Okay, let's be honest . . . Is home staging just an "easy" portal to an interior decorating career? Afterall, it's all about re-decorating a house in a more contemporary style . . . right?
No, not at all. Home staging is more accurately thought of as a subset of the real estate industry. While the tools of the trade may look similar to those of a decorator, Stagers have a far different goal in mind.
A Professional Home Stager's priority is to bring greater market appeal to a property. Often this does involve advising clients to upgrade various decor elements that are otherwise out-dated. As a stager, yes I would recommend that you lose the tiny floral wallpaper in the half-bath, or the brass lighting fixtures in the kitchen. I'd probably pick on your Barcalounger, too.
But the reason I would suggest this is not because those things are no longer in fashion. I would make these recommendations because buyers respond better to properties that have been well-maintained. And believe it or not, having an updated decor helps communicate that essential message. If you've taken the time to replace a light fixture or two in the last 20 years, chances are good that you might have tightened a few toilet bolts a long the way, as well.
When staging a home, recommended furniture placement may also be very different from how you might live in a particular room. A good home stager will take into account how easy it is for at least 3 people to navigate through the property when viewing it. Usually this means that I will ask the home owner to remove all those little, extraneous pieces of furniture that come in handy when entertaining or watching the game. Yes, awkward furniture placements make for awkward showings! If the buyer doesn't actually enter all the rooms, they won't be buying your house.
And about that furniture, a Stager wouldn't simply choose a sofa based on color and comfort. We would choose a sofa that fit the room, first and foremost, and then the price point and style of the home. Luxury homes need luxury furnishings to underscore the value packed into the price tag. Small spaces require furnishings that are light in color, don't take up a lot of visual space, and are functionally cheerful.
As a Stager, I really don't care about how comfy that sofa is for TV viewing! It's all about allowing the home's architectural features to be the focal point (is that a window behind the big screen TV?). Furniture in a Stager's mind is simply a means to reinforcing a lifestyle message for the buyer, and showcasing the space that it resides in.
For selling a home, accessorizing is all about de-personalizing--not choosing the things that you love. The treasures you have collected on your last trip to Asia, or over a lifetime with sentimental value, are the first things to go from a home. When buyers get the feeling that they are invading someone else's space, they are out of there like a turkey before Thanksgiving. Probably not what you want when trying to sell your home.
Artwork, knick-knacks and even reading material need to be "safe and neutral" in their content. While a decorator would showcase these items, a Stager will tactfully suggest that you put Uncle Henry's self-portrait in storage, for the time being.
Bottom line? Decorators should listen. Stagers need to advise. Pretty and trendy may be your goal for decorating your home, but the Stager is ruthlessly objective in achieving "neutral". It is possible to make your home beautiful, and unsellable all at the same time! Choose the right professional for the job!