We all know what makes a home practical. Especially how to customise it to suit us. And let’s face it, as we grow older, we become more complicated and particular, especially with how we like things in our home. But the way you live is unique, so it’s understandable that it could get confusing deciding how to present your home to maximise value.
Here are 5 easy steps:
1. Inspire visitors
Remember this in every decision you make – people inspecting your home are looking to improve their lifestyle. Your home should inspire them toward this goal.
You need to find the fine balance between having enough character that gives your home a point of difference without going overboard, and putting them off; but also, not going too far in the other direction, with only greys and neutrals, you run the risk of people forgetting they even saw your home, especially if they visited 5 or 6 in one day. Just the fact they forgot it is enough to pass it up. You want them to say 'you know, the one with the...' And not 'you know, the one with the horrible pink in the bedroom.' The best thing to do is to put memorable objects in the home, that are not fixed in, which help prospectors imagine themselves living in the house – think of a tepee in the kid's bedroom, or a Christmas tree (if in the appropriate season). Avoid strong or offensive colours painted on walls, but that doesn’t mean avoid colour altogether!
2. Remove the clutter
There's a difference between character and personal needs. I see lots of quirky lifehacks around people's houses, like wallpaper lining the inside of drawers, or 3M hooks in random spots to hold together fairy lights or tea towels. These are not going to make the buyer feel like they’re getting value. It's like hanging a cup holder on the door of a Rolls Royce. And no, no one is going to remark on your genius innovation for the bulldog clip. Clear all this away! Keep the space as uncluttered as possible. If the dining room is a bit squeezy, remove the buffet. Still squeezy? Make it a 4 seater instead of a 6...
Go to your wardrobe. Remove all off-season clothing and take it to your mum's house. Add to that half of the on-season clothing to the point that it looks like the clothes you have left would fit in a small suitcase. Lean toward leaving behind starchy white shirts and remove any multi-coloured clothing. The shelves should look ample, not crammed full of clothes. Think Prada, not BigW.
Remove everything stuck to the fridge, and likewise, clear out the bathroom – no one wants to know what brand of haemorrhoid cream you use.
3. Emulate a lifestyle
Remember when I said people are looking for lifestyle improvement? Well, that doesn't just mean pretty surroundings; this change is their lucky break. They're going to move to their new home and start living a more happy, proactive life – they'll be fit and exercise, eat fresh food, have time to go to the weekend farmer's market, do some gardening in the yard, read a book instead of watch TV and go on holidays.
Emulate this healthier, cleaner lifestyle when you restyle – leave a wicker basket, fresh produce and some cookbooks in the kitchen, or even bake cookies; get some designer-looking gardening equipment and place them neatly by the outdoor setting along with a large-brimmed sun hat; have some travel books laying around; if you have some spare space, especially if it's a little awkward in shape and mightn't serve a formal function, set it up as a meditation or yoga space.
Remove any equipment that might suggest you are unhappy, unfit or unhealthy. That means massage chairs, crutches or hospital equipment. This goes too with your 'I'll get to that one-day' pile of rubbish in the spare room. Get rid of anything associated with domestic duties – laundry baskets, ironing equipment, cleaning supplies (unless they're in fancy Aesop-like bottles), piles of tangled cables, weeds, trash, dirt and anything broken.
Don't give anyone the opportunity to look at a chipped window pane and think, 'OMG they are selling me a broken house!' - even subliminally!
If you have a study or home office or even a desk in the kitchen for the bills and a computer... Are you sure you want to remind prospective buyers of the stress of having a bigger mortgage and a pile of bills to pay? NO! Remove the bills, calendars, post-its and random stationery.
The computer can stay, but use it to play music during inspections and place a few wine bottles next to it to suggest that, in this life, business is so carefree that you don't need the desk space for anything other than wine storage. How lush was Eddie in Ab-Fab with her twin-size, full-height wine fridges full to the brim with Bolli?
4. Eclectic? Yes and no...
Wonderful, you're eclectic. Now put the vase down and back slowly away from the thrift store. This isn't the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter. This isn't an opportunity to show off your shopping addiction or your shelf full of nic-nacks.
Think of composition. Everything should look styled, from top to bottom. I recently styled a room and selected books that would match the wall colour. It was a composition with hints of mustard yellow that appeared in the bed sheets, the artwork and the toys. It wasn't everywhere, but it was sufficient that the room looked just a little bit more complete with every single thing that went in it. Likewise, there is contrast, but the contrasting colours also need to blend together.
Don’t incorporate too many strong colours that are fighting with each other; this can make the room feel like a war zone.
If you're a collector, remove the collectable items. To a non-collector, these will just look like clutter, especially if it's something old.
Again, your stuff is not there for display, the stuff is there to help others see how great the space could be for them.
5. Tap into what makes your home unique
This may seem obvious, but sometimes it pays to state the obvious. Do you have a school/daycare/aged care facility nearby? Is your home walking distance to public transport or a local grocery store? Are you close to a police station? What did you love to do the most? And if you can't answer that, then why did you buy your home? Chances are, the other buyer is thinking the same thing.
Write a note to the prospective buyer and leave it in the house. Tell them what you love about the house and the location. Tell them how this house 'improved your lifestyle' so much and gave you the chance to do a, b and c. Tell them what you have personally upgraded within the property. Find out if it's possible to extend the house and make sure the real-estate agent mentions that in the property description. Mention what you like most in particular rooms – people might not realise some things because they're too bamboozled by all that's going on, or there are too many people in the room. You might love the morning sunlight that streams in over the fireplace and makes reflections through the leadlight window, but they won't know this if the open for inspection is at 5pm!