Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


Bad Staging... EXPOSED!

 One of my favorite blogs to visit outside of Active Rain is Athol Kay's ReAgent In Connecticut. I see a section on his blog as it having a parallel relevance to the practice of home staging... which I will explain in a moment.

Anyway, I like to visit Athol's site because his readers are always sending him horrible MLS photos... which he then features in his Bad MLS of the Daysection. Knowing the importance good photography plays in selling a home,  I think Athol is on a one-man-mission to clean up MLS listing photos by showing people what is bad.

Now I gotta admit while every time I go to his site for a chuckle I also cringe. Often when I look at those photos they remind me of all the examples of Bad Staging in photos I have seen people post on the web and EVEN publish in books... unfortunately when it comes to bad staging rarely do I chuckle.

So for awhile now I've dropped a few hints here and there saying that I wished I could post the Bad Staging examples like Athol does with MLS Photos... and people began to send me actual pictures or emails telling me to check out this site or check out that site for some good Bad Staging. Which was all quite entertaining. But really what good is that? Now that I had these pictures and links what should/could I do with them?  After all, if fashion magazines can publish pictures of people wearing "Dont's," could I do the same for Bad Staging? Then I wondered, "Should I?" for just posting pictures and labeling them "Bad"seemed.... well it seemed snotty.

So finally... like daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, I go that idea that posting the picture with an explanation as to WHY the staging was poorly executed would at least take what might be perceived as "meanness" out. I remembered that in design school sometimes the best way we were taught what does work was by examining what doesn't.

So now I posted my first Bad Staging critique on my other pretty (outside Active Rain) blog: Home Staging, Rants & Ravings. Each week I will be putting up an example of Bad Staging with an explaination why in my Bad Staging series. Of course you all are welcome to post your own thoughts and opinions and critique my critique in a comment. Hopefully by pointing out what is done wrong we well see more done right.

Stage It Forward...


PS: If you have an exmple of a Bad Staging that you would like featured... you can send them to me. I will not to reveal my sources.

Comment balloon 25 commentsCraig Schiller • October 17 2007 06:45AM


Just checked out Athol's site. I think I just felt the same thing a crack addict feels on his very first hit. I'm hooked!
Posted by Bill Carroll, IN REAL ESTATE, REPRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING (Corcoran Real Estate) over 13 years ago

Craig:  I checked out Athol's site, as well as your pretty blog.  Great stuff.  I agree that when you take the crappy photo of the crappy staging, turning it into a tutorial, it's all positive - and funny!

Thanks for another great perspective!  Cheers! from DC...


Posted by Jaynee Acevedo, Capital Style Home Staging (Capital Style Home Staging) over 13 years ago
It's hard to believe the pictures that some agents put out there.  I take a bunch of pictures and hope to  have at least a few good ones.  If I don't like them.  I go out again and try to get better ones.  Sometimes I don't think the agents even look at what they do.  If they did, they'd be so embarasses, they'd definitely change the pictures.  Sometimes you wish you could show their clients what kind of job they're doing for them and how much effort they put into selling their property.
Posted by Joyce Jewell, GRI, ePRO, ASP, ABR, SFR, RSPS (Jewell Real Estate Agency) over 13 years ago
I guess these agents are hoping people will see the homes' inner beauty, like people are supposed to do for each other. =).
Posted by Danielle V. Lewis, DDR Realty (DDR Realty) over 13 years ago
Craig, I just checked out your outside blog Home Staging, Rants & Ravings.  I really enjoyed it.  I've got to agree with you on the staging job you posted.  I'm going to have to keep checking back on your other blog - very informative and entertaining.  Keep up the great work! 
Posted by Charlene Storozuk, Home Stager - Burlington Ontario (Dezigner Digz) over 13 years ago

Craig - I think this could be very valuable.  I have to admit that I've even seen some BAD photos here posted on AR.  I'm sure that the stager doesn't even know it - no one (I'm included) says anything.  It feels rude.  The question is - are we doing a dis-service to the industry by not speaking up?

Here is a staging job that I also lost a bid on.... tell me what you think.  (I'll forward these photos to you if you would like to use them).  A little background.. This is a $350K 600 sqft condo in Downtown Charleston (high end for our market).  The targeted demographics should be more young executive or business professionals that want to live downtown.  This is also a highly popular area for successful gay couples (mostly men).      

You can't squeeze behind the back chairs & you can't sit in the one behind the countertop area.  You have to move sideways to get to the back chairs between the table & halfwall. 

