Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


"OOPS" goes the Staging!

From the time we were small kids we were taught that there is a difference between what is good & bad and what is right & wrong. While those FIRST lessons of life had to do with basic relationship skills and behaviors, as we got older we gained awareness of other good & bad, right & wrong rules that applied to other areas in our lives. Rules, we grew to realize, help to guide us in subjects we study, the sports we play, the hobbies we undertake, and the work we do. In short, we gained knowledge that there are proper ways things are to be done if you are going to do them well.

So while learned knowledge is a good thing, we also have learned that correctly applying that knowledge can prove to be a quite a challenge. Like everything else in life, this also holds true to home staging. Even though there are Realtors who are knowledgeable and appreciative of home staging, some have come to realize it takes skill and ability to properly apply that knowledge. This is one of reasons why the staging industry is on the rise. BUT...(notice that is a BIG BOLD "but") if you are young in your understanding, there is something ELSE you need to know about staging and stagers. Not everyone that says they know staging or claims they are stagers really can do it. There are far too many people now claiming they KNOW how to stage, yet their final staging results demonstrate their gross lack of  understanding and break basic staging rules. AND I have to admit this really ticks me off!

Let me give you a glaring example of a problematic staging in the form of a short video I playfully call "OOPS Goes the Staging!" (Be sure your speakers are on.)

For the sake of fair disclosure, I want to let you know we here at Real Estaging are VERY familiar with the property featured and critiqed in the above video. as we lost a staging bid on for it. So while some might think I am upset because we lost the job to another person... that is just not the case. (Anyone that has been in sales for any length of time knows that is the way it is in sales... "You win some and you loose some.")

Anyway, the reason I am ticked-off is because good and proper staging DOES follow certain rules, process and approaches that when done well and done right will help the property sell. It is upsetting to know that this Chicago developer finally got the "stage the property and it will sell" message and was willing to invest hard earned money, only to get a final "staging" that actually works AGAINST their property's sale. Plus what makes this even worse is the fact that this was to be the model for a multi-unit property.

Unfortunetly many Realtors and home sellers really don't know exactly what good home staging is or is not. Why? Well, for one reason staging is still a relatively new concept and has yet to be fully embraced as a viable marketing tool for selling homes. So if you are wondering, "What is GOOD and BAD staging? What exactly makes staging RIGHT from what makes staging WRONG?" Well, to help you understand let's start with 4  Basic Staging Rules most of you have likely heard of. These basics are...

  1. De-clutter and organize the home to minimize visual distractions.
  2. Neutralize the home's look so that it appeals to the largest buying audience as possible.
  3. Arrange furnishings  and accessories to best show the home's space and features.
  4. Add what's missing to finalize the home's appeal.

As you watch my "OOPS goes the Staging!" video keep these very basic rules in mind. By the time you are finished watching it, you will beging to see and understand a little of what bad staging is and where this staging pooped out. And if you remember nothing else I hope your remember this... filling a property chock full of pretty furnishings and accessories is NOT staging!

When staging is done well and done right... it sells homes! PERIOD!


PS: If you would like MORE detailed explanation of the 12 BIGGEST STAGING OOPS in this property... click on the "DETAIL" button located along the bottom of the embedded video.

Comment balloon 42 commentsCraig Schiller • March 03 2008 11:13AM


Good Morning, hope your well.  Great information as usual.  Why is it that you can convey your thoughts in such an understandable way?  I have heard this message communicated in many ways, heck I've even tried to state these basic rules myself, but they never seem as understandable as when you say them.  This is another one for my Craig Schiller Archives.
Posted by Gary Barnett, Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis (Home Matters) over 12 years ago

Wow.  That's quite an oops!  I know some people say staging is subjective, but you are right - there are rules to follow, but you can't follow them if you don't know them...

Love the music!

