3 Things a Home Stager Can Do that the Average Seller Can’t

As homeowners begin the selling process, they usually have several goals in mind: sell the home for as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, as simply as possible, and exert little money or effort on a home they’re no longer going to own.

The problem is that some of these goals are contradictory. If you’re unwilling to spend money or effort on a home you’re selling, you’re unlikely to make much of a profit (if any) on the home. Though it may seem counterintuitive to spend money hiring a home stager when you’re trying to save money during the process of selling your home, home stagers are trained to appeal to buyers in ways the average seller can’t.

Hiring a home stager will help you achieve a fast sale for the most money and will therefore indirectly help you simplify the process and offset the financial drain that can come with selling your home.

A home stager can help you appeal to a broad range of potential buyers, even those you never thought would be interested in your home. If you try to sell your home without the advice of a home stager, you run the risk of decorating the home for a niche market, which will likely lead to your home sitting vacant and unsold for months while the carrying costs add up quickly.

With the advice of an experienced home stager, however, your home will be attractive to a wide range of potential buyers. Through the use of furniture and accessories, a home stager will create a balance between being trendy and too taste-specific. Neutral colors will eliminate distraction and achieve a style that is both elegant and inviting and highlights the features of the home itself.

Secondly, a home stager can highlight the quality of the home in ways most sellers can’t. When you’re selling a home, it’s important that it doesn’t look cheap or second-hand. Buyers know the home has been lived in previously, but they’re more likely to make an offer if the home looks well cared for and updated.

Luckily, included in the price of home staging is the use of quality furniture. The right home stager has an inventory used only for staging, which he/she keeps up-to-date as styles change. Replacing your well-loved furniture with a home stager’s pieces can give the entire home a facelift. Leaving behind a few undesired pieces as a means of staging the home will make the home appear dated and undesirable, too.

You might love your worn-in oversized sectional, but buyers will pass on it (and your home!) every time. A home stager will ensure that the furniture is of an appropriate scale for the room in order to show the best use of space and purpose of each room. All of this will add to the quality of your home–and the price that buyers are willing to pay.

Finally, a home stager can tap into the psychology of the potential buyer to create a connection to the home. In order to make a serious offer, buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in the home as they walk through it. Investing in home staging will make buyers want to live in the home without being able to quite put their finger on why. The truth is that buyers are more attracted to the lifestyle the home portrays than they are to the home itself. Careful attention to detail and knowledge of the target market are required to create a connection to the home, and a home stager is equipped to create the desired image for the buyer.

When choosing your home stager, keep your goals in mind. Don’t be afraid to ask the important questions about their training, continuing education, philosophy, and inventory. A home stager who is in business–not just a hobbyist–will have answers to these questions and will have a website to back up their answers. Their website, which should contain their portfolio, is the best place to see the quality of work they do and help you decide if they will help you sell your home quickly for the most money.

Five Things That May Be Turning Buyers Away

When you decide to sell your home, it’s easy to be optimistic that it will sell quickly. After all, you’ve put in the necessary work to maintain all the major appliances, you’ve been attentive to any structural or cosmetic issues, you’ve taken down personal photos, decluttered, considered curb appeal, and spruced up your backyard. Above all, you’ve enjoyed living in the home. Why wouldn’t someone else appreciate the home just as much as you have?

Certainly all of that effort is to be commended. You are doing the right things. However, potential buyers adopt a critical eye when searching for their next home, and they’re likely to pass on your home because of things you’ve come to overlook or don’t consider important to the sale of the home.

Buyers go into their home search with a sense of optimism, too. They hope to find the ideal house for their family and lifestyle, something that will make for a natural transition, not just one with good bones or something they could make work. As a seller, you have to show buyers that your home can live up to that dream, which means anticipating what buyers may not love about your home for sale and solving the issues before the home is listed.

The home-buying season is almost upon us, so here are five common reasons buyers choose not put an offer on a home–and what you can do about them.

1. Paint Colors

Too bright, too dark, outdated, or otherwise undesirable paint colors will turn buyers away quickly. In fact, they probably won’t make it past the listing photos on the Internet. A paint color seems a simple enough thing to change–it’s purely cosmetic–so sellers often leave it to the buyers. But when buyers see the wrong paint colors, they think about how it clashes with their furniture, or how it makes the home look old, or how it doesn’t reflect their taste. Bottom line: the wrong paint color sends the message to buyers that they’re going to have to do some work to the home before they like living there.

