So how to do you maximise the desirability of your home to ensure that you give potential purchasers the very best first, and hopefully lasting, impression.
We chat to local interior designer Julie Buck about what she believes to be the most important elements to help show your home to its full potential.
Julie has worked in the industry for over 15 years and has dressed everything from period flats and townhouses to warehouse conversions and new build developments so she really knows her stuff when it comes to ‘dressing for success’.
Julie suggests the very first step is to have a thorough spring clean, paying particular attention to windows (both inside and out) and any other glass surfaces such as shower doors, mirrors or splash backs, as well as skirtings, tops of pictures and all those other hard to reach areas that may often get missed. Once cleaned, ensure that all paint work is touched up and that curtains / blinds are clean. Check all light bulbs are working and replace any that need it. “Never assume that people won’t notice,” she says, “it’s often the small things that can make all the difference.”
Clean and touch up completed, the next most important area to focus on is the entrance.
Start with removing any obvious eyesores i.e. rubbish, weeds and dead plants, then hide any bins, bikes and kids toys out of sight. In London particularly, dirt and pollution is rife so don’t forget to clean your front door and doorstep, perhaps even give it a new coat of paint if necessary. “I would always recommend putting a new mat down and having a plant either hanging or in a pot besides the front door” says Julie. “If you live in a block of flats then the front entrance can be a tricky one but do try and make the best of your immediate entrance and any communal areas where possible.”
Once inside the entrance hall, make sure that it is not overloaded with coats and shoes. One or two is good to show that they can be accommodated but no one really wants to see your raincoat and dirty old trainers on show. Julie recommends that if your hall is dark and small, paint it a neutral colour and place a mirror on the wall to to enhance the feeling of light and space.
Next up, the lounge, dining and kitchen areas. “First and foremost, you need to try and look at the space through the eye of someone buying" says Julie
The simplest way to achieve this is neutrally coloured walls and floors and clean and clear surfaces. Is there space to prepare a meal in the kitchen? Do you have room to sit down and eat at the dining table? Do you have room to sit down and relax in the lounge?
“It may sound silly but if your kitchen work tops are loaded with everyday items then people can just assume that there is not enough cupboard space. Make sure that just the daily essentials are out on the work tops and that they are gleaming”
“People can become blind to their own things” Julie continues, “when we see them every day we become used to living in a certain way and often don’t see what others do."
Make sure that you have placed your furniture in the best way for the room. Don’t block windows or doorways and don’t overfill the room with too much furniture. Again, this may seem obvious but just because you are used to moving the sofa out of the way to be able to open the patio doors, all it says to buyers is that there isn’t enough space to have that sofa in the room. So really consider the layout in terms of maximising space and if necessary, get rid of some furniture or least put it into storage.
These needs to be relaxing but also functional. Again, less is more. Having clothes hanging from backs of doors or storage boxes of shoes on show can imply that there is not enough storage available so ensure everything is put away in cupboards. Another perhaps obvious but really important one is to have a bed that is the correct size for the room. If it’s a small bedroom then a king size bed that you have to squeeze past to get to the en suite or wardrobe will only emphasise how small the room is. Again, a sense of space is the key here. Clearing surfaces and de cluttering is another simple trick. The less out on show the better.
Julie also suggests, where possible, placing lamps on either side of the bed for a softer more relaxing light and ensuring beds have been made and bed linen has been pressed.
Clean and clear is the simple key here. It doesn’t matter whether a bathroom is brand new or in need of updating, it must, must, must be clean.
says Julie, so tiles, grouting, shower heads and glass should all be sparkling. “Limescale and mould can be tough to get rid of but it really is worth the effort” she says. “If the bathroom is fully tiled then get an extendable cleaner and make sure that the tiles are sparkling all the way to the top. Don’t think that just because its above eye level that people won’t look up!” Similarly, decluttering is of course another must, try to keep your toiletries out of sight. “One or two nice toiletries on show are fine” says Julie “but no one wants to see the entire contents of your bathroom cabinet. A couple of folded towels can also be nice but obviously make sure they are unused.”
Gardens, balcony’s and roof tops. These areas can often be overlooked. Outside space in London is a real asset however large or small so ensure you really maximise its appeal. Get rid of weeds and any dead plants or leaves. Put away any bikes, toys or garden machinery. If you have wooden garden furniture or decking then a good jet clean can give it a new lease of life. If you aren’t very green fingered then consider having a few plant pots with green plants rather than flowers, they are much easier to maintain and you won’t have the hassle or having to prune them. Do be aware of how much space you have though, a small patio or balcony can look even smaller if it too cramped so don’t go overboard on the plants if you don’t need to.
Julie summarises with her top ten tips to get your home in ship shape condition for sale.
1. First and foremost have a really good spring clean.
2. Ensure the front of the property looks clean and tidy.
3. Check all lightbulbs are working.
4. De clutter; clear surfaces, minimise personal possessions such as family photos and get rid of store excess furniture.
5. Neutral coloured walls and flooring help provide a blank canvas for potential buyers.
6. Ensure bed linen is ironed or pressed and bed are always made.
7. If you have pets, ensure all food bowls and toys are put away. It’s important to remember that not everyone is a fan of animals so evidence of pets can sometimes be off putting.
8. Fresh flowers and candles are a really nice touch but do ensure that neither have scents that are too powerful as an overbearing smell will have the opposite affect and again could put people off.
9. If you have some outside space then really show off this asset by ensuring it is well maintained.
10. Be prepared. Once your property is shipshape and ready for viewings, do try and keep it like that, you never know when you may have a viewing so this will ensure your home is always looking it’s best.
If you are looking to sell your home and would like a free market appraisal, or would simply like some advice on the local property market then click here to contact us.