Home Staging Course Unit 3
Home Staging Tips for Color and Interior Design Principles
This section will be all about home staging tips related to color and design. This unit will help you with some of the aesthetic decisions you’ll make when you stage homes, and we’ll get into some of the best decor tips for making irresistible interior spaces that will activate buyers’ senses and help them start connecting to the home.
If you’ve missed the beginning of the course or just want to review, go back and check out Part 1 of our home staging course.
Color & Human Response
Humans are extremely responsive to color. We have direct physical and psychological responses to color, so when you’re staging a home, you need to understand these principles. This section ties in to home staging psychology, one of the most fascinating aspects of this field.
There are plenty of books on the topics of color psychology and using color in decorating (I have read and recommend the one above), and we could go into great detail here, but I want to give you the most important home staging tips about color that will be useful to you in your everyday staging projects.
Generally speaking, warm colors (pink, red, orange, yellow, and yellow-green) are associated with energy, excitement, activity, and sometimes happiness and love.
These colors can convey a physical sense of warmth.
Cool colors (blue, blue-green, blue-violet, gray) are associated with water, snow, and sky.
These colors can convey a cooling sensation.
Cool colors are calming, soothing, and restful.
There are variances within each hue such as cooler oranges and warmer blues, but the primary hues will fall into the category of warm or cool.
Greens and violets can definitely vary quite a bit in terms of being warmer or cooler.
Grays can be quite warm but generally they are classified as cool.
Brown and beige shades fall into the warm category.
Make sure you stick with very light shades when you’re choosing room colors for home staging, since a color can look a lot darker on the walls than you thought it was when you looked at the paint chip.
This is due to the changes in how we perceive the color in a large area like an entire room. It just looks different on the two-inch square that you see on the chip.
So, factor this in when you’re selecting colors and always err on the side of lighter rather than darker. An exception would be when you’re really trying to make a room look smaller, but this isn’t usually the case in home staging.
Let’s talk more about specific colors and how you can use them in your staging.
Home Staging Tips: Using Color in Home Staging
Green is associated with nature and it makes us feel calm. Strong green shades like grass green or emerald should be used sparingly, as accents, and are especially appropriate for bedrooms due to their soothing effect.
Pale, earthy greens like sage shades can be used for walls in any room.
Keep wall colors light.
Red is a high energy color, and as such, it is appropriate to use in smaller doses for staging.
Areas like dining rooms where you want to encourage social interaction are great places to use red.
I like using red in the more problem rooms such as a dated kitchen or bathroom where you really want to lead the eye away from trouble spots.
When you use red in three small areas in a space, it helps move the eye around and can make the space seem more alive.
In a kitchen I might use a red teapot, a red (or partially red) throw rug in front of the sink, and a vase full of red flowers such as dahlias.
The key to using red is to use it strategically to say “look here!” — be aware of the attention it will attract, and use it to achieve your staging goals. If I really want someone to focus on the beautiful fireplace, I might think about how I can use a pop of red to make sure it isn’t missed.
In bedrooms, red can lend a romantic vibe. This can be fine for staging, as long as you keep it from being over the top. Remember, small doses.
Yellow is probably the color associated with happiness more than any other hue. It’s also very easy to overdo it with yellow, so it’s another one that I would suggest using strategically in smaller doses.
Yellow is definitely a go-to color when you want to add a sense of light to a space. It’s the color of the sun so we automatically make the association with daylight.
I like using it subtly such as in a throw pillow, fresh (or good-looking faux) flowers, or artwork. It’s great for cheering up a laundry area.
Orange works much like red and yellow but it can be trickier to use successfully. One reason is because orange isn’t high on most people’s list of favorite colors.
I would definitely use prints that feature orange, and orange accents like a big bowl of oranges (especially if you’re lucky enough to have an orange tree on the property and you want to highlight it as one of the home’s nice features), flowers, candles, or throw pillows.
When you ask people what their favorite color is, blue is the most common response. You can be pretty comfortable that when you’re using blue, people are much more likely to love it than dislike it.
Strong blues are great where you want to give a cool, calm feeling, and are best used as accent colors. Pale blues are very pleasing to the eye and can be used in any room.
In a bathroom, pale greens and blue-greens can convey a serene, spa-like feeling. Pale blue bedrooms look like a relaxing space for relaxing and resting.
White is a nice background where you can make your colors pop. Avoid using too much white, since it can come across as dull, cold, and lifeless.
Use white in conjunction with color so that your spaces feel happy and alive.
Warm whites are the best shades to go with — colors like antique white, cream, and into the light parchment and linen shades.