The solution to this one is simple. Repaint. Yes, it’s tedious and can be costly, but you’ll make your time and money back with the quick sale of your home. Choose a light, neutral shade so that buyers can picture their furniture coordinating with the walls. And you don’t have to use just one color; if you want some variety, you can choose one color for the bathrooms, one for the bedrooms, and one for the common areas. Just be sure that none of these clash, either.

2. Not Enough Light

Sellers tend to believe they can’t do anything about the amount of light in a room; the size and location of the windows is tough and costly to change. Dark paint or wood paneling can also contribute to darkness. But buyers want to feel that the home is open and spacious, and light helps create this appearance–even if the home isn’t all that large.

If the room looks small due to dark walls or wood paneling, choosing a lighter color is a simple fix. It will make the space in question seem larger and more open, making the home more appealing to buyers. If small windows are the culprit, then using artificial lighting effectively is key. Certainly leave the blinds or curtains open during showings, but also place lamps in the room to brighten up corners where natural light doesn’t quite reach.

3. Ambiguous Spaces

Although sellers might think that empty rooms can leave possibilities open for buyers, the fact is that too many options can be overwhelming. If the function of an empty space is unclear, it’s likely that buyers will move on to other homes. They don’t want to have to invent a use for a room.

In order to dodge this issue, show buyers a possible use for the space. For example, if a room in your home for sale might work as an office and might work as a dining room, show potential buyers that it does in fact function as at least one of those. Imaginative buyers will still be able to see the other possibilities, but you’ll still appeal to those who need the comfort of knowing what the space is for.

4Room Size

Even if all the spaces in your home for sale have a clearly defined purpose, buyers may still choose not to bid on the home if the rooms seem either too large or too small. Rooms crowded with too much furniture will make buyers wonder how their stuff will fit, and large rooms with little or no furniture will likewise intimidate buyers. They’ll worry that they don’t need quite so much space or don’t have enough furniture to fill it. Keep in mind that buyers are looking for a home that their furniture and possessions fit into–they don’t want to get rid of things or feel the need to buy more.

It’s important to utilize furniture to show buyers how the space can work for them. If a room is unusually large, try using clusters of furniture to create multiple distinct spaces within the room. In small rooms, be judicious about the size of the furniture you choose and where you place it, but don’t be afraid to include multiple pieces. If you have a small bedroom and put only a bed in it, buyers will think that’s all that will fit. It’s better to show buyers how their furniture can possibly fit into a small room.

5. The Home Doesn’t Flow

 As important as the size and purpose of individual rooms in the home is the flow of the home itself, the movement from one room into another. Buyers want a home that functions according to their lifestyle. For example, a home with a laundry room as you enter through the garage  might appeal to a family with active children in sports, whereas a ranch-style home on a small lot might be ideal for an elderly couple looking to downsize.

 While you can’t necessarily change the flow of the home without doing major construction, it’s important to consider your target buyer when preparing your home for sale. If the home will function well for a family with children, then show buyers how. If it won’t, then don’t try to sell to that demographic. Consider your home as a whole and for whom it would best function, and then appeal to that audience as you  make decisions about color and use of space.

The best advice I can offer you–and this will address all issues discussed above–is to hire a home stager when selling your vacant home. Stagers think about these things so you don’t have to. They bring furniture and accessories that match the style of the home, define the home’s spaces, use the size of rooms appropriately, and complement the colors on the walls. Best of all, they have the expertise to appeal to the target buyer, minimize the home’s flaws, and create an atmosphere that will result in a quick sale.

A Look Back – 2018 Vacant Home Stagings

2018 was a year of growth for Element One Home Staging. I’ve been doing this long enough to have developed my own style, but I also jump at the chance to change it up and try something new. The past year has given me plenty of opportunity to experiment, refine my technique, and add a few new tricks to my toolbox. And above all, in looking back on the past year, I’m grateful that I get to do what I love for a living!

What follows is a look back at a few of my favorite stagings of 2018. The numbering here can’t quite be described as a rank order. I love them each for different reasons, (kind of like my kids) and they vary so much in terms of style that it was rather like comparing apples to oranges. Whether the home allowed me to incorporate some of my own taste or inspired me to try something new, each of the following stands out to me as a memorable staging experience.

#3: Davis Road, Hilliard: Farmhouse Chic

This home was certainly not my usual style, but I had so much fun trying something new. I loved the house itself for many reasons: the fireplace in the dining room, the spacious office, the open kitchen, the covered deck. But the bedroom was actually my favorite room to stage.

