How could this be? The room looked beautiful; yet was the victim of "Bad Staging"

Home Stager

I recently saw a staging show on HGTV in which the staged living room was beautifully arranged but, at the same time, was an example of poor staging.  Poor Staging??? In a beautiful room on HGTV?  How can that be? 

Misuse of focal points! 

Rather than put the emphasis on the room's focal point, a large picture window, the stager opted to put the sofa in front of the window thus preventing potential buyers from being able to walk over and see the view.   But that was not her worst offense!  You are NOT going to believe this!!!  She brought in a RENTED fireplace to serve as the focal point.  Not only did she neglect to play up the room's one and only architectural feature, she taunted potential buyers by focusing on a fireplace that would not be staying with the house. 

Sometimes in our zealousness to make the rooms look inviting and functional, we neglect to highlight the home's best features....the one's that stay with the home after the furniture has been moved out.  They are the home's real stars! 

  • Buyers want  to walk over to the window in the living room and be able to see the neighborhood without having to lean over a sofa to do it.
  • Buyers want to appreciate the uniquely arched windows without trying to imagine how they would look without the inexpensive topper cutting them in half.
  • Buyers shouldn't have to stand up on a bed, that is using the window as a headboard, in order to see what the backyard looks like.
  • Buyers love bay windows!  They want to see them in all their glory; not have them half-hidden by a sofa.
  • Buyers want to see the lovely hardwood floors without having to lift up decorative rugs that cover ¾ of the space.

There have been some discussions here on AR about the differences between interior decorating and staging.  To me it comes down to the focal points.  In staging, the focal point always, always, always stays with the house!


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Karen Haberstro
Easy Does It Redesign & Consulting - Canandaigua, NY
Walls, Redesigner & Stager
Judy - Great point and so to the point, as well. Are you able to name the show you are referring to?
Nov 02, 2007 11:09 PM #24
Yvonne Root
rooms b.y. root - Prescott, AZ
Home Stager - Northern Arizona

Judy, I saw portions of the show as I was cooking dinner, showing my granddaughter how to keep her water in her bowl (she cooks while I cook) and just generally running around the kitchen. I'm so glad you clarified this for me. I caught the part near the end where they were showing B&A shots and honestly thought that I had missed the before impression of the fireplace room. Now I know what happened. 

Your explanation of the difference between ID and HS is outstanding. I remember struggling recently to get the concept for my students at the continuing ed class I taught. I used examples but it would have been nice to use your simple and oh so powerful statement:  

In staging, the focal point always, always, always stays with the house!   

BTW, sometimes the only place to put a bed in a small room is under the window. As long as it isn't a murphy bed I think it works. :) 

Nov 03, 2007 12:50 AM #25
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL

Julie -- I definitely agree with you about the overabundance in some staged homes.  Interior Designers have all the same focal points as stagers...great windows, fireplaces, built-ins, etc. but, since their goal is to design the space with the owners personal taste in mind, they can often use other focal points; such as great artwork, a decorative armoire, grand piano, or even a big screen tv. 

Nov 03, 2007 05:25 AM #26
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL
Karen -- Thanks for the affirmative comments.  I like your phrase "sell what stays with the house, not your things".  Your clients are lucky to have such a savvy stager!
Nov 03, 2007 05:32 AM #27
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL

Beth -- The odd thing about this show is that the room actually did look good...from a decorating standpoint. 

I do have an idea for a staging that follows a stager from the first minute she gets out of training class.  It shows her setting up her business, marketing her business, making realtor presentations, trying to make a home look good with NO budget.  It also shows her hot, sweaty, and tired...but the end of a staging job.  Now that would be reality TV!

Nov 03, 2007 05:40 AM #28
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL

Fernando -- Thanks.....glad to have you on my side.

Jackie -- Funny you should mention that, for some time I have been contemplating contacting HGTV to suggest they put disclaimers on their staging shows.  I guess I could just add this observation to my already long list of complaints. 

Nov 03, 2007 05:44 AM #29
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL

Todd -- You are a man after my own heart.  I thought bringing in the rented fireplace was dumb, too.  I loved your temporary bathroom analogy...because it would be just as senseless. 

Since I live in FL, do you think I should rent above-ground pools for those homes that don't have pools? 

Nov 03, 2007 05:47 AM #30
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL

Trish -- I'm with you...leave the rented fireplaces for the local mall's Santa display.  I also agree that the rest of the staging was very good.  In fact, as I said before the living looked beautiful; just wasn't on par with the goals of staging.

Nov 03, 2007 11:12 AM #31
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL

Irene - Very well said!  The room was beautiful....but missed the boat as far as staging is concerned.  I couldn't believe my ears when she actually said she was bringing in a rented fireplace because the room needed a focal point.  I wonder what she thought the windows were for. 

Nov 03, 2007 11:18 AM #32
Val Allocco
Staged 2 Sell New York & Long Island - Northport, NY
HSE; ASHSR - Home Stager, for Manhattan, Brooklyn & Long Island


Great advice and well presented...I like your remark on how a Staging 'focal point' ALWAYS STAYS WITH THE HOUSE!


