Selling your home? Everything I can tell you about Design, Style, Decorating, Landscaping and Curb Appeal (taken from my original free Home Staging website)
1. Designer Tricks of the Trade: It’s odd isn’t it?
Yes it is odd but odd numbers are the most successful way to decorate with accessories.
Unless you are trying to achieve a strictly rigid and symmetrical, formal look you should relax and go for the more casual inviting look of of centering accessories and grouping them in bunches of 3 to 5.
Often a homeowner has all the accessories needed to accessorize their home, but they are all over the house. You can go on a treasure hunt and get all of the brass accents in one room, all of the black accents in one room and all of the silver accents in one room.
Group items of similar or complimentary colors and styles.
Most homes have attractive accents but they were placed in a “last space available method”. People just get used to where they placed an object or art piece and leave it there forever. They never think to start over and refresh their whole placement strategy.
Try to come in as a stranger and start with a fresh eye as if you haven’t lived there for years so you are not forced into the creature of habit placement structure. You can immediately see what could be changed and rearranged. It is part talent but it is partly just being new on the scene. Many of these same homeowners could probably go to my house and make some pleasing suggestions that I had never considered.
* Top Twenty List of NO’S if you really want to sell your house*
*Sorry if it this list is a little stern!
NO Plants, No silk flowers, no dried flowers.
No family photos.
No toys (well -try for no toys)
No Baby stations in any room except the nursery
No newspapers magazines, or mail lying on the counter
No paper back books showing not even cook books. Use those shelves for decorative accessories, or leather bound books.
No family book bags, no family calendars,or lists,
No bills, taxes, insurances plans, death notices, medical records, Divorce Papers or foreclosure notices on the kitchen table.
NO fruit with fruit flies on the counter
No smelly towels in the bathroom
No piles of owners shoes, dog leashes and bookbags by the door.
No florescent lights, no new fluorescent light bulbs.
Absolutely no fans or portable heaters – that says this house is too hot or too cold.
No pumpkins by the door when it’s Christmas.
No dirty clothes visible to the buyers.
No smell anywhere including no smells meant to mask bad odors. No excessive air fresheners or potpourri. No Cat litter anywhere in the house. The litter and cat need to go until the house sells. Don’t get mad – I love dogs and cats!!
No angry dogs barking and biting the prospective buyers. No dog dirt in the yard. No pet cages, crates, pet fences.
No moldy smells from the basement. It must be cleaned and have dehumidifiers running constantly. If the odor is present it is the same as a huge neon sign which says “Don’t buy this house the basement floods regularly!!”
And the #1 most offensive NO No of all time! Cigarette smoke. Sorry smokers, nothing will turn people around at the front door as fast as a bad odor. And cigarette smoke is the biggest offender -even for smokers.
Top Ten Decorating Tips
2. Hang artwork within 18 inches of the piece it is relating too. The biggest mistake in home decorating is that a man hangs the pictures at his 6 foot eye level and spreads the artwork out evenly across a wall.
Artwork should be eye level for a 5 foot woman and groups should be hung closely spaced together.
3. Do not place furniture up against the wall and all around the perimeter of a room. Float sofas and other chairs into conversation areas which add interest and make you feel as if you want to sit down and use the space.
5. Group like finishes and colors together. Go through a house – get all the brass frames and candlesticks in one room. Get all the red objects in one room. Get all the black hardware accents together and get all the pottery in one location. Too often people spread things around and place them in a last space available fashion. Regather like objects together for maximum impact.4 Rooms should be decorated in vignettes. Vignettes are eye pleasing arrangements that look good alone or as part of the whole.
6. Less is more. Thin the amount of furniture and decor in most houses down to probably half of what is currently used.
7. Shelves for impact. Use shelves – freestanding wall shelves or bookcases to house all of the collections of knick knacks.
8. Lightbulbs should be dusted, lightbulbs should be 100 watt incandescents, all lights should be on for a showing and all curtains or blinds should be open.
9. Kitchen counters clear and nothing on the refrigerator
10. Hang an American flag from the front of the house. Betsy Ross knew what she was doing when she designed the flag. It always looks tasteful and evokes good feelings.
