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Common Home Staging Mistakes

By Cathy Hobbs, ASID 

An interior staged by New York City home stager Cathy Hobbs. (Courtesy of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes)

Home staging is about marketing and branding a property more than anything else. So often people believe staging is about interior design and furniture, when staging is in fact neither, but instead a powerful marketing tool used exclusively to showcase real estate. That said, there are some basic interior design mistakes that extend beyond interior design into home staging that can possibly sink a sale if a home seller isn’t careful.

Mistake 1
Problem: Hanging artwork too high
Solution: Eyelevel is at five feet. The center point of a piece of artwork should be hung at five feet above the finished floor. Adjustments up or down a couple inches may be needed, but I consider this to be my general rule of thumb.

Mistake 2
Problem: Painted ceilings
Solution: I tend to leave ceilings white in order to help visually raise the height of a room. While I am not completely opposed to painting ceilings a color, people often fail to realize that a painted ceiling automatically visually reduces the height of a room. I recommend painted ceilings only if looking to create a certain mood or sense of coziness.

Mistake 3
Problem: Decorating with too many colors
Solution: I love color! And I love using color, but I encourage people to design with one neutral color to be used as a general wall or fabric color for upholstered pieces, and then to use two to three accent colors that can be incorporated into accessories such as pillows, area rugs, artwork, pottery, and vessels. I also remind clients that it is okay to create a design scheme using shades and tones of the same color.

Mistake 4

Cathy Hobbs appears on HGTV’s Design Star as a design contestant. (Courtesy of Michael Rogers PR )

Problem: Purchasing furniture that is too big or too small for a particular space
Solution: As basic as this may sound, so many people fail to measure or even loosely create a floor plan before purchasing furniture. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into rooms overstuffed with furniture or with pieces that are just too large or too small for a particular space. Before shopping, always create some sort of floor plan—even roughly on graph paper, counting the squares in order to create your own scale—so you know in advance whether or not a particular piece of furniture will fit.

Mistake 5
Problem: Purchasing “sets” of furniture
Solution: I find that purchasing the “5-piece” set seldom results in a successful interior design or staging solution. Purchasing sets tends to make a space look like a showroom instead of a home. In general, I believe purchasing sets are a big “no-no”. However, my one exception is bedroom sets, in which I tend to suggest clients purchase only, let’s say, a bed, nightstands, and perhaps one case good, such as a dresser. I believe it is a far better option to purchase one primary, solidly built, well-designed piece of furniture, and create a design scheme around it.

Cathy Hobbs, ASID, LEED AP

Five-time Emmy award-winning television personality Cathy Hobbs (ASID) is the founder of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes™, a New York City-based firm specializing in interior design, home staging, and model residences for luxury new developments. A nationally known design expert, Cathy has appeared on such programs as The Nate Berkus Show and HGTV’s Top Ten. Cathy was also a finalist on Season 6 of HGTV’s hit reality series Design Star.

Cathy is currently traveling around the country as an instructor for Certified Staging Professionals, teaching their prestigious 3-day certification course in Arlington, V.A., Miami, Boston, Columbia, Maryland, San Francisco, Fargo, N.D., Nashville, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Long Island, N.Y., and Las Vegas, Nev. Contact 888-STAGING or www.stagingtraining.com to learn more.

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