When I was interviewed for the staging I suggested this room should be an office.  I know this wasn't how I planned it.  This room is about 10 x 8.  This is the only thing in the room.  Tell me what do you see first when you look at the photo?  It wasn't the room or the desk for me.....

Notice the sink?  Do you think the furniture from the first photo matches the home that this sink is in?  I don't think so.  Can you see the dead flower behind the sink?  All the florals in the home were real - the home was vacant.  When we previewed the home a few weeks late they were all dead.  The jars were green & gooey & smelled. 

My bid on this home was $1200 for 3 months staging (including rental furniture, accessories, etc, delivery & set up)  I don't know what they paid for this, but it was too much....

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago


THIS is a PERFECT example of what I am talking about. PERFECT!

Wow... people just don't know... but not if I can help it anymore.

Critique work like this will help...


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago
Ok, I just visited that website.... it is HILARIOUS!  I love the stripper pole & Hard A** Furniture comment (there is a hammock in the living room... you have to see for yourself).... Thanks for telling us about it!
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 13 years ago

Craig - Here's what I appreciate about you most: you really do present yourself as having a heart for giving others a hand up - helping to raise the bar of the industry as a whole in educating stagers where their programs leave off and Realtors in the entire process, helping them to understand staging in general because let's face it ,not all REA 'get' staging.  Certainly, you don't need to do that - you're established and of course I realize it helps to build a better industry over all; but me thinks there's more to it than that.  Me thinks you really do have a genuineness in helping everyone 'get it' a little better (or hopefully a lot).

Thanks for taking this on.  All critique is good critique, it's provides a learning experience for everyone.


Posted by Jackie Peraza, Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts (Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC) over 13 years ago


Well shucks and thanks. I appreciate you getting the fact that I really want to turn this into something that raise the bar.

Staging is a VERY new profession/industry. To think that every one that goes into this profession is capable is just not realistic.

I think I am finally just talking about a pink elephant that is already in the room. The thing I like about blogging is that while I can voice my opinion it give others a voice to concur or refute what I have to say.

It's not like a movie critique that thumbs up or thumbs down a movie... a blog makes ME thumbable.



Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

I've thought it would be fun to put a slide show together of "bad" photos, but actually using photos that others have taken violates copyright laws - even if the photos are bad. Our MLS has strict rules on using other people's photos and has a statement on each page saying it's a no-no. No matter how much fun they are to look at, or how much I would LOVE to do this, I haven't because I don't want to get into trouble.

Has this ever been an issue for Athol?

Now I'm off to visit his site for my laugh of the day.

Posted by Elaine Reese, REALTOR® in central Ohio (Real Living HER, Powell Ohio) over 13 years ago

Eliane i know what you are saying.

But to be honest I have no idea if Athol knows or not.

Maybe he has a don't ask don't tell policy. I bet if he got "caught" I am sure he woudl take them down.




Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

OMG, just completed the tour. The comments are as funny as the photos. Hilarious! One of my favorites was the house arrest ankle bracelet.


Posted by Elaine Reese, REALTOR® in central Ohio (Real Living HER, Powell Ohio) over 13 years ago

Craig,  Warning this one could be lengthy :-)

When I first read your title, I thought, OMG what a tough issue to address,  then  "I hope it is not one of my pictures".   

I am glad you are putting a positive spin on it.  You are a true professional, and I will anxiously await your blogs each week so that I may learn more and improve my own skills.

When I was in first year of design school, one of favorite parts was the "critique".  This was always beneficial to me.  Not only would my peers critique me, but my instructors as well.   I particularly remember an "ah" moment in Visual Merchandising Studio.   I did a great Thanksgiving window display.  I think it was dinnerware, and of course I had some great props.  (lets face it this is the fun part)

Before the "critique" all the students look at each others work, tell each other how great each one is, how creative they are,  what great colours they used - yada, yada yada.   (no one ever said anything negative of course, which was completely useless and boring)

My display was voted the best by my peers, which was nice and I was pleased of course.  Then came the "critique" from my instructor.   She agreed it was a good display etc, etc, but then she offered some constructive criticism, just that little something from her experience that could take my display to the next level.   She actually removed 2 props.  Some dried flowers or something (remember this was 15 years ago or so drieds where in :-).  

Wow, what a lesson that little "less is more" concept" taught me.    I could have kissed her I was so happy.   I totally saw what she meant, and it did improve the display!  I of course applied what I learned to consecutive projects and continued to develop my skills.  Always thankful for the "critiques".

