Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


FAKE is OK, Just Don't be CONTRIVED

 While home staging does require being visually creative, it really is a bit of marketing and merchandising "trickery" that gets the job done. Unlike the practices of interior design, decorating or re-design, staging is about creating an illusion of a possible lifestyle within a particular house that appeals to the largest home buying segment possible.

But in order to create this REAL appeal within a house, a stager might have to resort to some "fakeness". One of the basic practices of staging (like decluttering or depersonalizing) is to bring the outside in. However, while some in our industry suggests its as simple as going out and clipping something fresh and green from one's garden, in reality that just might not be possible. Both climate and accessibility quite often can put the kybosh on little treks out to one's lovely garden... because it is freakin freezing and everything is dead... or, oh ya you don't HAVE a garden, you live in a high-rise condo.

This is where fake plants can help. Today's silks are so "perfect" and so widely accepted that they just blend into the background and MORE IMPORTANLY do not distract a buyer's eye. Fake fruit does this too. However using fake FOOD as a prop is a No-No! For some reason people are captived by fake food, they love to go up to and look and touch fake food to see just how "real" it looks... which means the buyer is distracted and is looking at something other than the house.

In vacant homes, it is quite acceptable to use fake TV's, especially flat screens, which are quite often used to help a buyer understand how a room can be configured... as TV watching a big part of our culture. (We happen to use as our supplier for these props. Today, after writing this, I called and spoke with Darlene, the owner, who graciously offered to give any stager who mentions this post a discount. HOW COOL IS THAT! Please, just ask for Darlene or Michael.)

That being said, I want to stress the importance that while sometimes "Fake" is  OK... it is NEVER OK to resort to contrived trickery. Contrived staging (<- LEFT) just tries to hard. Resorting to laying out silk gloves, with single red rose (fake); setting tray on a bed with a tea cup, a sonnet book with the word "Love" configured out of sticks from your garden; or setting out 2 champagne glasses wrapped with raffia bows on the edge of a tub is just NOT real and is not the way most people live. Because this is NOT the way MOST people live, it becomes a contrived distraction to a home buyer touring the home.

So always remember, the best staging is about the HOUSE being the star, not the stuff. The most talented stagers know and master the principal that "less is more" and their work is always tastefully understated.

The picture (right ->) of a staged property (just staged and self-photographed this week by Marci Toliver of Fresh Eye Designs) is a perfect example of how to apply the understated "less is more" approach to staging... and as you can see, it is a beautifully appealing room without being contrived. Oh ya... and one more thing... Marci created that floral arrangement herself using fake tulips.

Stage It Forward...


PS: THANK YOU MARCI... for allowing me to feature this picture of your beautiful work. STUNNING!



HOLY MOLY NBC did it again! They picked up my blog feed. Here is the link to ths San Fransico NBC bay site and my blog on The Stage It Forward on Active Rain. ( I have NO idea what I am doing. I feel like Sally Field winning an Oscar.)


Comment balloon 60 commentsCraig Schiller • March 29 2007 02:07AM



Thanks for a good article. This is good advice for life as well as Staging!

Posted by Mark Flanders (Consulting) over 13 years ago

Speaking of faux flat screen tvs... do you know a supplier that I can contact for pricing? Thanks!

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago
WOW Craig!!!!  As hit it right on the nail!   Love it...."TASTEFULLY UNDERSTATED" !!  I was taught the Raffia and clipping greens and bringing sticks in, however, I have yet to see it look fabulous. Thank you for addressing this is needed!!   

And MARCI....OMG!!!! That looks like a professional Stock Photo!!! I haven't seen your pics yet so you better either do a blog and show us or send them my way, my friend!  Beautiful work!! :)
Posted by Teresa Meyer, Home Staging Cincinnati-OH. (Cincinnati Home Stager) over 13 years ago's a supplier for the flat screen tv'      I have not ordered from them but found them when I was researching investing in a few for vacants. :)
Posted by Teresa Meyer, Home Staging Cincinnati-OH. (Cincinnati Home Stager) over 13 years ago

Great blog Craig.  I just lost a high-end staging because the realtor insisted on fake food, wine bottle and glasses in the bathroom, and a bunch of other things I refused to do because of the tackiness of the look.  I think million dollar home buyers are looking for something a little more upscale than plastic food!  I always use fake foliage and florals but only if they look like the real thing!

