To Stage or Not to Stage


“All the world’s a stage,” claimed Shakespeare. But should that apply to the home you are selling as well?

Home sellers wrestle with many decisions as they move toward putting their home on the market: What realtor to list with? What to repair? What to replace…? One question sellers often neglect to ask themselves is “Should I consider staging my home?”

It’s at least a question worth asking. Here’s why.

The three-legged stool

“A successful home sale is like a three-legged stool,” says Terry L. Cooch of TLC Home Organizing & Staging. “It needs three things for it to work: Price, Condition, and Appeal.” Home staging is, of course, about “Appeal.”

Terry defines staging as professionally preparing your home for sale so that it appeals to the greatest number of buyers at the highest price in the shortest amount of time.

Do I really need a professional?

In short, the answer is “yes” for most people who want to stage their homes. The problem is this: Our homes reflect our tastes, our histories, our families, and our lifestyles. They appeal to us as homeowners, but most likely not to potential buyers.

It’s generally difficult, if not impossible, for most Henrietta and Harry Homeowners to step back and objectively determine how to best present their home. Likewise, it’s often not easy for the home shopper to see beyond a home’s appearance and visualize its potential.

Master bedroom-BEFORE Master bedroom-AFTER



What the professional brings to the table

In interviewing Terry Cooch, it became clear that a staging professional needs a certain set of essential qualities.

The first of these is objectivity, which also requires a measure of candor. The professional stager has no emotional tie to the home or the spaces within it. She can objectively assess how best to present the home to appeal to the largest possible audience. And she possesses the candor to “say what needs to be said,” as Terry puts it. This might include what needs to move, be changed, or disappear altogether.

She also has an understanding of design principles. Color, balance, lighting, what makes a space look larger, décor, style—these and more are all part of what the home stager considers. She uses this understanding to “draw attention to what you want to draw attention to,” notes Terry.

Another critical trait is an understanding of how people think. While no single approach can appeal to everyone, there are some general consistencies among the way people perceive things. This understanding of how most people perceive or view things is a tool in every good home stager’s toolkit.

Having organizing experience is also a plus. It’s easy to see why next.

A 3-D approach

“De-clutter; De-personalize; Detach,” says Terry, is how she approaches any home staging project.

De-cluttering is where that organizing experience really pays off.We seldom realize just how many “things” we have in a given space and how many of them are connected more to us than to the space itself. And then there are those household items or articles of clothing or whatever else we just haven’t put back into their proper places. All these things add up to clutter in the eyes of the potential buyer.

Your staging expert will know what items to move, remove, or put away to add to a room’s neutrality and appeal. They’ll know how to make the space inviting, if you will.

What’s more, the twelve framed family photos on the sideboard or the line of archery trophies on the mantle are the types of things that need to be addressed when it comes to de-personalizing.

Again, your stager will help identify items that detract from the home’s sell-ability.

Sunroom before




And lastly, your staging hired gun’s lack of emotional attachment will help you detach from items in the home and your own design sensibilities to enable buyers to feel the most at home and most able to visualize themselves living there. It’s naturally difficult to detach from our stuff in our home without that objective view.

What about the furniture?

In many cases, staging professionals can work with existing furniture, perhaps with some rearranging or redecorating. In others, she may suggest changing furnishings or linens and other decorative items. Fortunately, many stagers can provide a variety of furnishings and décor to help create the ideal look for the walk-through.

Master bedroom-BEFORE Master bedroom-AFTER




Whether making just a few changes or starting from a “blank slate,” she can provide the know-how and materials to maximize your home’s appeal.

Blank Slate-BEFORE Blank Slate-AFTER



It starts outside the door

Home sellers often forget that the first and last impressions most people get of your home come at the curb. “Curb appeal” is important and, again, your staging professional can make suggestions to help sell your home, from first look to last. These might include landscaping, painting, accessorizing—whatever will shine a positive light on your home from the moment the potential buyer arrives.

Curb Appeal-BEFORE Curb Appeal-AFTER



The goals

If you are considering staging your home for sale, with or without the help of a professional staging service, the goals are simple but critical:

  • Make the first impression of the home positive and inviting
  • Enable buyers to envision themselves living in the home
  • Show the full potential of the home
  • Make the home visually appealing for online listings



For more information, visit:

TLC Home Organizing & Staging:

Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP):

National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO):


NOTE: TLC Home Organizing & Staging is not affiliated with Keller Williams Realty, Inc.


© 2015 The McDowell Team, Keller Williams Select Realtors

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