Many probably don’t know that I’m very critical of myself when it comes to staging bedrooms. (I blame my mom–she always made my bed for me, so I never learned how). However, I was thrilled with the way the bedroom turned out in this house. I think it was partly the pillows. The combination of solids and patterns in neutral colors added layers of depth and created the impression that you could really sink into the bed.

Also, while it’s not a secret that I love to shop, it is a little known fact that I sometimes have items sitting in my warehouse with the price tag on them for months because I’m waiting for just the right time to use them. The three decorative wooden squares above the bed, for example, had been carried to at least five different houses without being used, but I was so excited to find that this home–this bedroom–was the perfect place for them.

I staged this home in December, and it went into contract very quickly.

#2: Newport Loop East, Grove City: Textured Textiles

I loved staging this home because I got to incorporate some of my personal style. The home already had elegant finishes that I found appealing–the tile around the fireplace, the modern sinks and hardware in the bathrooms, the arched doorways, and the brick and tile backsplashes in the kitchen to name a few. The open floor plan, big windows, and high ceilings also made this space fun to work with.

With all of that as my canvas, it felt natural to add decadence by using different textures and splashes of color throughout the home. Faux fur creates an ambiance of luxury, so I really enjoyed using the white rug, pillows, ottoman, and throw blankets in the living room and bedroom to make the home inviting and warm. (Plus, I staged this home in February, perhaps the coldest and dreariest month of the year).

This home was also featured in Window Fashion Vision Magazine in an article about color written by JoAnne Lenhart Weary.  This room was under the subtitle: Yes, Virginia, Neutrals Need Appreciation Also.

In addition to the faux fur, I used splashes of pink (my favorite color!) in the front sitting room to add some vibrance to the home. The pink throw pillows and rug contrasted with the cool gray pillows and art to give the space a little glow. I certainly can’t use that rug in every home, but it makes a big impact when I do use it.

#1: Periwinkle Way, Plain City: Airy & Modern

This house has an entire room just for wine. Need I say more?

In all seriousness, I was honored to be given the opportunity to stage this home. Featured in the BIA Parade of Homes in September, this home was a big job and a great experience. There was no shortage of space in this luxury home, from the huge master closet to the gorgeous outdoor spaces. Nor was the house lacking in style, so trying to elevate that style was a big undertaking.

Many of the rooms were so large that I opted to create multiple distinct spaces using groupings of furniture, promoting a more intimate atmosphere. I used a similar method in the bedrooms, designing separate sitting areas to draw attention to the possible uses of space.

My favorite room to stage, though, was the office. I kept the furniture simple–a crisp desk and a cozy chair–but I focused a lot of time and attention on the shelves along the back wall. I loved adding all of that detail. I balanced industrial metals with more delicate white ceramics and greenery to match the modern and open feel of the home. The window seat also added an interesting element to the room and proved a fun area to add both soft and industrial touches.

Each of these homes presented me with new challenges that allowed me to develop my repertoire of staging techniques. 2019 is already off to a running start, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities this year brings!

Quick Tips on Holiday Decorating & Entertaining

Despite all the hustle and bustle we create for ourselves during the holiday season, I think we all know that what everyone really wants is some time to relax and catch up with family and friends. Hosting a holiday gathering can be a challenge, especially when it comes to finding space for all those people. You’ll likely have to rearrange some furniture to make room, and it can be tricky to make temporary seating be both functional and attractive. Even if the seating seems a little unusual, holiday decorations can help create a lighthearted mood and keep the focus on what the season is really about.

While a room arranged for a holiday gathering may not always be perfectly staged, here are a few tips for making the most of your holiday gathering by creating a festive atmosphere that invites conversation and togetherness.

First, consider the arrangement of the larger furniture in your space. It’s likely pointed at the television, and you’re used to seeing it that way But thinking creatively may help you open up some space for your guests. If you want to encourage guests to bond and reminisce, pointing your furniture away from the television is the best thing you could do. Make the tree the focal point instead. Shift large furniture such as your couch and loveseat so that it faces the tree and begins to create a “U” shape. The large furniture should be near the perimeter of the room so that smaller furniture fits in front of it if necessary. If you have a coffee table, you can pull it close to the couch and use it as a snack station.

Photo: Southern Living

Now that you’ve freed up some space and changed the focal point of the room, you can add some temporary seating to accommodate your guests. I’d suggest a couple chairs, a few small stools, and some floor cushions. The chairs can be part of the “U” shape but are also easily moved to create an independent seating cluster if the occasion calls for it. The small stools are also easy to move around and can double as end tables if necessary. Just place a festive tray on one of the stools to create a flat surface for guests to put food and drinks.