Off topic here, and extremely low-tech, can someone tell me how to attach a picture to a comment?  Thanks!


Terry Haugen - STAGE it RIGHT!


Posted by Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495 (Stage it Right!) over 13 years ago
Great Blog, Sally/Craig :)  I guess NBC does REALLY like you! But it IS a great blog and reminds us not to cross the line in staging.  And the picture is AWSOME.  Now keep writing so NBC can keep picking you up and you can STAGE IT FORWORD for everyone :)
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 13 years ago

Craig, I'm speechless!  Than you for the nod!    Teresa, I sent them to you already!

Posted by Marci Toliver, Anderson SC, Spartanburg,Greenville SC, Home Staging (438-4642) over 13 years ago


Good reminder about less is more! Fake flat panels that is one I did not know about.Congratulations on another milestone with NBC! They like you! They like you! They really like you!

Marci, terrific work and Photo!


Posted by Ginger S, Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~ (Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC) over 13 years ago
Wow, that arrangement is gorgeous!
Posted by Julianna Hind, REALTOR, 206-679-4768, Tacoma Federal Way, Auburn, Kent, WA (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago
Craig - Fabulous post. . .tea trays on beds REALLY irritate me!  SOOOOO. . .is there a story behind the updated photo of you? . .considering moonlighting in the big top?  My curiosity is peaked!
Posted by Lori Gilmore, One Savvy Move Home Staging (One Savvy Move) over 13 years ago

Great Post!  I've always been wary of anything fake.  While I have posted on here a few resources for finding them, I have not used them in my staging jobs.  While I probably should go buy some fake fruit and flowers. (I can't believe those are fake tulips, stunning!!!) - I've always used real, especially for open houses.



Posted by Alyse Bromberg (Dressed for Success) over 13 years ago


In blogs-gone-by I have tried to interject a bit of my twisted humor to make my points and draw attention to home staging.

So the red ball is my way of saying that I'm am being tongue-in-cheek in some way in that day's post. (I use to add this to my picture whenever I was TRYING to be humorous... then I just kinda forgot. But I thought I would bring it back as it brought some levity to Active Rain. But it will continue to come and go... if I can remember to add it.)

Anyway, here are some of my goofier posts where I was CLOWNING AROUND and tried to "STAGE" with a funny headline or picture or content.

Yudda Yudda...


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago

Craig - you do such a fabulous job with your posts, both with the words and the pictures to illustrate just what you're talking about.  And your posts are always full of great info.

Congrats on the NBC feature - AGAIN!!!!


Posted by Ann Cummings, Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent (RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine) over 13 years ago
Thanks for reminding us "less is more" Craig.  I really like seeing dining room tables with nice dishes and glasses on them BUT only when I am getting ready to enjoy a meal.  When I walk into homes for sale that have this look I feel like I am intruding!  Same said for the wine and glasses in the bathroom!!!  UGH!  ;)
Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) over 13 years ago


Thanks for pointing out that there is a fine line we can easily cross that makes our work look tacky.  I have a personal rule that the only thing I clip from gardens are Hydrangeas - they are just made for clipping!  Everything else eventually looks dead and aren't we alwasy telling people to pitch the dead plants?

The 'creating romance' thing with the wine glasses and flower petals in the bath makes me feel like I visited the house at an inconvenient time... Not the best way to create a higher comfort level for a potential buyer!

Great post, again - it's no wonder NBC love you as much as we do!  Great job to Marci, too.  We should all photograph our work from this perspective!

Posted by Kimberly Wester over 13 years ago

I had a client recently ask me to use fake food and the wine glasses in the bathroom--it's a home occupied by five children and two adults--a bit contrived I'd say.  I explained that her kitchen and bath were too lovely (they really were) to distract buyers with these types of things.



