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Rugs Eat Equity

Of Rugs and Gestalt: How to Avoid Visual Black Holes When Selling Your Property

There is a maxim in the home staging world, “Clutter eats equity.” Clutter makes spaces look smaller, detracts from a property’s selling features, and prevents buyers from feeling “at home” in your house or condo.

Because buyers these days usually take their first “tour” of your property online, you should also pay close attention to two-dimensional visual “clutter” in listing photographs. The first target: rugs.

Yes, rugs! Those lovely floor coverings that make your house feel “homey” in person will overwhelm the same room when viewed on a computer or smartphone screen. When we’re staging one of our listings before the professional photographs, rugs are the first things to go. To understand why, in this article, we take you on a brief trip through design theory and in particular the principles of gestalt. Call this the Blackburn Coastal Realty Advanced Seminar.

Gestalt Design Principles for Home Sellers

“Gestalt” is a theory of psychology that deals with how we perceive visual elements. According to design guru Steven Bradley writing in the web design bible Smashing Magazine, gestalt “lies at the heart of nearly everything” designers do. The theory’s essential observation is that the eye perceives a group of objects as a unified whole before it sees them as individual objects. Check out the link for some intriguing demonstrations of gestalt design principles in your own perception of images.

One of the essential principles of gestalt is the concept of “visual weight.” Just as physical weight is a measure of the force gravity asserts on an object in three-dimensional space, visual weight measures the ability of an image to draw the eye’s attention in two dimensions. In a photograph, the element with the most visual weight is the one that attracts your eye first and holds it the most. 


The Unbearable Visual Heaviness of Being an Area Rug

Just look at the difference!

With the concept of visual weight in mind, consider the area rug. Lowly in stature but often quite expensive, an area rug does tremendous decorative work in three dimensions. Not only is it an expression of the homeowner’s (hopefully good) taste, it helps define areas and directs the flow of movement through a room. It also protects and preserves hardwood floors, often a prime property asset. 

But in two dimensions, that gorgeous Persian rug becomes a visual black hole. No amount of creative lens work, lighting, or digital retouching can distract from its insistent visual pull. Forget the floors underneath, or the sensational water view, or the gleaming granite countertops. Gestalt design principles dictate, and our years of experience have borne out, that the first visual element a potential buyer sees in that photograph is a rug that detracts from everything else about the property. That rug weighs down the room, sucking up all the square footage and eating up your equity.

Rugs Eat (Measurable) Equity

It couldn’t be more clear – rugs eat equity!

You can actually measure how much equity rugs will eat. In real numbers, a twenty-square-foot rug in a market where homes sell for $200 per square foot risks leaving $4,000 of your equity on the…er…floor. A corollary to the maxim that clutter eats equity is that flat surfaces – floors, countertops, mantlepieces – sell. Cover them up in your online listing when home staging and, in effect, you risk losing their value in the buyer’s offering price.

Don’t Get Walked on By The Home Market! Contact Blackburn Coastal Realty Now!

At Blackburn Coastal Realty, we use psychology-driven design and marketing insights to maximize the selling value of your home. To learn more about how we use gestalt design principles in our home staging to get the most profitable effect in two and three dimensions, contact us today.

Positive comments are welcome below (especially from relatives who do not owe me money) and will be posted on our website. Negative comments will be posted on my dartboard office wall.

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Jennie Blackburn

When Jennie joined the real estate business with her husband, Bill, in 2007 the market was flooded with short sales. With their business savvy and ability to adapt quickly to current conditions, Blackburn Coastal Realty was able to help more than 35 families through those difficult times. In 2010 the market shifted to non-distressed listings. Jennie shifted with the times and soon caught on to why homes listed by other Realtors weren’t selling and began coming up with innovative ideas to connect sellers with buyers. With home staging, photography and other creative devices, she was able to help her clients sell their homes for more - faster and without a lot of hassle. As a Realtor, Jennie believes in selling homes, not just listing them. It takes an agent with finesse and tenacity nowadays to get the maximum sales price quickly for homeowners. That's where Jennie comes in. She goes into your condo with “buyer’s eyes” looking for what needs to be done to make it irresistible to buyers. In fact, one property Jennie took over as Realtor for was a condo in Pelican Cove. She staged this home so well that it was featured on HGTV’s Beachfront Bargain Hunt. The condo sold before the show even had a chance to air! Most Realtors will do a comparable market analysis, forecasting a market price for your home based strictly on recent sales. Jennie takes it further by considering current market conditions and evaluating current comparable properties for sale nearby. She stages your condo to look as attractive as possible next to others currently on the market. She then hires a professional photographer to take mouth-watering pictures which she uploads to 100s of real estate portals complete with captions that draw in more potential buyers. With 15 years in the realty business and even more experience in sales and marketing, Jennie knows what it takes to get your condo sold quickly and at the highest price possible. Jennie and her husband William work and live at the beach. The couple loves the beach so much that it’s no surprise that Blackburn Coastal Realty specializes in beach properties. Jennie’s favorite thing about representing beach communities is how different each community is. Even neighborhoods that are minutes from each other have distinct cultures and personalities all their own. Jennie can bring the personality of your condo to life and find the perfect buyer for it.

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