Photo: Houzz

The floor cushions can be clustered together near the tree or placed sporadically between other seating clusters. These will likely be for younger guests, such as children opening presents. They’ll add another level of seating but can also be stacked in the corner when not in use. The general idea is to keep the seating flexible so that clusters can be created and rearranged as guests naturally group and re-group.


Photo: Houzz

TIP: Place those decorative trays I mentioned on other surfaces, too, especially on furniture you don’t want people to put their drinks on.

Now that the room is arranged for merriment, you’ll want to think about the smaller details. Some festive decorations will create a warm holiday atmosphere that your guests won’t want to leave. While there’s nothing wrong with displaying your kids’ handmade ornaments or stringing multi-colored lights on your tree, you can add some style with these on-trend ideas.

First, add a little greenery. Hanging simple wreaths of different sizes is a great way to add just the right amount of seasonal greenery. Another place to add a hint of green is your centerpiece. Whether it’s in the middle of your dining room table or a buffet-style arrangement, a natural bowl with a few pine clippings and some wooden ornaments adds an element of freshness–and it will smell nice, too!

Photo: Elle Decor

In addition to sprouts of green, gold decorations will give your gathering a sleek, modern feel while still looking festive. Monochromatic holiday decor is popular this year, and gold seems to be the color of choice for this trend. On the tree, go for a minimalist approach, using only modern geometric ornaments in different shades of gold.

Photo from Boxwood Avenue

On shelves and tables, replace everyday decor with holiday tchotchkes such as candles, ornaments, boxes wrapped in gold paper, and other Christmas figures. You can mix matte, glossy, and occasionally glittery pieces to set the tone of holiday cheer.

Photo from Kirkland’s

TIP: To really look like a pro, arrange items of varying heights in groups of three or five.

Entertaining during the holidays can be stressful, but if you set the right mood with holiday decorations and keep the seating flexible, your guests will be sure to enjoy themselves and love coming to your place year after year.

How to Save Money and Make the Most of Your Space in a Small Home

At Element One, when helping homeowners prepare their home to sell, helping them live in a staged home can be one of the biggest challenges.  What to do with all their “stuff”?   This month, we’re featuring guest blogger Julian Lane of The Fixit Champ. In his blog, Julian generally focuses on DIY projects and emphasizes safety through proper use of tools and equipment. Here, he offers a few creative storage solutions you can use in small areas to maximize both space and money.

There are certainly advantages to living in a small home, such as charm and less daunting cleaning tasks. However, a small home also means you have less space to store items, which can easily lead to minimalism or a cluttered home with no room to walk. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose one extreme or the other. There are ways to maximize the space in your home so you don’t have to get rid of all your belongings — and you can save money while you do it.

Affordable, Stylish Storage

First thing, open your mind about the storage options out there. You can find stylish bins, boxes, organizers, tubs, cabinets, shelving units, etc. at many major retailers — and it doesn’t have to be expensive. What’s more, you can usually find coupons and take advantage of promo codes for stores such as Crate and Barrel to help you save money.

If you have a creative side, try your hand at some DIY projects. You can convert all kinds of furniture, fixtures, and other items into storage options. For instance, replacing the drawers in a dresser with baskets makes for a clever and stylish storage piece. Turning your wooden step ladder from the garage into a towel rack brings a rustic vibe to your bathroom. One of the best overall storage projects is to find old milk crates, throw a coat of chalk paint on them, and use them as storage throughout your home.

Multipurpose Furniture

Another budget-friendly way to optimize space is to invest in multipurpose furniture. When your furniture pieces can be used for various things, you quickly realize that you don’t need as much furniture. So, sell some of your furniture that isn’t multipurpose and use that money to get multifunction pieces. What’s more, you can save cash by checking out clearance sales and using online coupons for retailers like Bed, Bath, and Beyond to cut costs.

Here are some more examples of what to look for:

These are just a few of many multipurpose furniture options. Do some research online, and you’ll likely find anything you need.

Replacing Items

Another strategy to make the most of your space is to edit as you go. This means that anytime you bring in a new item, throw out an item of similar size. For example, if you purchase a stylish storage bin for under your bathroom sink, get rid of the storage piece that was under there. If you happen to come across a sleek-looking bedroom dresser, plan to sell or give away the dresser that’s currently in your bedroom. In other words, replace, don’t add. This can even apply to anything else you could spend money on. When you know you will have to let something go to bring something new in, it tends to make you more mindful of your purchases.

