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10 Things Home Stagers Hate to See Inside Your Home

Getting ready to sell? Stage your home like a pro by avoiding the most common mistakes, according to Realtors and stagers.

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Family Photos Ondrooo/Getty Images

Personal Photos

Buyers want to imagine themselves living in the home as they tour it. You never want to remind them they are in someone else’s home. “Leaving family photos up on the wall or around your home is not recommended when selling your home,” says Blue Diamond Staging & Design founder and home stager Kasia McDaniel.

And it’s more than just the personal reminder. “It is also a security risk because you open yourselves up to strangers learning what you and your kids look like,” she says. Best to leave that until the closing, she says.

Her solution? Replace family photos with a large canvas landscape artwork or a large wall clock.

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Dark houseHumberto Segura / EyeEm/Getty Images

Dark House

Buyers usually want the most space for the least amount of money, says Realtor Michelle Marie Glasgow. “When houses are dark, whether it’s due to the paint color or lack of natural light, it makes the house look and feel smaller,” she says. “This is a turn off to many potential buyers.”

Make sure your house is as bright, open and welcoming as possible. Choose lighter paint colors and flattering lighting, and let in as much natural light as possible.

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Taxidermy Andrew Walsh / EyeEm/Getty Images

Too Much Taxidermy

Unless your home is a hunter’s lodge, there is no reason to have deer heads or other animals mounted on the wall in your home, says McDaniel. “Taxidermy is a personal trophy and does not appeal to most buyers,” she says. It’s one step in the depersonalization process so buyers can more easily envision themselves living in your home.

If you own taxidermy, prioritize removing it from your walls and shelves. Pack it away early to take it to your next home.

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Mixed Appliances in4mal/Getty Images

Mismatched Appliances

Buyers are typically hoping for a ready-to-go kitchen. “When buyers walk into the kitchen of a home and see a white fridge and stainless steel stove they automatically think that they have to change the appliances,” says Glasgow. “This is not a good look and only makes buyers think of dollar signs.”

Although that’s something that could be negotiated at the end, avoid the hassle and widen your buying potential with matching appliances.

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Bold Pink PaintArturNyk/Getty Images

Bold Choices

Perhaps the second rule of real estate after “location, location, location” is “neutralize, neutralize, neutralize.” Realtor and CEO of I Sold My House, Kris Lippi, says bold choices can sink your selling power.

“You want to attract as many potential buyers as you can when staging your home,” he says. “This is why going with bold choices for wall colors, furniture and even home accessories is a big mistake because it unnecessarily narrows down your market. For example, your hot pink-colored room will possibly turn off people who particularly don’t like that color.”

Lippi suggests neutral colors, furniture and accessories to allow the buyer to experience the home from their point of view.

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Too Much FurnitureNewton Daly/Getty Images

Poor Furniture Placement

It might be obvious to consider the proper scale of furniture in a room to maximize the potential of your square footage. If furniture is too large, your rooms look small; if the furniture is too small, you feel like a giant in a fairy house.

Nakeisha Glover, a design specialist at Element Home & Design, points out that furniture should also be placed in a way that promotes the functional use of, and flow through, each room.

“For example, if a living room is overrun with large pieces of furniture, not only would it minimize the appearance of space, it could also cause a bit of a traffic jam during open houses,” Glover says. “And in such a case, buyers could easily assume the space is not feasible for entertaining.”

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Red Walls Gettyimages 1159114337Artjafara/Getty Images

Red Walls

If there’s a color that can devalue your room, it might be red, says McDaniel. But it’s not just because red may be a polarizing color.

“Some homeowners love their red walls in the dining room, but red is a difficult color to capture on camera,” McDaniel says. “It doesn’t show up as well as it does in person, so the solution is to paint the room a neutral gray or beige color to appeal to more homebuyers.”

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When first impressions matter most, make sure you clear all the clutter. A pile of shoes at the front door can be a turnoff for potential buyers right off the bat. Maximize your home’s attractiveness by stowing toys in bins, filing away bills and mail and neatly arranging clothing and shoes in closets.

“Remember, the buyers need to visualize themselves in the home,” Glasgow says. “It is rather difficult to do this with clutter all around.”

Clutter also makes rooms look and feel smaller. Even if a room is not dirty, clutter gives the impression that it is. Odors, general unkemptness, any sight of pest control and other skipped details on the neatness front can stop a showing in its tracks.

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Religious Wall DecorImage Source/Getty Images

Religious Artifacts

McDaniel acknowledges that faith plays an important role for many homeowners. But now isn’t the time to show it off. “Religious items such as crosses, menorahs, pictures of saints or other religious sayings should be removed,” she says. Allow homeowners to envision their lives on those walls as best you can.

She suggests that if the walls now feel a little bare, some metal artwork, canvas prints or even free leaf printables are a great solution to fill the space.

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Real Estate Photography Feverpitched/Getty Images

Poor Marketing Photos

The furniture is placed, the paint is fresh and the windows are sparkling. Once you go through all the work of staging your house, don’t leave it to poorly lit amateur photos to get people in the door.

“What good is it to invest in professional staging, only to end up with pictures that will not highlight the work that made the home look beautiful?” Glover says. “I always suggest hiring a professional real estate photographer after staging. On many listing sites, beautiful pictures are what entice a potential buyer to come to the open house.”

Get your best buyers through the door so they can make an offer!

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.