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Real Estate Staging vs Interior Design

Staging Is NOT Interior Design

Real Estate Staging vs Interior Design

STAGING vs INTERIOR DESIGN What is the difference between Staging and Interior Design? Would you immediately recognize which is which? It is not easy to tell the difference between Staging and Interior Design if you do not know what sets them apart. 

Staging is ALL ABOUT THEM and removing your personal design preferences in order to appeal to a broad market of potential buyers. Interior Design is ALL ABOUT YOU and creating a space that is both functional and reflects all of your personal design preferences. So let’s talk about it and clear up any misconceptions.

What Do You Need To Know?

How to know the difference. When you are staging a property you are staging for the masses the potential buyer that you are trying to attract to the home. In staging, it is all about the property and the potential buyer. You want to stage the property to highlight the positives to downplay the negatives. The target is to attract buyers that would be interested in that property. 

Staging Versus Interior Design

Trick Of The Eye

This can be done through a trick of the eye. Not that you’re deceiving anyone but if you have a small living room, for example, you would put a scale-appropriate sofa and coffee table with maybe one chair and end table. These pieces should be scaled so that it makes the space look larger. You would not put a five-piece sectional in a very small living room because you’re only drawing attention to the fact that the room is small.

Interior Design Client Needs Matter

If you are custom designing a space for a client then it is all about the client. It is really about what is their design aesthetic. What are their favorite colors? What is their favorite style? Do they want personal pictures around or do they not? 

Staging versus Custom Interior Design

Staging a Small Space

Where as in staging you want to minimize personal items in the property that draw attention to the fact that someone else lives there. You want to create that emotional connection between the potential buyer and the property.  You want them to want that space. It is easier to be emotionally drawn in if you’re not constantly thinking about the fact that someone else owns that space.

 If you are staging a living room You are going to choose furniture that is to scale for that space. You are going to arrange it in a way that highlights the positives and downplays the negatives. 

Staging versus Interior Design Custom Focus

Striking The Perfect Balance

In interior design, because you are focusing on the occupants you are going to have furniture that serves those occupants. The space is going to be more filled out. It is more about the occupants and the space and the focal points and what are they doing in the space and how it is serving them. 

Whereas in a staged property you are going to have fewer items because you’re not selling the items you’re selling the house, you’re selling the space   You are wanting to show off the space without it seeming cold or uninviting. Typically you’re going to have more furnishings in an occupied space because it is serving several different needs of the occupants. Such as sleeping, getting dressed clothes storage, reading, and a place to sit and have morning coffee.  

In a staged space it is more about showing off the space. You can have moments or little vignettes here and there but overall it’s going to be very non-personalized but inviting – which is a very fine line to strike. 

When a space is owner-occupied it’s going to be more personalized.

To keep this from becoming too confusing I’m going to highlight a few of the things about staging and a few of the things about interior design and how they compare. 

But first, let’s start with the focus. 


Keeping It All In Focus

The focus on staging versus the focus on the interior design. In staging, you want enough furnishings in each of the spaces to highlight the positives and downplay the negatives of the space. This is done by choosing the appropriately scaled furnishings for the space and the number of pieces necessary to create the desired atmosphere. The emotional bond between the potential buyer and the space but not so much that it detracts from the space itself. Because you’re selling the space you’re selling the condo and the house, not the furnishings.

Choose Minimal Pieces For Maximum Impact

In a living room, you might have a sofa a chair, a coffee table and maybe one end table, and possibly an area rug. 

This is true whether you are leasing furnishings or you’re redesigning your current furnishings.  In which case you would just remove or edit out enough of the current furnishings to suit the space. You would just take away until you reach the number of items needed to highlight that space.

Staging A Bedroom

In a bedroom, you’re going to want an appropriate size bed Such as a full size or queen size versus king size in order to make the space look larger. You May have one or two nightstands, possibly a dresser. This depends on the size of the room. When it comes to art just choose one sizable piece. It is better to have one piece of art over the bed instead of a collage because it keeps the visual clutter to a minimum. 

Staging A Kitchen

In the kitchen is going to be kept pretty much clean you might have one appliance or maybe a cutting board or a plant. On a breakfast bar, you might have a centerpiece or you may have it set with dishes as if someone was going to sit down and have a meal but keep it simple. Make it inviting but avoid any unnecessary clutter. 


Staging A Dining Room

In the dining room pair, it is down to where it’s a minimum of four or six seats. Choose whatever the smallest the table can accommodate. 

If it is a formal dining room you can go ahead and set the table if you want to. If it’s more of a casual eating area and there’s a place for four chairs you might only do a place setting for two. You might add a plant and possibly a lamp to the Buffet. There can be drapes but keep them simple. Nothing fancy just simple full-length panels.