Using Vertical Space

Vertical space is your best asset when it comes to small homes — more specifically, the walls. With the use of wall-mounted shelves, hooks, and other budget-friendly storage options, you can keep all kinds of items accessible, such as plates, pots and pans, dry goods, toilet paper, or even your bicycle. Don’t hesitate to put things over the doors in your home; that’s a quick way to add decor and maximize space in every room. Furthermore, hanging art above eye level is a good trick for making your ceilings look a lot higher!

Less storage space doesn’t mean you have to throw all of your belongings out. It just means you have to get creative with how you store things. Check major retailers for inexpensive, stylish storage options. Sell your old furniture and invest in multipurpose pieces. Replace items instead of adding them, and make the most of your vertical space.

Photo Credit: Pexels

What I Learned Working with a Home Staging & Redesign Expert

This month, we have a featured blogger: my daughter, Devoni. In an informal capacity, I acted as a consultant this summer as she did some much-needed updates in her kitchen. I asked her if she could share her experience when she was finished, and this is what she had to say.

As a relatively new homeowner, I have little experience with home improvement projects. Prior to updating my kitchen, I had repainted most of the rooms in my house, but I had certainly never taken on a project that involved power tools, such as a sander. I drilled some hooks into a wall once, but that’s about it. That was a major hangup for me when it came to starting this project. Combine that with my inability to choose among hundreds and hundreds of paint colors, and I was really stuck. I knew my kitchen didn’t look great, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

Luckily, my mom is a home stager. When I told her I wanted to redo my kitchen, she said “I know exactly what you should do.” She sent me a few pictures, and then she came out to help me pick the right colors. She also talked me through the process and gave me a few small tips. I felt ready to get started, but I knew I’d need plenty of help along the way, too.

Since I’m her daughter, I had more access to her thoughts and advice than would the average person, so in this month’s blog, I’m going to share a few of the lessons I learned from working with a pro.



Lori taught me to work with what I had. I wanted to change the entire look of my kitchen, and I still achieved that even though I didn’t gut it and start over. I knew the paint absolutely had to change, but I wasn’t in love with other aspects of my kitchen either, such as the countertops and the backsplash. I didn’t hate them, but I also didn’t choose them. In my mind, they were associated with the old kitchen I wanted to get rid of. Lori encouraged me to keep the project manageable and explained that changing the paint colors would ultimately cast the countertops and backsplash in a different light. I’m really glad I listened because I didn’t have the money, time, or knowledge to replace countertops and tile, and she was right about the end result.


Lori also taught me to use what I had in a more technical sense. The hinges on my cabinet doors had been painted over a time or two (or forty), and I thought I’d have to replace them–if I could even dig out the screw heads to detach the hinges from the cabinets. Not so. Lori recommended that I try paint stripper first in order to save a little money. And it worked! It took some finesse to remove the hinges, but then I soaked them in Citristrip overnight and scrubbed them clean the next morning. Then I spray painted them to match my new cabinet pulls, and now you’d never know they weren’t brand new.                               


It was clear that the previous owner tried to match the color of the walls to the blue tiles in the backsplash. The result was that the bright light blue walls and the glossy tiles were competing with instead of complementing one another. Then there were the dull green and off-white cabinets that didn’t attempt to match or complement anything. The combination was no treat for the eyes. Lori taught me that it’s best to tone it down. By choosing a light, neutral color for the walls and a darker color for the cabinets, she helped me create a clean contrast that ultimately made the kitchen appear much larger. Now the kitchen has a more uniform style, and the backsplash pops instead of competing for attention.

Lastly, I learned not to be afraid of trying something new in my home. For the first two years I lived here, I just tolerated the kitchen because I knew it would be a much more involved project than anything I had done before. The thought that there was no turning back once I started was a scary one, and I didn’t love the idea of having my kitchen in shambles for weeks on end. Lori kept me focused on the final result, though, and reminded me how great it would look when I was done. I realized it would take longer than I thought almost immediately after I started. (Fun fact: paint takes only two days to dry, but it takes 30 days to cure).


                 Even the inside of the cabinets got a fresh coat of paint

I ended up doing the project in phases over the course of a couple months so that I didn’t ruin my work by putting things back on the shelves too early. My kitchen got worse before it got better. Half the cabinets were painted gray while the other half were still green and white. Then the cabinets were gray and the walls were still blue. It looked odd for those two months. But every time I updated Lori with new pictures, she focused on how great it would look when it was finished. I was afraid to even begin, but the end result, as Lori promised, was completely worth it.