Posted by Debra Brodhecker, House Dressing, New Jersey (House Dressing) over 13 years ago


were you following me when I showed that Naperville house? We walked in and the first thing we saw was a white silk chair with black velvet opera gloves and a fake red rose.

Give me a break! And, yeah, the entire rest of house had every contrivance known to stagers. It was so bad that it was funny. I'm not even sure that the place ever sold.

If you're ever in Japan notice their fake foods in all the restaurant windows. You don't have to read Japanese to order, you just point to the food. Every try eating plastic sushi? Ouch.

Posted by Eileen Landau, ABR, CRS, e-PRO (BAIRD & WARNER, NAPERVILLE) over 13 years ago
Simple does it nicely.
Posted by Sue Argue, NH Home Stager (Staged First Impressions) over 13 years ago

Craig: You don't need the nose, ball, whatever (I thought it was in the witness protection program), to indicate your humor--it come through very nicely! As to your post? Beyond my pay grade!


Posted by Boomer Jack Boardman & Carl McIntyre, the Codgers (Noted Curmudgeons) over 13 years ago
Hey, there. Craig. I just received your email sharing the information about the fake TV and plants. Thanks so much for being so generous and thoughtful, I really do appreciate your efforts. These props are so cool, but as you have said these things need to be used appropriately! As a new AR member I am trying to get up to speed and am trying to contribute as and when I feel I can, but you are the gold standard I have determined. Thanks for being you! You offer encouragment, wisdom and inspiration. By the way, it sure does seem like you have a whole lot of fun doing what you do!! With much appreciate from Connecticut, Rhonda Rawlins, Glastonbury Home Staging
Posted by Rhonda Hay Rawlins (Glastonbury Home Staging) over 13 years ago
Wahoo Marci - great arrangement .  Oh yeah and Craig....good post....Hey its Wednesday, I bet I know what ur watching.....:-)
Posted by Home Staging over 13 years ago
I enjoyed the posting and have a question to add...I have found the need to inventory "seasonal" fake florals.  It is difficult for me and my design team to bring "out of season" florals into a home.  (Such as silk tulips in October.)  Have you found a way around this challenge with season neutral florals or is it just the nature of the beast? 
Posted by Jo Potvin, Home Staging Cincinnati - Design To Market (Design To Market LLC) over 13 years ago
It's true less is more! Marci simply understated says it best!  Great job! Keep posting Craig.  Sue
Posted by Sue Shockley over 13 years ago

 Hi Craig,

 Thank You for the comment on my blog. I have looked at your profile and website.  They look fantastic.  It is  really impressive  what staging can do to improve sale prices!  Great Blog!  Todd Millar

Posted by Todd and Danielle Millar, Sixteen years of excellence! (Glenn Simon Inc.) over 13 years ago
 Fav Craig sorry you have a cold again :-)  Just talked to a client about staging his house....first he has to clean a lot of stuff out. We will work on him LOL  Good post and congrats on the NBC thing again I'm tellin ya you are on your way!
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) over 13 years ago
Great post (as usual).  I totally agree with you.  However, I must admit I have used wine glasses and a bottle of wine in the past... but not in a bathroom, on a built in bar.  Thanks for the email for electronic props.  I have wanted a fake laptop to put on a desk in the past, now I know where to look.  Isn't it ironic that we usually try to get rid of televisions, yet would consider a fake plasma TV?  I have had vacancies in the past that I really wished I had a fake TV to put in a built-in!
Posted by Judy Heinrich (Judy Heinrich Home Staging) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,

Great post.  I haven't been on AR for awhile, real work has prevented me.  I miss the bantering and sharing stories, how do you do it?  I can't believe how much I missed scanning through blogs. 

Marci - great arrangement, can't believe they are fake! 

Posted by Marcyne Touchton over 13 years ago

Craig have you had some work done lately, you look different, but not so dif that you are going to be mistaken for Sally Field.