Most of us work on our own, we do not work with a design team, that can help counter balance our ideas or critique our work for us.  The only people that see our work, really are "untrained" eyes.   When I joined AR, I thought how great to connect with other professionals that might actually "critique" my work.  Or a least question "why" I did something the way I did it.  (sometimes with an explanation, less than stellar design decisions make sense, but always good to question).

I have not yet experienced this, as for the most part we pat each others backs.  Now I am not saying that some,in fact quite a few are exceptional and well deserving of the kudos they receive for sure!  However,  there are many that could use a "critique" from the pros on AR.

I for one, would really love to have honest feed back when I post my work.   I do not want to design in a vacuum and can not possibly have all the solutions all the time.   I would love to have other stagers say "Great job, but did you think of this, or next time maybe try this etc, etc."  It not only would help my work, but as you say it would raise the bar on what "professional staging" really is.  

Yikes, there you go, my feeling are out there :-)  Thanks as always for making us think!



Posted by No Longer Available over 13 years ago

Hi Craig - Your concept of critiquing bad staging is fabulous.  You always know just the right things to write in order to educate and help the staging industry.

A couple of months ago I lost a job and when I went to look at the pictures online I was shocked.  They not only did the "less is more" but they took it to the loveseat and ottoman in a large family room..nothing in the large retreat in the bedroom.....etc.  Oh well.

Keep on staging it forward.  You're the best. :)

Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) over 13 years ago

I think some bad staging has to do with budget.  You bid a job and they say, I'd like to hire you but that is too much.  What can you do for X amount.   I walk away.  I won't do things half way, but I know people that will put a few things in the home depending on the client's budget.  Is poor staging worse than no staging at all? 


Posted by Maureen Maureen over 13 years ago
I think this is the first time I have ever disagreed with Maureen (sorry, my sister :(  ).  No matter what the budget, it should not effect your execution.  As in Melissa's photos above, the selection of furnishings is just wrong.  The kitchen set should be a bistro set - those can be obtained for very little money (probably less than the existing set cost).  Budget can be limiting, but a good stager (one like you, Maureen) could have achieved a much better result.
Posted by Kimberly Wester over 13 years ago

I think that this just further proves a point, Craig; there are "good" stagers and stagers who think they know what they're doing and prove in the end they haven't a clue.  Unfortunately, the homeowner is the one that suffers.

FYI - I lost a job recently because my bid was $200.00 more than the other stager.  I've since had the opportunity to see the "after" pictures of the home.  Suffice it to say, the homeowner was not pleased.  And by the way, this other stager has been staging for over 2 years.  Homeowners really need to check out stagers portfolio AND the stagers web site as they speak volumes to the quality of work.

In summary - there are good stagers and bad stagers.


Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager ( over 13 years ago

Love your graphics, Craig!

Posted by Rich Jacobson, Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker (Fathom Realty West Sound) over 13 years ago

aww man, I hope mine never end up on your site!



Posted by Cindy Lin, Host, The Home Staging Show podcast (Staged4more School of Home Staging) over 13 years ago
Craig - it's amazing how little is going on in central PA with regards to staging.  Some agents are "accredited" but there are no pro stagers in our county.  The bad MLS photos just keep coming and coming, though. 
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 13 years ago

Craig -- I love your idea -- so valuable.  I am finding more and more homeowners and agents who are HGTV junkies and are attempting to "go it alone" with dismal results.  I just finished a condo for a developer who has worked with three decorators in the last several years and his comments made me think.  He said "I just can't put my finger on it, but this room feels fabulous.  I have never seen a result like this before." 

Staging is soooo much more than filling a room with furniture and hanging some stuff on the wall. . . creating tutorials will teach us all to know and understand the nuances and complexities of creating an enviornment that calls a buyer to action.  Thank you for undertaking the task! 

(I have been a closet fan of Athol's bad listing photos for some time. . .It's a guilty pleasure!)

Posted by Lori Gilmore, One Savvy Move Home Staging (One Savvy Move) over 13 years ago
Great topic...I continue to be intrigued with the transformation our industry will make as "bad" stagers fall by the wayside!
Posted by Jo Potvin, Home Staging Cincinnati - Design To Market (Design To Market LLC) over 13 years ago
I just visited your first BAD prjoect...I can only say WHAT were they thinking.  ALL BAD!!
Posted by Jo Potvin, Home Staging Cincinnati - Design To Market (Design To Market LLC) over 13 years ago
But it's so easy to be a bad stager! It takes talent, like you, to be a pro!
Posted by Tracy Santrock, Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge (Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. ) about 13 years ago