What’s the Difference Between Home Staging & Interior Decorating?

Difference Between Home Staging and Interior Decorating

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Home Staging and Interior Decorating are two design industry phrases that are used a lot.

While there can be some crossover between these two aspects of interior design, they are quite different with regard to both purpose and application.

Whether you’re a homeowner, a realtor, a decorator, or a student of design, understanding the differences and nuances of these two design techniques can be both useful and fascinating; from the practical aspects such as making the best use of color and lighting, to the psychology of interior design.

Let us now take a closer look at the differences between home staging and interior decorating…

The overall purpose

In general, interior design involves making a home, or a workplace, more pleasant, or more fitting for the owners. The design process will revolve around the family’s own tastes, their personal color and style preferences, and the way they live. From stark minimalism to cozy warmth, the end result is to create a room setting that’s aesthetically pleasing and perfectly practical for those who will use it.

With home staging, the purpose is to sell a property, to draw in potential buyers, and make it look amazing, while not limiting the appeal to any one particular person or group. This is a process of showing off a property to its maximum, with a nod to real-life living, while truly offering an aspirational lifestyle. This is achieved by making each room look its best, perhaps with clever use of lighting and object placement, by reducing the amount of furniture in a room, or by visually offering the suggestion that a particular room can have multiple functions, accommodating a wide range of needs.  

The intended audience

Interior decorating is usually undertaken to please a particular person or people. A home may be designed with the unique needs of a specific family in mind. There may be little thought given to the future, for example, vibrant colors and bold motifs may be chosen for a child’s room simply because it will make them happy. With home staging, it’s all about appealing to the masses. Keeping colors muted and neutral to maximize the selling power, enabling any potential buyer to easily imagine themselves living in the home. A home stager will understand the latest trends and know what buyers are looking for.

The timeframes and effort involved

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules, but in general, home staging is a much quicker, and less involved process than interior decorating. When you’re looking to sell your home, it may be necessary to completely renovate the property, but for the majority of sales, setting the scene is all that is needed. A good declutter will make a home look more spacious, removing personal items creates a blank canvas that viewers can project their own life onto.

An interior decorating project can range from a simple makeover, a change of fabric for the soft furnishings, or the addition of rugs, artwork, or accessories, but often it’s a much larger, more transformational project, taking into account flooring, wall coverings, and perhaps new furniture.

Long vs short-term goals

The purpose of home staging is to make a big impression in a short time. The stage is set, and the whole ambiance needs to be taken in at a glance. Anyone viewing a home may simply walk through each area, giving it a quick glance, and making snap judgments. First impressions count. Home staging is about impact and not longevity.

On the other hand, the aim of interior decorating is to create a beautiful, liveable space, that can be enjoyed in the longer term. This is the art of designing spaces to be lived in, to be used, day in and day out. With home staging, it’s all about the instant wow factor, you’re setting a scene, but interior design goes deeper than that, yes it needs to be visually stunning, but there will be other factors in play such as durability, ease of use, and the ability to adapt to the seasons or for different use case scenarios such as socializing.

The use of tricks and psychology 

We use tricks in interior decorating all the time. If you want to feel warmer, you’ll add in a lamp that gives off a cozy glow, perhaps you’ll use scatter cushions, throws, and rugs in rich autumnal colors. This psychological aspect of home décor becomes magnified when it comes to home staging, where a wealth of tricks may be used to showcase a home in its absolute best light. Curtains are drawn wide and windows are opened to give the impression of a light and airy home. An eye-catching flower may be placed on the windowsill that offers the best view, to draw the eye and make sure every potential buyer spots this selling point.   

Working as a home stager or an interior decorator

If you have an eye for design, you may have considered a career in the interior design industry. While many skills will serve you equally well as an interior decorator or a home stager, each role is unique and you’ll work in different ways. The life of a home stager tends to be faster-paced. A homeowner or real estate agent will call upon your skills to maximize on the most positive aspects of a property. Understanding what works in a property, being on top of the trends, and having a good grasp of the psychology of property buyers are all vital skills. You’ll generally have quite a free rein to rearrange furniture, pack up personal items, or add accessories from your own inventory, in order to create the perfect scene. For the interior designer, the process is generally slower. You’ll work with the owner of the property, discussing their needs, understanding the way they live and their personal tastes. The design and implementation may involve many consultations regarding colors, fabrics, and artwork. The end result may be harder to achieve, but you’ll be left with the satisfaction that the homeowners can enjoy your work for years to come. The satisfaction for a home stager comes when a property is sold quickly, for a good price.

Taking the first steps to a design career

There are many courses available, both online and at your local college, that will give you a good grounding in design techniques.

With so much crossover between home staging and interior decorating, there’s little need to decide what road to go down initially. Developing a good understanding of color, lighting, and the best ways to use different materials will all put you in good stead whichever design career path you choose. And of course, these are all incredibly useful skills that you can put into use in your own home, whether you’re creating the perfect retreat or you’re looking to maximize the returns on your investment property.   

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