Think about an ideal guest you’d love to have visit you at home. Then imagine how you’d want your home to look and the ambience you’d like to create for them. This is how to think about approaching dressing your home to appeal to prospective buyers.
As soon as a guest/buyer walks in the door, their senses are going to be tuning into that all important first impression – and you need to ensure they feel immediately comfortable and ‘at home’!
The essential considerations are cleanliness, light, space and a fresh, appealing smell. Get these basic elements right and you can create a sense of ease, and a good impression for first-time visitors.
Your home needs to feel like a place to live – not a ‘show home’. This kind of styling suits hotels, brand new or very modern properties and will appeal to a certain kind or buyer, but if your home is, for example, a regular family space, then it could make a buyer feel slightly uncomfortable if they aren’t child-orientated, so you need to minimise this.
Think about when your ‘ideal guest’ arrives. What will be the first impression they receive from the outside of your house? Is there a driveway to the door, do you have a front lawn? Make sure the grass is cut, hedges trimmed and garden weeded. Put away any outdoor tools, equipment, bicycles, toys and clutter in the garden shed or stored neatly in a garage.
Your home needs to look as though it’s been loved – not just lived in! Where you can, make repairs to any holes in the walls. Bathroom and kitchen sealant often gets grey or mouldy, or bits peel off, so this will need attention. Also replace missing wall tiles or grouting. Restore any broken light switches, pull cords and door handles too.
Store any unnecessary furniture, tools and toys out of the way. Visitors need to feel a sense of space and to be able to move around and follow the ‘flow’ of a property. If you’re a bit of a collector and your shelves and mantlepieces are overcrowded with your personal treasures, be ruthless and have a ‘cull’. Physical objects in the way, or parts of the house in disrepair, can present themselves as obstacles and barriers to a prospective buyer.
Let in as much natural light as possible. Clean all the windows and make sure curtains and blinds are clean, and in good repair. A lamp or two, lit in darker corners makes a room feel more welcoming.
If you have the budget and time, and you feel your walls could do with a freshen up, re-paint them. Or at least wash them down and remove smudges, bits of old blue tack, picture hooks and nails. It’s not always necessary to follow popular thinking and repaint walls in a light neutral colour. As long as a wall is clean and in good repair, and the colour of it isn’t too over-the-top, most people will be prepared to live in a home for a while before they decide how they want to personalise it themselves.
Pets, smoking and cooking all contribute to how a house smells. Over time odours cling to the fabrics, carpets and curtains of your home. Shampoo the carpet and remove stains. It’s always better to clean and properly air a property, rather than to try and mask smells with unnatural plug-in room scents, which tend to have an overpowering smell. However, a good quality or natural candle, lit for a short while before visitors arrive can help tremendously.