Interior Design vs. Home Staging: What exactly is the difference? (With Photo Examples!)

People often ask me the main differences between Home Staging and Interior Design, or even Interior Redesign, so I thought I would post my official response.

Home Staging is essentially the art of preparing a home to sell. The goal is to appeal to the most potential buyers as possible for a quick and profitable real estate transaction. The basic idea when staging a home is to play up the positive features of the space.

Interior Design, or even Interior Redesign for that matter, is the practice of working with a homeowner to personalize their space for the way they live and intend to use it, and to emphasize their own personal style.

When I am staging a home to sell, I am much more concerned with how a potential buyer will view the space than how a homeowner is currently living in it. The goal is to sell the home quickly for the highest price, so that is where I concentrate my efforts. When I am redesigning a space, the homeowner’s style, needs, and opinions are my top priority. The objective is to please the owner and make the home functional for them and pleasing to their aesthetics.

As a Home Staging Expert™, I do get a lot of requests from people to come in and ‘stage’ their home, even though they don’t plan to move. Clients who ask me to come in and redesign their space are typically former staging clients or have been recommended by former staging clients. They like the look and they would like me to help them get the same feeling in their current home.

I charge exactly the same for redesign as I do for home staging. The only difference is that I do not do any shopping for my home staging clients, but I am often asked to shop for my redesign clients and they are charged accordingly. While I am usually in and out of a home staging job in a day, my relationship with a redesign client…while it can sometimes be completed in a day, depending on the project…might last for weeks or even longer.

Both Home Staging and Interior Redesign are intensely creative and very case specific undertakings that come from two very different perspectives. One is not equal to the other. The home shown above is a perfect example.

In this case, I was called in to stage a property that had been professionally decorated by a certified interior designer a few years before. The designer had created a space that was pleasing to the homeowner…heavy lace draping, seating to induce comfort and conversation, a table to display personal photos and mementos, etc.

Of course, staging the property meant undoing much of the design. The goal was to show off the soaring ceilings and gorgeous view, one of the attributes that prompted the current owner to purchase the property to begin with, bring in more natural light, and create visible square footage by implementing a more open and inviting furniture arrangement.

The changes I made, while perhaps more subtle than many staging projects I have taken on, are still quite recognizable and a wonderful example depicting the principle characteristics of Interior Design vs. Home Staging. To get a better idea of the changes I made and the difference between the two, click on the photos to enlarge.

*All Photos the property of Lori Matzke and Center Stage Home, Inc. Photos may not be republished/reprinted without permission.

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Staging Cold Rooms for Warmth

free living-room-1298533_640 (1)

A warm and inviting space will always entice potential buyers in during the cold winter months. And warming up a space is very easy to achieve through color and texture.

Choosing shades of brown, cream, or gold for paint or as accent colors can help set the stage. You can turn up the heat a notch by accessorizing in brick red or burnt sienna.

Take the idea one step further and include a mix of textures, from soft and cuddly, to sleek and sensuous. You can achieve this by mixing a few silky pillows in with a fuzzy throw, or adding a thick, wooly rug for instant snuggle quality.

The key is not only to stage the property and highlight its best features, but to create a mood that makes a potential buyer want to curl up right there and settle in for good!

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2-Day Home Staging Workshop – TORONTO, ONTARIO

\”Carole Sherkey & Mary Helen Rosenberg\”

2-Day Home Staging Workshop – February 3 & 4, 2014

Taught by long-time Center Stage Home™ Affiliates, Home Staging Expert™ Certified Trainers, and two of my most favorite people, I might add, this is not a class you want to miss!

Carole Sherkey and Mary Helen Rosenberg are the owners of Stage to Sell. These two pack a lot of style and business experience in their punch and have been proving my ’avoid-business-partners’ theory wrong for years!

When I first met this dynamic duo way back when, they just wanted to do a little staging in Toronto. Maybe on the side. Just, you know, here and there. But just a few years and thousands of staged rooms later, and you can see why they are now considered the premier staging and home staging training company in Canada!

Please stop by, check out their website at and see if you can still get in on the workshop they’re holding in Toronto! They’ll teach you twice as much and you’ll be ten times happier you did!

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Winter Home Staging – Bringing in More Light

"Ballard Design's SACHA Mirror placed just off the window helps reflect even more light into this dining room!"

“Ballard Design’s SACHA Mirror placed just off the window helps reflect even more light into this dining room!”

Light, bright spaces SELL! To prevent the dark and dreary days of winter from sabotaging your best staging efforts, follow these simple steps…

1) Encourage more sunshine! To bring in as much natural light as possible, take down
heavy window treatments, remove screens when appropriate, and give the windows a
good cleaning.