Furniture Placement and Decorating Tips
This upsets people the most -”how can I live like this I need my…”. But your house will seem bigger and more appealing to buyers with less stuff around. Less is more in home staging Remember it is not how we live -it is how we sell. Most homes need to reduce their belongings by half.
But for selling you need to have a clear path to walk around the table. The path should preferably be 3 feet wide.
- Therefore do you need to take a leaf or two out of the table?
- Remove excess chairs? Having two large pieces also is too overpowering for a room when you stage it.
- Take the top off the hutch or just have a sideboard with mirror over top as this is the more contemporary way to show a dining room.
If you must keep the breakfront try to eliminate the china plate display and decorate the hutch top with more updated collectibles or architectural pieces in spare amounts. Try a collection of vases or pitches or even leather books. Turning a breakfront into a library book shelf is another way to repurpose the breakfront and move it in to a living room or office as the focal point.
Top Ten Curb Appeal Tricks
1. Remove overgrown shrubs, limb up trees so you can easily see the house from the street.
2. Paint shutters and front door or add new shutters.
3. The best outside color schemes are taupe with black shutters and door and creamy white trim.
4. Other pleasing combinations are white with dark green shutters and a red door, cream siding with black shutters and a red door.
Sage green siding with taupe trim and a darker green door and shutters.
Any very dark color with cream trim and windows.
Cream siding with turquoise or teal blue shutters
5. A meticulous front door way with no dirt or cobwebs. Hang an American flag. Seasonal flowers are nice but only if the owner has time to maintain them. Dead or dying flowers are worse than no flowers. One large pot of geraniums, mums, pansies or impatiens is better than a bunch of smaller pots or fading, dried out annuals planted in the ground.
6. Which way do I go? Be sure there is a clear path that leads to the door to make the home feel inviting. Never have buyers enter through the garage. If there is not a nice path to the door, drop all home staging jobs and begin by creating a welcoming walkway.
7. Remove any outdated metal awnings from windows and doors.
8. Repair cracked sidewalks and steps, rotted wood etc.
9. Powerwash the house and roof if needed.
10. Recoat the driveway or add more stones if it is a crushed stone drive.
Curb Appeal Before and Afters that are actually Attainable
The quickest way to turn eye sores into magazine covers
Think outside of the box. The eyesore turned eye candy is your most challenging yet rewarding home staging opportunity.
This small ranch house looked totally forlorn and first impressions said “Enter at your own risk.”
What a great opportunity to make such a transformation with a small investment and some elbow grease.
- I sprayed roundup added landscape fabric and brought in a ton of mulch.
- Then I added some plants and paving stones. It was transformed.
The photo below shows the results of Round Up, Mulch and Pavers. New small plants and a fountain finish the job.
Once I was faced with the entry to the home being blocked by two ugly Propane Tanks and there was no walkway. I removed the tanks, put a trellis on the wall to cover up the scars from the propane tanks and I transformed the grass into a welcoming landscaped walkway.
The cheapest way I found to update kitchens and baths:
I had a great house that had hardwood floors throughout, great wood work, windows and decent bathrooms. Painting and cleaning did the trick for most of the house but the kitchen was really dated. The homeowner didn’t want to spend much money but I really encouraged them to go for a quick fix on the kitchen.
This way a buyer could say to themselves.
Well I don’t have to redo the kitchen immediately I can live with it for a while and redo it later.
Here is my plan.
- Update an old white refrigerator with spray paint. If you go with black appliances and counters it is easy to spray the fridge black. You could also spray the fronts of appliances a a brushed stainless look. Use the more expensive Rustoleum Universal Spray paint with the special trigger in a satin finish. Many refrigerators have panels that can be inserted to update the look to stainless.
- Sinks can easily be replaced or scrubbed to a shine using Bartenders Cleanser.
- Granite is the most popular choice for any kitchen and is a huge selling point but a much cheaper alternative is the black formica that they stock at Home Depot. My opinion is that you should not replace counters with granite unless you are redoing the whole kitchen.
- Stained cabinets are quickly renewed with Howard’s Wood Restorer and or painted by hand or with spray paint. New handles are a great update as long as you can fine inexpensive ones. Look at Home Depot and Lowes but don’t forget online catalogues too.
