Staging for Sale vs. Design for Living



I recently had a client ask me what the difference was between staging for sale and design (staging) for living and if there was a difference? Yes!!! Yes!! And Yes!!! Design for living in a space is all about how the Home Owner uses the space. It’s all about the families’ needs and preferences. Staging for sale is all about the buyers’ needs and preferences. Staging for sale is all about creating beautiful spaces that photograph beautifully to create the interest to bring the buyers in to view the home, and make buyers fall in love with the space when they see the home. 

When we stage a home, the first thing we need to know is what is the target buyer demographic. We have to decorate and “stage” the property to appeal the greatest number of potential buyers. If it’s a property that could appeal to multiple age groups, we need to be sensitive to this and design accordingly. Are they young first time home buyers? Are they in the 40+ age group moving up the property ladder? And are they retirees looking to downsize? How we plan the design has a lot to do with who the target demographic buyer will be. We work very hard to decorate the home to look “real” and not staged. Let’s face it – no one sets their table with color coordinated dinner, salad and dessert plates, on color coordinated place mats and leaves their table that way! Does it look pretty – of course! But it also looks “staged”!! I’ve literally been in thousands of homes over the last 20 years and I’ve never once seen a Home Owner have their table set this way for no reason. How I design for a first time home buyer is very different than how I design for someone moving up the property ladder. A design that is appropriate for a contemporary home style is very different than a design for a turn of the century traditional home. We have to be sensitive to all the factors that influence the home sale before we plan the design.

Staging is about creating beautifully decorated rooms that showcase the function and space in a room. How to use that space and what it “could” look like if the buyer were to purchase it. This could be “your space”. It has to make a statement and create a “wow factor” that buyers want to make their own. However, because we appeal to the largest demographic of potential buyers we do not make the Home Owners’ preferences a priority. If they have a desk and computer, TV and sitting area and exercise machine in their great room because it works for how they use the space, we will change that to showcase a single room function to buyers. If they like bright purple walls in their kitchen, we’ll tone it down to a more neutral color to appeal to more buyers. This is what staging is about – making the home appealing to the greatest number of potential buyers.

Design for living is all about the Home Owners. How do you use the space? Who uses the space? What functions must the room accommodate? What colors do you like? What colors make you feel good? You need to walk into the room and have it embrace you. If you want what is popular or trendy right now, we can easily incorporate the latest design trends. It’s our job to determine what you like, what you want and put them together to create a space that makes you feel great! If that is bright purple with bright green, so be it! We can work with that and create a fun and lively space! If you like bright orange and yellows, perfect, you love a bright, happy and energetic space. The colors people prefer tell me a lot about them. What they like, and what makes them feel good. I always ask clients to take me for a quick tour of their home. I will always see certain colors repeating through the home. These often become the colors we use in a new design scheme. People don’t realize it but they often tend to gravitate towards certain colors that make them feel good when they buy anything from artwork to towels to accessories. This shows up in a quick walk through so I often know where to start with color recommendations for a new design scheme.

I have 2 rules when it comes to designing for living. First, NEVER apologize for what you like. If it makes you feel good in your space, that is all that matters! It’s your home and you should have what you love around you and feel good in your own home!! Second, it doesn’t matter what I like! I cannot count the number of times a client asks me if I would do this in my home. It doesn’t matter what I like. My personal preferences should never play a part in your home design. I will tell you how to best place furniture, décor and accessories to maximize the room function and create the biggest impact. However, when it comes to color preferences that is a very personal choice. It’s ALL about what YOU LOVE! After all, you have to see it every day and we want your new room design to make you happy every time you walk into the room!