Karen Trent has worked as an interior designer, colour consultant and house doctor for more than 15 years. One of her specialist areas is helping those who are trying to sell their homes to achieve the best possible sale in the shortest amount of time. Here she offers her advice.
Q: What kinds of homes do you work on?
A: During the course of my work I come into contact with all sorts of people living in a whole range of homes. I’ve worked on tiny studio apartments and great country houses. It doesn’t really matter what style or size the house is, making a few simple changes can often make a huge difference if you are trying to sell a home.
Q: Can styling a home really help someone to sell quickly?
A: Yes. I believe it can. But it’s not simply a case of making it look appealing in order to be able to sell it quickly. It’s also about making the house look desirable so the owner can get as much as possible for it.
We all know that in recent times it has been hard to sell properties and for homeowners to achieve as much as they want to.
Q: What makes it worth putting in the effort to style it then?
A: It’s all about making the house look desirable to live in. You want prospective buyers to walk through the door of your house and to imagine themselves living there.
You want them to think: ‘Yes, I’d enjoy relaxing in that sitting room’ or ‘I can see myself sitting out on that terrace with a nice cold drink.’
Q: So where should you start styling?
A: Well, before you start styling the house, make sure there are no huge jobs that need doing first. Paint away any garish colours with a nice simple neutral. Carry out any major repair work that is making your home look unloved. Then you can attend to the smaller details.
Q: Should you start inside or out?
A: Start with the front garden. Some people never get further than driving past a property to see if they like it. Cut the grass, clip the hedge, pick up rubbish and move the bins. Then choose a nice, brightly coloured flower pot and fill it with something eye-catching and attractive.
Look at what is visible through the windows at the front of the house. Perhaps place a nice vase full of flowers in the front window too. But don’t go overboard. You don’t want to block the light out from the inside.
Q: Should you do the back garden too?
A: Yes, carry on outside at the back too. Tidy the back garden in the same way as the front. Put away messy looking children’s toys. Once again place a few attractive plant containers on any terrace area or in corners that need livening up.
Then choose a nice sunny area and set up your outdoor table. If it’s right in the full glare, put up a parasol. When the viewers arrive place a nice jug of something cooling and a couple of glasses nearby. Place a book face down on the table to suggest someone has been sitting out there reading – enjoying the relaxing environment.
Q: What about inside the home?
A: Again, start by tidying up. Get rid of all clutter. If you can’t store it in the house then box it up and take it away – I’ve known people who’ve shoved it in cars or even taken it to their offices. If it’s a hot day open windows. If it’s cold make sure the central heating is adjusted to the right level.
Then accessorise. Place a pile of classy looking magazines on the coffee table and attractive logs in the wood basket if you have an open fire. Use cut flowers to bring colour and style – but don’t bring in any overpowering scents.
In the kitchen have one or two bottles of wine out on the counter, perhaps an attractive bottle of olive oil and some fresh herbs in a pot on the window sill. Try to imagine looking at each room as a viewer would see it.
Make it look like a room they would like to use.
Q: What about elsewhere in the house?
Q: Splash out on a new bedspread and some scatter cushions for each bed. It’s amazing how tidy these will make rooms look. Keep curtains and blinds wide open to allow the light to stream in. Buy new matching, classy looking soap, shampoo and bubble bath sets for the bathrooms.
Clear away any half-used bottles and try to give the room a more styling feel. A new towel and bathmat in a subtle yet distinct matching colour could also really set the room off.