What Real Estate Agents Should Know About Home Staging

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed AgentDecember 1, 2022

Furnished,Living,Room,In,Luxury,HomeWhy should real estate agents consider using an interior designer or stager? 

Slowly, but surely, people have begun to realize the potential of interior design and home staging, especially when selling a property. It gives your space a whole new look, which not only attracts buyers but makes them pay that extra dollar for it.

“The purpose of staging is to elicit an EMOTIONAL response from potential buyers. Buyers who respond emotionally are willing to pay more and move faster, which is why well-staged homes sell faster and for more money than comparable un-staged or poorly staged homes,”.” says- Janet Lorusso. 

If you’ve been considering selling your house and want to do some upgrading that will get you a zero or two more on the total cost but don’t know where to start and where to stop, keep reading. We will cover some of the most sought after features by buyers, and get some tips from experts in the industry. 


Meet the experts: 

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Karen Gray-Plaisted, Design Solutions KGP 

Karen Gray Plaisted works at Design Solutions KGP, a company with over ten years of experience in the market. They have been providing clients with a variety of services, from color consultations to decorating, award-winning home staging, and virtual consultations as of recently.  



Janet-Lorusso Headshot


Janet Lorusso, JRL Interiors 

Janet Lorusso is a Boston area interior designer, stager, and blogger with over 25 years of experience. She’s the owner of JRL Interiors in Acton, MA, and has been a  frequent lecturer on the topics of interior design, elegant entertaining, party design, and organizing your space. To find out more about her and her day to day work, you can check out her popular blog called the Nest Feathers Blog.



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Dalas Dodd, Sundae 

Dalas Dodd is an interior designer at Sundae, a real estate technology company that specializes in buying houses that need some love. At Sundae, Dalas is integrally involved in efforts to redesign and restore dated and damaged houses, with an emphasis on preserving the original character and charm of each home.


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Jen Stark, Happy DIY Home

Jen Stark is the founder of Happy DIY Home. A master gardener, interior designer, and home improvement expert, she has completed many home improvement, decor, and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sq. ft Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.


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Debra Gould, Staging Diva 

Debra Gould has been an internationally recognized home staging expert for two decades and the President of Six Elements Design Group. She is the creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program with over 30,000 home staging students worldwide and has staged millions of dollars worth of real estate herself. She offers a free home staging locator service to help real estate agents and homeowners find a professional home stager in their area. 


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Colin Haentjens, The Knobs Company

Colin Haentjens is an interior designer and licensed architect with seven years of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, Colin has had his work featured in renowned magazines such as the Interior Design magazine and one of his projects was nominated for an award by the International Interior Design Association


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Caitlyn Davidian, HomeLife Digest 

Caitlyn Davidian is an interior designer, who serves on the advisory board for HomeLife Digest. She has been certified by NCIDQ, the industry’s recognized indicator of knowledge and proficiency in interior design principles, and is also a Registered Interior Designer.



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Sieglinde Van Damme, studiosieg

Sieglinde Van Damme is an artist and visual consultant. Her focus on creating visual balance in a space brings a positive vibe and energy flow to homes and offices everywhere. So you can feel happy and relaxed with family, and safe and productive at work.



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Erica Reiner, Eco Method Interiors

Erica Reiner is an interior designer and owner of a registered business for over 6 years. Her focus is on the area of LA, where she lives, but she has clients all over the country through her E-design services. Erica specializes in eco-friendly interior designs and her company Eco Method Interiors works across residential, commercial, STR, and event sectors.


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Justin Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency 

Justin M. Riordan, LEED AP is the founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, a home staging company with locations in  Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. He is a thought leader and trendsetter in the real estate industry as well as the energy behind Spade and Archer, the world’s first guaranteed home stager. With more than two decades of hands-on project management and design experience, Riordan is an accomplished and engaging speaker who regularly presents at real estate industry events, sharing his expertise about home staging.


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Candace Osmond, Mostcraft

Candace Osmond is an accomplished writer and an award-winning interior designer with experience working in companies such as Craftmade, Rona, and Ethan Allen. She is Mostcraft.com’s expert contributor. 

When she’s not typing away from the comforts of her desk, Candace is sewing and crafting. She currently resides in the breathtaking Maritimes of Eastern Canada with her husband, two beautiful kids, and one slobbery bulldog.


Decluttering Is A Must

“Decluttering is the first thing to tackle when staging the inside of a home,” says Dalas Dodd. No matter how well-staged or updated your home is, it will look old and outdated if there’s too much clutter.

