Top 7 Worst Pieces of Staging Advice

1. “Keep everything exactly how you live in it, it gives the house personality.”

The truth of the matter is of all the people who might buy this house, you are not one of them. I did not design my business around my needs. I designed it around my client’s needs. Selling a house is like having a small business with one product to sell (the house). Merchandise that product with your client (the buyer) in mind, not yourself.

2. “Bake cookies just before the open house.”

Smell is closely associated with memory. I use to work at Mrs. Field's as a teenager, and the smell of cookies makes me slightly nauseated and a little bit angry. For someone on a strict diet, it may make them think of not being able to eat cookies, like ALL the cookies. We have no idea what smell is going to trigger what memory (or allergic reaction) in your buyer. So please, for goodness sake, leave the scented items out. The smell of “nothing" is the smell of selling, sooner, and for more money.

3. “Just put up signs on all the doors that say “DON'T LET THE CAT OUT!”

Buying a house is already stressful. Your buyer is going to see upwards of 7-10 houses in one day. They ain’t got time to look after your fluffy feline friend. More than likely they will cruise swiftly though your property looking for the “alleged” cat and get out as fast as they can, having not paid any attention to their future life in your home. Find another place for the cat or any other pet to stay when showing your property.

4. “Staging makes it impossible to see the house, leave it empty.”

I have often heard people say that staging gets in the way of seeing their own furniture in the house. This is true for roughly 10% of the population. I am not a betting man, but I would place my bet on the 90% of the people who need a sense of scale and layout to understand a house. When making any decision in business, go with the more likely majority, not the less likely minority.


5. “Color helps houses sell, the more color the better.”

This is a tricky one, because we do use subtle punches of color to help our buyers discuss each room once they get home. ("Remember the house with the red kitchen, well, I think the green bedroom should be your office.") But there is a limit to the amount of color we should add to homes. The truth is a neutral base of wall, ceilings and floors will make it much easier for the next buyer to move in. Keep the color regulated to art, linens and accessories.


6. “People can’t tell the difference between live plants and fake plants.”

Um, yeah dude, they totally can. I get it, live plants are lovely and make spaces seem more home-like. Here is the thing, unless you have somebody specifically assigned to take care of the live plants and freshly cut flowers on a daily basis then there should be no plants in the house. Nothing sends a buyer packing faster than dead plants and flowers in a house. As for fake plants… eww, seriously eww… just stop it. What is this, the set of the Sopranos circa 2002?

7. “Blow-up mattresses look just as good as real mattresses."

Blow-up mattresses are a great idea if you plan on never selling your house. Not only do these monstrosities of design look terrible in spaces, they often deflate leaving your buyer, well… deflated. Seriously, if you use fakery in your staging like blow-up mattresses, you are starting to form a relationship with you buyer based on lies and trickery. We must prove to our buyers that mattresses fit up staircases and down hall ways and through doors. Blow-up mattresses start to cast doubt that anything in the house is real. Suddenly your buyers start questioning the validity of everything in your property as well as your integrity. Once they get stressed enough they simply move on to the next house. You know the one… the one with the real mattresses?


4 Easy Tips to Boost Curb Appeal Immediately


When selling your house, the exterior is usually the very first thing a prospective buyer will see. There are four main areas you should concentrate your energy to instantly boost curb appeal.

#1 Visible Address Numbers
Make sure your address numbers can be read from the street. If your house is hard to find, people will leave without buying. Your address numbers need to be in a contrasting color and well-lit so it can be easily read from the street both day and night.    

#2 Easy Entry
Getting into the home should be simple. If your house is hard to get into, people will walk into your home frustrated. Does the lock set work well without any additional instructions? If not, then it’s time to get it repaired or replaced. If the listing notes need to spell out complicated directions like, “Pull up and to the left to get the deadbolt open,” then you have a problem. Also, get rid of your screen door! I have never seen a screen door that was better looking than the door behind it. The screen door also can make for an awkward entry sequence when attempting to get the key out of the lock box while holding the screen door open. 


#3 Maintained Landscaping
Landscaping should be up to snuff. Don’t get us wrong, it doesn’t need to be Versailles but it also should not be Sanford and Sons. Start by removing all lawn decorations. Your landscape should only consist of nicely-manicured grass, shrubbery or plants.  All weeds should be pulled and fresh mulch (the kind without manure) should be spread in all the beds for a fresh and taken-care-of look. 

#4 Fresh Paint
Make sure there is no evidence of peeling paint on the siding or faded stain on the decks. If needed, scrape, prepare, prime and paint all exterior surfaces so that the house looks easy to maintain for the future buyer.


When Home Staging Lends a Hand to Homelessness in Seattle


On April 12th, Spade and Archer was able to participate in a celebration to support one of our favorite non-profits in Seattle. The Compass Housing Alliance hosted a ribbon cutting for a brand new, 59-unit apartment building in the Broadview neighborhood of Seattle. This building is comprised of mostly two- and three-bedroom units to accommodate families exiting housing instability and homelessness.


