St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging


What's right & wrong... which do you prefer & why?

Here is a subjective lesson... I staged this house & then agents at an open house re-staged it.  Can you guess which one I did & which one they did...

What do you like and dislike about each & why.... After you give me your answers, I'll tell you mine...




Ok... I look forward to your responses....


 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at, Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comment balloon 39 commentsMelissa Marro • December 15 2007 04:58PM


Melissa, Yours are the first and third photos.  The room is clean and uncluttered even with the same amount of furniture in it.  The view out the back wall of doors is not obstructed.  (That throw does not make up for the fact of looking at the back of a sofa in the other arrangement.)  The fireplace stands out in yours.  There are two distinct sitting areas for two distinct purposes, tv watching and fireplace/outdoor enjoyment.  Also, you have balanced the bulk of the entertainment unit with the bulk of the sofa opposite.  In the fireplace area, you have similarly balanced the bulk of the fireplace with the mass of the side-by-side chairs.  How did I do?
Posted by Susan Walters (Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor, MI) almost 11 years ago
I believe the professionally staged photos are the 2nd and 4th clue is that those photos are much better and have better lighting.  For living in, I could see the 1st & 3rd photos' arrangement working, but for staging, I don't think a professional stager would place a sofa next to the fireplace, in front of the window, and opposite that large entertainment unit -- as it distracts from the true focal point of the room, the fireplace. (I would prefer to see a sofa table behind the sofa, however, to soften the view of the back of the sofa, with a plant and some other decor items on it to add interest.)  The placement of the two side chairs is better in the 2nd & 4th photos, as they draw your eye out through the French doors to the outside. I'm looking forward to seeing the answer!
Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging that Sells Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) almost 11 years ago

Since we have opposing views, let me add some additional information... Please feel free to change your answers if you feel this changes your opinion of things.

This home is listed around $750,000 (which is pretty high end around here)

This is the ONLY living/family space in the home.  There is an eat-in kitchen & formal dining room.  (The owners of this property had turned their dining room into a family room because of the awkwardness of this space... they could never figure out how to actually function as a family in this space).

I took both sets of photos using the same camera, though they were on different days at different times of day.  Both sets of these have been used for MLS & Marketing - one set when I was done, the other set after agents re-staged.

The only yard this home has is past those French doors.  There is a screened porch, which we sparingly staged and then a small grassy fenced yard.

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
I appreciate Maureen's comment about the sofa in front of the window.  I wouldn't have thought that was a good idea either, but overall, I still think the open views to the outdoors and the clear view of the fireplace are important.  I think you hit the nail on the head, Melissa, this is a tough room to present, though it and the furnishings are beautiful.  If I were doing it, the furniture would have been moved a dozen times!  Maybe the chairs in front of the window would have been a better option but the tv seating would have been more limited then.  I guess it depends on whether a buyer is perceived to value tv or fire/nature more.
Posted by Susan Walters (Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor, MI) almost 11 years ago

I like the top left and the and the bottom right. Am I correct?  I didn't read any of the other comments until after I responded.

Diane Concialdi - DC Redesign 

Posted by Diane Concialdi, DC Redesign Real Estate, Staging & Conceptual Design (Westminster, Huntington Beach, Orange County) almost 11 years ago
Diane - The top left and bottom right are different .... The right side is one version, the left side is the other...
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
Just in case anyone misconstrued that last comment... that wasn't my answer...
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

Melissa, I think you staged #2 and #4 which in my opinion are the most pleasing to the buyers' eye and less confusing.  

My 2 cents

Posted by Teresa J. Ramey (ReDecorating with Style) almost 11 years ago
OK, now I am confused.  Top left and bottom right?  The photos are displayed on my screen as vertical only, not side by side.
Posted by Susan Walters (Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor, MI) almost 11 years ago
It may depend on your resolution, Susan.  Photos #1 & #3 are one set of photos... Photos #2 & #4 are another set.....
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
Melissa ~  I think you did #2 & #4 (the right side pictures).
Posted by Kathy Passarette, L.I. Staging/Decorating (Creative Home Expressions) almost 11 years ago

We-ll, I originally thought that you had put together 2 and 4 - because that is the standard way to do a giant hearth like that.  However, I have just been into a $6 million home (far too big, it's silly.. at least that's what the realtors are saying!!!) and their main family room had the same problem.  I was thinking of setting it up just the way of 1 and 3.  Soooo, it must be the current builders' malaise, where it used to be too much white, now it's weirdo family rooms.

