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Home-Staging Tips: 12 Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

Staging is a crucial step in the home selling process — one that can help your home sell faster. Most sellers, however, don’t know how to best stage their home to attract a large pool of buyers. Avoid these 12 mistakes when staging and help buyers fall in love with your home.
home staging tips

There’s no denying it — staging your home can help it sell faster — and sometimes can even get you more money on your property. Staging is an important step in marketing your home and should never be skipped if you hope to sell your home as quickly and easily as possible.

Staging is all about presenting your home to prospective buyers in a way that allows them to easily picture themselves living in the residence. Good staging can grab a buyer’s interest in seconds, appealing to them on an emotional level. Not only is staging important for showings, but it’s also important for attracting buyers through online photographs or virtual tours.

If you’re ready to stage your home for buyers, here are 15 common mistakes you’ll want to avoid at all costs.

1. Not Working With an Agent

Sure, no one knows your home quite like you, but no one knows buyers and the market better than a real estate agent. Real estate agents understand what buyers are looking for and should be driving the staging process with your assistance.

It can be hard for buyers to take an objective look at a home filled with memories, personal style choices, and deep-rooted emotions. Not leaning on an agent for professional staging assistance is the biggest mistake you can make.

2. Don’t Personalize Your Home Decor

Everyone has an aesthetic that speaks to them, which makes staging tricky. You might love walking into a sea of pastel colors, another buyer might become too distracted by the color scheme to notice your home’s potential.

The same goes for personal treasures, knick-knacks, and collectibles. Instead, think clean lines and clear spaces. Your personal belongings might bring you joy, but understand that everyone has different taste, so incorporating too much of yourself in your home can be off-putting.

3. Don’t Remove Too Much Furniture

You absolutely want to declutter and minimize when staging your home, but you don’t want to leave your house feeling empty or cold. Your home should have an inviting atmosphere, which you can accomplish by arranging your furniture in a way that welcomes guests into each space.

If a room looks too bare to you, it’s probably going to dissuade a prospective buyer.

4. Don’t Showcase Boring Color Schemes

In many cases, neutral paint is great for showings, but the home’s entire color scheme shouldn’t match. Walking into a home full of beige can make everything blend together and isn’t aesthetically interesting.

Colors need contrast to catch a buyer’s eye, like a deep, rich colored sofa paired with neutral walls. Throw rugs are another way to add the right pop of color to keep rooms from looking too boring.

5. Don’t Go Too Modern

Modern decor is great, but having nothing except clear countertops and sharp edges in sight can make a home feel like it wasn’t meant to be lived in. Throw pillows, curtains, and a good mix of rounded and square furniture can help break up the modern feel many new homes give off.

Don’t go overboard decorating — homes just need a warm touch to help them feel cozier.

6. Don’t Skip Area Rugs

You may love your hardwood floors (and buyers might, too) but you’ll showcase them better with the help of area rugs. Rugs can help break up the flow of open concept homes to help them look more polished and pulled together.

Area rugs on neutral carpet can also make bedrooms and sitting areas appear more inviting and intentional.

7. Don’t Showcase Your Entire Art Collection

It doesn’t matter if your art is prestigious or noteworthy — too much of anything can be distracting to buyers. While your art certainly adds character and personality to your home, it should be placed very strategically throughout your house.

Your agent can help you pare down your art collection and place it in the right spots for attracting buyers.

8. Don’t Leave Toys On Display

Even if you’ve already packed away most of your children’s belongings, leaving toys out in the open on shelving or see-through bins can be distracting. Toys will make your home look more cluttered, so it’s best to remove any that are not needed and store the rest in attractive baskets.

9. Don’t Forget About Plants

Buyers love seeing greenery in prospective homes. Plants bring a breath of fresh air into a home, helping to balance your space. Small flowers and succulents can make nice centerpieces for tables or counters, while orchids can work well in bathrooms.

Don’t go overboard on greenery, though. You want to appeal to a large number of buyers, so always trust your agent’s advice.

10. Don’t Skip the Outside

First impressions are everything when it comes to staging. If the first thing buyers see leaves them feeling unimpressed, it will be hard to win them back. Add gravel or refinish dirt driveways to make them look more appealing. Pay for professional landscapers to make your lawn and garden look incredible. Touch up the paint on window shutters and doors.

The backyard should also be spruced up, if needed, to make the home feel more welcoming. Renting patio furniture can help buyers envision themselves enjoying parties and cookouts outdoors.

11. Don’t Use Artificial Air Fresheners

Your home should smell clean and crisp, but you shouldn’t overwhelm buyers with artificial scents. Some buyers may have allergies to certain scents and too much fragrance can be off-putting to buyers. A small amount of diffused essential oil (in more neutral scents like vanilla, eucalyptus, or citrus) is fine when used sparingly.

Air out your home before showings to help remove any musty smells and you’ll likely feel less inclined to cover it head-to-toe in fragrance.

12. Don’t Waste Money on Expensive Renovations

New flooring and kitchen renovations can slow down the selling process, so rather than pour more money into your property, try small updates instead. Freshly painted cabinets, new hardware, updated light fixtures, and small backsplashes can enhance your home’s overall look without breaking the bank.


Staging is an important process that can no longer be skipped when marketing and selling your home. A talented buyer’s agent can lead you through the staging process and offer valuable input on best practices.

To find a top-rated local agent, let Clever connect you to one of the leading real estate agents in your area.


Andrew Schmeerbauch
Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

See all Andrew's Posts

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