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14 Embarrassing Home Staging Mistakes You Don't Want To Make!

home staging mistakes

We share a lot about the value of home staging and why we continue to encourage our sellers to invest in it. Fact is, even in a hot market, we see properties sell faster and for over ask when they're staged well.

Why does staging have such a great ROI? It's simple: staging shows off the best features of your home and decorates it in a way that allows all buyers to imagine themselves living in that home. Staging shows what a home can be, without any of the clutter and realities of what a home usually is when it's full of people. People fall in love with this version of the home and are willing to offer more and outbid their competitors to get it.

But, sometimes home staging can go sideways. We've seen situations where staging mistakes have actually hurt the home's potential on the market. It's not just us; we were recently watching a popular real estate show on TV and the realtor had to have a home completely re-staged before they started getting offers that the client was happy with.

So, what exactly are those staging mistakes that could cost you? Let's dive in to the embarrassing home staging mistakes you don't want to make.

1. Keeping or Hanging Dark Window Coverings:

home staging mistakes

Sure, it looks good on Instagram, but when you're staging a home - do not hang those black velvet curtains. Potential homebuyers don't usually gravitate towards neon or moody home decor - they want light, bright, and new.

Your best bet is always going to be to lighten up the space in every possible way, including the window coverings. Remove any patterned or old window coverings while you're at it. Even simple, affordable white sheer curtains are going to look better than plastic blinds so old they've turned yellow and squeak when you open them.

2. Using Bold Paint Colors:

home staging mistakes

Again, time to keep it light and bright. We always recommend white or very light paint colors when preparing to sell. We even wrote an entire post on our most recommended paint colors to keep it simple for you.

If you hire a home stager who starts talking about loud paint colors and bright feature walls, run - as fast as you can - in the other direction, straight for the white paint cans.

3. Packing In Too Much Furniture:

home staging mistakes

This is not the time to wow people with how much you can jam into a room. You want plenty of space and room to breathe around furniture. Putting too much furniture in a space, even if it is beautiful and on-trend, is going to shrink spaces and make them look much smaller.

Sure, home stagers usually put less furniture in a room than the average family is going to use, but that's the point. You're creating an aspirational vision of what the space looks like at its absolute best. If you see too much furniture rolling in, it's time to send some of it right back out.

4. Keeping or Using Dated Decor:

home staging mistakes

Some people really value antiques and older pieces that are still in style, but more often than not, homebuyers want to see updates that are modern and on-trend today.

So, this isn't the time to dust off your great-grandmas old lamps and set them up. If your decorator is relying on old furniture finds and decor, they may be used to decorating spaces instead of staging them to sell. There is a difference, both in style and intent.

Staging studies have shown over and over again that people gravitate towards light, neutral colors and simple decor that highlights the best parts of each room. For home decor trends popular in 2022, read this post.

5. Adding or Not Removing Odd Smells:

home staging mistakes

Smells have a powerful impact on how we perceive a space and it's an incredibly easy part of staging to address. If a space has some odd smells, take care of it by deep cleaning the home, including investing in professional carpet and floor cleanings. This should take the smell down to a ground zero, at least, and allow you to add universally appealing scents on top.

When using scents, choose softer fragrances that highlight the space instead of dominate it. Scents with notes of vanilla or fresh, clean scents reminiscent of fresh laundry or the ocean are usually going to be your best bet. Just remember to use the same fragrance throughout your entire home, so that guests are not smacked in the face with a different perfume with each space they enter.

Also, consider that some potential buyers will have fragrance allergies, so keep the fragrance light and airy. If you've ever walked a home where a stager has gone crazy with different fragrances, you'll understand why this is such an important part of the staging process.

6. Ignoring Necessary Home Improvements:

home staging mistakes

The best candle and curtains in the world cannot hide the fact that you didn't fix that huge stain on the floor or that the kitchen cabinet hinge is broken. Spend some time before you even decorate making the home improvements that are needed so your home can really shine.

We wrote an entire post on the home improvements with the best ROI and that can really get you started on your to-do list. But, we also wrote a post on the home improvements that won't help your sale price, so make sure to check that one out, too.

If you're not a handy person, ask your realtor if they have a person they can recommend to tackle your home improvement list. We certainly have someone very good that we trust and often recommend him to our clients in the Sacramento area.

7. Skipping the Curb Appeal:

home staging mistakes

You probably don't notice it anymore, since you're driving straight into the garage and going in to the house, but the curb appeal is the first impression your potential buyers will have.