Both are valid, in my opinion, but ....wait a minute, call yourself a stager and there's no angles here? You must be suffering clinical exhaustion.  Any normal stager would have angled the rug and angled the sofa!  There, problem solved.

PS - great red! 

Posted by Juliet Johnson, Jacksonville Social Media Marketing (Vizzitopia) almost 11 years ago
Okay..I'll give it a shot Melissa. I think you staged #1 and #3.  You said that this is an awkward space and the owners of this home used the dining room as the family because they couldn't figure it out. I think you staged it to best show how to use this room. You also created a nice un-obstructed traffic flow so buyers could walk right to the french doors and see the great screened in porch and yard.   I have a hard time believing you would stage the sofa so it is messing with the traffic flow as well as showing the back without softening it up with a table or something. Hope I'm right! :)
Posted by Teresa Meyer, Home Staging Cincinnati-OH. (Cincinnati Home Stager) almost 11 years ago

Ooh, this is fun!

I'm at a loss. . . both are valid arrangements. But I'm going to guess photos 2 and 4.

Posted by Roberta Anderson, Hearth & Home Staging, Staging Kitsap County (Hearth & Home Staging) almost 11 years ago

I think #1 & # 3 for the same reason Teresa stated.  I don't believe you'd want the back of the sofa exposed.  On the otherhand, I think #2 & #4 creates a warmth and would allow the buyers to actually envision living there more so than #1 & #3.  I know I need to make a decision.  So... my answer is #2 & #4 (final answer).


Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager ( almost 11 years ago

I'm confused with your rug seems very casual...the room seems more upscale.

Why did you choose that rug?

Posted by Renee Pratta, Renewed Rooms - SC (Renewed Rooms) almost 11 years ago

Hummm.  I think 1 & 3 are Melissas.  A more useful living arrangement for an occupied or to give the arrangement idea for potential buyers.  Also don't like the blockage of the sofa and the bare back. 

Also, please tell us was this preplanned that the realtors would rearrange things or was this a surprise for you Melissa?   

I was recently at one of my recently staged houses during the realtors caravan and their comments alone drove me crazy.  Off the wall statements...won't do that again. 

Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) almost 11 years ago
I think yours are the left top and left bottom, because there is flow. The right side pictures looks like they are blocking the view, on the contrary of what you did, 2 sitting areas opening the space more
Posted by Fernando Rosado, 561-906-0050 or 561-840-8950 almost 11 years ago

Can I ask a question first?  Is this hallway that's coming into the room a main entry into the room?  Not that it ultimately will matter, I guess, but if it is you really shouldn't have a full across back to that entrance and so I'd have to say Melissa probably staged 1 & 3.

Juliet, do you disagree with angling?  I find it serves its purpose sometimes.


Posted by Jackie Peraza, Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts (Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC) almost 11 years ago

Apologies, apologies..I really do have to find other words to use instead of "should", "shouldn't", "you need to"...  Of course not being in the space I cannot possibly know what "should" have been done.


Posted by Jackie Peraza, Home Stager - Framingham, Massachusetts (Perceptions AdverStaging(TM), LLC) almost 11 years ago

Melissa -

What a great idea. I pick #1 and #3. in the first picture the first thing I noticed was the french doors. When I got to the one with the sofa blocking I noticed the sofa. Since when we stage we need to accentuate the features, I'm guessing you did #1 and #3 because you do notice the fireplace and french doors. I can't believe agents would restage it! Did you have a word with them?

