I'm in hundreds of homes a year and I see the same home staging mistakes over and over, which of course I don't mind since I am there to help the homeowner get the house ready for the photos and for showings.
However, I know many homeowners like to get their houses ready without the help of a professional home stager. With that in mind, I've compiled seven out of the twenty staging mistakes that I see all of the time.
1. Bringing in too many trendy items. For example, displaying distressed items and furniture everywhere for that farmhouse look. Yes, it's popular. No, not everyone likes it. The take-away is to use some of this in a small dose. The goal is that your house is "Transitional." Transitional = trendy + traditional. Another trend is displaying plants. A good rule of thumb is to have one real or faux plant in every room. It's a sign of life, something organic that appeals to everyone. This does not mean seven or eight large plants should be in the kitchen nook alone. Spread the love, or use some of the plants outside. Or, since you'll be moving you might want to give away a few if you're afraid they might die being outside.
2. Neutral Overload. Neutral paint, floors, and big furniture pieces are awesome because you can do so much with them. If everything that you own is also neutral (think brown, tan, gray, beige, etc.) nothing will draw the buyers eye around the room. Stagers use contrast such as blue pillows, blue art, and a blue throw so that the visitor will notice the blue around the room and look from place to place. A local estate sale professional told me that "brown is down." Very few people are attracted to brown things - people are tired of it. So, add some contrast with color - but do it in moderation!
3. Rooms like dark dungeons. Okay, maybe not really dungeons, but the point is...people are drawn to rooms that have a lot of natural light. Take down heavy drapes and make sure the windows are sparkling clean. Make sure all of your lightbulbs are working and that they match. You want people to feel energized and cheerful when they tour your home.
4. Poor furniture placement. Sometimes a few furniture pieces need to be removed in order for the room to feel spacious. Make sure sofas and chairs are close enough together to promote conversation. Don't line up furniture along the walls because it will look like a waiting room. In the bedroom, the bed is the focal point, so try to put the headboard on the largest far wall. Walkways should be about 3 feet wide throughout the home, so eliminate pieces that don't really fit. You want your rooms to feel s p a c i o u s.
5. Neglecting to put away personal items. Buyers don't want to see your dirty laundry, shampoo, razor, toothbrush, picture of Grandma, certificate of CPR training, or your toilet plunger, just to name a few. Pack away any personal photos, and tuck away your toiletry and cleaning products into your cabinets or garage.
6. Neglecting important improvements. Are your wood blinds in working order? Does that molding piece need to be nailed back into place? Is your a/c or heater doing a good job? Does that bold red wall in the entryway need a lighter color of paint? There are a hundred little things that need to be considered when selling your home. You don't want any problem (big or small) to become a price-eroding factor. Go ahead and make your repairs and improvements before you list the house. If you have questions about renovations and return on investment, ask your realtor, or visit my blog post Renovation Projects to Add Value when Selling.
7. Forgetting the little things. Fresh fruit or a plant in the kitchen gives an organic touch and everyone loves that. Set up a minimal looking coffee station with some mugs. Stack some books on nightstands coffee table, or open shelving to warm up the space. Hang fresh towels in the bathroom and don't use them! Sometimes owners pack everything away and then the house feels cold and boring. Don't forget the little things!