Should We Stage or Leave the House Empty?

Make Your Living Room Stand Out With Some Staging Help

staged living room in home
••• Frank Schwere/Stone/Getty Images

If you're selling your home, you might be wondering whether it's better to show the home empty or try home staging. In most home selling situations, a home shows better with furniture. Staring at a ceiling, floor and four empty walls make it hard for buyers to visualize their own belongings in the home. If buyers can't picture themselves living there, they aren't likely to buy it. Home staging can get expensive, however.

It Pays to Stage the Living Room

Home staging can mean the difference between a sold or expired listing. Staging often brings a higher price for the home; some stagers estimate sellers make 7 to 10 percent more when a home is staged.

Staging a living room, as with any other room in the house, is done to evoke emotions and make buyers fall in love with the home. They buy on emotion, not logic.

The photos on this page show a living room in a Land Park home in Sacramento when it was vacant and the amazing transformation after staging. The home had been on the market for two years as a vacant home and didn't sell until it was staged.

What You Notice Before Staging the Living Room

  • The first thing you notice in this room in the "before" photo is the modern light fixture because it doesn't reflect the 1935 character of this home.
  • The room is enormous, almost too large for a formal living room, but you can't see the possibilities because it's empty.
  • The eye is drawn to the far corner, where a tangled web of cable wires lie.
  • It feels cold and barren, and it doesn't speak to you. It's just a room.
  • What are those shelves in the curved recessed wall for? You don't really know.

What You Notice After Staging the Living Room

  • Setting a mirror over the fireplace, flanked by candles, draws the eye to the marble surround. Suddenly, the fireplace becomes the focal point of the room.
  • A rug under the coffee table brings warmth to the space. Home-decorating magazines on the table add a classic touch.
  • Plants breathe life, bringing the outdoors inside. The tree in the corner hides the tangled mess of cable wires.
  • Red accents in the chair pillows and the vase of flowers add color and vitality. The room is alive.
  • The curved bookcase now contains books and knickknacks. Plus, the chair, lamp and table in front of the bookcase turn that section of the room into a separate area for reading.

Home Staging Tips for Living Rooms

  • Arrange knickknacks in odd groupings such as three, five or seven.
  • Use bright colors for accents such as flowers, pillows or throws.
  • Bring in plants to liven up the space.
  • Arrange furniture in vignettes to create conversation areas.
  • Use smaller sofas and chairs to make the room appear larger.
  • Employ artful placement of mirrors to add depth and dimension.
  • Showcase a generous usage of soft fabrics such as silk, lambswool or satin by tossing throws over a chair or sofa.
  • Don't block windows; let in the light.
  • Plug in lamps to illuminate dark corners.

After staging the living room, this home sold in three weeks. The buyer walked in the door and said, "Wow." Bang. Sold.