Posted by Kelly Townsend, CDPE, Realtor (Coldwell Banker) almost 11 years ago
I have to agree with Renee, I would have chosen a different rug. I will have to pick 2 and 4...why ? Less clutter looking into the room, I like the idea of showing the hallway into the room. Then I cannot imagine the Realtor changing the rooms after you had staged them. Did the Realtors contact you for services or did the homeowner. Either I don't think that I would have been to happy with the changing of my work. Well, that is just me anyways.
Posted by Mary Lou Teague, Home Style and Staging Knoxville. TN (HOME STYLE AND STAGING LLC ) almost 11 years ago

Ok i am responding before i read the comments.

This is somewhat tough, as the floor plan surrounded around the fireplace is correct. Balance is good, traffic pattern good......BUT when you enter the room you see the back of the sofa, a big no no.

Its a larger room so having it split up, changes the function of the room from 1 area to 2, which is good. BUT, again, with the sofa on the right side of the fireplace the balance is off. SOOOO This is the Realtors doing?

Am I right, let me go check the comments.



Posted by Heather Chotard (In Style) almost 11 years ago


Yours are #'s 1 and 3.  My reasons are:

While there is visually a long, alley-like feel to the arrangement, it does not seem unappealing, because it is somewhat broken by the rug, tables, and chairs. It is not a straight run, traffic-wise, so it feels better. Also you have actually created two logical focal points, two "rooms" by using,

a) the entertainment center as a focal point with the sofa and tables as a family room area, and

b) using the two chairs as a conversation area with the fireplace as the focal point in the semi-formal living room.

In #'s 2 and 4, I believe the chairs near the french doors are pushed too close to the glass wall, and the tree is awkward right behind one of them It would hit your hair if you sat down in that chair. The rug is just sort of floating. The sofa should have its front feet set onto the rug to anchor it visually and physically (liability is always a concern.)  Also, as others have mentioned, the back view of the sofa creates a blocking wall, visually, and I don't believe you would have positioned it that way - especially from the perspective of the entrance.

Fun guessing game!

Posted by Lin almost 11 years ago

Sorry - I left my company name off my previous response. It was my first attempt here on ActiveRain.


- Lin Wetzel  <blushing>

Posted by Lin Wetzel, Showplace Staging and REdesign almost 11 years ago

OK, apparently I have some questions to answer first.....

Rug - Sisal, Jute & Seagrass are extremely common and appreciated in Coastal Carolina.  This home is located in Daniel Island.  The home already has a lot of formality, but the island lends itself to a more casual image.  We could not paint, so we needed to bring a casual element to the space.  This is NOT a formal town and we did not have another room to make casual for family living.  An oriental rug or otherwise would have been too formal for most buyers here..... unless the paint and furnishings were more casual - which were not options in changing.

The hallway enters from the front door... this and the formal dining room (not viewed here) are the first things you see.

The agents called me after the fact....  I had no prior knowledge of the changes.  I received a phone call that they had a caravan and decided to move the furniture.  I went to investigate afterwards and take photos of the changes. 

Let me just say this.... while I do understand why the agents made the changes they made, I completely disagree with them.  When you examine the real issues with this home - floorplan wise - and realize who the buyers are & what they look for in a home you will understand why I feel the way I feel....

I'll reveal the answer as to which room is MINE later in the day... thanks for playing!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago
Welcome to AR Lin!
Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

Ok....If it is the ONLY living/family room, then YOU made it multi-functional.


Posted by Heather Chotard (In Style) almost 11 years ago
Thank you, Melissa!
Posted by Lin Wetzel, Showplace Staging and REdesign almost 11 years ago
Hi Melissa - I have not read the responses just so I am not influenced. I really like the way you set up this post. I would have staged this room just like the pictures on the right side.
Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) almost 11 years ago

I have answered the question in my new group.... When you are ready check it out....

If you haven't answered yet, answer then check it out.....

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

Ok- I think #1 and #3 are yours, Melissa. Now I will go to your link & see.  This was fun!


Posted by Kathy Riggle, Houston Home Staging (STAGING SMART N SOLD) almost 11 years ago
You have a style that is very recognizable. you would NEVER block a doorway with a couch. All wrong, wrong, wrong.
Posted by Anthea Click, Nashville Home Stager - Selling Nashville, TN homes quickly! (Fresh Perspectives - almost 11 years ago


I think that the view from the entry should be unobstructed (view #1 & #3).  It helps the room feel more open and inviting.