White is popular for just about any room in the house, especially kitchens and bathrooms as they give you a fresh, clean look.
Natural shades are very pleasing and will impart a warm, satisfying feeling. Humans love natural materials. Use light tan shades for walls and make the space come to life with pops of color.
Even if buyers don’t actually touch anything when viewing the home, the look of natural materials (like these gorgeous baskets) is so enticing that it works psychologically.
I’m not suggesting that you decorate with beige and khaki, but use these peaceful colors in conjunction with your accent colors to give the eye a pleasing balance of liveliness and comfort.
What are the Best Home Staging Colors?
Want some home staging tips that you can literally take to the bank?
Here’s some recent data about color and home sales straight from Zillow:
- Blue bathrooms in shades like powder blue and periwinkle can boost a home’s sale price by an average of more than $5,000.
- Cool, natural shades are also desirable for bathrooms.
- White bathrooms are not as desirable, with an average of $4,000 taken off the sale price.
- Grayish beige exteriors (greige) sell better than medium brown or tan.
- Front doors painted in shades of navy and slate can add about $1500 to the sale price.
- Terracotta dining room walls can take about $2,000 off the sale price.
- Dining rooms painted in slate, pale gray, and navy can add about $2,000 to the sale price.
- Yellow kitchens are not as popular these days. It can take around $800 off the price.
Home Staging Tips: Decorating and Style
Let’s go over some key decorating points to keep in mind for home staging.
Buyers want lots of space in a home. They want rooms that feel open and airy.
Go through the home and find all of the ways you can create a spacious, open feeling.
We already talked about removing clutter and excess furniture so let’s talk about other things you can do.
Closets & Cabinets
Closets are important areas where you should create space.
Closets are a huge deal, and nobody wants a closet that’s going to be a challenge due to its size.
While you can’t do anything about the size of the closet, you can make them feel as spacious as possible.
You can do this by having the sellers organize and thin out their wardrobe.
Seasonal items that aren’t needed can be packed and stored in preparation for moving.
Encourage sellers to find ways to make more closet space through organizing, storing, or possibly even donating stuff.
Cabinet space is also important and buyers may peek in to make sure they seem roomy. Make sure all storage areas look like they are sufficient by avoiding an overstuffed, unorganized look.
Aside from the space issue, any kind of disarray is undesirable in staging.
Buyers will want to check to make sure the home meets their needs right down to whether it has enough cabinet space or not.
When you have a very large living area with undefined spaces, it may make the room seem more functional if you separate the spaces by using different paint colors, such as an end wall painted in an accent color.
You can accomplish the same separation with area rugs.
Having two well-defined areas can actually make a large random-feeling room seem larger and more useful.
Light & Space
Make sure you keep the window treatments nice and light as much as possible, so that you can bring the outside in and add light and an airy, open feel.
Large mirrors can help create space, especially when they are positioned so that they pick up reflections of daylight coming in through a window.
I like using modern, semi-abstract landscape artwork on walls because it’s not going to put people off, and it also adds a sense of space to the room.
Choosing Accessories & Decor
As far as decorating style when it comes to home staging tips I can give you, stick with a tasteful and up to date style that isn’t too taste-specific.
I often refer to Pottery Barn style as an ideal for appealing décor that appeals to a wide range of people.
Classic, yet current.
I’m definitely not saying that your items have to be from Pottery Barn.
Note: I like doing staging shopping through this cash back program; I like the quarterly checks that come from things I was going to buy anyway.
Be sure to mix in accents in trendy prints or colors. You can liven up a blah sofa with fresh throw pillows. I've gotten gorgeous, beautifully-made pillow covers from this shop. There’s nothing more affordable for a high-impact update.
If mismatched furniture is an issue and you’re not able to swap for new pieces due to budget or time constraints, slipcovers might be an option.
A quick word on kitchen staging: please don’t use this type of artwork when you stage a kitchen. It’s a cliché that needs to be retired.
Putting It All Together
When you arrange furniture in a room, be sure to keep things balanced.
There is not a one-size-fits-all home staging tip that will apply in every situation, but when there is an imbalance, you’ll be able to see it and correct it.
Trust yourself when you think something isn’t quite right. When in doubt, less is usually more.
Lighten and brighten areas that are too dark by using light natural paint colors.
You’ll create an open feel while maintaining warmth when you stick with shades like straw, cream, and linen.
Finally, make sure each room has a distinct purpose when you stage.
A bedroom used as a sewing room or office is OK (bedrooms used as bedrooms is the ideal way to stage) but when a room looks like a multi-purpose craft room/guest room/workout area, it starts to be less attractive.
You want each room to make an impression.