While we wrote an in-depth post on curb appeal tips, here's the quick version of things to think about:

  • Freshen the exterior by either power-washing or updating the paint

  • Have all windows professionally washed

  • Spruce up landscaping, with particular consideration for the entry area

  • Fix up the front door

  • Updating lighting

  • Remove all trash and eyesores, including trimming back any crowded landscaping

  • Furnish thoughtfully - in fact, people may enjoy sitting down on the deck in a place with a particularly nice view

  • Maintain it - this might mean hiring professional landscapers for as long as your home is on the market

To read more about each one of these tips, read the full post here.

8. Hanging Pictures Incorrectly:

home staging mistakes

Yup, there's an art to this, too. A good stager will know the size of art to use and how to hang it correctly to make the space look its best. Hanging art too high makes it look like it's floating, too low makes it look crowded, but just right can be a powerful part of your staging.

Plus, a good home stager knows that art needs to be neutral and appeal to the most people. This means staying away from art that could be controversial in any way. You'll usually see a lot of abstract art, ocean scenes and nature imagery. If you're staging your own home, make sure to remove anything personal, including family photos, sports paraphernalia and anything religious.

9. Ignoring Lighting:

home staging mistakes

Lighting is a powerful part of home staging, because it opens up a space and shines a light (literally) on areas that don't get natural light.

If you're lucky enough to have a space awash with natural light, use lighting as decoration to add warmth and create nooks. Place a tall reading lamp by a cozy chair and smaller lamps on bedside tables.

For even more ambience, use cool LED light bulbs instead of warm and replace older light bulbs for a fresh look.

10. Skipping Area Rugs:

home staging mistakes

Area rugs are a great way to add texture and warmth to a space, but they can also help define areas and zones in the house. This is especially useful if you're working with an open floor plan and need to stage specific areas to show how the space can be divided.

So, if you or your home stager are thinking of skipping area rugs, don't make this mistake. They can be bulky to bring in and move around, but they will add so much to your space, it'll be well worth the effort.

11. Not Considering Your Target Homebuyer:

home staging mistakes

Don't start staging until you've made a plan and that plan should absolutely include who you think your target homebuyer might be. Your realtor should be able to help you with this based on the market trends in your area. Consider this potential buyer when staging the house and watch your investment pay off.

For example, is your home likely to be bought by a family? This is a great time to show how the spaces can be used for kids and families. Don't leave a multi-purpose room empty when you can show how it could be an awesome hangout for kids.

Is your space much more suited for a single person who is looking for a pet-friendly space? Show how easy it is to incorporate their sweet Spot in the staging and home decor.

The special effort you put into considering your homebuyer will pay off when they step into your space and suddenly feel at home.

12. Going Too Bland:

home staging mistakes

Yes, you'll want to stick to light and bright when choosing things like window coverings and paint, but that doesn't mean you want to go completely bland.

Using strategic pops of color can draw the eye and designing areas to reflect how they might be used, such as a child's room, can really bring the space to life.

13. Not Getting Professional Photography:

home staging mistakes

Don't make this mistake! Your realtor should have a great real estate photographer who will know how to photograph your home from all the right angles to make it look its best. Great photography can sometimes even sell the property sight unseen!

Don't discount the value of professional photography, even if you're in an area where homes are selling like hot cakes.

14. Not Getting a Professional Video Made:

Just like our point on photography, the same goes for video. Everything is video now and you'll want to have videos made of your home as well. These can be used on social media, sent out to email lists, and used on listing sites as well.

Skimping on the way you present your property could impact what your home ends up selling for. If you want to see examples of the videos we have created for all of our properties, check out our YouTube channel. Subscribe so you can get notifications of new videos!


Have you ever made any of these house staging mistakes? We hope this gives you some ideas of how you can make your property look its best, so you can maximize your ROI.

If you're looking for home staging tips for what you should do - check out this post right here.

Remember, a great realtor should also be able to help you find a reputable home stager in your area. If you're looking for a realtor in the Sacramento area, including Granite Bay, Folsom, El Dorado Hills and more, give us a call at: 916.524.9733.

Russell Enyart and the Enyart Real Estate Group are top real estate agents serving serving West Sacramento, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Granite Bay, Loomis, Rocklin, Roseville, and Sacramento County, Placer County, and El Dorado County.


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