A working couple wanted my help staging their home for sale using many existing furnishings and accessories. I have to admit, I was a bit appalled when I first visited the home, as nearly every surface was covered with stuff. I understood that they were both working long hours and packing, but still they had way too much stuff. Selling or moving out of a home is a great motivator to clear the clutter, something I always encourage. It is important to not just pack, but to cull before packing so you take only what really matters in to the new home.
They opted to do much of the prep work (thank goodness!) and shopping, hiring me for a hybrid custom DIY staging project. Their existing furnishings were supplemented by purchased accessories, living room rug, coffee table and side table.
After walking through the house with them, I gave them a long and detailed checklist of clearing and packing homework to do before the staging day, with specs for any additional purchases. Links for purchases were posted on a private board on Pinterest. This allowed us to share suggestions for mutual approval before purchasing. A landscaping company and cleaning service were hired to do additional prep inside and out. A deadline was set for an open house. All tasks needed to be done and items on hand for the staging day (and a half) just before the photographer would arrive to take the marketing shots. Click on the before images below to see the chaos, then scroll down to view the staged results.
Gone are the clutter and personal photos. The finished result is a calmer home with an updated look that allows the lovely vistas to stand out, thanks to a more neutral palette. The pops of color with accessories and flowers keep it fresh and direct the viewer to certain features of the home. Finally adding the touches of emotional connection with the bed tray, semi-formal dining table arrangement and soft towels in the bath, appeal to the senses and connect potential buyers to visions of the “good life” that might be enjoyed if the house were theirs.
A Case Study for the Power of Staging and Redesign (or what happens when you don’t)
A casual friend was selling her home in Arrowsic, Maine. The 3 bd., 5 ba – 3465 sq.ft. home had been on the market for almost a year with a couple price reductions. After reviewing her online images, I suggested I stage it for her to improve her chances of making the sale. With an investment of 1 – 3% of the home value, I could help her avoid additional price reductions. Instead her agent spent good money on a photographer to take the images and reduced the price from $475,000 to $425,000. The house finally sold for $417,000 a drop of 12%, which was well below the original purchase price and 4x what I would have needed to stage the space properly. The house at one time had been valued at nearly $750,000.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. I had another opportunity with this property. One month after the sale, the new owners, a professional couple new to the area, contacted me through my website. The wife, a physician’s assistant was having difficulty figuring out how to make the open floor plan work with her furnishings. She was having major doubts about the purchase and wondered if I could help her make it work. Her husband realized that if I was successful, I would be cheaper than relisting the property. Ultimately he said that my work with them not only improved the feel of the house, but also saved their marriage.
The redesign included new flooring, painting the entire first floor, bathroom fixtures for the powder room, new lighting, artwork, custom made furniture and accessories for the entry, living room, dining room and breakfast nook. My design services included sourcing all these, color and art consultation, my original artworks, framing and custom blinds.
Their home is now valued on Zillow at $809,000 (not always the most reliable source for home values, but some reference). While some of that is the strengthening of the market, they are also reaping the benefits of an upgraded space. Not that they intend to sell anytime soon. They both have fallen in love with their home which so clearly reflects who they are. So much so, that while the wife left her job in nearby Bath, Maine for a position more than an hour away, she is ready to commute rather than sell, to stay in their home.
You can read her testimonial here.
Here are the before & after shots so you can see the difference.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not afraid of color. Bold and bright or soft and subtle, I enjoy working with them all. You can see it in the clothing I designed for years before becoming an interior decorator and home stager. So my advice in this post may come as a surprise to those who have never known me to go neutral. Of all the elements of interior design, color is perhaps the most provocative and evocative. Crisp white, calming blue or bold red can shift our feeling for a space. When I am working with design clients, paint color choices can offer the most personal and dramatic changes to a room. Generally the more saturated the color, the stronger the statement. Each person’s color preference is unique.
For this reason it is important to consider the colors in your home when you’re preparing it for sale. That favorite shade of red or lavender you find so appealing may be just what turns off a potential buyer. Even the intense trendy decorating colors for 2013, deep emerald or tangerine tango, can offend more conservative buyers. For this reason I recommend that clients consider neutral shades for walls, cabinetry and major pieces of furniture, using more intense colors as accent accessories, such as pillows or other objects. Many realtors may suggest you stay safe with basic white, but too much white can produce a very sterile environment that lacks the energetic appeal of home for buyers.
This is where the assistance of a professional home stager who is attuned to both the current trends in color and buyer tastes can be of benefit. The stager will also take into account the style of the home. What may be appropriate colors for a Colonial Cape with traditional moldings may not work for a modern vacation home or a rustic log cabin in the woods. I offer virtual mockups of color changes so my clients can see how these changes will affect final marketing images. Sometimes with a simple change of paint color, a room can go from dated to timeless in appearance.
With the pressures of daily life, most buyers are looking for move-in ready homes. Not having to think about paint colors can make the difference in their buying decision. The key is not to offend. Many buyers lack the imagination to visualize their own color preferences in a space that has strong colors. For the few who are not afraid of color, there is always the opportunity to leave their own mark on the space, but to do so in their own time. My color consulting skills can assist new home buyers in making color decisions that will suit them.
I do suggest that color be brought in with the use of paint or accessories. It’s always better to make your statements with features that can easily and relatively inexpensively changed, not with counter tops, bathroom fixtures or larger pieces of furniture. This is true whether you are selling your home in the near future or plan to live there for years to come. This leaves you the most flexibility for any future design changes you might want to make.