Shelley Ferguson hosted The Block NZ and is an award winning magazine editor. Using her love of interiors she now has her own interior design business. Together with Newshub Shelley is running a six part online series called Your Place – where you’ll discover the latest styling trends and tips.
Pretend you’re a visitor to your own property and walk around like you would during an open home at someone else’s place. While your home is a very personal and meaningful space, try to see it from an unbiased, unemotional point of view for the purpose of this exercise.
Be critical and make a list of things that look out of place, cluttered or unfinished – then tackle that to-do list.
De-clutter, clean and update fittings
Because there is so much currently out of our control, people are seeking to regain control in simple ways like enjoying a clean and organised home. For the average home preparing for sale, I recommend getting rid of up to 30 percent of the home’s contents plus giving the entire home a deep clean. If you’re struggling to be decisive when decluttering, decide on a charity to donate your goods to – clearing out your wardrobe is much easier if you can imagine the thankful recipient of your donated items.
Most of us have a constant to-do list that never actually gets done when it comes to our home. Schedule time to tick of your list as quickly as you can as the sale price will reflect your hard work. Get out your ladder and give all the light fittings a good clean, and replace dated styles, if you can.
There are lots of budget-friendly pendants, floor and table lamps at Lighting Direct to create instant wow factor in key areas like living rooms, entranceways and over your dining table – using matching styles creates a cohesive look to your interior. Replace blown bulbs and change them to energy efficient LEDs, and replace yellowed or discoloured switch plates with new ones.
Pro tip: Geometric shapes give your lighting an architectural feel, making them ideal for achieving a higher-end look.
Paint inside and out
Painting your home is one of the best return on investments you’ll make prior to selling – especially if you’re handy enough to do it yourself. The interior and exterior walls are the foundation for the entire look of your home so if the paint, window frames and skirtings are tired, marked and chipped that’s the perception people will apply to the whole house. A good paint job also signals to buyers you’ve taken pride in your place, and they’ll be reassured the investment you’ve made will last them for years to come. Neutral combinations are the best to use as they have wide appeal, but don’t be afraid to add accents like grey on windowsills, shutters, front steps and your front door to create serious street appeal. It will cost you extra time, but good prep is the key to a great paint finish. Get started by preparing your home by cleaning down your walls with Resene Paint Prep and Housewash, working from the top down so there are no nasty residues to react with your paint. Then sand, fill and prime any cracked, dented, uneven or bare surfaces before you begin painting. If required primer should be applied first, followed by roof and ceiling paint. Window frames, trims and doors are next, with topcoats last (usually only two coats will be required, depending on the coverage you need). If you’re not sure which Resene product or sheen to use, try the free Ask a Resene Tech Expert service at resene.co.nz/techexpert or visit your Resene ColorShop, www.resene.co.nz/colorshops.
Pro tip: If you’d rather outsource the job, use the free Resene Find-A-Painter service where staff can recommend painters for your project.
Create street appeal
Stand back and take a long hard look at the exterior of your home from the street and have a working bee to improve overlooked areas. As the first thing people see when visiting an open home, it’s a powerful opportunity to make a good impression. Having an outdoor lighting scheme signals safety to many buyers – security lights, a well-lit entranceway and Lighting Direct has a great range at good prices. One of my favourites is the LED Hampton lantern as it adds a minimalist design feature on walls outside, plus features LED technology that lasts longer and is more environmentally-friendly. Try to make a clear path to the door, even if it means adding a line of pavers. Ensure you have a manicured lawn and gardens, and add impact with large potted plants like Bird Of Paradise. Make sure the roof and gutters are clean and clear, and pathways, decks, driveways and fences are free of moss and mould. This doesn’t have to be an expensive or time consuming exercise –the results you can achieve after a day’s work with gardening tools, a waterblaster and Yates Surrender Moss Killer Concentrate can be amazing. Include design elements to help buyers imagine the outdoor lifestyle they can enjoy in this home, like a paved area for outdoor furniture, a vegetable garden for edibles and low-maintenance, attractive plants and hedging to encourage their green thumb.
Pro tip: Black and grey are the most popular front door colours with buyers! Try a few colours out using testpots from Resene, and consider a high gloss finish to add an elegant lacquered effect.
Update kitchens and bathrooms
While re-tiling a whole bathroom may be overcapitalising for sale, tiling smaller areas can update the look of an entire room and net you more come auction day. Just tiling the bathroom floor to replace old lino or water-damaged boards can modernise the whole room. If all the walls are painted, choosing one small area like behind the bath, the shower well or behind the vanity to tile will make the room look more considered and expensive. Ensure the kitchens and bathrooms are clean and free of clutter and that the surfaces are sparkling clean. If your kitchen and bathroom cabinetry is margarine melamine, there’s now a clever product called Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer that prepares the surfaces for painting over.
Together with new splashback tiles and cabinetry handles you’ve got an instant facelift without overcapitalising. My favourite combo is tiling the kitchen splashback, bathroom floor or feature wall and entranceway in the same tile. Nature inspired tiles, like waterfall silver tiles at Tile Space, are popular options and work with most existing neutral colour palettes.
Pro tip: The grade of a tile refers to its hardness and suitability for certain areas so check it before you buy. Grade one is wall only, right through to Grade 5 for heavy residential and commercial use. Chat to the Tile Space experts to find out more.
Stage with a cohesive style
When selling a home, your opportunity is to help potential buyers visualise the home as their own. This is achieved not only by creating a beautiful space buyers connect with emotionally, but one that is devoid of too many personal touches. Homes with a considered theme throughout tend to sell better, as they create emotional appeal for buyers wanting a designer aesthetic.
Edit out pieces that look out of place to simplify and unify spaces. Neutral colour palettes have the most mass appeal for buyers, but bringing in elegant accent colours like blues, greens, greys, black and metallics in homewares, paint and tiles are stylish additions if you prefer to add more personality.
Group furniture to give each room a purpose, style your beds like a pro to add a focal point to each room, and group simple vignettes to add that lived in layer. One of the most effective ways to do this is using plants. If you search best styled rooms on Pinterest or Instagram, most will feature plants and for good reason.
Houses usually feature lots of hard lines, which is why plants are a go-to for stagers because they improve the atmosphere by adding organic shapes, texture and an inviting lived-in layer - they also last a lot longer than fresh flowers for open homes. The best plants for staging are low-maintenance ones that will thrive in the conditions of the area you want to place them.
Great areas for showcasing plants is the entrance way, on a console, dining table or dresser, and grouped plants on shelves – just remember to place them in areas of light and temperature they were born to thrive in! Display them in pots that are in keeping with your interior style – a mix of white ceramic, concrete or metallic look great. Arm yourself with plenty of knowledge on the right plants for your place.
Pro tip: If you’ve got an awkward or dark corner a taller plant in a large pot like Monstera or Fiddle Leaf Fig will bring it to life, while trailing or climbing plants like Devil’s Ivy, String of Pearls, Philodendron are great for adding impact to smaller spaces. When grouping plants, chose some with finer leaves and team them with others featuring solid leaves.