51 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Staging a Home

(**) Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning our company, JCHQ Publishing will get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, but at no additional cost to you.

For many real estate agents and home sellers, you might have a beautiful property, an ideal location, and yet, the house remains on the market for weeks, if not months. The culprit? Inadequate home staging.

Nailing the presentation is crucial, because when selling a home, first impressions aren’t just lasting—they can make or break a sale. A home’s appearance significantly impacts its perceived value and desirability. Understanding common staging mistakes and their implications is vital to prevent missed opportunities and secure quicker, higher-value sales.

That’s why, I’ve complied a comprehensive list of common home staging mistakes. I also rated each one based on their “Turnoff Score“. This is a score rated on a scale of 1 to 5. It represents the potential for a particular mistake to deter potential buyers:

  • 1: Minor inconvenience – Not a deal-breaker but could be improved.
  • 2: Noticeable – May raise an eyebrow but isn’t typically a primary concern.
  • 3: Moderately concerning – Might be discussed after a potential buyer visits.
  • 4: Highly concerning – Could deter potential buyers or decrease perceived value.
  • 5: Major turnoff – Serious pitfalls that could drastically affect a sale.

Here is the list of home staging mistakes you should avoid

  1. Ignoring First Impressions (5): The entrance is the first thing buyers see. Ensure the pathway, front door, and entryway are impeccable.
  2. Overpersonalizing the Space (5): Family photos are lovely, but they make it harder for buyers to imagine their life in the space.
  3. Dark Lighting (4): A gloomy room isn’t inviting. Use natural light and consider adding lamps to darker corners.
  4. Overcrowding Rooms (4): Too much furniture or décor shrinks space. Less is often more.
  5. Forgetting the Outside (5): Overgrown gardens or faded paint can turn buyers off before they step inside.
  6. Bold Wall Colors (4): Stick to neutrals. They act as a blank canvas for potential buyers.
  7. Neglected Repairs (5): That dripping tap or cracked tile? Fix them.
  8. Strong Odors (5): Whether it’s pets or last night’s dinner, neutralize them before showings.
  9. Forgetting About Floors (4): Stained carpets or scratched floors can be a deal-breaker.
  10. Leaving Out Personal Items (3): This includes bills, mail, or personal hygiene items.
  11. Overstaging (3): A room that looks too “designed” can feel inauthentic.
  12. Understaging (3): On the flip side, empty rooms can seem cold and uninviting.
  13. Ignoring Ceilings and Walls (4): Cobwebs or chipped paint scream neglect.
  14. Dated Decor (4): That 80’s wallpaper isn’t charming; it’s a relic.
  15. Using Only Overhead Lights (3): Layered lighting (ambient, task, accent) adds depth and warmth.
  16. Neglecting Windows (4): Clean windows and appropriate window treatments enhance views and light.
  17. Closed Curtains (3): Let the sunshine in! It makes spaces feel larger and more inviting.
  18. Forgetting Storage Areas (4): Buyers will open closets. Make sure they’re tidy.
  19. Overlooking Nooks and Crannies (2): Every space in the home matters.
  20. Mismatched Furniture (3): Cohesiveness is key. The furniture should match the home’s overall style.
  21. Using Small Rugs (3): They can break up space. Instead, opt for larger rugs that unify furniture groupings.
  22. Overdoing Theme Rooms (3): A room dedicated to your porcelain cat collection might not resonate with everyone.
  23. Not Testing Paint Colors (2): How colors look can change based on light and surrounding furnishings.
  24. Neglecting Pet Areas (5): Clean and tidy up pet spaces. Not everyone is a pet lover.
  25. Bare Walls (2): Art, when used judiciously, can add character.
  26. Overly Complex Tech (3): Simplify tech setups so potential buyers don’t feel overwhelmed.
  27. Ignoring Small Spaces (3): Even small balconies or patios can be staged as valuable spaces.
  28. Leaving Bathrooms Untouched (5): A pristine, spa-like bathroom can be a selling point.
  29. Distracting Art (3): Neutral and universally appealing art is the way to go.
  30. Not Considering Traffic Flow (4): Furniture should be arranged to allow easy movement.
  31. Avoiding Professional Help (2): Sometimes it’s beneficial to consult a professional stager.
  32. Too Many Personal Collections (3): While cherished, they can be distracting.
  33. Avoiding Seasonal Decor (2): A touch of seasonal decor can make a home feel current and loved.
  34. Dirty Appliances (4): A dirty oven or fridge can be off-putting.
  35. Faded Bed Linen (3): Refresh bedrooms with crisp, clean linens.
  36. Not Showing Functionality (3): If there’s a fireplace, light it. A beautiful built-in? Showcase it.
  37. Forgetting about Scale (3): Furniture should fit the space it occupies.
  38. Not Defining Rooms (3): Every room should have a clear purpose.
  39. Poor Exterior Lighting (4): A well-lit facade can make a home inviting during evening showings.
  40. Ignoring the Neighbors (3): If next door is an eyesore, use barriers like plants or screens.
  41. Not Depersonalizing Entirely (4): Beyond photos, this includes religious, political, or quirky decor items.
  42. Hiding Problem Areas (4): It’s better to address issues than to hide them.
  43. Outdated Hardware (3): Modern hardware can update a room instantly.
  44. Not Matching Home’s Era (3): A colonial home might not suit ultra-modern furnishings.
  45. Cluttered Kids’ Rooms (4): While kids will be kids, a tidy room is essential during showings.
  46. Loud Clocks or Appliances (2): Distractions should be minimized.
  47. Forgetting Acoustics (2): A quiet, serene environment is more inviting.
  48. Not Considering All Senses (3): Think of pleasant sounds, smells, and even touch.
  49. Not Offering a Home’s Story (2): Highlight the home’s unique qualities and history.
  50. Lack of Greenery (3): Plants bring life and vibrancy to spaces.
  51. Not Adapting to Feedback (4): If feedback is consistent, make changes accordingly.