Posted by Kimberly Wester over 12 years ago
Opps is right! Love how you did up the video with the arrows pointing out things.
Posted by Monika McGillicuddy, Southern NH & the Seacoast Area (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty) over 12 years ago
Hi Craig.  I always look forward to your posts.  They are eloquent and get to the point.  This is an excellent post. That video hit it dead on on what bad staging is and the lack of knowledge of design. My eyes were jumping all around.  Red is nice in very small amounts. I have often seen the lack of use of the obvious use of the fireplace as a focal point.  It is a structural focal point basic knowledge of design.  This staging is OOPS big time.
Posted by Isabel Gomes, Interior Decorator, Stager - London, Ont (Gomes Design) over 12 years ago
Love the video Craig, I don't get it. So many simple principles of staging were not even considered.  This is so disappointing for our industry.
Posted by Karen Hubert, Home Stager (Center Stage Design-real estate staging, Ancaster/Hamilton) over 12 years ago


     This is an amazing post.  You certainly found an excellent example of WHAT NOT TO DO IN STAGING!  The saddest statement of all is that many Realtors and home sellers have no idea what good staging is supposed to be.  I recently toured a home that was ' STAGED' by a high-end decorator...I couldn't believe my eyes.  The sad part was the homeowner had a feeling that things weren't right, but she kept doubting her own feelings because after all this was a ' high-end decorator' who obviously had to have known more then she did. 


Posted by Gina McNew, Host of Diva in the House - The Voice of Real Estate Staging Radio (diva la difference interiors) over 12 years ago
Hi Craig- I learned a lot from your post about staging, thanks for all the information, also the music really emphasised the oops.
Posted by Pam Joffe (Solaris Realty) over 12 years ago
Craig - Yikes! You nailed it with your four basic staging rules. We have a local stager who I call the "ivy lady". She uses dozens of pieces of fake ivy in the weirdest places and then calls the home staged. . .
Posted by Lynn Crawford, Staging DC & Maryland (A Different View) over 12 years ago


Always love your posts and humor where required, you just can't help but laugh at some of these examples.  Interesting that there are outlets above the fireplace (for a flat-screen TV), yet the "stager" covers this up with a piece of artwork. The only reason I could think of for placing the curtains on the inside of the window frames were to show off the wood encasements and not "put more holes in the wall" (as some developers request) however they have so much artwork on the walls this is obviously not the case. If you're going to put in full length draperies, a least make they sure that they ARE FULL LENGTH!

Maybe the developer has learned a lesson:  "The bitter taste of a poor job, lasts much longer than the sweet taste of the low bid." (You can quote me on that ;-)

Posted by Connie Tebyani, Platinum Home Staging, Los Angeles and Ventura County (Platinum Home Staging, Inc. : RESA-Pro) over 12 years ago
Craig, you are on a roll. That is a very good thing. This "staging" on the other hand is a very bad thing. If it weren't so bad for the industry it would be laughable. Ah what the heck, it is laughable anyway. Whoo hoo the stinky staging show now open! 
Posted by Yvonne Root, Home Stager - Northern Arizona (rooms b.y. root) over 12 years ago

Craig- glad to see you blogging, again! 

I remember when I first joined AR-   I would look for you all day to see when you dropped your latest blog!  This was worth the wait!! 

I've seen OOPS in my area- where the fireplace is not the focal point of the room! and when I brought it to the Realtor's attention- they were like but the room looks nice.  I told him the buyer is not buying the furnishings - they are buying the FEATURES!!!!  The fireplace wasn't FEATURED! 



Posted by Marci Toliver, Anderson SC, Spartanburg,Greenville SC, Home Staging (438-4642) over 12 years ago

Good post (once again ;) ) - and very important point!  It really could bring our industry down a notch if that's the kind of staging people are seeing.  To a trainied and talented stagers eye, you can immediately pick out what disjoints those rooms.  Fortunately there are a lot of very talented stagers who bring out the true meaning of the industry.

LOL ~ on the "Ivy Lady" comment.

Thanks Craig.

Posted by Susan Cunningham, R.E.VISION - Suwanee, GA (NE Atlanta Home Staging) over 12 years ago
Wow......maybe that person watches too much HGTV?????????
Posted by Sandy Ridgway, Designs For You (Designs For You) over 12 years ago

The story told by the stager is confusing and distracting; the goal of staging is to sell the features of the home, not the furniture, and one wonders if that was the case? Even then, as a buyer, I wouldn't want the furniture since it doesn't even "look right" in the space!

Your post and eloquence makes me proud to be a part of a community where we can share, learn and encourage one another and help educate and set the standard to our targeted market, sellers and Realtors. Thanks Craig!

