What’s the Difference Between Decorating and Staging a Home?


Let’s put it simply. Staging a home is for the buyer. Decorating is for you.

Despite the clear distinction between these two activities, many people mix them up or just don’t get it.

Unfortunately, when they eventually put their homes up for sale, they decorate them to sell instead of staging. Or, when homeowners move into their new abode, they stage their homes without decorating.

The result is a home that’s way too personal to appeal to any buyers (decorating to sell), or a home that’s stiff and impersonal without reflecting the homeowners’ tastes (staging vs. decorating).

Are you guilty of committing either error? If you are, here’s your lesson about the major differences between staging a home and decorating.

Staging a Home and Decorating: The 3 Major Differences

1. Decorating Is Personal. Staging? Not So Much

Decorating is about using your taste and preferences to inform your design choices. The end result reflects you and what you like. Decorating is personal – or it’s supposed to be.

Many people hire a designer to choose everything and don’t put their own stamp on their space. Others might go to a store and buy everything that matches and call it done.

The end result is a home that looks staged. It might look good, sure, but the homeowner is nowhere to be found. Staging is impersonal because it’s a selling technique. It’s not for people who aren’t selling, but many do it anyway.

2. Staging a Home Is About Selling a Lifestyle

Staging is all about selling a home. When you stage your interior, you’re taking yourself out of the equation. You’re trying to appeal to the largest amount of people possible. As such, your taste-specific choices and personality must leave the picture.

This stuff appeals to one person – you. That’s a narrow pool. If you want to sell your home, you have to get impersonal.

Homeowners who stage are on the opposite end of the spectrum from sellers who keep their decorating choices firmly in place when selling. These people dive into decorating with verve, injecting their personality everywhere, but when it’s time to let go, they have trouble with the staging part.

3. Decorating Makes You Happy – Staging Makes the Buyer Happy

This is perhaps the biggest distinction between decorating and staging. Decorating should make you happy because you’re creating a home that reflects you. It’s your personal refuge.

Staging makes the buyer happy because they can imagine themselves in the home without the seller’s taste blocking the vision.

Finally, staging makes the seller happy, too, because they’ll get top dollar for their property so they can move on to bigger and better things.

So, here’s the key to happy homeowners, happy sellers, and happy buyers. Homeowners should decorate and make their house their own. Sellers should stage to appeal to buyers, not only to get the best price, but also to make buyers want to move in immediately and put their stamp on it.

After that, the cycle starts all over again. In the end, it’s a win-win-win.