Making The Most of Interior Styling For Open House and Auctions

Preparing your home for open house inspections and auction day can be daunting. It can feel like an invasion of privacy however styling your interior can be a lot of fun and make you fall in love with your home all over again!

Nicole Jacobs is much more than the new kid on The Block. Having recently joined the buyer’s jury of the reality tv show, Nicole is a professional buyer’s advocate with over 15 years’ real estate experience and has seen many an open house in her time. Having renovated her own home, as well as countless period houses and modern classics, she has travelled the world and knows what works when it comes to going under the hammer.

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“I have a passion for real estate. For more than 15 years I’ve bought and sold a suite of houses including city center off-the-plan apartments, and mansions for clients in exclusive suburbs. I literally cannot pass a house for sale without inspecting it for all its faults and features: the practicality of the layout, the appeal of the street, the quality of the floorboards and tiling detail,” says Nicole. To gain an insight into her wold of selling, we sought after her top tips for getting your property off the market through successful presentation and careful design.

Here are Nicole’s 10 tips to successful interior styling to maximise your homes sale price on auction day and have fun while doing it:

1. De-clutter

It sounds easy however many people find it incredibly difficult to get rid of those treasured pieces. Start with furniture. If it doesn’t fit the theme of the room, or is just too large for the space then take it out. Remove personal photos and certificates from walls and box neatly to store. Clear the kitchen bench tops of knick knacks and store away large appliances. Put away all the toothbrushes and shavers in the bathroom/s. Clear the passage way and entrance and get in to those wardrobes and throw out unwanted and unworn clothes from 10 years ago! Feeling better already right!

2. Paint

If you can afford it, freshen the walls with a new coat of paint. Painting done well, really freshens the look and also adds value beyond the cost of getting it painted so it is worth it. Use neutral tones so it appeals to a broader market. Some paint stores offer a colour consultant with the purchase of the paint who will come out and advise you. Let them know you are selling so they know the focus of the painting required.

An alternative to painting is of course cleaning the walls and skirting boards. The cleaner and fresher they look, the better your furniture and art will look too. Play your favourite music (loud) and it will be done in no time.

3. Enhancing the flow of the home

A home with a logical floor plan that flows from one room to the next and is easy for buyers to work out sounds ridiculous but it is one sure way to attract more buyers. While you may not be able to change a wall in time to sell your home you can enhance the floor plan by making sure furniture does not block doorways. Arrange it to maximise the use of space and highlight the functionality of the room. Move pieces around until it feels right. Too many pieces? Store them or give them away. It may not be the way you like to use the room however if it flows better, then go with it for the selling period. It could add valuable dollars on auction day.

4. Add lamps/ funky lighting

Using lamps often helps add warmth to an area even if you are showing your home during the day (and I would recommend you have at least one dusk viewing added to the schedule of opens).

Living areas and bedrooms were all made for lamps!

Old light fittings can be replaced very easily and add such an element of WOW to a room. Qualified electricians can change them over so all you need to do is go shopping! Large lighting stores will have a great range to choose from and inspiration can come from home magazines and interior styling web site too.

5. Soft furnishings…yes cushions!

Cushions dare I say it can add so much to a room, just make sure you don’t over do it. You need to be able to find the seat! Choose inspiration for the cushion colours from artwork or a rug or something significant in the room. Remember Coco Chanel – less is more principle – once you have dressed the room, stand back and take something out.

6. Bed linen

The wonderful thing about styling your home is that you can take the pieces with you! Bedrooms need to be tranquil and inviting. Adding luxe linen sheets and different sized cushions (again you have to get to bed without taking ten minutes to remove the cushions!) will allow buyers to feel comfortable in the space, and that means they are one step closer to being interested on auction day.

7. Rugs

Like bed linen, rugs can make rooms bigger and they can add much-needed colour to a room. Make sure the proportions of the rug are right for the size of the room or the area you are putting them in. Larger is better when it comes to the living space. Having a small rug under the coffee table may make the room feel smaller.

8. Artwork

Styling to sell can sometimes feel like you don’t belong in your own home, however it can still feel great and ‘yours’ (until auction day) if you utilise existing artwork that works or even bring in some pieces such as large colourful canvas works. Shop online or even by a canvas or if you artistically minded try and paint your own. This way you choose the colours that will complement the room. Abstract is good and there are no rules for it either.

9. Clean Windows

I know it doesn’t sound sexy or glamorous or even like much of a styling tip, but clean those windows and everything inside will look so much better, trust me! It will add value without costing the earth to do too. Bring back the loud music and have fun, inside and out.

10. Call in the experts

If that was all too overwhelming, then call in the expert home stylists. Your selling agent is probably aligned with one or two and they will come in and do it for you. It is sometimes costly but well worth it. My advice would be to de-clutter first then call them in. They can even use existing pieces of yours and just add a few additional WOW items to enhance yours.

Shopping List

• Add a fresh vase of flowers with a light fragrance on the main bench of the kitchen
• Add a candle to the bathroom/s, or even freshly cut flowers in a small vase.
• Use ‘open day towels’ for the bathroom/s that only come out on those days. Use a theme of colour (maximum two if solid colours, or use colours that blend well) and arrange neatly on the towel racks.
• Splash out on some amazingly luxe bed linen. Try to keep the linen as relaxed as possible so avoid large prints and floral.
• Lamps and light fittings– go shopping. Try online first for ideas and a few great home/lifestyle mags. Take these with you when you shop.
• Go online and search for ‘affordable artwork’ – try to be specific and allow enough time for it to arrive and potentially to get stretched over a canvas.
• Rugs – if you need these again, flick through those mags and go online. Measure before you go so you don’t come home and find its too small or so big it takes over the room.
• Cushions – well they will be where the luxe linen is, and if not there are several well known stores that have a great range. Pick a feature cushion and a couple that will co-ordinate well. Most stores will allow you to try and then return if they do not work. Take a photo and ask for assistance from the retailer.
• Cleaning – hire someone, or buy the cleaning products. You will not regret it.
• Book the colour consultant and painter (or materials if you are doing it yourself).
• If it’s all too much, book the professional home stylist!

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