Remember, while these scores are based on general staging best practices, reactions to certain staging mistakes might vary among individual buyers. Making the right changes can be the difference between a swift sale and a stagnant listing. Happy staging!

Common Home Staging Mistakes Shared by a Texas Real Estate Expert

I recently stumbled upon an enlightening clip featuring Dana Pollard, a Real Estate Agent based in Texas. In the clip, Dana provides valuable insights into common home staging mistakes that both real estate agents and home sellers should be aware of.

Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Proper Picture Height: Avoid hanging pictures too high on the wall. Aim for mirror height or slightly taller to create a visually pleasing arrangement.
  2. Floor-Length Curtains: Ensure that curtains reach the floor for a polished and elegant look. Hanging curtain rods high can add a sense of height and space to the room.
  3. Appropriate Rug Size: Use rugs that are large enough to define the space, such as having at least the front feet of furniture on the rug. Avoid using small rugs that make the room feel disconnected.
  4. Strategically Placed Accent Pieces: When arranging accent pieces, especially around the fireplace, group them cohesively and vary their heights to create an organized and balanced display.
  5. Simplify Decor: Avoid overloading the space with too much decor. Create a clean and uncluttered atmosphere that allows potential buyers to envision their belongings in the space.
  6. Update Decor: Remove outdated decor items that might date the home. Invest in inexpensive, modern pieces from stores like Ross or Home Goods to give the space a fresh and current feel.
  7. Limit Rugs: Be cautious with the number of rugs, especially in bathrooms and hallways. Use main area rugs for living and dining spaces, but consider removing runners and bathroom rugs to declutter.
  8. Focus on the Floor: If you have an unappealing floor, consider painting it to improve its look. An updated floor is better than one covered in cluttered rugs.

One thing I like about this clip is that it offers practical and actionable advice for staging a home, along with specific examples of mistakes to avoid. Dana’s experience in real estate and personal anecdotes make the tips relatable and easy to understand.

Other articles that may be helpful to you:

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change without any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. Some of the posts on this site may contain views and opinions from individual not related to JCHQ Publishing. They do not necessarily reflect our view or position.


  • Jacob Coleman

    Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

Jacob Coleman

Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

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