Do You Know the Difference between an Interior Decorator and a Home Stager?

Updated: Jan 31


As a Professional Home Stager in Houston, TX, I am often asked what the difference is. The common misconception is that the two are one and the same; that is not the case. We will start by defining what home staging is.


Professional home staging is indeed a form of home design; however it is in fact quite a ways different from interior decorating or design. Home staging is the art and science of preparing an occupied (a house that is lived in) or a vacant house for sale. Home staging is designed to highlight a home’s best features and helps clients sell quickly and for top dollar. It is the ONLY service done in preparation of the house that brings MEASURABLE Value.


Home staging elevates a home’s charm to appeal to the largest pool of prospective buyers while maintaining its design integrity. When a property is styled and furnished in good taste, it converts into competitive offers and amplified demand. More often than not, the investment in staging comes back to a seller many times over in the final sale price. As Barb Schwarz, the creator of home staging says, “The investment in staging is always less than a price reduction”. Ultimately, the benefits of marketing a home that has been methodically styled and prepared for the larger buying audience outweighs the initial expenses and produces a far greater return.


A home stager uses a number of techniques to create an environment of universal marketability for the property by repairing, de-cluttering, de-personalizing, re-arranging, re-accessorizing, and neutralizing the home’s interior as well as exterior furnishings. If you cannot see it, you cannot sell it. Adding new bedding and accessories as well as accent pillows, throws and flowers can liven up rooms with paint and exhilaration. Shelves can be styled with books and interesting objects and artwork can be displayed throughout the house.


A home stager uses these proven strategies to show that a property is welcoming, larger, clean and inviting both inside and out. To put it simply, the job of a home stager is to remove the seller and the emotional impact of their stuff from the home and make a potential buyer want to live there. Sometimes the master bedrooms have so much stuff in them, they look like furniture stores. Home staging does not fill a room with furniture; it shows the best part and the purpose and size of the space. Interior decorating will more than likely include more furniture and finishes.

A few illustrations of how home stagers purposefully improve a client’s home would consist of:

  • Removing clutter from rooms including, but not limited to living rooms and bedrooms. Clients should decide which items they want to keep or dismiss.

  • Showing a client’s belongings in ways that are appealing to the eye. This is often times referred to as interior re-design. Home stagers arrange furniture, art and home accessories in a precise order to enhance a specified room. Thoughtful furniture installation and placement can give a buyer an understanding of how to use a space or how to a best arrange their own furnishings.

  • Removing personal items, such as family photos, religious items and sports memorabilia. This helps to create a broader space that any buyer could imaging themselves living in.

  • Assessing any repairs that need to be made to the home’s exterior improving curb appeal. These improvements could consist of painting walls in lighter colors, installing new carpeting and by adding uniform-colored bulbs.

  • Resurfacing kitchen counters and replacing old appliances with new, more updated ones.

Home staging is a dynamic, widespread service that is in great demand! When a buyer can

imagine how they will live in a space, it increases their chances of purchasing. “The majority of buyers only know what they see, not what it is going to be”. Home stagers gain trust with clients who rely on their services and know-how to sell their home. They are the experts in making delicate or extensive changes to the property in order to facilitate a fast and profitable sale. A home stager decorates a property for the real estate market as home staging is about selling a perceived lifestyle. They can see all of the rooms and spaces with no distractions. The ‘stage’ is set for them to make that purchase! Remember, “It’s My Business to Set the Stage”.


On the other hand, Interior Decorators are mainly about aesthetics yet practical considerations with particular emphasis on unity and flow. Interior decorating or design refers to the act of working with a homeowner to personalize the design for their space; just the opposite of home staging. Interior decorators tend to be hired by clients who might be overwhelmed with the idea of revamping or making any changes to their home, or even specific rooms within their

home. They work closely with their clients to select color schemes, furniture placement, purchasing new design items and accessorize in ways that reflect the client’s unique taste and

personality. You can think of them as an expert who can help you bring an entirely new look to your existing space while working within a client’s budget.

Interior decorators manage budgets along with schedules throughout the entire process.

Budget management involves not only guarantees that decorations and furniture stay within the

client’s budget, but also ensuring profitability for the interior decorator. Managing schedules and deadlines is equally important, as interior decorators must maintain a balanced workflow and meet client expectations to stay profitable.

An interior decorator transforms a client’s home by using some of the following:


  • A checklist to evaluate a space in order to define what is missing, or what could be upgraded including traffic flow.

  • Replicating a desired style within your client’s home, such as a Mid-Century Modern, Shabby Chic, Bohemian, Traditional or a Contemporary design style.

  • Creating an anticipated mood through the use of furniture, lighting, color, layout and fabric, window treatments and more. This should be consistent with what the client has requested.

  • Helping the client get the most use out of small spaces by using wall space, a vintage ladder or furniture that can serve as double-duty, just to name a few. The list could go on and on.

Professional interior decorators take regular living and working spaces from drab to fab and ordinary to extraordinary! This is where a keen eye for detail and an understanding of color theory and textures provide clients with the best advice available. Again, an interior decorator is to select the essentials of an interior space that best meet the needs of the client. Unlike home staging, it does not place prominence on making the space appear larger. Since interior decorating clients will often say that they don’t want to decorate again for a very long while!

They want to complete their project and have it last for a number of years to come. Every preference, detail and each request has to be addressed to the fullest.


These are some of the differences between home staging and interior decorating. One thing for sure is that the two are similar in having to possess imaginative, creative, attention-to-

detail, good interpersonal communication and problem solving skills and be able to envision a

unified end product of their work. With interior decorating, the methodology may be for the long haul while home staging is proposed for short term. The goal in home staging is to create the most appealing home interior for prospective buyers, and find the new homeowner as soon as possible! The goal in interior decorating is to create a space that improves the homeowner’s surroundings and the quality of life of its residents; a space they will enjoy and be proud to call home. It uses both science and art to create a beautiful outcome.


What does all of this cost? Some key factors that could impact what you might spend on

a home stager could include the location of your home and the requirements of your home, the

experience of the stager and the length of a signed agreement. It can be noted that most

people spend between $1500 and $5000 on professional home staging, however that solely

depends on where you live. Prices may vary, especially in places such as New York or LA

where the cost of living is much higher than other places.

While there are immeasurable reasons to hire an interior decorator, these trained and creative professionals can upgrade a newly purchased home to give it a fresh look or totally you’re your current a total makeover for that long overdue update. Cost factors of interior decorators or designers would include the size of the project, their reputation, timing, materials and so on. Some inexperienced or newbie decorators or designers may charge as little as $50 an hour, but experienced professionals can charge up to $500 an hour.


To sum it all up, interior decorators allow a client’s unique personality to be reflected through their home décor, while home stagers create an inviting interior and exterior that attracts buyers to purchase a property. If you have are plans to sell your home, you might want to contact a home stager that will help you re-design your home to attract buyers. If you want to improve the overall look of your home and make it more personalized for your day-to-day living, an interior decorator is who you would want to call.


If you are in the Houston, TX area and planning to sell your home, let's meet! I am happy to discuss with you how we can showcase your home in it's best light to potential buyers. Book an appointment yulonda@designsbyduchess.net or call 281.606.5838.


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