A dining room that’s also a shipping area for a home business is going to be less appealing than a dining room that just looks like a beautiful dining room.
Yes, it is possible to see past some of the current uses for spaces, but it really helps buyers see the home’s lifestyle potential more clearly when we keep rooms clearly defined.
1. Find a room in your house that you can stage. Practice with hands-on activities like rearranging items, placing throw pillows, or making the bed as attractively as possible.
You don’t have to physically make every change that would be helpful, but go through the steps in your mind. Think about the paint color, the artwork, and the personal items that would need to be removed. Get some practice in styling by rearranging and editing objects on tables, night stands, or dressers.
2. Go through some real estate listings online. Do a search for starter homes in your area and go over the photos of each room. Look at the rooms the way buyers will.
Make a list of all of the changes you would make, including anything you think would be reasonable to do for staging such as painting or changing light fixtures. Be sure to make notes about the homes best features as well as features you want to de-emphasize.
6 Interior Design Principles You Need to Know
Let’s go over some of the important information you should be familiar with when it comes to interior design.
This is going to be a quick overview with home staging tips that will give you a good basis for understanding how to make good decorating and design choices.
My personal belief is that if you’re interested in home staging, you probably already have a knack for it and understand good decorating in an instinctual way.
My dozen or so years as an instructor has shown this to be true time and time again.
I’ve never had a student turn in bad work.
And in many cases, the student turns in work that looks like it could be in a magazine.
This is just because people who are drawn to home staging are drawn to it because it taps into their natural abilities.
Even if you are a Realtor interested in becoming certified, I would feel confident in saying that you probably already have a knack for putting a room together.
And Realtors look at so many homes that you can’t help but develop a good eye after a while.
Having said all that, let’s get into some design principles.
Balance in interior design refers to the idea of using the visual weight of objects in a room to create visual balance. Balance is one of the ways you can give the room a sense of things just looking right.
Sometimes when things feel off, something isn’t quite right and you’re not sure why, it’s probably balance.
You will most commonly use symmetrical balance and asymmetrical balance. When using asymmetrical balance, it’s all about using unlike objects that have the same visual weight.
Unity is a way to give a home a sense of flow and harmony throughout each room.
This isn’t something you’ll have total control of as a home stager, since you’re going to be working with a lot of design choices that have already been made.
Color is one of the ways a home can have a sense of unity. If one room is painted hot pink and every other room is done in earthy neutrals, that’s going to be shocking space to walk into.
If all of the rooms are painted in bold colors then the hot pink makes a lot more sense.
As a home stager you might not be painting every room.
But if you keep unity in mind, you might be able to make and jarring transitions a bit more subtle. In this example, you might be able to lessen the shock of the hot pink by adding some bold punches of color in other rooms.
Or in the hot pink room, you might be able to calm it down with some neutrals in other elements like artwork, bedding, rugs, etc.
And of course they could always paint the room! You can use unity as a reason, instead of having the homeowner think you are questioning their taste.
Humans like visual rhythm. It helps the eye move around a space and creates some visual interest.
Two ways you can use rhythm are with color and with what we call progression, which is basically a series of identical or similar objects that range in size.
Emerald green throw pillows and an emerald green vase on the mantle would be an example of using color to create rhythm. An arrangement of small white, blue-green, and orange pumpkins creates rhythm through progression.
Use rhythm in small doses.
Scale & Proportion
This principle is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about putting the right size pieces together, and making sure your furniture is the right size for the room. Make sure the coffee table looks like it’s the right size for the sofa.
Don’t put a tiny table in a family-sized dining area. It isn’t difficult to discern problems with scale and proportion, and it comes down to common sense in most cases, more than having to do with special home staging tips or formulas. Trust your eye.
Contrast is another way to add some visual interest to a space. You can use color, form, and space to create contrast.
When you put contrasting items together, what you’re doing is highlighting the differences between them, which in turn enhances each one and makes them look better.
Use contrast in small doses or the space can become too busy.
Emphasis is about choosing a particular focal point for a room.
You can use design elements to draw attention to an area like a fireplace, giving the room a focal point, and in the case of staging, emphasizing a desirable feature at the same time.
With these home staging tips, you’ll be able to stage any home with confidence.
Home Staging Course Unit 3 Assignments
1. Find three rooms in your own home or in a friend/family member’s home that you would paint if you were staging it. Working from a photo of each room, explain why a color change would be an improvement, and choose an exact shade that you would use when you repaint.
Try to pick a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams color as these are the two most commonly used by painting companies.
2. Discuss the use of color in the room below. What would you change, add, or remove? Is it appealing as-is? Aside from color, what staging steps would you take?