*Note: the white cabinets seen in these photos are metal and will be replaced.


What Your Realtor & Home Stager Should Be Telling You

Once you decide to sell your home, you want to make it happen as easily, quickly, and cheaply as possible. The process of selling a home maybe more lengthy and costly than you realize. Luckily, having a good realtor and home stager can help expedite the process and get you the most money for your home. Sometimes, though, realtors and home stagers have to deliver honest news before the home is listed.  I have collaborated with Lori Hicks of Cbus Agents at Keller Williams Greater Columbus to share a few truths about selling a home that you might not want to hear.  Although some of these points involve spending money or taking more time to prepare your home for sale, it will spend less time on the market and sell for more money if you heed this advice.

#1 – Price it right

Sellers often think pricing a home at $299,900, for example, will sound less expensive to buyers than listing it for $300,000. In reality, pricing the home at a dollar amount ending in -900 will significantly decrease the number of potential buyers who come across your house in their search. Hicks explains that “most people search for homes in increments of five, ten, or twenty-five thousand dollars.” So, buyers who search in the $300,000 to $325,000 range won’t see a house listed for $299,900. However, if you price the home at three hundred thousand, then both buyers who begin their search and buyers who cap their search at that price will see your listing, giving your home more exposure and a greater chance for a quick sale.

#2 – Curb appeal matters

“It’s the first impression,” Hicks says. While it may be tempting to skimp on the landscaping or forego that fresh coat of paint on a house you no longer wish to live in, you’ll lose money every day your house is on the market. If the house doesn’t make a good first impression–if it doesn’t have curb appeal–then it could be sitting on the market for many, many days. A bad first impression can be difficult to recover from, even if the inside of the house is pristine. But if the outside of the house is less than remarkable, the inside more than likely has flaws, too, and potential buyers will be primed to look for imperfections after experiencing the disappointment of seeing a drab, dingy exterior.

Photo by JPG Media

#3 – Have professional photos taken

Hicks insists that professional photos “are a must” when selling your home. More often than not, home buyers begin their search online, and they decide whether or not to schedule a showing only after clicking through the pictures. Professional photographers understand how to make rooms look spacious and well-lit; snapping a few pictures on your iPhone won’t achieve the same effect. If the rooms in a home appear small and dark in photos, potential buyers won’t want to see it in person, let alone buy it. You’ll end up costing yourself more money in the long run than if you had spent a little extra on attractive professional photos. As an added bonus of hiring a good realtor and home stager, one or both will often provide professional photos for you.

# 4 – Virtual staging is a trick

Virtual staging is equivalent to catfishing. Buyers think they’re going to meet a home as handsome as Brad Pitt, but upon arrival, they find the rooms without furniture about as attractive as David Spade. I’m mixing my metaphors, but you get the idea. It’s a real let down for a potential buyer when they walk into an empty house after having seen photos in which the home is staged with furniture and accessories. Their expectations will not be met when they step through the threshold, and their opinion of the home will likely decline. The home’s flaws will be more evident, and the buyer won’t be willing to pay as much for the home–if they decide to buy it at all.

Photo by JPG Media

#5 – Cheaper staging isn’t better

The old adage is just as applicable when staging your home as anywhere else: you get what you pay for. Staging is an investment. While it does cost money to have your home staged to sell, the home will sell faster and for more money, and you’ll make a profit in the end. When deciding on a home stager, it may be tempting to go with the lowest bid, but paying a lower price means accepting less planning and effort. You want a home stager who will take the time to carefully develop a plan for each room to be staged and execute the plan with an acute attention to detail, minimizing the home’s flaws and emphasizing light, space, and potential–all of which buyers love. Home staging done by an experienced professional is worth the cost–you will make your money back and then some. It really comes down to a decision between saving money and making money.

#6 – You don’t have to like it

Staging a home to sell is about appealing to the target buyer, not the seller’s personal tastes. If you want to achieve the goal of selling your home, then it’s important that the home is attractive to the next person or family who will live there. If you don’t love the furniture, art, or accessories the stager chooses, remember that they’re temporary, and they’ve been placed with the express purpose of helping potential buyers visualize themselves in the home. Buyers aren’t interested in your family photos or the souvenirs you brought back from vacation; when they walk through a home, they’re evaluating whether the home meets their needs. A home stager objectively depersonalizes a home so that it invites a broader range of potential buyers.

Photo by JPG Media

Selling your home should be about making money, not breaking even. While the above considerations take more planning and effort up front, they will decrease the amount of time your home spends on the market and increase the amount of money a buyer is willing to pay.