Staging a Laundry Room

In a laundry room typically you’re going to have all the cleaning supplies in baskets or hidden away somewhere.  There will be no signs of pets, laundry baskets, or hampers.

Bathroom Staging

In a staged bathroom, there may be some towels, a soap dispenser, and possibly a trinket dish on the counter.


Staging a Closet

In closets are going to be kept minimized where there’s more space than there are clothing and your shoes will be edited to the minimum number.  

everything you need to know to measure a room

Customize Living Room Design

In interior design when designing for occupants it’s going to revolve around what that family needs. If they have a large family requiring a lot of seating then you may have a sectional, or two sofas and a few chairs. 

If they do games or puzzles you might have a table in the space. You may have collages of artwork versus just one simple piece. 

Customize Kitchen Design

In a custom design kitchen, you may have a pantry so that you can display all of your cookware and serving ware.

You may have shelves for cookbooks and accessories. You may have a seating area in the kitchen space. There may be a table that always seats six or eight people. There may be multiple barstools at the bar versus only about three which you would see in staging. There may be multiple appliances because that is what functions best for the occupants.

Staging versus Custom Interior Design

Customize A Bedroom Design

In the bedroom, you may find a king-size bed because they want more sleeping space. They may be willing to sacrifice the traffic flow size in order to accommodate the larger bed. 


Customized Closet

The closets may be completely fitted out in order to hold all of the occupant’s belongings versus in staging where you’re showing off the space.  In interior design, a closet is more about the organization and less about showing off the space. 

Customized Laundry Design

In a laundry room, you might find a folding table, a hamper, baskets, and a washer and dryer.  It could be a mudroom and laundry room combination where you’re going to have a space for seating, books, and shoes. and storage. There may be extra storage for cleaning supplies. There may be a linen closet full of linens and towels or extra supplies. 

Customize A Bathroom

In a Bathroom, There may be extra storage for cleaning supplies.   There may be a vanity for make-up and seating. There may be full-length mirrors and extra items. There could be art. There might be a chandelier. There may be additional items and features added for the occupants that you would not necessarily find in a space that is being staged.  There may be a linen closet full of linens and towels or extra supplies. 



There are some distinctive differences between how you would stage say a bookcase in a house being staged versus one that is interior design. 

The accessories are going to be minimal in staging and color coordinated. If it is a bookcase in interior design there may be books, artifacts, sculptures, art collections, etc. 

There could be an array of these throughout the bookcase. 


Staged Bedroom Linens

When it comes to the bedding in a staged property it is going to be minimal, very sleek almost hotel-like. There might be a decorative pillow or throw but for the most part, it is going to be paired down significantly. 


Customized Bedroom Linens

In an interior design space there may be layered sheets, comforter, throws, euro shams, pillows, bolsters, and additional finery that you might find in a personalized space but that you would not find in a staged property. 

Window Coverings

The drapes might be layered and have shears with tiebacks and valances etc. But in a staged it will be just simple full-length panels. 


Personalized Art

Artwork in interior design can be one piece, it could be a large piece, it could be pop art, or it could be a collage all over the wall. It is possible to have larger displays of artwork in a personalized space versus a stage space. 

Staged Art

In a stage space you’re going to have minimal art but it’s going to have an impact. Instead of a collage over the sofa, you may find one large piece of art. 


Entry Art Design

In an entry, you may find a mirror or possibly another piece of art. 


Customized Seating

In a space that is custom designed, you’re going to find enough seating to accommodate the large families or families that entertain a lot. You may find ottomans and other items that can be pulled into the space for extra seating. 

Staging versus Custom Interior Design

Staged Living Living Room

In a staged space you may find a sofa, coffee table, area rug, one end table, and one chair. 

When staging it’s not about how many people can be accommodated but about how to show that space off so that it is spacious yet inviting. 



When it comes to accessories and custom interior design spaces there is no limitation other than the budget or what the occupants desire to have. 

If they have artwork, sculptures, or whatever…there really is no limit to what you can do outside of those parameters to make sure that the space serves the occupants. 

In staging, accessories are going to be kept to a minimum because you do not want to distract from the property.  You just want to highlight the positive and kind of draw the eye away from the negatives. You do not want things in the space that are going to become distracting. 


I hope this has helped clear up any misunderstandings about interior design versus staging. If your home has been designed but you are putting it on the market for sale you need to have it professionally stage because staging is NOT interior design and interior design is NOT staging. These serve two entirely different purposes.

If you are looking to design your own space, schedule your complimentary call with me, I would love to work with you to create your next design project. I offer design services locally and via virtual to other locations.

Be sure and leave your thoughts in the comments below. If you found this post helpful or entertaining PLEASE share it on your socials. 

Check back often. It is my passion to Empower You To Design Your Life.

Thank You for spending your time with me. I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart.




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