It’s exciting that when people ask me what I do, the response of “home stager” is no longer reciprocated with a blank stare. However, I do get the impression that most folks just assume that I’m an interior designer. Clearly there is some overlap between the two professions. At the end of the day, both professions are trying to improve the design aesthetic of a home. But there are also some big differences, so I’m breaking down some key differences between interior design and home staging.
The largest difference between interior design and home staging is the audience. In interior design, the audience is the homeowner. Interior designers work closely with the homeowner to execute a vision to create an aesthetic that pleases the homeowner. If you like modern décor, an interior designer will help you select modern pieces. If you love bright, bold and patterned, an interior designer will find the brightest and boldest selections you can imagine. You get the point.
In home staging, the audience is the potential home buyer. Home stagers do not consult the homeowner to execute their vision, but rather work to create a universally appealing design to attract the target audience.
When working with a homeowner to execute a vision, an interior designer will understand their lifestyle and needs to set up a home that functionally fits the current owner. The goal is not likely to be concerned with capturing the best picture for online listings, nor is it necessarily to showcase the best characteristics of the room. On the other hand, a home stager defines a purpose for each room and establishes the layout to best highlight the room’s potential. That may or may not fit with the current owner’s lifestyle. A perfect example is the placement of a TV in a living room. Clearly many families congregate in the living room to watch TV and oftentimes the furniture is arranged to provide the best view of the tube (guilty right here)!
In almost all cases, a budget is important for both interior design and home staging projects. With interior design, the homeowner dictates the budget for the room and their designer uses this as a guide to find the right pieces with the right style, function and cost. However, in home staging, the nature of the business dictates that the furniture pieces will be moved from one property to another and accordingly, the stager purchases furniture that can withstand the multiple moves but also keeps in mind the versatility of a piece.
At the end of the day, both interior designers and home stagers want to make a property shine. We all get to play with fun furniture, art and accessories and eventually end up with something beautiful. But to sum up the key difference, interior designers are hired to help current occupants and home stagers are hired to help find future occupants.
So if you hear me say I'm a home stager and think I'm an interior designer, 1) thank you for the compliment, but 2) you're just a little bit off.