I wanted to share my recent experience of how I staged and styled a client’s home for under £25 (yes, really!) to get the best from those all important estate agent photos that will be plastered on the interweb for ever more.
I’m not saying I’m an expert on this, nor do I profess to have any more skills than anyone else, but I have had success with two homes, plus my own last house, that sold quickly after going on sale and wanted to share my tips.
COLOUR AND PERSONAL STYLE
The experts tell you to get rid of colour in your home and to make it neutral to appeal to the widest possible number of buyers. In my own experience this couldn’t be further from the truth. In our old home we had a lime green kitchen, and we sold it. Sure we had feedback saying that it was bright but as the rest of the house was less bright and appealed to a wider audience it didn’t seem as daunting a project to undertake for our buyers.
I personally think this is key. If the whole house is in a colour (whether bright or dark) that could divide buyers then you might want to tone it down a bit. The arrangement and staging of the home could look great and fabulous but if the buyer can’t see past a whole house of colour you might have to get the roller out and put a (gasp!) cheap and easy lick of inoffesinve paint in one or two main areas. If you have a couple of rooms in colour and a couple more neutral it’s going to be more palatable to potential buyers.
We’ve all got paint in the shed or loft that could be used, or failing that, you can buy 5 litres of white emulsion for under £5 in the DIY stores to quickly re-do the walls.
However, in my experience you can keep some colour and personality. My recent project is a home that has been in the same ownership for over 45 years and where my client wishes to downsize. The bulk of the house has been (in past seven or eight years) replastered, redecorated and modernised.
The bright colours in some rooms is offset by paler colours so a buyer doesn’t have to think they need to redecorate the entire home.
The furnishings might not be to everyone’s taste, but don’t worry – these are things that will go with the vendor.
However – the BLUE kitchen was untouched in decades and has a 50 year old fridge (they don’t make things to last like that any more!). I spoke to the estate agent to get his ideas about the kitchen. His recommendation was to leave the blue and we’ll wait for early buyer feedback to see if we need to paint it white. The reason for this approach was that the kitchen was the only tricky room in the house, and there was a high likelihood that the buyer would extend out into the 120ft garden – and all other rooms were refurbished and redecorated so it was perhaps less daunting.
Short of completely redoing the kitchen we decluttered, tidied, cleared the work surfaces and popped fresh flowers on the table.
FURNITURE FAKING AND ARRANGING
If you have a bedroom that’s not being used as a bedroom (ie an office or playroom) it needs to be photographed and shown as a bedroom if at all possible. In this home, we had one bedroom with no bed in it. To show it as a double bedroom we wanted to get a cheap double bed for least £££.
The first places to turn to are of course eBay and Gumtree, (particularly useful if you’re looking to take the bed with you) or local furniture charity shops, but in the end it was good old Freecycle that came up good, with a pine bed-frame and storage drawers being offered for free. After we built the bed, we spent a huge £21 on buying a double airbed! We then dressed the bed with the winter duvet that was in the cupboard and a throw.
It’s always better to show the bedrooms as doubles if you can. Here’s our ‘pretend bed’ – and you wouldn’t know it only cost £21!
As long as the potential buyers didn’t sit on the bed, we’d be fine! I also know people who have used a number of cardboard boxes with a duvet to make a faux bed for show. Whatever works!
Once the contracts are exchanged we’ll offer the bed frame back on Freecycle or offer it to charity.
Move furniture around to make best use of space, in this case I changed the orientation of the table to make the room feel larger. It might not be to everyone’s taste but you don’t have to buy new furniture, the buyer isn’t viewing your home to buy the table.
CLEANING & DECLUTTERING
Obvious isn’t it? Doesn’t cost anything but probably the most important thing to do. Your home doesn’t have to feel sterile or empty, but you do need to look at each room in turn and see what can you remove or hide away.
In this case, we didn’t have time to clean out the music in the dining room, but we did move the piles of paperwork on the table, the boxes of bits and bobs on the floor and the extra furniture cluttering the space. Lisa Dawson recently did a great post on how to clear up your rooms for free or cheap, some really good ideas there.
So get set up with a charity box, a keep in the loft box and a keep on display box. Throw away things you’ve been hoarding and don’t need. Donate things, or sell some things online or do a car boot sale and earn some cash! No need to take stuff with you that you don’t need! Throw out the out of date food, the broken furniture, the junk in the shed. Pack some things in boxes in the loft ready for moving.
Make sure the house is clean, no cobwebs in the corner or dust on the surfaces, and a sparkly clean bathroom. With loo seat down!
STAGING & PRESENTING
For staging, once you’ve decluttered, try to clear the shelves of the tatty books and kids toys, put a few objects (in odd numbers of course!) on the shelves and make sure the rooms have a clear, uncluttered feel. Put suitcases under beds or inside wardrobes, remove the piles of ironing and paperwork, hide them away. The house needs to feel lived in, but uncluttered and spacious. If you need to, put things in storage or in a friend’s loft or shed.
Make sure the table is laid for dinner, and have some flowers on the table. It makes a lovely vignette for the potential buyers and gives the vision of how many people can be seated at the table at once, and highlights the use of the space. Ever wondered why in a new show home the table is set? Same reasons. It gives the buyer a feel for how the space can be used. So get your crockery out and get laying the table!
If you can borrow some things from family and friends (furniture, rugs, throws, cushions, etc) then use them for the photos – this is the sales window for your home and the first impression people will have.
Photo Credit True Plan for Mansell McTaggart
So we did a quick declutter, clean, furniture faking and rearranging, all for the cost of £21. And my client got an offer in 6 days. So it worked well!
What other ideas do you have for doing this on a budget, I’d love to hear your ideas!