Avoiding the home styling clichés that make it look like you’re trying too hard


By Jane Abbott

You only need to scroll through a dozen or so properties online to see the diversity of individual tastes and styles on offer. Many buyers choose to tidy and freshen up their property with their existing décor in place, while others go to the extreme and make it look like a designer emptied all the home styling ideas they’ve ever had into the home. There are a number of things you can do to prepare your property for sale and most of them are about focusing on the property itself and really keeping things simple. Simple and Neutral The key thing to keep in mind is that it’s the house you are selling, not everything that is inside it. Your life will be on show in your version of that house, but a buyer will have their own tastes and dreams in mind. It’s important to style the interior of the house with a simple and neutral approach that showcases the features of the house, without distracting. The trap most vendors fall into, is over styling based on their own tastes; rather than creating a foundation upon which buyers can visualise their own ideas. In its simplest form a home needs furniture, freshly made beds, a rug or two, some pictures on the wall and a strategically placed plant here and there. Focusing on clean lines and very few traces of your life (that means hiding the fridge magnets, dirty washing and dishes, family toothbrushes and cosmetics) can be all that’s needed to show off your home’s best features. It’s Not a Bed and Breakfast One of the worst home styling tips for the amateur designer is to ‘make the house seem lived in’. From badly thrown rugs to fresh flowers in every room, vendors often forget that buyers want to pretend nobody currently lives there when inspecting a property. The worst clichés in property styling range from freshly baked bread, to weirdly scattered rose petals, too many candles and way too much fragrance, or dining tables set for a dinner party that will never happen. Hotel soaps on towels, chocolates on pillows, freshly brewed coffee and even strategically placed sleeping cats on sofas. All of it distracts from the property itself and does not allow the buyer to imagine their life in the home. Remember to clear benchtops in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, put clothes away and minimise family photos and personal items. Trust the Professionals Even before buyers set foot in your home you will have had feedback from a bunch of professionals on how things look and feel. The property appraisal from your real estate agent is the first lot of good feedback you will get – take it on board and improve the things they say affect the property’s value. Clean up and style the home then get them in again for another opinion. If they are going to sell your home they are also invested in it looking its very best. They have done this many times before, so this might be the point to set your ego aside and listen to them, if they suggest you get some professional design advice. If you don’t have a natural fair for decorating and design, it might be well worth investing in professional home staging. Once the home has been styled, a photographer will come to shoot the whole property for the online and print marketing. This can be confronting when you see them move your carefully arranged pillows, or put away the casually opened newspaper and reading glasses you so carefully arranged on the coffee table. Remember – their job is to treat your home as a product for sale. They have all the best home styling tips and will know much better than you what the market wants to see. Stepping back and letting them do their thing will help you get the best results and take the pressure off you thinking everything has to be perfect! Many sellers underestimate the importance of presentation when it comes to selling their home. In our technology driven world, your efforts have to grab their attention in the very first second they see your listing online. Whether scrolling on their phone in heavy traffic, or in a dedicated research session at home, buyers are looking for the wow factor when it comes to house shopping and it’s up to you to deliver if you want their clicks. Getting them to click on your listing is the end result of a concerted effort to make your property stand out. However, one person’s idea of ‘presentable’ is another person’s nightmare. Clean and inviting is the key, to show buyers the personality and potential of the property and inspire them to make it their own.