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Beautifully decorated dining room

Decorating vs staging: what’s the difference between beautifying the home you live in, vs staging a home you’re ready to sell? Here are 6 things to know.

Staging is part art, part science: we use the elements and techniques of design to tell a specific story based on the real estate market in a given area.  

Decorating a client’s existing home draws on similar elements and techniques, but with a completely different purpose in mind: to enhance the daily life experienced by the family living in the home. 

If you’ve ever oohed and ahhed over staged-home photos, it’s important to remember that staging creates a dream snapshot of what life in your house COULD be — but no one really LIVES this way! 

Decorating vs Staging

Staging’s end goal is to drive offers 

Given the underlying business purpose of staging (to help people feel they’re getting SO much that they’re inspired to make a great offer), it’s not surprising that staging emphasizes strategies like: 

  • neutral color palettes, with the goal of brightening, enlarging, and/or create a more pulled-together look that’s easy on the eyes;
  • larger artwork and decor items, proportionate to room size;
  • adjustments in furniture position to enhance traffic flow in a space.

It’s not that these fundamentals don’t apply for design clients – they do! – they’re just used more selectively, and are balanced out by other goals the homeowner may have.

Decorating’s end goal is to enhance the joy in YOUR daily living experience 

While not an exhaustive list of decorating vs staging, here are 6 ways that decorating is different:

1. You’re the “consumer”! The whole design is focused on enhancing your family’s personal preferences. Your decorating consultant will speak to you at length about your lifestyle, impact of colors, natural and artificial lighting, how you use your room(s); they’ll ask about your favorite details in your home and decor… and much more, all to ensure the finished look makes your heart positively sing! 

2. Color schemes, and paint colors in particular, are still important, but you might not always care so much about making the room visually expand. Sometimes, in our personal dwellings, we might want to create a warmer or more intimate feeling. Or we simply get joy from being immersed in certain colors. This is all AOK in personal home decorating.

Yellow and grey decor

Pink and cream decor






3. Furniture layout can, and should, be customized to your family’s lifestyle. Staging is about modeling a lifestyle that anyone can imagine themselves stepping into; home decorating serves only you! Maybe you love that little desk by the window, or hate dining tables. Decorating consultants help bring in new ideas, and make the most of what’s already working, so you truly get to live your way. 

4. Wall art (and other decor), can be more eclectic and expressive. And while we would still recommend minimizing the number of pieces you have out at any one time (the more that’s on display, the less each stands out—and the longer it takes to clean!), you don’t need to keep things so wide-open.  

    • One helpful TIP from our friend Lisa Menees at SOSbyLisa home and office organizing: rotate your decor, photos and knickknacks seasonally—almost like a gallery shows different themed exhibits. 

5. Family photos and souvenirs can be front and center. This is probably one of the biggest decorating vs staging differences people see. While personal items have to go when staging a house, (so buyers forget they’re walking around someone else’s home), that’s not the case with decorating.

Featuring the treasures of your life are often a big part of creating spaces you never want to leave! Decorating pros are skilled at helping you come up with new and creative ways to highlight these precious items.

6. Rooms serve your family and their activities. Many houses have rooms that serve multiple functions, or spaces that are ideal to be repurposed into a dedicated space for a hobby, guests, or other passion. In staging, we aim to serve the broadest trends in a given market. But when the home is your castle, we can help you make each room perfect for YOU.

In the end, decorating vs staging is all about the goal of the design: your personal satisfaction, vs buyer enticement. So many people tell us they wish they’d had our help with their home while they were still living there. We’re here to remind you that life passes fast! You deserve to max out the joy you experience in your home while you’re still living there!  To get started now, just book a consultation with our decorating team.

Sherrie was outstanding in helping us stage our home to sell. Her advice is professional and knowledgeable. She is so easy to work with and there is no pressure. She will work with you to make changes that are in…read more

Paula Ragatz

Our home sold in 2 days after working with First Impressions Home Staging! I had never used a stager for a real estate transaction, and frankly, I had some trepidation. I am so glad I followed the suggestion of our…read more

Kile Law

Sherrie did an amazing job staging our house to sell. We had it on the market for a couple weeks but it was vacant and not showing well. We hired Sherrie to bring some life into it and she was…read more

Alison Spain

Sherrie and the First Impression Home Staging Team did a great job. We engaged Sherrie in designing and procuring furniture for an entire four bedroom home. Our project was very time sensitive and she beautifully designed, procured, stored and staged…read more

Michael Thurston

Sherrie was seriously amazing! Our house looks so awesome after our FaceTime staging call (quarantine probs) She was personable, patient and very knowledgeable! Would 100% use her again and definitely recommend!

Gina C

First Impression Home Staging provided a virtual consultation so we could stage our home! They were professional and patient as we did the walk through. It was a pleasure working with Sherrie Medeiros. She helped us successfully stage our home…read more

Cheri K

Sherrie helped me remotely stage my rental property that is up for sale, using FaceTime (I’m in CA and Sherrie is in NC). I initially sent her photos of the house staged with a bare minimum of furniture, which she…read more

Rena W

My husband and I are realtors in Raleigh, and we’ve been using Sherrie’s staging consultant services for our clients, and can I just say, “WOW”?! First Impression Home Staging definitely makes a HUGE difference. . . even in this current…read more

Lisa F

We used First Impressions Home Staging to help us with a completely new interior design of a vacation rental we bought in the mountains of Virginia. Sherrie and Roslyn were both amazing to work with. They were conscientious of our…read more

Josee M

Sherrie has an amazing eye for color and a talent on how to bring out the best in a space. She spent time getting to know what items in my home meant the most to me and created a paint…read more

Shannon H

We recently placed our home for sale and hired Sherrie and First Impression Home Staging to stage it. They did a fabulous job and the house looks beautiful. Sherrie is wonderful to work with. After an initial walk through of…read more

Joan K

Sherrie did a fabulous job staging our home for sale! I would HIGHLY recommend her if you are preparing your home to sale. We had never used staging before to sell a house, but now we are certainly believers indeed!…read more

Rachel M

Sherrie came in to stage our home to sell & she did just that. She made terrific suggestions & simply put, she made our home more marketable. I highly recommend her & if given the opportunity, I would choose to…read more

Sheila C.

The home that you staged went under contract in 3 days with 2 offers. I am certain that your staging was instrumental. The sellers are thrilled. They are so excited. They are convinced it was the best investment!

Mindy O.

Thanks very much Sherrie! You did an amazing job helping us get their home beautiful and ready to list.

Heather Piper, KW Realtor

Hey Sherrie I wanted to share some good news… that townhouse in Brier Creek went live on Saturday morning, held it open both days, and we have an offer on the way today. The exact unit around the corner, not…read more

Hugh Grist, Grist Realty

We’d just like to offer a sincere thanks for the work you did staging our house. We believe that the advice you and Amy gave us along with your staging made a huge difference in both the price and the…read more

Sincerely, Roger & Carla Wilson

Are you selling your house soon? Let me tell you… I didn’t believe it… But our listing didn’t go as fast as we wanted and I decided to stage my empty home… We got multiple offers over asking in 48…read more

K Mitchell
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First Impression Home Staging bedroom decorating photo.

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