3 Common Home Staging Myths

Real Estate Sales Representative with Immeubles Deakin Realty

These 3 common home staging myths are based on my experience staging and selling Montreal West Island homes.  Please note that I am NOT an international expert on home staging and real estate, nor do I play one on TV...at least not yet LOL.  

That being said, in the years that I have been staging and selling Montreal West Island homes, I have come across many homeowners who believed they knew how to stage their home.  Many did have a good handle on how to prepare their home for sale.  

Others...well, not so much.  Some had spent considerable time and energy falling victim to 3 common home staging myths:  


Myth #1: When in doubt, paint the walls white.  

While this may sound like a good idea, in reality, there are hundreds of different whites to choose from.  Pick the wrong one, and your home ends up looking antiseptic.  Yes, I know, a clean home is good.  But an antiseptic one turns people off.  

Unless you have loads of big, beautiful works of art for a gallery-type feel, or someone who can choose a white just for your space, it's safer to go with a light beige.  I know - light beige, how boring.  But it is warm and neutral and rarely elicits a negative response.  

And by the way, a gallon of light beige paint costs exactly the same as a gallon of white paint, so no excuses! 

Bedroom after home staging
In this home, the blue in the master bedroom was a bit too strong.



We suggested the homeowner paint - not white, but a nice soothing light grey. She also had this white duvet cover in storage.



Myth #2:  Go crazy with the decluttering.

OK this one is tricky.  I've been called in many times after homeowners had spent hours and hours decluttering their home because that's what they had learned during their HGTV marathon.  In many cases, this is great.  In other cases, not so much.  

 The thing is, you CAN go too far with decluttering, leaving your home devoid of any personality, charm or character whatsoever.  Buyers are looking for homes that feel warm and welcoming.  They are turned off by homes that look "cold." 


Some clutter...



Decluttered, but still some personality and life.





Myth 3: Banish all family photos.  

Nope, I disagree. Surprised?   

Family photos add a piece of you.  They add life, character and warmth.  They show that a real family, real people, lived here...happily.  They show a lifestyle, and buyers are drawn to things that evoke a lifestyle that looks happy and content.  

Buyers are also naturally curious -- they like to get a feel for the persons living there.  Leave them a few cues and they're happy.  

But not ALL family photos need to be displayed, and they shouldn't be all over the place.  I tend to cluster family photos, for example on a wall, a dresser, a console table or an end table.  Clustering makes an impact, but only for a moment, so that buyers are not continually distracted by you and your family every step of the way as they visit your home.  


Family room before home staging
Family photos scattered about...

Family room after home staging

No more dots of family photos, but still some around.






Common to all 3 of these myths is the premise that a home for sale should be devoid of the family that made that house their home.  I disagree wholeheartedly.  You and your family SHOULD be there, symbolically, but in tasteful measures.   

It's like adding seasonings to your food: add none and the food is bland, too much spoils the dish, but a little goes a long way.  

With home staging, we like to leave just enough spice in a home to give it flavour, without overwhelming a buyer's tastebuds.  


Posted by




Professional home staging and professional photography: two critical factors to making sure your home looks its best, both in person and on the Internet, and neither of them cost you a penny when you list with me.


Put your best house forward. TM

Tanya Nouwens

Tanya Nouwens Inc., Montreal Real Estate Broker and Canadian Staging Professional (TM)  www.readysetsold.ca 

RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC., www.remax-quebec.om

C. 514-919-8468    tanya@readysetsold.ca

This blog is written with my opinions. My opinions are presented with accuracy but not guarantees. Copyright Tanya Nouwens - 2015. If you want to reprint parts of this, just email me for my permission at tanya@readysetsold.ca.


Comments (82)

Christa Ross
RE/MAX Select Realty - REALTOR and Green Homes Specialist - Pittsburgh, PA
Helping you buy and sell Pittsburgh's Best Homes

Nice tips, I like a few photos, I think it gives the home a human quality. Homes that look like they have been lived in and loved are much nicer to sell.

Oct 06, 2010 09:12 AM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Great tips and totally agree about using soft colors other than egg white or coffee white.

Oct 06, 2010 09:51 AM
Delia Pavao
Décor Entourage - Montreal, QC
ISRP-Montreal & Laval Home Stager

Hi Tanya,

Thank God not all real estate brokers are as talented at home staging as you are or I would be in serious trouble!

You are a great example for other Montreal area stagers like me and I think your tips are right on. I do, however, prefer to exclude personal photos in most cases.

Keep up the great work! You give staging the credibility it deserves. 

