stager will be able to help you sell your home faster (and likely for more money!) through appropriate staging.

unstaged office area, dark, cluttered
Staged office area, bright, clean

Key Takeaways for “Staging to Sell”

  • Depersonalize the home (remove family photos, souvenirs, etc)
  • Declutter  – less is more
  • Make sure rooms are “buttoned up” (children’s play rooms, pet areas, etc)
  • Prioritize aesthetics (i.e. organize books on your bookshelf by colour)
  • Be realistic (i.e. opt for nice fake plants if no one is going to be around to care for real ones)

Staging To Live

Home sweet home sign on shelf

What about when you are living in your own home? You see all of these show homes and staged properties so void of personality and soul. Yes, they are beautiful and welcoming – but they are not practical. Who can keep 6 candles, a vase of living flowers, and 3 perfectly cream-coloured books on a coffee table? Your kids need that coffee table to colour! And where are all the memories? Homesense may be ‘pretty’ but you have no emotional response to any of the pieces. We want you to walk into a room and smile! 

Check out our blog Finding Joy for more interior decorating tips on how to create a joyful home!  

Homeowners have the ability to inject their space with personality and soul through decorating. When staging to live, personal pieces, souvenirs, and memorabilia are used to style the home and tell the story of the people living there. You want your “home sweet home” to be a reflection of YOU. Elements of design and decor are applied to create a space that makes you comfortable and relaxed and encourages family to kick off their shoes and stay awhile. So go on and display Granny’s vintage teacup wherever you like! 

Key Takeaways for “Staging to Live”

  • Add personality and expression through decorating with personal items
  • ‘More’ can be cozy – moderation is key
  • Be functional (i.e. a colour coordinated bookshelf looks nice, but categorizing your collections by type is far more useful)
  • It’s okay to let rooms speak for themselves (i.e. embrace the mess in your 2 year old’s room! Or hire an organizer to help you stay on top of it)
  • Using trays under decor allows you to move it easily when a space needs to be used.
  • Use washable rugs for busy households – they may not be as plush as the white shag you saw at the show home, but you know it won’t stay looking nice for long.

In short, staging to live is for you and staging to sell is for everyone else. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or homeowner, staging ensures that a home tells the right story. Consider me the editor and publisher of your unique aesthetic! Contact us for a consultation today.