"The bitter taste of a poor job, lasts much longer than the sweet taste of the low bid." so very, very true Connie~

Posted by Roberta Anderson, Hearth & Home Staging, Staging Kitsap County (Hearth & Home Staging) over 12 years ago

Oh my SHOCK and not so much AWE!!! ... I think I just walked through that staging's "twin" yesterday... perhaps you can use it for the sequel?

Posted by Julianna Hind, REALTOR, 206-679-4768, Tacoma Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, WA (eXp Realty) over 12 years ago
Craig - great post and I love the video with items pointed out - I agree too much red!! I wrote a blog yesterday called Initial Impressions are Everything and in it I reference the use of professional stagers as it does make a dramatic difference. I preview homes every week and I always ask which homes are staged - and who did it . . . Great post!
Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) over 12 years ago
Craig this video is a very creative way to show what not to do while staging.  Obviously the builder should have hired your company if they were serious about selling their product.  I would have loved to have seen what you could have done with the space - it would have been fantastic I'm sure.  Betty 
Posted by Anonymous over 12 years ago
Sorry Craig - I was logged out when I came across your featured post (and just had to read it of course) and forgot to log back in before I commented.  Betty
Posted by Betty Haney (Haney Consulting) over 12 years ago

Yikes! I think that may convey my thoughts!

 Great blog! Hopefully the "stager" will stumble across this and learn something valuable!

Posted by Gina Metzger, ASP, IAHSP (Spaces Refined Inc.) over 12 years ago


What a powerful testament to why stagers need training and experience.  I love how you illustrated the various "oops" for everyone, which makes it informative and helpful to all.  It's also a great message to RE agents on the importance of checking out a stager's portfolio and references.

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) over 12 years ago

To much red and she saved money on store bought pannels and didn't have custom ones made and that shoe rug is a big turn off. What i say is you get what you pay for and that he didn't really research you to know what an awesome stager you are. Anyway if he was smart he would call you back and have you restage the property.

Posted by Maria Lechner, Home Stager Boise ID (The Added Touch Home Staging) over 12 years ago


I'm so glad you're back!  Love it, and my favorites are inside mount panel window treatments, the rugs and the super bright red chaise.... BOZO RULES!!!!

Posted by Julea Joseph, Julea Joseph House Stager - Reinventing Space (Reinventing Space) over 12 years ago
Absolutely AMAZING!  I am shocked that the stagers completely ignored the features of the home and put in such personalized pieces.... are you supposed to look at the 'things' or the HOME?
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 12 years ago

I'm beside myself -- amazed this even happened . . .

I think this is the first post I've ever seen that made me cry with pain, while I laughed in hysteria.  How can that be possible?

Posted by Karen Dembsky, Atlanta Home Staging (Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA) over 12 years ago
Incredible!  Who hired, and did someone actually pay this stager?!  It is beyond amateurish to the point of being downright anti-staging.  Excellent video to point this out, Craig.  Kudos as usual.
Posted by Patricia Ebrahimi, Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD (SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant) over 12 years ago
What a compelling way to show the error of a poor stager's ways! I feel badly for the client who may not know any better and think this staging job is going to get results.
Posted by Diana Corcoran, Rhinebeck Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Hudson Valley Properties) over 12 years ago
Oh my goodness....Really there are staging RULES and focal point, focus, showcase the room, not the drapes and furniture to name just a few!!! 
Posted by Terrylynn Fisher, HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc. (Dudum Real Estate Group - over 12 years ago
LOL....I was singing along as I watched it. I would definitely say these "stagers" had a red fetish. That was an interesting rug too!
Posted by Christy Powers, Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) over 12 years ago

I have that song ringing in my head..too funny!  Where did they find that awful rug??

Cathy Lee



Posted by Cathy Lee, ASP, IAHSP, RESA Danville, CA (CL Design Services Home Staging) over 12 years ago

I didn't get far past the shoe rug.  It was simply bizarre. Peach/orangy short drapes with red and white furnishings in the bedroom. I have never seen so many window treatments in a staged home either. Thanks for sharing and spending the time on making it an entertaining exhibit of what not to do. That lounge/sofa in front of the doors in the living room?????????

Posted by Kym Hough, Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA (www.Staged-to-Sell ) over 12 years ago


This one takes the cake! I can't believe the seller was a builder. He should know better.