3 Key Differences Between Decorating and Home Staging

In today’s market, it’s a common belief that houses will sell quickly, even without hiring a home stager. Many sellers believe that if they simply clean up, reduce clutter, and add some decoration, their house will sell in no time.  Other’s believe their “decorated” home will sell as-is.  The truth is that there are key differences between decorating a home and staging it, and staging is best done by a trained professional.  While both decorating and staging can deal with such elements as color, accessories, and furniture arrangement, the goal in each case is very different.

When decorating a home, whether you do it yourself or hire an interior designer, the purpose is self-expression; decorating depends on and appeals to the tastes of the homeowner and is often quite specific. The purpose of home staging, however, is to appeal to a broader audience of potential buyers. A professional home stager can prepare your home to sell faster and for more money.

To further illustrate the difference between decorating and home staging, here are three key methods home stagers use to achieve the purpose of preparing a home to sell–and why simply decorating won’t get the job done.


When decorating your home, it’s natural to want to choose colors that show off your specific taste and style. Maybe you enjoy the energy of the mix-and-match Bohemian color palette, or you love the coastal feel of a bright beachy blue. You also may need your colors to cater to your specific lifestyle. Perhaps you have small children or pets, and light colors on the walls or furniture just aren’t an option. Whatever the reason, the colors you choose when designing your home should make you happy; you can go as bright or bold as you want because at the end of the day, all that matters is that you love it.

Staging, on the other hand, is about appealing to several tastes, styles, and personalities. Light, neutral colors like beige or gray work best because they make rooms appear bigger and brighter. Specifically, neutral colors on the walls are a great way to make buyers feel that the home is move-in ready. They’re not thinking about the work they’ll have to put in repainting that too-bright teal or too-dark plum wall in the living room; they can already envision their own possessions fitting in with the house. Home stagers use color to create an inviting atmosphere for a broad audience to increase the potential of a sale.  


Like color, the accessories you choose to place around your home when decorating are likely to showcase your personality or lifestyle. Make a collage of family photos on the wall. Stack your most-read books or magazines on the end tables. Place period pieces from your favorite era on the shelves.  Display your children’s art on the fridge. Hang that ten-point buck on the mantle. When design is your goal, it’s about letting the personalities of those who live in the home shine through.

When staging a home for sale, the difference is that the accessories should be pleasing but not personal. In order for buyers to picture themselves in a home for sale, family photos and period pieces will be replaced with impersonal but trendy tchotchkes–things that tie the room together rather than appeal to one particular person, family, or style. If your goal is to sell your home, it’s not important to reflect your personal taste; rather, a home stager can see and stage the home objectively so that it is attractive to potential buyers, which will ultimately lead to a faster and more lucrative sale.  


Finally, the arrangement of furniture in your home has to be about functionality when you live there. The space has to make sense for the way you use the room. If you have a big family, it may be essential to have an abundance of furniture in the movie room. If you invite friends over every weekend to watch the game, you may need to arrange the living room so that all furniture points at the television. Maybe all you really need is a pair of recliners. When designing your home for the way you live, it’s all about you.

The use of space in a staged home for sale, though, should show off the room’s potential. The amount of furniture in a room won’t depend on how many people are in your family; instead, a home stager will select a few pieces that make the room look spacious and inviting. Buyers need to feel that their furniture will physically fit in a home for sale, so, though it may seem counterintuitive, it’s more important to draw attention to unoccupied space than to the furniture itself. A home stager knows how to use carefully selected pieces to make each room look its best so that potential buyers can imagine themselves and their possessions in the home.

Bottom line: when preparing to sell your home, hiring a home stager will lead to a faster sale and will make you more money. Decorating your home is the way to go when you live there, but when you want someone else to buy your home, it needs to appeal to the target buyer, so it can’t reflect the lifestyle of a single family. Simply sprucing up and placing a few new decorations here and there isn’t nearly as effective as the work a home stager can do.

Selling Your Home? Remember the Tortoise and the Hare

An investor flipping a house planned on staging the home to help it sell; very smart!  Unfortunately, prior to having it staged, in his haste to get it listed and sold, made a very common mistake.

The lesson in the story of The Tortoise and the Hare is that you can be more successful by doing things slowly and steadily than by acting quickly and carelessly.  The same is true when selling your home.