- Another great idea is cabinet refacing and cabinet painting. Builder’s grade light oak looks fabulous when painted a decorator color and then glazed. There are also companies that cover up the counters with custom fitted tops that transform the look to solid granite or honed cement.
- Wood floors in a kitchen are the most popular choice but again are pretty expensive. Cheaper alternatives are vinyl flooring that has a slate stone look. There is even a tile now that looks like wood.
One Man’s Junk…
You can turn old furniture into stylish high end designs with Rustoleum spray paint. The latest “look” is painted furniture and it is so easy to paint any piece of furniture with spray paint.
The new painted style furniture looks great but is very expensive.
You can easily replicate the look using a homeowners real wood American furniture by simply spray painting it. Choose the new colors of mint green and soft sky blue, pale yellow or cream to turn an old piece of furniture into a high end stylish piece. Check my article on painting furniture.
You don’t even have to prepare the piece as long as it is clean. If you need to you could wipe it down with mineral spirits. Then just spray in a well ventilated area – hopefully outdoors. You could sand the edges of the piece gently if you want the distressed look or you could apply a wax or lemon oil. Or just leave it as is!
Look at the lines of the furniture they are selling. If you could image the painted piece from the Pottery Barn Catalogue in brown stain you would see that it looks just like the furniture many people have in their homes. So if your homeowners furniture looks like it came out of a frat house just spray paint it!
The Products I use to turn trash into treasures and remove stains from carpets and upholstery.
Another way to get your home looking clean and fresh is to polish and shine up all the furniture. Well what if the furniture is worn, has knicks, chips, scratches and ring marks.
The solution is easy.
Get a can of Howard’s wood restorer at Home Depot. (the stain section) and a couple minwax stain sticks ( like Magic markers). These products will renew all of the furniture.
Use it on:
- cabinets in the kitchen and stained woodwork
- ( anything that has been stained or is wood)
The best way to remove pet stains from carpet is to use a product called Nature’s Remedy. It has an enzyme that neutralizes natural waste. Just pour it on and blot it up with paper towels. It is sold in most pet stores.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
A prospective buyer will be totally turned off by any smell that hits them when they walk in the front door. There can be an immeasurable abhorrence that cannot be undone by a bad smell upon entering a home.
The prospective buyer cannot get past it no matter how beautiful the home is or how good a deal it is financially. It is like pheromones or chemistry.
It is something that cannot be undone. So be sure the smell is delightful or better yet no smell at all.
The “S” words!
SPIC, SPAN, SQUEAKY, AND STERILE are the “S” words to use to dramatize the absolute necessity of a clean house.
This is more than the obvious bathrooms and kitchens.
This includes closets, basement, attic, behind the washer and dryer, the porch the yard, the garage and the inside of the refrigerator, oven and microwave!
How I refinish Hardwood floors without refinishing them!
Hardwood floors are the biggest seller in all homes across the country! If wall to wall carpeting is covering a floor it is almost always best to pull it up! Then, for a quick fix wipe the floor and old nail holes with Howard’s Wood Restorer and they will look good as new.
Interior Styles and Designs That Sell Homes:
Today’s home buyer is young and young buyers are looking for clean lines with architectural details like crown molding.
New kitchens and baths are important too however if a kitchen and bath are really old sometimes it is best to let it go and make that negative be reflected in the price.
New kitchen styles change rapidly. A ten year old kitchen is usually already out of style. It is sometimes best to let the home buyer pick out their own new kitchen and allow the price to reflect that.
The Most Popular Style of House
The most popular style of house is a traditional or Colonial style. Unfortunately contemporary houses only stay contemporary for a few years after they are built. After that they can become dated by their decade.
The Most Popular Trends that Buyers are looking for:
Hardwood floors and Granite
I know I love hardwood floors and that is something that is not easy to add after you live in a home. But new kitchens and baths are something that are easier to change once you move in. (So consider dropping price and let the new homeowner do it themselves.)
How to Turn a Split Level into a Traditional Colonial
By staging the Florida room as a family room in a classic slit level I added one more room. It made the main floor of the home seem so much more traditional. That left the little family room in the basement level. I staged that as an office and kids homework area.
