What’s the Difference Between Staging Your Home and Decorating it?


When it comes to interior decorating and home staging, it all comes down to who you’re trying to impress: yourself (the current homeowner) or the buyer (the future homeowner). When you’ve got your home on the market for sale, you need to create a space that speaks to the tastes, needs, and wants of prospective buyers that will be looking at it.

Essentially, you want to create a lifestyle for buyers and help them visualize themselves living in the home and building an emotional connection to it. The way the home is staged might not necessarily be appealing to you and your tastes, but it’s really not about you: it’s about the buyer.

This is the fundamental difference between home staging and interior decorating. You might find it odd to revamp your home in such a way that doesn’t meet your tastes, but the sooner you understand the difference between these two realms, the more successful you will be at selling your home. 

Everyone wants a home that’s esthetically attractive, functional, organized, and comfortable. This is exactly how you want buyers to feel about your home when they walk in, and is essentially what will help them make that critical connection.

Decorating is All About the Homeowner

The goal of an interior decorating job is to create an ideal space that the current homeowner – you – feels comfortable in. It’s about bringing in colors, materials, and finishes that you find appealing.

Decorating also has to do with determining exactly how each family member uses the rooms in the home, and how they actually live in the space every day. An interior can be completely transformed into an amazing space that you would probably see in a magazine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s functional for you or your family. Any efforts to stylishly decorate are essentially wasted if the result is an impractical space.

Even if the interior is functional and decorated in a very sophisticated manner, it’s important to ensure that you are comfortable with living with the new space, instead of feeling like you’re living in a home that’s not yours.

Professional interior decorators will take the time to listen to your tastes, needs, and lifestyle, and will work around these critical factors to come up with a space you can be proud to call yours.

Home Staging: Decorating a Home For the Market

You might have an affinity for shag carpeting or bright-colored walls, but you’ll likely find it tough to successfully market such decor to the general pool of buyers out there. Certain quirky tastes are better left for the home you plan to move into. If your home is going to hit the market soon, you’d be a lot better off decorating your home in a way that will attract as many buyers as possible.

As such, a neutral palette is generally best. You would be more likely to find more people who would rather see beige on the walls instead of fuchsia. Remember – it’s about the buyers, so the sooner you put your own personal tastes aside, the better. If you don’t, your home will basically be appealing only to a small proportion of buyers who might actually like your particular style. Home staging is about modifying and depersonalizing a space, which is the opposite of what decorating is all about.

Generally speaking, using neutral colors on walls and surfaces – such as beige, white, or grey – are best. But ensuring that your home is not specific to any particular taste doesn’t mean that your home has to be bland and lack any color. Instead, it should still involve some level of style and excitement. You still want to impress potential buyers and prompt them to remember your home after they’ve seen others. Just try to keep any bold color schemes minimized and simple while being supported by a neutral palette.

By the same token, depersonalizing your home is another step that should be taken if you want to help prospective buyers see the home as their own. It will be a lot more difficult for them to picture themselves living there if your home is covered in family photos, political posters, and religious artifacts. You might be very proud of your personal collections, but their presence will only stand in the way of helping buyers visualize the home as their own.

Having an understanding of the target buyer and what they’re looking for will make the home staging process a lot easier. The goal of home staging is to determine what would be considered the most appealing to the area’s targeted home buyer to warrant a quick sale for top dollar. 

The Bottom Line

When staging your home to sell, you need to think the way a home buyer in your neighborhood would think rather than focus on what you might like. If the buyers in your area are young professionals with a penchant for sleek style, then stage your home accordingly. The closer you’re able to style your home according to what home buyers expect, the higher the odds of you finding a buyer sooner, and attracting a handsome offer.