The investor was like the hare. No, he didn’t take a nap, but, in his haste to get the home listed, he took five photos of his investment and put them on the MLS. The photos were of the bathroom and kitchen, and I’m guessing he took them with his cell phone.  Why was this a mistake?  Because in today’s market, it’s critical to take every step to make sure your home stands out, even if it means pushing the listing date back a little.

The quality of the photos was poor and dark, and it was difficult to see the updates that he had spent so much time and money on.  In the description, he mentioned that professional photos were coming, but I don’t think very many people even read that after seeing the photos.  The cell-phone quality photos didn’t make a good first impression and I’m sure buyers moved on fairly quickly.   Which photo below would get your attention?

This is a photo of a home I staged last year, taken with my cell phone


 Professional photo by JPG Media

Very early on in my staging career I had a realtor tell me that the best chance of selling a home is in the first two weeks.  He explained that with Zillow, Redfin.com and Realtor.com buyers are able to set criteria for the home they’re searching for: how many bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, price, etc.  When a home hits the market and meets their criteria, these websites sends an email alert to the buyer(s).

A buyer’s first view of a home is online.  I use redfin.com to track homes I have staged.  Redfin has a that you can click if you want to “favorite” or save a listing, or they have an 𝗫  that you click if you don’t like the home and don’t want to see it again.  Realtor.com has a to save a listing or a “no” symbol to hide a listing.  Buyers who didn’t like what they saw in the five dark photos most likely will never see the photos of the home staged.

Photo taken by a realtor – notice the dark background


Professional Photo by JPG Media

At the end of 2017, I staged a home that had been on the market for 45 days.  After being staged, the home was in contract in one day.  As it turned out, I knew the buyer’s agent.  She told me that she had tried to get the buyers to see this house several times prior to staging.  Every time she brought it up to them, their response was the same: It’s too dark and needs too many updates. This was the impression they gathered from the online photos.

 The sellers took the home off the market to have it staged, and when it was relisted the buyers sent the listing to the realtor and said, “we have to see this house”!  They didn’t even realize it was the same home their realtor had been trying to get them to see.

When spending the time, energy and money on preparing your home for sale don’t make the mistake of listing before it’s ready.  Make sure you’ve removed excess items, finished the cleaning, painting, done repairs/maintenance, staged and had professional photos taken for marketing.

Element One can take care of the staging and professional photos and help you decide what to pack, what needs painting (including color choices) and what repairs and updates are necessary.

Remember the lesson from the Tortoise and the Hare and take the time to make sure you’re home is ready before you list.

The Power of Staging a Vacant Home

Earlier this year I was in Granville, Ohio helping investors market their latest project.

This home had been on the market from the time the investors purchased it (a little over a year ago).  If the right buyer came along during updating, they had the potential of having finishes customized.

The investors completed the home in October 2017 and the home went into contract almost immediately.  Unfortunately, it fell out of contract just as quickly.

The investors called me in Dec. and on Jan. 18th, I staged this quaint home.  When a home is on the market prior to staging, the first question I always ask is, “what has the feedback been from the showings”.  This one was easy.  It’s a 3-bedroom home, and 2 of the bedrooms located on the main floor are small; but big enough for all the essentials, buyers just couldn’t see it.

Without furniture, it was hard to see what might or might not fit. This home was a perfect case of why it’s important to stage a vacant home prior to listing.

Before – buyers saw the master bedroom as too small



By using a queen size bed, and 2 side tables, staging showed buyers that the room is much bigger than it looked.  Adding 2 ottomans at the end of the bed shows that there’s still plenty of room to walk through once a dresser or other piece of furniture is added.

Before staging: bedroom #2 also seen as too small






Because there was a third bedroom upstairs with room for 2 beds, I staged the second bedroom on the main floor as a nursery.  Once staged buyers could see there’s plenty of room for all the necessities.

The open concept living / kitchen area was oversized and beautiful.  These rooms didn’t receive negative feedback; however, buyers couldn’t imagine how to arrange their furniture. 







Staging helps buyers figure out how to best arrange their own furniture

There was even enough room for a workspace; something buyers couldn’t see

Kitchen eat-in area prior to staging                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  





Even in a bright home, professional photos are a must – all after photos by JPG Media




The offset lighting fixture made it hard for buyers to imagine what size table might fit in the dining room


Another great example of how staging shows the true size of a room

After staging, this home received it’s first offer within 5 days of being relisted.  Unfortunately, it fell out of contract.  But just 2 days later, after the first open house it was back in contract and has since closed.

These investors said, “I will never flip a home again without staging”.  You can read their review of Element One here.

This is just another example of why staging a vacant home is so important.