Nov 03, 2007 01:16 PM #33
Nonnie Ranstom
As You Like It Design - Bremerton, WA
ASP, IAHSP - As You Like It - Design


I was watching that airing while working on a remodel kitchen design and felt my jaw drop when they slid that "rented" fireplace against the wall. Unless they put up a big sign somewhere that the fireplace was simply a prop I would think someone would have alot of "splainin to do Lucy". The idea of staging is to best highlight what the house has to offer. Thank goodness she didn't do this in a small but newly constructed house. Normally her work is good. I agree with you Judy that HGTV should put disclaimers on their staging shows. They should be posted in large letters before the episode begins with:

"No the $2000 does not include labor"

"Actual staging work is done by people who get sweaty, dirty, frustrated, tired because they had to work until 3:00 AM.........have a home life somewhere"

"Although we have just gotten to this house that needs this much help we are not showing the rest of the rooms, backyard, roof condition, etc. because they are already in perfect showing condition and nothing more needs to be done before the Open House"

"Your actual Open House will probably not have 50 people showing up all at one time"

"These results will help the buyers ignore the cat urine smell in the bathroom we didn't show"

I am an Interior Designer who studied to become an Accredited Home Stager because I wanted to add that service to my business. I think some of the TV "experts" should do the same. Staging is truly not decorating.

Nov 03, 2007 02:48 PM #34
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD
Hi Judy,  I would very much like to see The Judy Kincaid Home Staging Show on TV!  I am so tired of meeting potential clients who think what I would do to their house is just cute and instantaneous, of, why am I charging them so much to do it?  and why will it take so long? yada, yada.  AND, the homes ARE lovely when we are done with them, but I am NOT...tired, sweaty, and happy says it well.  This Staging thing IS a JOB!  A job I love, but a job just the same.  And, I must say a job you do brilliantly!
Nov 10, 2007 02:30 AM #35
Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging
2 Hounds Design + Home Staging - Toronto, ON

My first thought was, how do they explain during the negotiations that the fireplace is only a 'rental'!

Or worse, when the new owners take possession and the fireplace is gone! Not a scene I'd want to be involved in.

--begin rant--

These shows are so unrealistic. Where does one start with the problems? I guess the biggest issue for me is the cost they show is only for the items (paint, flowers, wood, fabric) excluding the labour not to mention the cost of the stager/decorator. No wonder people get upset when they talk to me and hear that it will cost them about 1% (+ or - 1/2%) to merchandise their vacant house!

Hello!?! You are not a charity!

For the most part, people understand that in order to make money you have to spend money but for whatever reason they refuse to accept this in regard to selling their house. I blame the TV shows...

-- end rant --

Nov 10, 2007 02:51 AM #36
Katrina Madewell
Charles Rutenberg Rlty- More than 5,000 agents(813) 777-1196 - Tampa, FL
Tampa FL Homes for sale | Tampa Bay - (813) 777-1196

Judy - thanks for the clarification between staging and interior design, I think this is important.  This was a very good, very well written blog!  Kudos to you!

Glad to see you back in the Rain!  :o)

Nov 18, 2007 05:17 PM #37
Kim Dillon
Creative Eye Home Staging - West Chester, PA

What a clear and simple differentiator!

 Kim Dillon, Creative Eye Home Staging

Nov 19, 2007 01:02 AM #38
Kristina Leone
Lionheart Home Staging, LLC - Minneapolis, MN

You're absolutely right!  I tell homeowners to stand in the entrance of a room, then I ask them "What is the first thing you see?"   If it's not the focal point, then something is amiss.

Kristina, KFM Staging & Design 

Nov 19, 2007 10:21 AM #39
Phyllis Pafumi
ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey - Old Bridge, NJ
ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ

Hey Judi

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, you said it all. We are staging the HOUSE and the HOUSE offers features that will remain long after the furniture is gone. Thanks so much for posting this since I see more and more stagers staging as an interior decorator.

Keep it simple, simple, simple, great post.

Merry Christmas

Phyllis Pafumi

Dec 22, 2007 12:25 PM #40
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.
Great post.  Yeah...oh, if the world could only see what really happens with a staging and a good staging to know what it is supposed to be, they wouldn't think they could do it themselves.  Terrylynn Realtor/Staging Specialist, Walnut Creek, Ca.
Dec 22, 2007 01:13 PM #41
Kym Hough
www.Staged-to-Sell - Danville, CA
Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA
I think we all know that HGTV is wonderful, but not the end all for Staging. I can't recall the show right now, a guy is the designer, but he is simply awful. One of my biggest pet peeves is one that you called out...HUGE RUGS that cover the floor. What are we selling the rug or the property.
Jan 14, 2008 02:51 PM #42
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

I think that's funny - a rent-a-fireplace!  That would be totally misleading I agree.

Sep 11, 2009 02:59 PM #43
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