In today’s real estate climate, staging is no longer the “nice bonus” that it once was - it’s a downright necessity. Preparing your home for sale by strategically coordinating how it presents itself to buyers is an art, and whether you undertake the task yourself (with the help of HGTV, design blogs, and Pinterest) or hire out a pro’s services, you should make sure that your house presents like the treasure that it is.

You know all the basics of good staging - neutralize EVERYTHING, fresh paint, white-glove cleaning, rent nicer furniture than you own, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But do you know some of the absolute don’ts of staging? The reality is that there are a handful of items that, once spotted by a discerning prospective buyer, can absolutely tank your home sale. Any idea what these killer decor items are? Read on to find out.

Anything political or religious (or likely to provoke a rivalry?)

The goal of staging is to remove “you” from your home so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves perfectly within those four walls. Things that will absolutely interfere with the fantasy? Anything that sparks controversy, like religious or political items. It doesn’t matter how important these parts of your life are; it’s best to put them away anything that even hints at controversial subjects. A MAGA hat is an obvious one, but any red baseball cap is suspect these days. Same goes for candles, crosses, or any other symbols of faith. And you might be surprised to know, but your collection of college memorabilia might spark hostility in a buyer who attended a rival university and is intense enough to feel offended by your diploma hanging on the wall.

Large collections of… stuff

Big collections, of anything from Star Wars plastic toys to wall-to-wall bookshelves, is going to look strange to the buying public. Not only do your eccentricities become fodder for buyers’ scrutiny, but the space taken up by your collection (a large bookcase, a lit china cabinet, excessive shelving) can make the room look cluttered, which is always a staging DON’T. So maybe you keep your giant bookshelf, but you throw half the actual tomes in storage and put some pretty knick-knacks and succulents on the empty shelves to give the image of a more curated space. 

Any personal items. Like, ANY

Staging experts are not kidding when they tell you to take the family photos down off the walls and mantle. Basically, seeing pictures of the current owners is another psychological deterrent to prospective buyers imagining themselves in your home. Keep things as impersonal and neutral as possible in all aspects.