Oct 06, 2010 12:06 PM
Beverly Femia
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Hampstead, NC
Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are

This is a very good post and I completely agree with all 3 points.  In terms of leaving some photographs in the room, I always tell Clients the photographs to select should look like the ones that were in the frames when they bought them.  Don't leave on display the pictures of family members caught at their absolute worst but framed and displayed in spite of it.  Create a mood that demonstrates your family at it's best.  I agree also that one has to be specific.  I'm very willing to select which ones to leave out and where they should be placed in the room.  

Oct 06, 2010 12:14 PM
Robbie Breaux
Van Eaton & Romero, LLC a Latter & Blum Company - Lafayette, LA
Robbie Breaux & Team Sells a Home Every 3.29 Days!

I'll take the stark white over multi-flowered wall paper with pickled cabinets and blue countertops only, but otherwise I completely agree!  Thanks for the tips, keep em comin!

Oct 06, 2010 02:20 PM
Mary Sheridan
Keller Willliams - 1033 Hamilton Place,Johnson City TN 37604 - Johnson City, TN
Creative Marketing, Buyer Agency 423-943-7655

Someone found the key to getting rid of too much stuff without antagonizing sellers - saying "pre-pack" works much better than "de-clutter."   I have a collection of clean but used boxes I lend to folks moving locally.   They often add to the collection and I weed out the ones that look used.   I remind sellers that they'll have that much less to dust and rearrange when buyers are coming without much notice, and that when we get a buyer, they'll have a lot of stuff already packed.   

I also have "Garage Sale" signs to help get rid of the stuff they won't plan to pack, or places to donate things.    Another useful related idea is to clear a kitchen drawer and one in bedrooms and bathrooms to hide things that would normally too busy on a surface.    I recently had buyers get bad vibes from a large tray of pill bottles - it wasn't an unhealthy house, just an unhealthy seller.     

Oct 06, 2010 03:46 PM
Claude Labbe
RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

My stager often will request ceilings to be painted, which adds a nice clean finish

Oct 06, 2010 04:36 PM
Bukka Levy
Keller Williams Realty - Petaluma, CA
REALTOR - San Francisco North Bay

Interesting ideas. True, I don't agree on all of your thoughts, but in the end that's why I hire a stager...so I don't have to agree.

Oct 06, 2010 04:55 PM
Tanya Nouwens
Immeubles Deakin Realty - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

Well now, who knew that this little post would generate so much discussion.  I love it.  And I've been thankful to see your comments coming up over the past day and a half as I've been under the weather with a stupid cold -- why DO they hit me so hard now that I'm in my '40s!.  Your comments have made me smile, in between blowing my nose.

On the colour issue, I do love accent walls here and there and stronger colours than white and beige.  But what I'm talking about here are the homeowners who take a bucket of white paint and paint the whole house that one colour because they heard on a show that it gives the house "flow."  If you're really, really good at choosing colours -- and I mean really good -- or you can hire a professional to do it for you, then I say go ahead and move beyond beige here and there if you'd like (emphasis on "here and there").  But if you're NOT really good at this, or you don't want to hire a professional, then I say stick with simple light beige and it won't be a mistake.

I love hearing all of the different viewpoints about the family photos.  I still stand by my view, regardless of any of the points that may be a drawback to the buyers connecting with the sellers, whether they differ in age, religion, race or lifestyle.  A family is a family is a family.  And I like to see a few photos -- note "few" -- of that family in a couple of areas.

Ginger: I love the idea of the dots for what stays.  Simple and effective!

Lexie: thanks so much for the great colour suggestions.  Now if only we could get Restoration Hardware to come to Montreal... :(

 Alan: I live in Kirkland!!  Small, small world...

Mike: Yikes!

Linda: YOU GET THE AWARD FOR BEST IDEA OF THE DAY!  "Pre-pack"!  You're brilliant!  The word de-clutter suggests having to go through everything and decide what to throw out, what to keep, what to give away.  That's a lot of work and, while it's a good thing to do, there isn't always time.  On top of that, in using the word de-clutter, we're calling the homeowner's personal possessions, the things they love and have accummulated over the years, clutter.  That's not always taken well.  But pre-pack?  I love it!

Delia: What a sweet thing to say.  Thank you very much, and good luck to you in this crazy but fun business.

Claude: Painted ceilings are a nice fresh touch.  Just make sure it's a matte paint that gets used, not anything with a gloss to it -- the gloss will highlight even the tiniest, most natural flaws in the ceiling and every roll of the paint roller whereas the matte provides a nice smooth finish.  I'm not talking about hiding important flaws here - those need to be disclosed, obviously.  Hmmm, I think that may be a future post...