How to Create A Master Bedroom Suite
I had a house with a third floor with an waved roof bedroom, but there was also a bathroom on that floor. It had been used as an attic office but I redressed it as the parents room. It made the home buyers think of the possibilities of having their bedroom on a separate level than the kids’ rooms.
How To Add a Family Room to a house without one:
Is there any room in the house that can have it’s purpose transformed? I once staged a three season porch to look like a family room. The porch had contained your typical Florida Room type white furniture with struggling plants and a dirty white tile floor.
I brought in a huge rug and a portable fireplace, upholstered chairs, sofa with cozy throws and pillows, a TV, accessories and accents and staged the entire room as a warm and cozy family room just off the living room. It made the whole house seem bigger and more family friendly.
The least expensive place to buy Fabric and it’s not wholesale!
I had tried to buy drapery fabric recently. I loved a fabric at Calico Corners, a high end fabric store near my home. It was a Laura Ashley pattern which was $50 per yard and it was on sale for 15% off. It turned out to be discontinued.
So I went to Kravet Fabrics a wholesale distributor available to the trade only. Their wholesale price to me was $50. Which was more then the retail at Calico Corners! And it turned out to be discontinued with them too.
I ended up getting a beautiful fabric which was mail ordered through Joannes Fabrics online website. It was Waverly and with the Joanne’s sale price it costs $15 per yard. Joannes regularly has 40- 50 % off their decorator fabrics and you can also find coupons online.
The Most Inexpensive Place to get Designer Looking Window Treatments:
Mainly I am all about removing all curtains, drapes, shades, blinds and window coverings of any kind. The best way to show a home is to show the windows.
Most homes I have been in have outdated drapes which are dusty and retain odors. Almost all window coverings are taste specific and therefore detract form a buyer’s opinion of a room. The buyers are buying the windows, the wood work around the windows and the view outside the windows.
Normally, window treatments are a deterrent to a home even if they cost a fortune in 1967 when they were originally purchased. The number one reason that window coverings are a detriment to a home’s sale is that they keep light from entering the rooms!
A dark home looks smaller, dismal and dull and appears less attractive in the photos. The only window treatments to keep are totally neutral and modern drapes that look like they are out of a decorating magazine.
Otherwise get rid of them!
Now there can be one reason you need to add window treatments. That is when the view outside is so bad you have to disguise it. Once I had a brand new model home to stage. The neighborhood was lovely, the homes were mini McMansions but the builder chose to position his model home so that every window looked out on the biggest eyesore imaginable.
It was an unattractive dumpy house with scary looking inhabitants who deliberately dressed in strange clothing and rode ATV’s and motorcycles around their property every weekend while the builder was holding Open Houses. Wherever you stood in the house your eyesight was in a direct line of vision to the windows of the house behind. Even a fence could not disguise it. So I had simulated wood blinds installed and I lowered them just enough so that anyone 5 feet or taller would not see the eyesore house.
So if you are going to buy drapes or window treatments a good place to go is JCPenneys. www.jcpenneys.com Their catalogue has inexpensive and stylish drapes with a designer look and without the designer price. Also, blinds.com has easy instructions and sends your blinds quickly.
The Cheapest Place to Get Updated Light Fixtures
New and updated light fixtures are such an easy and important staging must do. Currently brass is out and polished chrome and a black/ bronze finish are in.
But be ready -brass is making a come back and is always the choice in traditional or colonial style rooms. Cheap brass fixtures or cheap chrome fixtures can easily be made more contemporary by spray painting them black and rehanging them.
Sometimes it is just best to start fresh with a new light fixture. Replacing dated light fixtures does not need to be expensive. There are plenty to choose from at Home Depot and Lowes but I often go to an online website called Bellacor.
You can enter any style or price and come up with something in almost any price range. Updated ceiling fans can also be found here. And boy do they make a difference compared to the dated old fans.
Exterior Color Combinations
The best colors for exterior wall paint and siding is taupe (“clay” in most siding brands). The best trim and window color is creamy white not stark white. The best shutter color is black. The best door color is black or deep dark red. (not burgundy). These colors are classic, sophisticated and appeal to the most people. See the Gallery of exteriors for more color combinations.