Decorating your house so it will appeal to buyers; using decor to get the best selling the price

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by Francoise Murat of Francoise Murat & Associates

Good interior layout and good interior design is key to ensuring that your house comes top of the list in a potential buyer’s mind. We all know to keep to neutral colour schemes and to tidy up – but go too neutral and you risk making it bland and forgettable, too colourful and you risk alienating a whole section of potential buyers. Unworkable layouts are annoying, and cluttered spaces scream “too small”. Dirty, tatty kitchens and bathrooms are a big turn-off. So, how can you get it just right, and – ideally – secure a higher selling price?

Where to start
Unfortunately everyone’s taste differs, but when it comes to selling your house put aside your personal preferences and follow these simple rules:

  • One person’s treasured possessions are another person’s dust collectors. Minimise the number of decorative objects on display as clutter makes a room appear smaller and serves only to camouflage features of the room that you should be promoting.
  • Your furniture should be in proportion to the room size. An oversized sofa in a small cottage will dominate the room and make it feel cramped.

SAVVY TIP: If you cannot change it, covering it with a light coloured textured fabric will go a long way to reduce its impact. If you need to show more seating, small side chairs are preferable to another sofa and give the room a sense of space and practicality.

Getting the lighting right
Lighting is an essential element of any room and is often overlooked. I cannot tell you the number of times I have walked into a pale blue room lit by a single bulb in the centre of the ceiling. It looks cold and uninviting.

SAVVY TIP: Table lamps strategically placed on side tables are a great way to create interest and warmth.

  • Fluorescent light bulbs give off a cold, uniform light and whilst they’re fine in a workshop, they should be replaced inside the house (for example, the kitchen) with something more appropriate.

SAVVY TIP: Don’t use bulbs without shades and keep the wattage low; 150 watts is too much.

  • If you’re using energy saving bulbs that give off a cool light you may want to replace these with warmer bulbs for any viewing.

SAVVY TIP: Dimmers and cream lampshades are the cheapest and quickest way to create instant ambience in any room.

  • If you have downlighters you may consider using a slightly darker wall colour as these types of lights tend to wash out pale colours.

SAVVY TIP: If you’re redecorating paint an A4 size piece of white card with your colour and try it next to each light source you have in the room.

Using colour
The colours of your walls are the single most important factor when presenting your home to potential buyers. In general, the average house buyer is not good at visualising the potential of a room. Even a single wall painted a bizarre colour can be a stumbling block to the buyer and mean the difference between selling and not.

  • For most houses neutral colours are the safest bet. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from creating some interest and style, but avoid drama!
  • Try using wall paper with large bold prints but keep it to one wall and do not be tempted to paper the whole room. A complementary paint colour will help to pull the room together.
  • Many people ignore the effects of natural daylight when re-painting walls. Start with which way the room faces — a north facing room will make colours look greener whilst southern facing rooms will make colours look more yellow. For rooms that run east to west the colour will change as the sun moves throughout the day. This change should be embraced as this makes rooms come alive.

SAVVY TIP: Paint a good size area on couple of walls — one in shadow and one in sunlight – and live with the colour for a few days before committing to it.

How to use white
If in doubt, white is the colour to choose but make sure it’s highlighted by adding shades of other colours in the soft furnishings, furniture or art works.

  • Paint skirting boards and all woodwork the same colour. This will make the rooms appear larger. Remember to use the appropriate paint for each surface.

SAVVY TIP: If you have the enviable luxury of large rooms, pulling them together with darker skirting and architraves and lighter walls will make them less cavernous and more homely.

  • Don’t be afraid that it’s all looking a bit white. Accents of colour can be easily added to your neutral look with paintings and soft furnishings. Scatter cushions and throws are a good way of harmonising a scheme.

SAVVY TIP: Your soft furnishings should all be in the same colour palette with different textures to add depth. You can also try adding pattern but sparingly and always in the same hues. If in doubt, leave it out.

Related articles:

Giving your house kerb appeal when you’re selling

Can home staging help you sell your home for more?

A guide to buying a property in the country – what you need to know

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