Spade and Archer provided home staging support to show off the features and functionality of a two-bed room apartment. The model was visited by all the partners that helped Compass Broadview come to fruition, the press, and community members.

“With the Compass Broadway resident in mind, we wanted to portray a simple, practical and stable home life that these new homes will provide,” said Justin Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency.  “As part of the Seattle business community, we love supporting Compass Housing Alliance and their work fighting homelessness.”


Compass Housing Alliance is the leading provider of affordable housing for men, women, veterans, and families who are low-income or experiencing homelessness in the Puget Sound area.

“We are thrilled to officially open Compass Broadview. Two-thirds of Compass Broadview is full of families, children, and individuals starting anew. We expect more than 150 residents to call Compass Broadview home,” said Janet Pope, Chief Executive Officer of Compass Housing Alliance. “Everyone at Compass Broadview will have a safe, permanent, and supportive place to live. And they will all call Compass Broadview home.”

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Instagram-Worthy Pics and Ga-Ga-Like Amenities to Attract Millennials


This article originally appeared on the Style, Staged and Sold Blog by and was written by Spade and Archer founder Justin Riordan.

Surveys show that millennials prioritize home buying over getting married or having kids. They’re eager to buy, as soon as they get their finances in order.

So, how do you appeal to the millennial home buyer? Here are some tips in speaking their language:

1. Make it Instagram Worthy

When it comes to reaching a millennial buyer, here’s one simple thing to keep in mind: Is your home Instagram worthy? Seriously, an empty room with a price attached to it is not enough to grab the attention of those 25 to 35 years olds. The space needs to have an awesome interior design through home staging–along with great lighting, photos worthy of being reposted along with copy that makes people think, laugh, and repost.

If you happen to get a millennial to actually visit your listing in person, be sure to have signs prepared that say “Home tour today!” and “1107 Elm Drive is AWESOME!” This way they can hold up the signs, you can take their picture, post it on your Instagram and tag them in it. All of their friends get to see what they are doing, where they are, and perhaps become interested in both your listing and in you as an agent. It’s like building your own little army of social media influencers.

Add hysterical descriptions to your listing. Make them laugh. If you raise an emotion with your listing, your audience will be more apt to “Like” and share your listing. Create short videos, by using TikTok or Boomerang, of you or your visitors being goofy in the house. Again, make them laugh, and you’ll gain followers.

Include ironically vintage items in your house. That exercise bike that your mom used to workout with when you were a kid is now an Instagram worthy moment. The vintage typewriter with a description of the house typed on the paper already inside is a great #coolhouse moment. Anything you can do to get your house organically in front of more millennials, the better.

2. Amenities That Millennials Will Go Ga-Ga Over

Furry Friendly Funmenities: Millennials are having less kids, and they are opting to fill their empty nests instead with dogs and cats. Providing cat doors, fenced dog runs, pet surveillance systems and pet washing stations could be a huge appeal to these perky parents of pets.

Super Smart Shelter Stuff

Smart homes are all the rage. Millennials were raised in a world of the disposable. They have very little concept of how to fix or repair anything in their home. The more their house can take care of itself the better. Here are some of the best self-caring items we are in love with currently:

  • Keyless entry systems: Opening doors with your smartphone or a memorized code, means you never have to carry a key with you again. When you join the shared economy, you can simply text your entry code to your renter, how easy is that?

  • Smart light bulbs: Change the level and temperature of light with a simple voice command or from your smart phone. Take your lighting from “selfie” mode to “Netflix and chill” with a simple code word.

  • Smart home management systems: From Nest to Alexa to Siri, there is some disembodied smart voice that can take care of everything from your temperature to your locks to your lights to your security system.

  • Refrigerators with cameras: It comes down to this–every time you open the door to figure out what you want to eat, you are essentially killing the Earth. If you want to be a better person without actually doing anything, you can now turn on the camera inside your refrigerator and see what’s inside guilt free. Earth saved!

  • Electric vehicle support systems: Speaking of killing the Earth, gas powered vehicles are doing just that too. By providing your millennial home buyers with electric charging ports, wall mounted batteries, and solar cell panels, you can make owning an electric vehicle so much easier. Now, we just need to get past the $80,000 price tag of the car!

  • USB ports in the outlets: This will allow your millennial buyers to charge their devices anywhere in the entire house.

Community Conscious Conveniences

There is a serious desire for millennials to find ways to meet other people without seeming forced. Skip the media room, millennials don’t watch TV on big screens, they instead use their laptops to download the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” and “Broad City.” Instead, promote outdoor BBQ spaces, community gardens, and high Walk Scores to show your listing is community-minded.

 When it all comes down to it, millennials are going to need the same (vegan) meat and (gluten-free) potatoes everybody else needs: Living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The rest? It’s all (dairy free, non-GMO) gravy in getting them attracted to your listing.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Justin M. Riordan, LEED AP is founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, a home staging company with offices in Portland and Seattle. As the creative energy behind Spade and Archer, Riordan fuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create beautiful and authentic spaces for clients. Follow Spade and Archer on Instagram.