How do you freshen up a space without going too far? How do you neutralize a space that’s gone too far with the latest design trend? Let Doora’s Antoinette Fargo guide you through creating a broadly appealing staging plan that sells.

With fewer deals to go around, many markets experiencing a downshift and more agents than ever, it makes business sense to reach for the fundamentals. That’s why at Inman, we’re going Back to Basics with curated throwbacks to some of our most-read stories as well as new insights from agents in the field — all culminating in Inman’s Playbook for the Fall Market, a two-day virtual event that you should make plans to attend.

We know that trends hit different markets in the U.S. at different times. For example, modern farmhouse, which has been wildly popular for several years — thanks in part to its ubiquity on HGTV — is on its way out in many parts of the country. However, it is still uber-popular in some other markets.

How can a real estate agent, stager or homeowner keep up with the trends they love without being out of step with other homes in their market? After all, we know that some design elements can be an instant turn-off when marketing or showing a home.

The best way is to really keep it neutral and not too taste-specific. Meaning, if there is something that is very important to your client specifically, but might not relate to the average buyer, do without it during the staging and selling process.

Ask them to pre-pack, saving it for their next home. This is frequently the case with sayings on the walls like “blessed” or “home” or taste-specific collections of macrame, colors, and so on. In addition, paint walls a color that will appeal to the many versus just a few.

Be careful of making the home a ‘theme’ park

Next, consider those homeowners who really go all-in, embracing a trend so much that they make it their home’s whole identity. I feel like right now, some people are regretting some of the big changes they’ve made to their homes in recent years, like shiplap or barn doors everywhere.

When homeowners go too far with design elements like these, it becomes more difficult for them to pivot away from a stale design trend.

The best way to keep from going overboard is to mix in some varying pieces. If you like mid-century modern for instance, adding in some fun mid-century pieces allows the home to feel eclectic and lived in. Making the entire house mid-century modern may limit its appeal to an overall market.

Add in small amounts rather than allowing a design style to take over the entire house. One exception to this: If that is the home’s identity architecturally, a designer or stager may want to curate the space in keeping with its authentic aesthetic. Otherwise, oftentimes we get carried away with a style and neglect what the house calls for.

Helping older clients stay on-trend

Finally, as your clients get older, they may ignore some of the newer home design trends in favor of what feels comfortable to them or what was trendy when they were younger. By all means, if you’re helping them to refresh before listing, bring in pieces that mean something to your clients and their families within the home.

With that being said, be aware that some older clients’ tastes may not always be the most aesthetically trend-forward. Balance classic style that’s not necessarily trend-driven, with keeping a home fresh-looking.

The best way to refresh a space when staging or designing is to add smaller pieces that are trendy and that are easy to change out. Pillows, bedding, small artwork, particular paint colors: These things are fairly easy to alter while keeping your main pieces neutral and clean-lined so that they go with the trends buyers are looking for in your market.

Antoinette Fargo is the co-founder and creative director of DOORA Collective + DOORA Design in Ventura, California.

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