Staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged homes.

But, what if you can’t afford a professional home stager to come to your place, create a plan, and supply what’s necessary to have your house look like a model home?

Answer: You do the work yourself of course. The problem is you may not be able to detach yourself from how your home usually looks.

Let’s review the common mistakes that homeowners make when they stage their own homes, and how to avoid these pitfalls.

1. Pushing all furniture to the walls

When pieces of furniture line the perimeter of the room, the room looks uninviting and boring, a little like your doctor’s waiting area.

It may seem to be an approach that makes the best use of square footage, but instead, you’ve created a space that looks strangely uncomfortable.

No matter how small the room, there is always a way to cluster some of the pieces in groupings that look friendly.

If you can’t think of a different way to place furniture than around the edges of the space, it’s time to remove some furniture.

Put your largest and heaviest pieces of furniture on sliders and start playing around until the room looks balanced. Then fill in with the smaller and lightweight pieces until you get a look that’s interesting and functional. Try diagonal furniture placement, and pulling pieces away from walls.

Remember that a traffic pattern does not necessarily have to run through the center of a room. Download my eBook on furniture arranging to help you solve these kinds of problems.

This room suffers from an unimaginative arrangement
of furniture. The two couches could
have been placed at right angles
to create a conversation area

2. Too many DIY projects

Sure, they save money, personalize your home, and are (usually) fun to do, but an excess of homemade crafts in your home can cheapen the property. 

Of course, it all depends on your level of skill and your vision, but prime examples of common DIY fails are handmade seasonal decorations like wreaths, chandelier makeovers, an excess of glitter or Mason jar projects, and skimpy window treatments.

I suggest sticking to what you do well, perhaps sewing, painting, or refinishing furniture, then find the items you need elsewhere. My favorite sources for those things that dress up your staging are Overstock, Tuesday Morning, T.J. Maxx, garage sales, and thrift stores. And this is important: Train your eye to what looks high-end.

You can always resume your crafting projects when you move to your next home that you can decorate to please only you and yours.

I know Country Living meant well when it
suggested spray painting a collection of
beer bottles,  but it's probably not the kind
of decorations that will enhance a staged home. 

3. Lack of color

In our rush to make a home-staged house look clean and cohesive, it’s common to see rooms decorated in boring color schemes – all grey or all beige, or even all white.

Best bet: Base your color scheme on three colors – a neutral background color, a second color that is adjacent to the first on the color wheel, and a third color as an accent. The third color can be a deeper shade of one of the first two colors, or a color that appears either opposite them or near them on the color wheel. 

The top photo from Shea McGee Design shows that a palette centered around grey and white looks beautiful with accents of blue.

A color scheme can be harmonious without being monotonous. Here’s more help from me on choosing paint colors for your home the easy way.

4. No budget

Every successful project starts with a plan about how money will be spent. Knowing what you can afford and what products and services actually cost is a start. A budget will reduce emotional stress because it gives you a spending framework and you’ll receive the satisfaction of knowing you’re making smart financial decisions.

The amount of money you spend to stage your home depends on the size, condition, and style of your property.

In a hot real estate market, you can probably use more of what you already have, saving money. And if you can do most of the work yourself, you’ll spend less.

But if homes are selling slowly where you live, you may have to spend something in order to rent or buy some furnishings so you can stand above the competition. That’s just business!

Start your home staging with a list of what needs to be done or purchased and then estimate the costs. Prioritize the list, and look for cost-cutting methods.

5. Art that doesn’t help

A large abstract like this painting by
Lindsey Meyer adds the right amount of
punch to the space. Notice that it is
hung at convenient eye level and 
doesn't float far above the table
I can’t stress enough the value that art adds to a staged space. But often pieces of wall art are hung either too high or (less commonly) too low.

Art used for home staging needs to be non-distracting and non-controversial. There are certain subjects that make people feel good, and these are the subjects experienced stagers rely on – things like landscapes, still lifes, and abstracts. For more tips on using art to help sell your home, see my linked 30-day blog series about that topic.

6. Not enough detail

We’re all working to minimize clutter. We’re told to get organized and to simplify our surroundings. But many new stagers will remove the very things that add interest to a space, the accessories that add decor layers and invite people touring a home to slow down.

These are the details that make a home look loved and lovable. I’m talking about things like plants, artwork, books, boxes, trays, bowls, and pillows. Focus on generously sized objects because they “read” well and because they won’t be stolen.

I hope you find these tips and reminders helpful when it’s time to stage your own home for the real estate market. For more advice to make your home competitive in the marketplace, download my easy-to-follow home staging eBooks and start staging today.