“Our eyes are immediately repelled by clutter. So, no matter how perfect the home is, if it’s messy and cluttered, the chances of it selling are far less. So, be sure to grab some boxes and put things away. People want to be able to visualize themselves living in the home. So remove as many family photos and personal things around the home as you can,says interior designer Candace Osmond. This is why it’s critical that you get rid of any object that is suffocating your home and makes it look untidy. 

Make sure that before you present your home to a potential buyer, you’ve taken care of: 

  • Removing any boxes or garbage lying around
  • Cleaning out your closets
  • Minimize decor on your shelves
  • Wipe dust off surfaces
  • Empty the hangers

Once you’re done with some basic cleaning and decluttering, you will instantly notice how big of a difference you’ve made. The whole room will look completely different. 

Candace Osmond also encourages you to keep in mind, if your rooms are smaller you will still want to give the illusion of more space which can be achieved by staging the home with smaller furniture. You want to make sure the decor you choose fits the space and does not overwhelm it. 


Appropriate Lighting Brings Out The Best In The Room

Good lighting can get you far, and I don’t just mean the actual ceiling lights. Floor lamps, table lamps, chandeliers, wall sconces, and even windows can all give a completely different dimension to your property and make it look luxurious, stylish, modern, or extravagant. 

You can also consider placing energy-efficient light bulbs to make the home even more desirable for the environmentally-friendly homebuyers and those who want to save up on utility bills.

Another thing to consider is natural lighting. Make sure that you always allow natural light to enter in every room. As Dalas Dodd states “ A dark room never sold a house, but brightness, whether from natural or artificial light, can. Make sure all the curtains and blinds are open so the sun can shine into every room of the house.”  Natural light is often on the top of the list for many homebuyers, so make sure you are doing all you can to enhance the amount of it your space has.  

Home improvement expert and interior designer Jen Stark also highlights the importance of planning out the time of your viewing carefully. “A well-lit room feels large and airy to prospective buyers. Time viewings for optimal sunlight and make sure curtains and blinds are open.”

Decor Tells A Story 

Now, the saying “it’s all in the details” isn’t for naught. The décor and small details are what give the space its soul and make every room stand out and tell a story. According to designer Karen Gray-Plaisted “buyers are looking for a lifestyle, not just a house. The decor can really make a difference if a house sells or does not, and it needs to be up to date and complementary to the style of the house.

“Rugs, pillows, mirrors, and accent items are a must in creating a realistic lived-in scenario for the potential home buyers to imagine themselves living there,” says Caitlyn Davidian 

You can add pillows with colors that match the curtains for a chic look, hang family photos to give your home a warm, welcoming feeling, or combine different vases and flowers to bring freshness into your rooms. Or, if you’re the artistic type of person, why not paint a few paintings and hang them around? It’s a cheap way to add some unique finishing touches to your house that will make it stand out and be memorable for buyers. Sieglinde Van Damme also suggests that you collaborate with local artists and rent their artwork to help create a positive focal point and harmonize a room. Just make sure critical design elements like rugs and art actually work with the space, cautions Erica Reiner.

You want to keep the house feeling open and uncluttered without losing the personal touches that will reach your target buyer. Janet Lorusso states that “stripping a home of all personality and accessories in an attempt to appeal to everyone ends up appealing to no one. Know your target market and stage with them in mind. First impressions count. Entries set the tone for the entire house, don’t skip out on the opportunity to make a great first impression.”

Debra Gould also echoes this sentiment. “The conventional wisdom of decluttering and neutralizing the interior can be taken too far to the point where the home has no personality and may even look like someone moved out in a hurry.” 

Finding a balance where the space retains personality through decor but is not too cluttered, is not always an easy task, yet it is important when trying to attract the right buyer. This is why hiring a professional designer or stager can be crucial to help with the selling process.

home lawn


Modern Features Bring Value 

When potential homebuyers see a few modern appliances and features, it’s a sign that they won’t have a lot of investment to make towards getting the house up-to-date. And you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to include the latest and most expensive features to make the property a modern one. Sometimes, small things do the trick. Like home systems, for instance. There are so many smart home gadgets you can install and impress potential buyers when you say “lights on,” and they really do turn on. Just like in the movies!

You can also automate your home features by installing remote controlled doors, light sensors, or an intercom system. As it’s 2020, you can also easily install home systems and connect them to apps on your phone. 

Solar panels are another modern feature that has increased in popularity recently. It’s another way to add to the energy efficiency of the house you’re selling and lure in even more potential buyers willing to pay extra for this useful feature.

All these modern features can cost quite a bit to buy, but they all add up to the overall value of the property. Some more than others, but the difference in numbers will definitely show in the end.  


