Furniture for Home Staging

furniture for home stagingWhen Ed Kelly got a job in Chicago, he and wife Katie had little time to sell their house in Atlanta. They had to pack up and move, fast. They regretted having to take their furniture, knowing it would be harder to sell their home empty. So they thought the best thing to do would be to rent furniture for home staging. But they weren't happy with the results.

"The furniture was bland and the cost was high," says Ed. Renting furniture for home staging can run 30 percent of the cost of buying furniture new, so it's hardly a good deal. And on top of that, the pieces are usually beige microsuede and can look commercial-grade.

A wiser scenario for the Kellys might have been leaving behind some pieces and staging the home with a mix of their belongings and some specifically purchased furniture for home staging purposes.

"When staging to sell, whether the home is vacant or occupied, you don't need to fill it with furniture," says Karen Otto of Home Star Staging in Plano, Texas. "The furniture shouldn't be the reason why a home is purchased; the furniture should be a prop to help sell the home."

We asked Otto and other home staging experts for tips on how to pick furniture for home staging and how to put it all together. Here's their advice.

Take Style and Flow Into Account When Choosing Furniture

Some homes need staging more than others, says New York and virtual home stager Kelly Fallis of Remote Stylist. Homes with traditional architectural styles, such as a center-hall Colonials, for example, leave little room for the imagination: It's obvious which are the living and dining rooms. It gets tricky, however, with new construction homes or condos with unusual layouts. That's when home staging can be especially helpful.

Fallis says to remember that potential buyers will be walking through the property, so it's important to think about the flow as someone is guided through the house. "There needs to be an open path of furniture for me to get through each room and carry on to where I'm going. A lot of times people have their furniture where you walk into the back of a sofa."

Just as if you were decorating the house to live in, stager Jamie DeBartolomeis says, consider the scale and style of the house when picking furniture for home staging. Is it modern, farmhouse, Craftsman, Victorian?

"Choose furniture that complements the architectural style and age of the house," she says. "A small bungalow will need less furniture and smaller-scale furniture. A spacious house with an open floor plan and soaring ceilings can accommodate larger pieces."

Don't Overdo the Furniture

Remember that furniture for home staging is a prop to help you sell your home. "The furniture shouldn't be the focal point," says Otto. "It's only to help to define the space and lifestyle of the home."

Fallis suggests going room by room and making a list of what's needed. A few good rules to follow: keep big pieces neutral, accent with color, choose furniture with clean lines and avoid leather. "It can be reminiscent of some guy's bachelor pad," she warns. "Those big leather sectionals aren't doing anything for you."

Otto says often homeowners have too many pieces in a room. "It can be great for living, but it's not great for selling. I look at floor space as equity; if you are covering it all up you're losing money."

How much furniture you need in a living room depends on the size of that room, but at minimum Otto suggests a couch, chair, coffee table and end table. "You want to create conversation areas and usable spaces," she says. If the room has hard flooring, add a rug to anchor and soften the space. Set seating around a focal point (fireplace or view). Add art to warm the space and draw the eye into the room.

How to Edit the Pieces in the Home

Staging experts agree that most people have way too much stuff; too much furniture crammed into rooms and too many accessories accumulated over the years. Therefore the good news is rarely will a homeowner have to buy major pieces of furniture to stage their home for sale.

"I edit more than I add furniture," says DeBartolomeis. "You want rooms to appear large and airy." Another consideration for DeBartolomeis is making sure to balance the texture and materials in a room. "Sometimes there's a lot of wood and I'll edit pieces because the room is too 'heavy,'" she says. "I try to vary elements so that one type doesn't dominate the room, such as glass, metal, wood, leather, slate, etc. A variety of texture is also important."

If you home is vacant and it seems too overwhelming to stage the entire thing, Fallis recommends simply choosing an area to stage, like, say, the first floor, leaving the upstairs empty. Remember: You're trying to sell a lifestyle.

"You're going to spend money," she says, "but when you do spend the money, you'll get it back."

Carrie Culpepper blogs about design at

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