Jason, Deb, Kristen, Jon and Ginger: Thank you so much for the re-blog.  I truly appreciate it. 


Oct 07, 2010 04:10 AM
Rhonda Wilson
Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services - Edmonton, AB

Hello, Tanya!

Great post!!!

All 3 points you make are so incredibly important.

As a Home Stager in Edmonton, AB, I can say that these 3 things are ones that I run into on a daily basis.

People are watching HGTV shows and hearing only the surface on these detailed concepts. Then, they go hawg wild. This is not their fault. They are simply abiding by what they see and hear on t.v.

Warm neutral is the key. White is NOT a warm colour! White is cold and sterile.

Many of my clients also go way too far on de-cluttering. Many times, by the time I come in, they have also already removed and stored all "excess" items off their property, leaving nothing for me to work with.

Then, there is that lovely rule, "remove all family photographs". This is a very important point you make. I always have my clients leave the odd, tastefully displayed personal photo (framed) out for buyers to notice. Buying a home is fuelled by emotions and visualization. Let's show the buyers that a family actually currently resides here and loves their home. Let's help the buyer visualize raising their own children in the home. But, of course, as you know, one can certainly go overboard with personal photos.

Great post regarding commonly misunderstood Home Staging concepts!!

Oct 07, 2010 04:13 AM
Claude Labbe
RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Bonjour Tanya,

One idea for a post would be local differences.  When in Montreal, or when in southern parts of the US, I often see accent walls.  Here in Washington, its the land of the grey, All grey (or beige).  When I ask about accent walls, people like at me like "oh, we don't do that here, maybe in Miami" (or the few whoknow of the world north of the border)

Do you ever see homes in the NY/New England/Mid Atlantic?

Perhaps this is very much off base, another post idea for you.


Oct 07, 2010 05:41 AM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Tanya - I agree whole-heartedly with you. There is a difference between stark and tasteful. I prefer warm and tasteful. I'm sure your clients love you for the staging you offer free with your listings What a fantastic perk!

Oct 07, 2010 07:40 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Tanya,

HGTV marathons can cloud your judgement about how easily you can stage a home. I have seen a few that were done previously and their workmanship leaves a lot to be desired. I always love, when they start painting in the middle of the wall (where you would have to lean to cut in the corners). Great job for advising your clients with real world advice.

Oct 07, 2010 04:07 PM
Peter Michelbach

Hello Tanya, sorry for the late post! Just made it back after one week of volunteering at Kids Camp for children with disabilities.

I will with your permission, show, my soon clients to be, your strategy of how to get the house best dressed to the market and achieve abundance.

Thanks for sharing. Merci beaucoup!

Peter Michelbach -Licensed Real Estate and Business Agent David Grace R/E Perth W.Australia abc88@peope.net.au  ich spreche deutsch

Oct 08, 2010 01:48 AM
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

Hi Tanya...Thank you for exposing the myths.  Previously I have responded to the three with a bit of skepticism.  After all, most of us appreciate a little personality and you're not going to get that if you are constantly going from house to house looking at nothing but white walls.  As far as family photos, my buyers are looking for a house.  They may glance at the family photos but they do not dwell on them.  Photos in every nook and cranny...no.  That's just not good decorating, period. 

Good feature.


Oct 08, 2010 04:04 AM
Coleen DeGroff
Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors - Gainesville, FL
Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL

Tanya - LOVED your observation that a gallon of light beige paint costs exactly as much as a gallon of white paint. Too funny!  Great tips....thanks for sharing this post.

Oct 11, 2010 02:28 AM
Kate Talarico
Kates Home Staging and Interior Design - Goshen, NY
RESA, Top Orange County Home Decorator & Stager

Great advise, everything in moderation is key!  I too like light grey as a bedroom wall color.

Oct 13, 2010 07:13 AM
Karen Hubert
Center Stage Design-Home Staging - Brantford, ON
CSP, Brantford, ON

I agree 100% with your 3 myths.  I can't believe some of the pictures I see on mls.  The personality is already taken right out of the home.  It might as well be vacant.  White is not a neutral for selling.

Oct 17, 2010 05:47 AM
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

This is good stuff. Thanks for the post.

Oct 20, 2010 05:23 PM
Mirela Monte
Buyers' Choice Realty - North Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach Real Estate

Good points!  Thank you Tanya!

Now featured on The Optimist Group.

Oct 25, 2010 06:46 AM