2) The most well-lit rooms have a good balance of natural, overhead, and surface lighting
to ensure an evenly lit space. Don’t be afraid to mix it up!

3) Need to lighten it up even more? Use brighter bulbs! A higher wattage bulb will throw
out an even brighter light! Just make sure to use a proper wattage for the light/lamp.

4) Reflective surfaces are sure to make a dark room sparkle! Mirrors, glassware, shiny
artwork, and glass-topped tables keep a space feeling light, bright, and inviting.

*Ballard Design’s SACHA Mirror, shown here, was placed just off the window and helps add dazzle and daylight to this dining room!

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Staging a Basement, Creating a Family Room THAT SELLS!

When it comes to staging your house for market, the more livable, finished space you can show a buyer, the better! And when it came to this basement…it wasn’t exactly the kind of space that would have a buyer “oohing and ahhing!” But we changed all that, and as a result, this listing had multiple offers within days and sold over list price!

In this case, low ceilings, dated paneling, and a cold tile floor were major turn-offs. With a couple of easy, low-cost fixes, however, this basement was easily transformed into a bright and cheery family room in no time!

I first tied it all together by painting the walls, doors, trim, and paneling a nice creamy shade of antique white. This was the best color choice to make the room seem much larger and more open, and to brighten it up since there were no windows. Next, I painted the ceiling and cleaned up the fireplace using a baking soda solution and metal brush.

After giving the tile floors a good scrub, I warmed them up with an inexpensive sisal area rug, then layered that with a faux-animal hide I cut out in the shape of a cowhide rug using a couple of yards of faux-fur found on clearance.

To add visual square footage, the sofa and chair were arranged on the diagonal. Not only does this layout open up the space, but it also draws the eye directly to the fireplace.

Lighting is especially important in rooms like this where there is no natural lighting to be had, so a floor lamp and table lamp were also placed on the diagonal to light up the furthest points of the room.

A glass top coffee table helps reflect the light and keeps the space looking open and airy, while silk greenery as well as black & white artwork placed over the fireplace, help draw the buyer’s eye around the room and make it feel more homey.

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While everyone knows that the square footage of a property is an important part of the home buying decision, very few sellers really take the visible square-footage of their home into consideration.

But what exactly is ‘visual square footage’ and why is it so important? In laymen terms, visual square footage is the perceived size of a home based on how large the space looks/feels when you walk in. For instance, I’ve seen many homes 1000 feet or less look and feel massive, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve seen homes I was expecting to be huge seem incredibly small by comparison!

The bottom line when selling your home is that the majority of potential buyers want space! Whether they are moving up or downsizing, most people aren’t looking for cramped quarters, regardless of the actual measurements of a home. They want to feel as if they have enough room to comfortably live in the space. This is where the idea behind creating ‘visual square footage’ comes in. That is to say, making a home look and feel open, spacious, and inviting, no matter the measurements.

This living room staged in one of my latest workshops conducted in Springfield, Illinois, is a great example of how visual square footage can effect the perception of a room. At first glance, this space felt much smaller than it really was due to having far too many furnishings and an unapproachable layout. By editing the furnishings and accessories, opening up the drapes to flood the room with natural light which also expanded the view, and rearranging the furniture to give it a more open layout, the visual square footage of this living area quite literally doubled in size!

While technically, the actual size of the room has not changed…the feeling of a larger and much more livable space has been created! We used the excess furnishings/accessories in other areas of the home that were lacking, which gave the home the added benefit of creating a sense of continuity between rooms, thus adding to the feeling of a larger house!

If creating visual square footage to a room is your goal, here are a few easy tips to help get you there!

1) Remove any area rugs over carpeting…area rugs over carpeting not only make a potential buyer wonder what you might be hiding, they also break up the layout of the room, thus making it feel much smaller.

2) Edit furnishings…by removing any unnecessary pieces while still showing buyers livable space, you are essentially creating the sense of a larger room!

3) Bring in as much light as possible…including natural light and lamps/overheads. Dark rooms tend to feel cave-like, thus making them feel much more cramped and a lot smaller.

4) Create a sense of continuity…which will make the room-to-room flow of the house much easier, thus making it feel more expansive. This can be easily achieved by breaking up matching furnishings and using them between rooms.

5) Minimize the paint scheme…and choose one main color that can easily flow between connecting spaces rather than painting every room a different color. This will further emphasize the continuity between rooms, thus making the entire home feel much larger.

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