Posted by Kathleen Lordbock, Keller Williams Realty Professionals (Keller Williams Realty Professionals) over 13 years ago
Nice Marci! I went to your site and tried to figure out how to tell you that ,but it works here too.
Posted by Kathleen Lordbock, Keller Williams Realty Professionals (Keller Williams Realty Professionals) over 13 years ago
Craig,  You are on a roll, congratulations!
Posted by Laurie Manny (Long Beach CA Real Estate) over 13 years ago

Very good article...

Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Luke Constantino, Residential/Commercial Real Estate Brooklyn NY (Brooklyn/Manhattan Real Estate) over 13 years ago
I have a question about the less is more theory.  i have seen several staged homes with three Tshirts hanging in the closets.  Is that a common technique?
Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago
At the risk of offending my favorite stager you face does look a bit contrived this morning. :)
Posted by Teresa Boardman (Boardman Realty) over 13 years ago

dog with rose    Roses (stems or petals) of any kind on the bed!  You know what they say - KISS:  Keep it simple, and stop!  Love the nose - you are Staged for this blog!

Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago

Teresa, all I can say is...

Do as I say, NOT as I do.

Contrive It Forward...


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago
Are you telling us to Keep It Simple Silly -  KISS?
Posted by Dena Stevens Coriz, Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004 (Rocky Mountain Realty ) over 13 years ago

SILLY can be a good thing. And at times TOTALY necessary.


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago
I am going to start collecting staging items for my listings.  Any recommended short list for beginners?
Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago
Less is most definitely more, and I agree!  Great blog Craig!
Posted by Christopher Smith (TREGO REALTY) over 13 years ago
Randy - LAMPS!  Never have enough!  They don't have to be fancy, expensive, or HUGE!  Light cans are great for behind sofas and plants (although uplighting is frowned upon in some cases - smile)!  Signs that say "laundry" or "playroom" - sometimes called "cue cards" - enjoy!
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago
Thanks Margaret for the assist.
Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago

Randy -

Greenery.  It brings life and energy to a house and most don't have any.  We are talking the fake kind that you do not have to maintain.  A basic collection of 4 and 6 ft trees, ledge plants, centerpieces, and  basic green arrangements will make a world of difference. Maybe you should just fly me out to the island and I can do the shopping for you? ;)

Posted by Kimberly Wester over 13 years ago
Kimberly - Thank you for the tips.  I also need to come up with a good place to store these materials.  The trip to the islands may be a bit cost prohibitive to go shopping.
Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 13 years ago
Hi Randy - Patti Walker had a great blog today on inventory of our Staging Props - check it out.  I keep my tall trees, greenery, wreaths and silks, etc.,  wrapped in plastic bags from the dry cleaner   Check Patti's blog!  Pour me a marguerita - I am ready for the islands!  (smile)
Posted by Margaret Ann Innis, Real Estate Staging - MA & NH (Decorate To Sell - Merrimack Valley Real Estate Staging ) over 13 years ago

Hey Craig,

I do use fake fruit (only realistic looking) for color and I do set a table - but only in a vacant...I feel it gives the impression that someone can 'live' there.  I got the ultimate compliment from the owner's wife at that vacant I staged last week when she toured the house and announced that she felt as if all she needed to do was put her clothes in the closet and she was 'home'!


I buy drapes whenever they're on sale - that and tension rods. 


Posted by Val Allocco, HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island (Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island) over 13 years ago

Craig... I agree with Mark... great post and great advice for life in general.  Your picture now reminds me of Patch Adams... great flick and fits what you do...

                                                                                                          jeff belonger

Posted by Jeff Belonger, The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans ( Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc) over 13 years ago

I almost lost track of the discussion topic -  :-P

Thanks for the prop resource!  Finding vendors for damaged "real" props has proven to be difficult. I'm totally ready to use "faux props".  Thanks for the resource!

Posted by Jennifer Mussato, Commercial Specialist (First and Main Real Estate) over 13 years ago
Craig - Great post.  I never liked the champaign glasses next to the bath tub.  It is a bit over the top.  I've never used fake fruit either, actually I've never even seen fake fruit, but if you say it works I'm willing to give it a shot.

