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Seller's Furniture, Vacant, or Fully Staged?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team

There is a lingering question when home staging is considered as to whether it is better to use the seller's furniture, sell the property vacant, or to sell it fully (or partially) staged. While our Jacksonville based home staging company tries to use the seller's furniture when possible, sometimes it doesn't present the best option for getting the highest price. When the seller's furniture competes with the architecture of the home, or works against the likely demographic, it is often better to rent furniture. The end goal is to present the home in the best possible light. 

When the seller's furniture competes with the architecture of the home, or works against the likely demographic, it is often better to rent furniture. The end goal is to present the home in the best possible light. 

Let's look at the home we staged in Atlantic Beach this week. It is a William Morgan (Architect) home, built in 2002. The architecture is clearly modern, with lots of windows, and an open floor plan. 


home staging Atlantic Beach real estate


Does the photo of the living room below, look like it's in an architecturally significant property near the beach? While this may be cozy and completely appropriate for the current homeowners, it may not lead to the highest and best sale. 


atlantic beach home staging


The photo below is in fact the same room, although not from the same angle. As you can see, the room has been painted a warmer, richer color, making it feel less stark. The furniture is more modern, but still comfortable. Just as importantly, the room now shows seating for many, making it a great entertaining space. Rather than looking at the furniture, the eye is now drawn to the architecture itself, which was the point of this particular home's style. 



Let's take a look outside. Northeast Florida is known for outdoor spaces and this home has a wonderful, although smaller sized porch for entertaining. This was the MLS photo prior to our professional staging services.  The seller's had actually already moved out, so we were not asking them to remove their furniture, but it's important to see how different seating styles can open up a room and highlight the best features of the home. It's not enough, when staging your home for maximum value, to simply bring in furniture to a space. 


jacksonville outdoor living


The home should be the star player when selling, not the furniture. Furniture, art, and accessories, should only be used to highlight what is actually being bought and sold. In this case, the stunning lines and architecture of an Atlantic Beach house with historically architectural significance. 



Because I knew I would need to appeal to a large demographic of buyers and didn't want the house to feel too modern, I tried to play the balance of modern and organic.  I wanted to ensure that the simplicity and clean lines of the home were kept in our staging. Color was used very modestly, which was unlike the point of view of the current homeowners. 


staging real estate in atlantic beach


Because I wanted to have some organic elements my original thought had been adding a dark wooden table. In the end though, i decided to go with a glass table and linen covered chairs. 


Atlantic beach real estate


I feel that our home staging team met the needs of this great architectural home, pushing buyers to look at the home itself rather than the furniture, art, or accessories in them.  We created a comfortable place where buyers will remember the overall feel of the property when they discuss it later. 

If you want to see more of the after photos of this home, you can view them on our Facebook page


Posted by


 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).



marti garaughty
garaughty.com - Montreal, QC
a highly caffeinated creative type...

garaughty, abstract art, graphic design, WordPress consultant

Feb 14, 2015 04:09 AM
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

 Very nice and what a dramatic difference.  I liked hearing the explanation for your choices - very interesting!

Feb 14, 2015 06:00 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

What I learned

Feb 14, 2015 12:30 PM
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Melissa, great job!  It's amazing what different furnishings can do for a space. 

Feb 14, 2015 09:59 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I saw your post thanks to Kathys weekly wrap up...glad I didn't miss it! Thanks!

Feb 14, 2015 10:48 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.  Your explanation and photos are exactly what people need to understand the value of replacing existing furniture!

Feb 14, 2015 11:17 PM
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com

 These were all fantastic choices to make. Each room looks completely transformed! Great job. I'm sure the client will be happy with the results when their home sells quickly!

Feb 15, 2015 12:07 AM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Just came by from Kathy's post and yes Melissa, you hit it out of the box!! Great job!

Feb 15, 2015 12:36 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks - I love what you did with this house, and enjoyed reading the reasoning behind your choices. 