Posted by Susan Peters, The Better it Looks the Better it Sells (Dove Realty Inc.) over 12 years ago

Howdy stranger!  

What a nightmare of a staging job that was!

It was so so bad it's funny! In fact, I don't see how it could have been any worse! 

The sad thing is that many Realtors, and most men might not "realize" how wrong it is, except for the TV of course with regard to the men!

But our methods are not subjective, a room feels right if the furniture is properly placed given the architecture and features of the space.  For example even though most people might be consciously aware of it, when the table isn't centered under the light fixture, their brain is aware of the imbalance KWIM?

So they might not ever notice, but they would still feel like something was not quite right.

With the same kind of thing going on in all the rooms of the house, buyers will get the heebejeebees for sure! 

Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) over 12 years ago

Loved this one Craig! You are so creative.

That rug kicks potential buyers out the door, maybe if the shoes were all red.... lol

Posted by Jackson West (Reveal Estate Home Staging - Vancouver) over 12 years ago
Craig, the video is excellent and that's why I use a professional one. Sure, I could do it, many Realtors do, but it so much better if I keep to what  I do best and let Stagers do what they do best.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 12 years ago
Well, Craig, you've convinced me that as stagers, our purpose is now two-fold. It used to be simply letting everyone know that "staging works". Now, we have to let them know that GOOD staging works, and they have to be aware of what they are getting. I think what was done to this home is a crime. When will everyone get it, that it's not just filling the house with furniture? Even the furniture moving guys I use will place the table directly under the light fixture!!!
Posted by Elaine Manes Gage, Staging done ONLINE! (Home Staging Online Services) over 12 years ago

Craig - I keep saying...there are a few basics that are being neglected (or maybe even not known) with many stagers and it's a problem.  Excellent, excellent post.

Welcome back!


Posted by Jackie Peraza, Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts (Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC) over 12 years ago

This was a great post....  It's so nice to see you in Active Rain again- and I can shoot you for getting me addicted to this wonderful place. 

Hope to talk to you soon.

Posted by Judy Greenberg, Coldwell Banker - Buffalo Grove - Long Grove Homes (Coldwell Banker Long Grove) over 12 years ago
Hi Craig - "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!"   Our task is compounded now as we educate Realtors and Staging wannabees!  So good to hear your voice! 
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 12 years ago
This job is so wrong, it makes me feel bad the Stager.  Too bold, too busy- not the desired affect!  There's no excuse for the window treatments.
Posted by Gina Dougherty, Home Staging Redondo Beach, CA- (Fusion Design Consulting) over 12 years ago

Hey Craig,

Good to see you back on the site - and I've been off for a while . . . liked this post that I can sum up in 4 words: Staging is not Decorating.

Clearly to me the person that "staged" the house was way more into the decor and furniture than the floor-plan and features of the house - they loved RED and wild furniture, rugs, and accessories.  The notion that this house was supposed to appeal to a broad range of buyers escaped them.  Decorating a space is cardinal (not red!) sin numero uno in our business.  I was taught that when the focal point of the room becomes the "stuff" inside and not the room itself, the room is decorated.  In this case and in my opinion, badly.

I know Staging is subjective - and depending on the budget and other factors, is not always done to the degree we would like - with all that we want, or the type or style of furnishings we think are best.  I have to be careful not to turn into a judge or jury - although I enjoyed what you pointed out - and I don't think anyone reading your post would disagree on all you shared.

The reason I share that is because I imagine that whoever did this job was probably really proud of all that went into it and obviously took a lot of time to achieve the end result! Let's hope whoever did this work is not part of A-R - they may never come back out of the closet.

- Jennie

Posted by Jennie Norris, Denver Regions Premier Home Staging Resource, (Sensational Home Staging) over 12 years ago

Craig those curtains DRIVE ME CRAZY, let them HIT THE FLOOR FOR GOD'S SAKE..that is such a pet peeve of mine. I could also imagine realtors looking for the door handle and not finding it and YES THE RED IS WAAAAA OVER THE TOP, that is all you eye sees, not the selling features. The shoe rug...I think NOT! Yes I can only imagine how ticked you were to see this...too funny with the music

Phyllis Pafumi

Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) over 12 years ago
Wow! I think that was a major disaster. The stager has so much to learn.
Posted by Anthea Click, Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly! (Fresh Perspectives - over 12 years ago