What can go wrong during staging installation and how not to let that happen

February 8, 2021

It’s 7 am, staging day. You have photographer booked for 3 pm today and you need to make this house shine. You are full of energy and excitement. But suddenly things start to go not as planned…These are the stories that happened to us (mostly) and this is what we’ve learned from it…

  • MOVERS GHOSTED ON US – despite confirming a night before, I got a text message (!) at 7am on the install day that they are not coming. I’m a bit of an organization freak, with every step planned to the minute. Having done it numerous times, I know that many photographers are booked on the same day and the listing has to go live on a certain day after that. So it’s a bit like a domino. One thing is off, the whole plan might fall apart. So imagine my heart attack on that day. Thankfully we were able to find movers fairly quickly and delivered. It did however teach me that finding reliable movers is of paramount importance. And that is not an easy task. And this is something I don’t save money on. Having alternative ones is also a must. Research movers and ask around. Here are some tips.
  • BROKEN FURNITURE DURING TRANSPORT – I had a glass bistro top that movers I used to work with, unfortunately shattered. This can happen to anybody, yes. But it does take a bit of experience to know how to move and protect furniture during transport. The less expensive ones often hire inexperienced stuff. Again, I’ll pay more to make sure I’m hiring more experienced ones.
  • PROPERTY IS NOT CLEAN – I’m using an expression “not clean” but truth is, every now and then the property is just plain filthy. It is not even a case that I don’t want to put my furniture in it. It just doesn’t show well on pictures and during showings.  Touch ups, light cleaning and vacuuming is part of our service, but we are not able to clean it thoroughly. That is not our core activity. Therefore we always gently remind our clients and property owners not to skip that step in our agreement. This is for everyone’s benefit.
  • UNFINISHED RENO – painting, calking, light fixtures not installed. etc. Installation date is double confirmed to avoid crossing paths with a contractor and disturbing each other (we love contractors btw).
  • IT DOESN’T FIT – this has actually never happened to us (yet), but I hear a lot of stories that: the sofa is too small, the rug is too big, the light fixture is wrong… We take measurements of all staged rooms for that reason and make layouts to make sure they are optimal.
  • UNPREPARED SELLERS – during our consultation we always advise of what needs to be done in the house, but some clients might not be ready, for numerous reasons, not necessarily out of their bad will. House sale is a challenge. Make sure they have enough time to make it happen.
  • ORDERED FURNITURE HASN’T COME – again this hasn’t happened to us yet,  but delivery times have changed, especially now. I take that into account and make sure we have alternative furniture backup. This might be a challenge if you don’t have an inventory or a new Stager.
  • NOT ENOUGH TIME FOR AN INSTALL – this is the reason I’m not a big fan of booking a photographer on the same day of an install or Sunday nights. My quality might be compromised and even if you don’t see it that way. I do:)  
  • NOT HAVING A TOOLBOX – no hammer, wrong screws & bolts, nails, etc. It’s a good idea to have a box full of things that might come handy. This can really jeopardize an install if you need to put together a sofa and storage is an hour away.
  • FORGETTING PART OF FURNITURE AND MISSING PROPS – no legs, wrong tabletop – wrapping loose pieces might help here. Also pack and prep items a day before. A checklist of all items is a must.
  • NOT MEASURING CLEARANCE – although good movers know some tricks how to move a king size headboard to the attic, I’ve had sleepless night before an install day and it taught me to measure doors, all openings and stairs. 
  • NO PARKING – some houses might not have one in the front. Take pics of the front and consult with movers, so they know beforehand where and how to park. Ask neighbors if they are willing to lend theirs or save a space on the street some time before movers arrive.
  • BOOKED ELEVATOR IS LATE – not much control here, but the only thing you can do is be in contact with the property manager/concierge personally to avoid paying extra for movers time

I’m sharing this because I know a lot of realtors are staging on their own and this might be helpful. Did you have any experience that gave you an unnecessary stress on the install day? What is a takeaway?

More on staging options realtors have here.

Photo by ARAS Imaging

Ola Mochol

Femepreneur, Stager, Team Leader. Helps realtors and home owners transform empty listings into homes.


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