The Differences Between Staging An Occupied Home And A Vacant Home

I am often asked which situation I prefer: staging an occupied home or a vacant listing. A good professional stager loves a challenge - and each situation poses a unique set of challenges.

1. Some things don't change.

The initial staging consultation for an occupied property and a vacant property has many similar points. These include:


  • Deciding which rooms will create the all-important first impression
  • Identifying focal points and unique architectural features
  • Scoping out room sizes and shapes
  • Assessing walls and flooring: what needs to be replaced, repainted, or refinished
  • Evaluating the kitchen and bathroom
  • Checking window treatments and light fixtures


Then, the process changes. 

2. A vacant property can be more flexible.

It's crucial to carefully stage the first rooms a potential buyer will see when walking into the home. That said, depending on the home, we may not need to stage every room.

The home will influence the style of furniture and color palette we choose. With more of a blank slate, however, we can choose art, furniture, and accessories that are more appealing to the ideal buyer for that particular home and neighborhood.

Measure, measure, measure. You'll see the measuring tape come out again and again to ensure that everything we bring in fits not only the home, but also into the elevator, up the stairs, and through the doorways.

3. Staging an occupied home is a complex puzzle.

A home that's lived in is, by its very nature, highly personalized to the owner's unique taste. And, it's already full. 

The focus will still be on the rooms that the buyer sees first. What changes when staging an occupied listing:


  • We may select furniture from other areas of the home to help stage the first-impression rooms, if necessary.
  • Every single room must be staged. There are no exceptions when you're looking to get the best price for an occupied home.
  • All pieces used must mesh. It requires creativity to marry the owner's choices of furniture and accessories with key pieces that help modernize and unify the space.
  • Storage can be an issue. We may move furniture into other areas of the home and will make use of available space in closets and storage units. 


A vacant home can be more of a design challenge: what are the just the right pieces to bring in to showcase the unique space. An occupied home can be more of a puzzle: what is the best way to rearrange and repurpose, and how can we creatively choose key pieces to elevate the look, feel, and flow.

I enjoy the challenge of staging any home, occupied or vacant. If you'd like to discuss how to use staging to attract more buyers who will pay top dollar for your listing, please contact me.