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5 Decorating Mistakes Homeowners Make When Selling Their Property

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Eliminate these 5 decorating mistakes when putting your house on the market and add tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket!

The average person stays in their home for approximately 13 years before selling (according to NAR*) which means you only get 2 or 3 opportunities on average to profit the most you can from selling your house. It is a BIG deal and you don't want to miss out on a single dollar in what will most likely be the highest value transaction of your life.

There are a lot of big mistakes homeowners can make regarding setting a realistic price, hiring a great real estate agent, negotiating, and larger architectural factors (such as other bad roof, unfinished DIY projects, outdated kitchen and appliances, etc.) but we're going to focus on 5 mistakes you can make from a decorating standpoint that can cost you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars!

  1. Personal Items - The 1st place we always suggest working on is to remove any personal items. The moment you decide to sell your house the easiest thing to do is to understand that at that point it is no longer YOUR house, but the person or family who buys the house. It is a difficult thing to accept for a lot of homeowners but a very important one. The house you may have lived in for an average of 13 years has a lot of memories. Many of those memories you don't want to just let go. But remember, the people who buy the house have their own memories, their own families, and want to find a place to make many more. If you have family pictures on the shelves and in the master bedroom, graduation caps hanging on the walls, or your children's school crafts on the fridge - it won't feel like a clean slate potential home buyers desire where they can make their own memories. It will feel like they are invading someone else's space and automatically turn them away. You'll receive less interest and less offers than if you remove yourself (no matter how difficult that may be) from the equation.

  2. Decluttering - This is less of an actual decorating idea but something you absolutely need to do in order to properly decorate at all. People want to feel like they have tons of space. When preparing your house for market you want to highlight the best features of a property and hide the flaws. If there are boxes laying around the house or cluttered mess everywhere it will send a message to the potential buyer the house has not enough storage and they need a bigger house - which means they might not make an offer on your property and move on the next one. Sometimes it can be a lot of work to pack up everything before putting the house on the market but if that work could net you tens of thousands of dollars - would it be worth it to you?

  3. Furniture - This suggestion is actually three fold: using wrong scale furniture, using the wrong layout, and using too much furniture. For personal use, a lot of times we see homeowners own big and comfy furniture. And there is nothing wrong with that for your own personal use. But what happens is a lot of times those comfortable couches are very large for the space they're in and show the rooms as a lot smaller than they actually are. If you happen to have those bigger furniture pieces try to replace them with smaller pieces so you can show the space as large as possible. We know that is easier than it sounds and if you don't have furniture that fits the space - you can always call a home stager such as Intermountain Staging for help with this. The second part of this is using a furniture layout that is designed for your personal use and not to highlight the space. For example, in most personal properties the center of the living room is the TV. With that being so - the primary seating area (usually a couch or sectional) is faced towards the TV. Sometimes the TV is above a fireplace but many times it is off to the side. By having the sofas face a TV stand as the focal point you can alter the flow of the room and remove potential seating space. Maybe your living room window faces a beautiful outdoor setting but instead of highlighting that everything in the room is facing the opposite direction because that is where you had the TV. We actually suggest removing TVs from the living room altogether if possible. That will free up your mind to lay the furniture out in a way that showcases the room. You would be free to add more seating, clean up your walkways, and give the potential homebuyers a sense for how large a space can be. And the third part of the furniture suggestion aligns with the rest of these and is to remove any furniture you don't need for design purposes. Just because you liked to have a nice and expensive matching bedroom set that includes multiple dressers - doesn't mean you need to use them as they might make your master bedroom actually feel much smaller.

  1. No Furniture - On the flip side of having too much furniture or it being laid out in a way that doesn't highlight the space - is having no furniture at all. Obviously being a staging company we would never suggest this and companies like ours are available to fix this problem but if you can't hire a staging company - at least try and leave enough furniture items to show the space in the rooms. We would suggest at minimum a living room, master bedroom and dining areas. People have a hard time seeing themselves in a space if it is empty. Unless they have a sense for design themselves - they see an empty room and it doesn't make much of an impact. Instead of focusing on functionality of the space and how it could work for their family - they start to see the details of the house. They'll notice any floorboards that are dirty or broken. They'll see the holes from screws and nails in the wall. They might see how dirty the window sills are or how old the carpet might be. A primary goal of yours as someone selling their house should be to have everyone who walks through the house say at the end of their tour "that house was great and it is move-in ready!". The more times someone says during the tour "that needs a little work" the more they'll want to keep their house buying journey going elsewhere.

  2. Personal Design Preferences - The last of the decorating mistakes we want to highlight is when home sellers have a very specific design style and that is reflected in the property too much. Although you are probably very proud of all the items you collected in your world travels or those very unique pieces of art you found - not everybody will like them. It is human nature to want to show off our things but remember that the buyers of your property are buying the house and not your things.

There are plenty more suggestions we can make for getting your house market ready and making sure you maximize the profits on this huge opportunity you have - but if you at least focus on not making these 5 decorating mistakes you can put more money in your pocket.


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