Refreshed Flooring Matters 

According to Debra Gould, internationally recognized home staging expert, “the goal of any home staging project is to romance the potential buyer into immediately seeing themselves living there.” If homebuyers are welcomed by old, torn carpets, it can be really dispiriting and a definite deal-breaker for many. 

To avoid buyers walking away from your home one minute after entering because of the dated or dirty flooring, you can try and clean your carpets either by hiring a cleaning company or doing it on your own. However, if the carpet looks unfixable, it would be a better idea to buy a new one and not risk losing potential buyers because of it.

The case is similar when it comes to hardwood floors. If you have any type of hardwood floors that have been damaged over time, you can buy water-based products for just a few hundred dollars to renew them and give them their old shine back.


Don’t Forget Curb AppealRenovated kitchen

The outside of the home is often overlooked by homeowners when getting their house ready to sell. This is a big mistake given it is the first thing a buyer sees, and if it is not maintained a buyer may just see dollar signs having to fix it up. This could lead to a buyer skipping your house altogether. To help prevent that you will want to make sure you take the time to enhance your curb appeal. 

There are many ways to spruce up the outside of your home. If your budget allows it, you could repaint your front door, add landscaping if your home currently doesn’t have any, update your roof, or give your home a fresh coat of paint. These options are a little pricier and not always in the budget, but don’t worry there are many ways to up your curb appeal that won’t break the bank. 

Some budget-friendly ideas include trimming the trees, updating your outside light fixtures, adding a wreath to the door, making sure windows are sparkly clean, or creating an inviting seating area on the front porch. These small changes can all help make your home more appealing from the outside. 

Dalas Dodd echoes how important it is to not overlook the front of your home, and has a few tips to help. She states “the front yard sets the tone so make sure the lawn is neat and any clutter is removed from outside — this can include empty flower pots, lawn ornaments, or last year’s holiday lights. Plants should look well-cared for and pruned. If you have a large driveway or sidewalk, consider getting it pressure washed. For the final touch: add a new doormat that boldly welcomes people into the house.” 

Making these changes can help lead to a 5-11% increase in your home value, so make sure not to overlook the outside of your home. 


New Windows Impress Homebuyers

New windows definitely pay off, especially if the property is on high grounds. It will create that “wow” effect the second someone enters the space and provide natural light that will illuminate the area and make it look more welcoming and comfortable. 

Plus, if you opt for energy star rated windows, they can also reduce future utility bills for homeowners, especially their heating and cooling bills. Energy-efficient windows are specially designed to block the outside air from entering and disrupting the inside temperature. This means that you won’t have to turn up the thermostat to the max to achieve the ideal indoor temperature during cold winter or hot summer days.


Freshly Painted Walls Always Workhome reno

In the end, a fresh coat of paint is a sure bet to help update every room and make it look more alluring and fresher. A simple paint job is actually one of the things that has helped many properties sell for more. 

According to Colin Haentjens, neutral colors are the best choice when staging a home. He states, “light and neutral colors in paint, flooring, and cabinetry are not only popular for looks, but typically have the highest resale appeal. Light colors reflect natural and artificial lighting, making spaces feel larger. If neutral sounds boring to you, I recommend adding earthy tones or add pops of color using furniture and fabrics.”

In fact, a lot of research has found that houses with light shades of blue, pale gray-blue, and light beiges sold for around $5,500 to $6,000 more than other colors. These colors depend on the room, as certain colors work best for certain rooms. For example, experts say to use gray-blue in the kitchen, but cerulean in the bedroom. This goes to show that a simple paint job is not something you should overlook when you’re preparing your house for sale.  

However, make sure to keep in mind Karen Gray-Plaisted’s advice, “color is just as personal as a picture of a family portrait. Painting a house the correct colors before it is put on the market can change the perception of the house in the buyer’s mind. Some Agents love to recommend one color, but one color does not fit all homes.” 


Staging Will Benefit Your Client

As you can see, the importance of staging your home and making it look as appealing to buyers as possible has been confirmed by professionals from all corners of the industry. It also shows in the numbers as interior designer and architect Justin Riordan reveals. “At our company, we see a 98% selling success rate for houses that are fully staged. The success rate drops to 83% with partially staged homes,” he says, showing once again that home staging is not only pleasant to the eye, but also for your pocket. 

But, not everyone can stage a home and knows how interior design works. That’s why it’s important to have a professional by your side, as interior designer Erica Reiner highlights, “it’s critical that agents go the extra mile to help clients visualize the space. Most people don’t have that natural ability, which is why the job of an interior designer exists!”

Just remember, “only hire a stager you trust. If your only purpose to hire a stager is to change the work they did, think about finding a new stager who you trust to do their job well. You like to be trusted by your clients, right?! So does your stager,” advises Justin Riordan. 


Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 12/1/2022



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