Feb 15, 2015 02:04 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Melissa, the truly talented staggers I know and refer to my own clients are the ones who work mostly with the sellers' furniture and accessories. And they still create miracles. This makes it more affordable, and the sellers are more likely to spring for staging services. Once in a while it won't work, but I'm more impressed with these stagers than with the ones who want the sellers' stuff all gone with rented props brought in. 

Feb 15, 2015 03:52 AM
Evelyn Santiago, Managing Broker Heart Realty Group, Inc.
Heart Realty Group, Inc.. - Oswego, IL
Passionate About Real Estate & Our Clients!

It's so hard to sell staging for the majority of sellers that working with their own furniture instead of renting "newer" furniture can be a deal breaker.  Then you come across buyers that "hate" the furniture, the style, the colors so sometimes you just can't win no matter what you do.  Educating the buyer on the fact that the seller's personal "stuff", decorating style or lack of is not what they should focus on may be harder but in the long run will be better for the buyer unless they plan on buying the home furnished.


I use to see this all the time in new construction - buyers disappointed that their house "didn't look like the model" since of course, unless they duplicated everything the decorator did - they would not have the same home.  Sometimes vacant is much easier for a lot of buyers - does not distract from the home.

Feb 15, 2015 05:02 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Wow!  Getting those staging pieces inside the home to replace the seller's furnishings makes a world of difference.

Feb 15, 2015 10:34 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

What a difference staging makes! I love seeing photos like these.

Feb 15, 2015 11:53 AM
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

Thank you for all of the comments. It seems that not everyone quite caught the idea that I do use the seller's furniture when possible. In this particular case, the seller had already moved out and rather than have them move back in to utilize their belongings, it made more sense to rent furniture. (@kathy - It's all my furniture, they are renting it from me.) 


The truth is that if they were still living in here, I probably would recommend that they move it out and rent furniture anyway. My job isn't to keep the budget as low as possible, it's give them the best return on their investment and recommend what's necessary for them to sell their home. They decide if it's worth the extra money spent or whether they need to minimize their budget. 


In this particular case, they fully feel it was worth the money as they received an offer from the open house held 2 days after we staged the home. They were successfully able to negotiate it and after 148 days of being on the market with almost no showings and zero offers, they now have a contract and close in 30 days. 

atlantic beach home staging contract

Feb 16, 2015 12:46 AM
Steve Walny
Addison Wolfe Real Estate - New Hope, PA
. . . A Contrasting Point of View in Bucks County

Melissa Marro Absolutely remarkable transformation - it/they truly do look to be two different houses - thanks for presenting SUCH a powerful set of imagery to prove the value of staging - Steve

Feb 16, 2015 08:48 AM
Jenna Dixon
Momentum Real Estate Group LLC - Marietta, GA
55 & Over | New Constructions | Horse Farms

The buyer's perception of the value of a home cannot be marginalized or discounted.  Providing them with just the right amount of eye candy can be invaluable.  You did an excellent job staging the home and obviously, after 2 DOM, you have a happy seller!  Congratulations!

Feb 16, 2015 10:15 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing the before and after photographs. Well done!

Feb 18, 2015 12:20 AM
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

I came from Marte's reblog. Excellent job. You have a great taste and understanding of how things work. This difference might be the key in success of the sale.

It is unrealistic to expect every potential buyer to see through the obstackles, theough the furniture fighting with overal design/architecture. Help them see the space, and it may help them.

After all, we do not want a bed in the bedroom, wo that they may lay on it, but rather to show them how much space it is taking, and how much space is left.

Feb 20, 2015 01:12 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Sold in two days? Now, that's a ringing endorsement for home staging.

Feb 22, 2015 02:13 PM
Peg Barcelo
Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369 - Summerland, BC
The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC

Beautiful Staging to show off the home Melissa! (as always!)

So many homeowners don't even see their furniture anymore, it is just a useful, comfy thing that is there. It rarely goes with the type of home, unless the sellers have had a designer or decorator.

The results show how successful Staging is!

Feb 08, 2016 07:01 AM