How Much Staging Will A New Listing Need?

Realtors frequently ask how I evaluate a new listing. Much like a prospective buyer, a professional stager begins from the outside and works her way in. I start with these five questions:

1. What is the view from the curb?

The outside of the home often indicates the level of effort needed. A well-maintained exterior with up-to-date landscaping usually means that we can focus on staging. If not, it's likely that the home will need more pre-staging - more cleaning and decluttering - before the home can be staged. 

2. Do the furniture and décor match the property?

A modern home design needs contemporary furnishings, while a traditional home design can be staged with either transitional or contemporary furniture and décor. What surprises some homeowners: furniture they perceive as out-of-date can often be used in staging. Sometimes, it's back in style! After the sale, that furniture can be sold instead of donated.

3. Is there a common color scheme?

If so, that color can be used in staging to create flow throughout the home, connecting room to room. Often, the homeowner will be wearing that color when we meet!

4. What can be repurposed?

A good stager excels at repurposing. For example:

  • Outdoor wicker furniture can be scrubbed and used as needed
  • End tables can be moved into bedrooms to serve as nightstands
  • Attractive bedroom chairs can become living room seating


Most sellers are amazed at how their current furniture can be repurposed to successfully stage the home. In one case where the seller had a very tight budget, we used a patterned sofa she had intended to throw away, by removing the frilly ruffle and buying large, solid-colored pillows to tone down the fabric. 

Repurposing doesn't stop at furniture. I ask the homeowner not to pack all of their art and accessories, as even items they don't like can be used. Items that are most helpful:


  • Plants: Greenery warms up a home.
  • Baskets: Wicker storage baskets from a closet can be featured in a master bath.
  • Books: Before donating, we'll use the homeowner's books to stage.
  • Bowls or vases: Attractive accessories help highlight key features and add contrast.
  • Pillows and throws: These add texture, warmth, and pops of color.
  • Picture frames and art: Some art is better than no art!


5. What will make the best first impression?

The first rooms a buyer sees are typically the living room and dining room. Here is where we will choose the best available furniture and décor to create the best impression possible. That may mean moving a sectional from the family room to the living room or repurposing the less comfortable but attractive office sofa as living room seating. 

My goal is to minimize out-of-pocket expenses by using the homeowner's furniture, accessories, and art wherever possible, without sacrificing the end product, so that we can maximize the owner's profit - and their satisfaction - with the sale. 

If you have a listing that needs a little help, please call or email. I'd love to hear from you.