Design by Marla, Burbank, CA.

Posted by Marla Hofstee, Design by Marla- Home Staging, Burbank & Los Angeles, CA (Design by Marla) almost 11 years ago

ok - I am going to answer and then go check out the other post. I had fun with this... Originally I had thought you had set up the rooms in the pictures on the right side. That is a traditional set up for a room. Very nice and I like the initial look into the room with the back of the sofa.

However... when you add in comments about the price of the home and the lack of other rooms - I changed my mind and I think you staged the room on the left. Reason being that it shows the room off as having two purposes and more space. However it still feels awkward to me.... I like the idea of showing more possibility to the room, but since the furniture matches so perfectly I feel like they should be grouped together. Maybe if the two chairs showcasing the fireplace area, were a slightly different style instead of the leather like the couch.

ok - just an initial reaction from someone who doesn't do anything in staging except read a bunch of blogs about it :)

Now I'm off to the other post to see the answer....

Posted by Angie Vandenbergh, A Crye-Leike Blogger (Crye-Leike, Realtors) almost 11 years ago

OK I would have set it up like 1 & 3.  The flow is much better.  I would never show the back of the sofa.  You needed to have something (in this case the sofa) facing the entertainment center (?) and also something (in this case the chairs) facing the  fireplace.  Both focal points are shown well.

OK lets go see if I should eat crow!

Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) almost 11 years ago

I love the way you set this up Melissa. Made for a fun exercise! 

I don't get what all the fuss is with the sisal...hello! I have family with homes worth much more than this...with sisal. *gasp*

  1. It is a family room...
  2. It is an open concept plan kitchen/family room...
  3. The paint colors are not formal they are classic craftsman colors...
  4. The CEILING FAN is not formal...
  5. Wainscoting...well I guess if you don't have formal training in design someone might think it MUST mean the room is formal...
  6. The window and door well as the fireplace mantle...classic craftsman again
  7. Did I mention the Craftsman elements in the house? To put an oriental, Persian...etc. rug...would be out of place. While a craftsman rug would have suited the space...for STAGING we want to make the product as appealing as possible to as many buyers as possible. (To do otherwise would be, dare I say it...decorating...there I said it. As Melissa made quite clear this was a staging client not a decorating client).

In summation...the sisal rug a fabulous choice for a STAGER to fact unless my decorating client wanted the craftsman feel emphasised...I'd no doubt have presented them with a sisal it lends it's self perfectly to the room!

OK...sorry for the rant!

Nice job Melissa, too bad the REA's switched the room around, the next owners will no doubt be at a loss as to how best to utilize the space.


Posted by Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging (2 Hounds Design + Home Staging) almost 11 years ago

Thanks Dane!  I know... I don't get it.  I do million plus homes all the time and it is exactly what they ask for.... Pick up any magazine these days and you'll see sisal, jute and seagrass rugs are all the rage, regardless of home price.  It appeals to almost everyone and has more of a comfortable feel which is appealing to the masses..... kind of what staging is supposed to do.... appeal to the masses. 

Oriental, persian, etc are great in some homes.  I have several that are gorgeous, but I use them where appropriate.  Creating a formal feeling in a family living space is unappealing to most buyers.... regardless of price range.  I've worked on several homes in our most exclusive subdivisions and they usually have sisal or seagrass. 

Rant was OK by me, but for those of you who were confused about it - see the revealed commentary for clarity...

Thanks again for all who played... it was great to see some of you pay attention to my work and know my style!  For those of you who guessed incorrectly, I hope that you understand the choices I made and may have learned something - even if it was just a little bit about my personal choices & style...

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) almost 11 years ago

This was fun.  I think you did 1 & 3 and appreciate the reasons as were pointed out above.  I still like the coziness of 2 & 4, and agree that a sofa table would have softened the look, but may not have been available.  I think this truly is a matter of individual style.  An example where one way is not always the only way.

Kim Dillon, Creative Eye Home Staging

Posted by Kim Dillon (Creative Eye Home Staging) almost 11 years ago

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