Staging is an art, and it's not really about decorating.

Decorating makes a home look beautiful. But staging is marketing. It's a selling tool designed to showcase your house in its very best and most versatile light so that more buyers will walk in and envision themselves living there.

If you've tried staging without great results, or if you're just now getting started, here are some of the most common but least effective staging mistakes that can hurt the sale:

Mistake #1: Go With Your Personal Style

You might have terrific taste, and in fact, you probably do. But Justin Riordan of Spade and Archer Design Agency says tells the National Association of Realtors® that staging has little to do with style and lots to do with making the house look great. It's not about pulling together a room that looks like it belongs in Southern Living or Architectural Digest. It's about careful placement of certain furnishings to make each room - not the decor - look its absolute best.

Real plants need lots of attention, and fake ones usually look fake.

Mistake #2: Add as Many Plants as Possible

Plants can make a home, but they need care and they're not always beautiful. What's more, fake plants really do look fake unless you invest in very high quality. There's no point in using plants in your staging, real or otherwise, just to add a little something to a room; far better to leave them at the nursery or decor store than risk a leaky pot or a fake plant that collects dust on its numerous leaves.

Mistake #3: Use Furniture to Hide Flaws

Probably the worst staging mistake is trying to clever and hide a problem. Sure, staging is all about making your home look its best. But that shouldn't mean hanging a picture over a hole in the wall or setting up an armoire to cover a carpet stain. When you can, Riordan recommends having flaws repaired. When you can't, don't try to hide them.

Mistake #4: Decorate a Victorian House with Victorian Everything

Themed rooms can be cute, but you don't want prospective buyers to feel inferior. If you own a grand Victorian house, it's not the best idea to fill it with Victorian decor from end to end. Your buyer probably doesn't own the same. This applies to any themed decor. Professional stagers often use a more eclectic mix of furnishings, says Riordan, instead of trying a matchy-matchy theme. That helps your buyer see that her furnishings can look just as great once she moves in.

Mistake #5: Move out Staging ASAP

Once staging is in place, leave it alone until the sale is final. It's tempting to pull out everything once it's under contract, especially if you have rented furnishings and decor items. But the risk is that the buyer will see the house in a different light without staging and have a change of heart. If she fell in love with it, the pros say don't do anything to ripple those waters until she's signed on the dotted line and it's time for you to officially move out for good.

It's easy to see how the lines have become blurred. A well-staged house looks beautiful, but it isn't about decorating. It's about working with the best features of the house and showing them off to the extent possible. Sometimes staging isn't even a comfortable arrangement to live in. But it looks good, and that's all that matters.

If possible, hire a professional stager to make your house look its best before you put it on the market. It's not necessarily cheap, but it's an investment that's well worth it in the long run. If you can't quite swing it, check out some of the DIY staging tips from the National Association of Realtors®.

Excited about the idea of selling your house but not sure what price it might fetch? At eppraisal, you can find out the right range. Get your free property valuation today and see how your house stacks up against others in the neighborhood.