Staging and Marketing 101: Dining Room = Dining Room's one thing to LIVE in your home in a manner that's comfortable and/or practical for you.  After all, it's YOUR home! 

Now that you're a SELLER, things have changed.  Although this is one of the hardest concepts that sellers must often grasp, the truth is that once that FOR SALE sign is posted out front, their home becomes a showcase for BUYER attention and interest. 

One of the basic lessons a successful seller must learn and acknowledge during the process of preparing their home for sale is this:  It's not about YOUR lifestyle anymore.  It's all about the buyer, now.  Rooms need to function as they were intended so there's no discrepancy as to their purpose.  It's pretty simple, really.  The sooner that concept is grasped, the quicker your house will sell...remember: your dining room is a DINING ROOM.  It's not an office.  It's not a laundry center.  It's not a play room.  And in some cases, it probably shouldn't be the family room. 

Bon Appétit



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Even though it seems like the majority of folks these days rarely use their formal dining areas, Every buyer wants to know that there's a space to entertain and have a dinner party once in a while.  They may never do it, but they want to know that they can! them they can.


  David Ames 

  Top Producer

  (415) 271-2071

Comment balloon 31 commentsDavid Ames • September 23 2010 10:01PM


Absolutely David! I always tell my clients "it is no longer your home, it is the potential buyer's home". It helps for them to let go of the personal attachments that they cling to with their "stuff" while it is up for sale. They can have their "stuff" back in their new home. LOL

Great work. So glad that florescent yellow is gone.

Posted by Shar Sitter, Home Staging and Redesign Minneapolis/ St. Paul, M (Rooms With Style) almost 8 years ago

So true David............even if they turn the dining room into an office, family room, laundry room or storage area after they move in, the buyer wants to know, and see that the home has a formal dining room.  Well done, some lovely transformations................once these places sell, contact me, we'll do the "walk through" together..........:-)

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 8 years ago

I do the same thing Shar.  It's brutally honest, but I haven't had a seller question it yet (11 years later!).   Yellow can be tricky (especially with green trim)...pick the wrong shade and it's sherbet time.  ;-)

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

Wouldn't that be a riot, Roger.  Like I said earlier, they won't know what hit 'em.  Then again, because I believe we attract certain people into our circles for a reason (not by accident), I have yet to have a client that doesn't get my sense of humor or candor.  I always "test" them out in the beginning to see where the vibe is, though, before I pounce.  ;-)

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

David- I'm having a hard time deciding which "after" room I like best. The transformations are incredible.  You're so right.... the seller has to decide that his "home" is now a marketable commodity and the sooner they understand this they can put their "lifestyle" and their "things" into their new home. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) almost 8 years ago

Beautiful transformations, David! I love the last one where you have used the sellers own furniture and even the rug and curtains...small changes, big results!

Posted by Külli Yee ~ Metro Vancouver Home Staging (Ilus Design ~ Home staging, re-design and organizing) almost 8 years ago

Wow, what a transformation. I think making buyers aware that people don't live in staged homes, but they sure like to buy them that way helps the seller realize that it's more money in thier pocket,  leads to a quicker sale and it's easier on the ego too.

Posted by Kristine Ginsberg, NJ Home Stager (Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC) almost 8 years ago

David - A dining should always be a dining room when selling.  It really saddens me when a dining room is used for another purpose.  I know it's life, but really, does no one entertain and have dinner parties any more?  How sad.  These examples are priceless.  Ok, the first one is my favourite, but I do love them all.  Those red canvases are just calling my name.  Such pretty houses you get to play with. 

Posted by Sally Weatherley, Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C (EXIT STAGE RIGHT) almost 8 years ago

Exactly Kathy.  Most sellers seem to get it around here, but every once in a while it takes a little convincing.

Kulli...thank you.  They originally had the hutch in the entry hall (don't ask me why).  It was like walking into an elephant the minute you opened the front door.

Kristine...ah yes, the "ego" dance.  There's never been anything "convenient" about selling your home.  The smart player understands that it's time to buckle down and set the scene.

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

I know, Sally...I hear ya.  The last three examples are all Edwardian's (which is virtually 50% of the City's housing stock).  The first was a mid 90's construction with less "definition".  I agree, it is fun to play with pretty things.  ;-)

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

Dining rooms are frequently listed as dinning(sic) rooms (OK, NAR, mandatory spell-check on all listings - thank you).   Dining room displays (of unstaged homes) in Houston often feature the complete display of the wedding china and silver (generally Lenox Eternal, with Crystal D'Arques Longchamp).   All set for some phantom feast.

Just bring your own stuffed peasant and this room is clearly in turnkey condition!

It's a privilege to be amongst the first 12 commentators of this blog.   One needs to get up early in the morning to have some presence here.   So you say you pay $10 a piece for these comments - yes?

Posted by Alicia Barrington, Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington (THE ORIGINAL HOUSTON HOME STAGING) almost 8 years ago

You made it look beautiful, David (as are all of your stagings).

Congratulations. Your home staging is being featured in the group Staging Before and After Pictures.


Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager ( almost 8 years ago

David, you have done an amazing job on this home by removing the sellers personally out of the home while they are still living in it.  Nicely done.

Posted by Diane Williams almost 8 years ago

David, Beautiful post.

 These look like shots from a glossy decor magazine. Your team does great work. I'd like to turn you loose at 2 Echols St Eureka Springs, AR. M. and I hope to be ready to list this place in the spring after being here 19 years.

Posted by Charles Edwards Bentonville, AR REALTOR, Bentonville Real Estate Agent and Broker (Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette 479-253-3796 ) almost 8 years ago

Wonderful transformations David! The one with the lemon yellow walls is my favorite. Great color choice.