I love the photo you used of Marci's staging - that chick has class!
Posted by Maureen Maureen over 13 years ago
Thank goodness someone is talking about reality finally.  I almost want to puke when I go into staged bathrooms and see the GLASS candle holders and champaign glasses on the edge of the tub.  Thank you very much, but glass does not do it for me in a whirlpool or another other bare nekkid with water setting!  Put some nice towels out with scented soaps or something, but hold those glass contrivances, please!
Posted by Bonnie Erickson (Tangletown Realty) over 13 years ago

Faux Plasma Televisions as long as the quality is authentic.  Nothing with a fake image on it.  It's an open house the television should be off.

I have been thinking of calling a real manufacturer and asking for the electrical rejects that are still good looking.  Heck it could be a good business for the manufactures to gut the rejects and sell us the outsides for uses as props.

Superior Avenue Home Staging Co.  of San Leandro, Ca.

Posted by Michael G over 13 years ago

Michael, it is funny you mention "real" looking fake TVs.

It reminds me of a funny story...

We had hired a mover to help us unstage a vacant property. As I was directing him on what he was to do, I told him to take the (fake) TV off the wall. He was a BIG guy, but knew to bend at the Knees when lifting something heavy.

I caught him out of the corner of my eye... getting ready to LIFT what he thought was a "HEAVY" 42" plasma... that is how good these look.

OH and you are sooo right about getting the BLANK screens. NO images.

Thanks for the comment...



Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago


I use Props by IDM for my fake flat screen televisions.  The girls over there are soooooooo helpful.  I have never had them tell me that an item is on BACKORDER!!!! (LIKE PROPTRONICS)  If I call in the morning they even get it out same day.   Also....better choices on everything!!!!! 

 There address on the web

Posted by Maya Johnson over 13 years ago

Hi Craig;

    Was so nice to find you back in the rain.  Trying to get over a flu bug, so I am stuck at home with nothing to do but be miserable at the moment.  They say misery loves where better to find company then the rain?  Must say...not feeling so miserable any more.  Congrats on the NBC blog pick up!

Your blogs are always a good read!


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
You have such a great way of telling it like it is! And thanks for the discount on the flat screens. I need to add a few to my inventory and the timing is just perfect!
Posted by Anthea Click, Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly! (Fresh Perspectives - over 12 years ago
Thanks Craig - there has been a few blocks on NOT using fake plants - and I so disagree!!  Great Post!
Posted by Becca Briggs over 12 years ago

Thanks for your blog. I own a small staging company in Southern CA, and as a real estate broker myself, I find it really difficult to convince sellers that a professional stager that knows the real estate industry, and what SELLS houses is very important. Personally, I can't stand the contrived settings! May I use some of your quotes on my local website?

I was looking for a good reference for fake TVs- so thanks for that too.


Posted by StageYours over 12 years ago

Craig I am with you on the champagne glasses on the tub, but I am fan of faux items depending on how they use it. I am not a fan of big baskets overflowing with bread on the island...I see this all too often in model homes. I am also not wild about faux martini glasses in the office by the computer etc. I am a fan of a couple of (high quality) strawberries  on a tea cup saucer by a book, high quality cake under glass in the corner of a kitchen with a cookbook and jar, etc. there is a big difference between setting an entire island with lots of different faux foods or dining table and using them as simple props that could very possibly be an item found in a kitchen setting a lifestyle.


Posted by Kym Hough, Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA (www.Staged-to-Sell ) over 12 years ago
Very good post.  Creating the desire for the type of lifestyle without the potential buyers even knowing it.  That's what I call good staging!

Well, interesting post.  I know there are some that don't like "IKEA" staging and others that do nothing else.  And, then the faux or no faux and the silk vs real plants.  The professional stagers have varying opinions on these things.  In my opinion less is more whether you use them or not.  Marci, Terrific photo.

Craig, congrats on your success, well deserved.

Posted by Terrylynn Fisher, HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc. (Dudum Real Estate Group - over 12 years ago

Great site Terry Lyn... Thanks!  I especially like the free 65 year old cheater she is advertising on her site.  LOL  Too funny!

Posted by Jennifer Mussato, Staged 2 Sell over 11 years ago