You're so right. Why is it the poor dining room always gets functionally abandoned? I have to admit I can't get excited about huge formal pieces stuffed full of never-used dishes (lol Tom) but it's always nice to see a well dressed dining room.

Especially in the homes of the era you're staging. Is it still called wainscotting when it's three quarters of the wall? Enquiring minds ....


Posted by Tessa Skeens, Staging For Denver Realtors, Builders (Hampton ReDesign, Home Staging and Redesign ) almost 8 years ago

David:  How many times have we seen that formal Dining Room being used for something esle?  If it's a young family, it's a playroom.  If it's a couple, it's office space.  Yet we know buyers are still going to ask for the Dining Room.  Then they can use it as a play room or office...Lovely, well design spaces you've designed.  Julie

Posted by Julia Maher, Connecticut Home Stager (Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes) almost 8 years ago

They should not have pool tables in them either, something I deal with here all the time!!

Your photos and staging are just gorgeous!!

Posted by Cathy Lee, ASP, IAHSP, RESA Danville, CA (CL Design Services Home Staging) almost 8 years ago

Tom, up early I see!  I hear you on the spell-check.  While I haven't tried stuffed peasant before, I'm always game (pardon the pun)for some something new and different.  (Imagine my joy when I saw that!)

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

Aww...thank you Kathy.  :-)

Thanks Diane...every stager here will tell you those are usually the most challenging (design wise).  Thank goodness the 2 'owner occupied' properties above were relatively easy (which is not always the case).

I wish I could, Charles...thanks for the vote of approval.  Good luck with the listing, and let's hope this coming Spring is a whole new world, if you know what I mean!

Tessa, I love your tag line: functionally abandoned.  Perfect.  And yes, I believe it is still considered wainscoting (very tall wainscoting!) ;-)

You're right Julie...reality seems to give way to other purposes for these rooms (all too often).  It's funny, because I haven't met a buyer yet who wasn't interested in having a dining room.  It's often the first thing they complain about if they don't see a reasonably designated space for one (even if they never intend to use it as such!).

LOL...Cathy Lee!  I saw an air hockey table once, and I just had to roll my eyes.  Thanks for the kind words.  :-)


Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

The wicker dining chairs made my heart skiP a beat.  They are gorgeous.  All the rooms look great.

Posted by Janine Bell, Home Stager - Atlanta Georgia Home Stager (Stage It Atlanta) almost 8 years ago

Gorgeous rooms David!  You are so right about this: "Rooms need to function as they were intended so there's no discrepancy as to their purpose"

I love (not!) the arguments that I get from some sellers who say "well it gives them another idea what to do with the room!"  Buyers don't need ideas on what else to do with rooms they want to buy for the purpose they were set up for. The don't want to see a yoga studio in the formal living room or a prayer chamber in the home office! They will recall the "strange room with the voodoo dolls" but will them remember the built in bookshelves and hand scraped wood floors in the great home office? 

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, (Home Star Staging) almost 8 years ago

David, great post and amazing transformations. Buyers DO want dining rooms, even if they will use it only ones a year. Karen #21 said it very well "Buyers don't need ideas on what else to do with rooms they want to buy for the purpose they were set up for"

Posted by Anna Dovger, Home Staging -The Woodlands, TX (Add Value Home Staging LLC, 281-704-6607) almost 8 years ago

I love those chairs, too, Janine.  They were the seller's, so it was a snap to pull that room together.  You see those chairs everywhere, but NOT with the wood trim on top!  They were great quality, too.

LOL on the "Yoga" and "Voodoo Dolls", Karen.  I'm going to have to dig up some interesting 'before' photos off my other desktop soon.  I'm pretty sure I still have a few doozies left.  ;-)

I agree, Anna.  That could've been the tag line for this post, and left at that!

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

David, Very nice transitions … they do not even look like the same rooms! Staging makes such a huge difference!Indeed - we must show them!

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) almost 8 years ago

If there'd been any doubt in my mind regarding the need to show a functioning DR, you would have thoroughly convinced me with your beautiful photographs!  I love your design work and I'm always so impressed with your finished rooms.  Keep sharing your beautiful transformations, David! 

Posted by Leanne Allen (Center Stage, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Thanks Kathleen, and enjoy rain camp tomorrow!

I will, Leanne, and thanks for the support.  I'm sure you go through this with clients all the time.  ;-)

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

David  ~ I love the textured chairs in the third photo .. they are fab looking!!  I think buyers always expect a dining room to be shown as one, even if they plan to change its use later on.

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging that Sells Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) almost 8 years ago

This is so true David.  Some homeowners really have a hard time wrapping their head around the idea that they have to stop thinking of the property as their home.  Beautiful staging job.  The first 'after' shot is stunning.  Did you do the paintings in the background?  They're spectacular!

Posted by Charlene Storozuk, Home Stager - Burlington Ontario (Dezigner Digz) almost 8 years ago

Hi Maureen...Those chairs were the seller's and a big hit.

Thanks Charlene. Yes, the paintings are actually a 3-panel series I initially made for a loft installation about 4 years back. :-)

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

Wow, these are fabulous transformations, David! I LOVE the dark large mirror against the white panelled wall.  The paintings on the first picture are awesome. Great job!

Posted by Birgit Anich, Connecticut Home Stager - Fairfield County, Westchester (Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors, 203.807.4040) almost 8 years ago

Thank you, Birgit!  I loved that tall mirror too...ended up having five of them at one point!

Posted by David Ames, San Francisco (Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco) almost 8 years ago

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