The standard advice for anyone selling their home is to make it as neutral and inoffensive as possible, so that it will appeal to the greatest number of buyers. Dispensing of the personality and style you’ve imparted to the house then excludes the chance to use design touches that you believe enhance the property. While it’s true that a fairly blank canvas is what appeals to most buyers, that doesn’t mean you can’t use design principles and dashes of your own style to make your home stand out from the crowd.
Why neutral is preferable
Studies show that when people view houses, they find it very hard to strip away the homeowner's style and visualize what lays beneath. When people are observed viewing houses, it’s fascinating how often they will reject a place because it has a wallpaper pattern they dislike, or carpet in a color that seems wrong. Of course these are all aspects of the décor that are easily remedied, and yet people often can't get past these temporary eyesores and see the home's potential. That’s why neutral color schemes are the default recommendation for showing a house, because they are the least likely to detract from the structure itself.
Using colour and style to your advantage
The downside of showing your house as a neutral blank canvas is that it can come across as dull and lacking warmth and personality. When people are actively viewing houses, it takes something memorable to catch their attention and stay at the forefront of their mind. Therefore, a house with a touch of style can genuinely stand out from the crowd and make a positive impression on potential buyers.
The safest way to inject a bit of vibrancy into your home is with accent colours. Keeping the walls neutral shades, and adding complementary cushions, rugs, or drapes in solid shades, will add a spark to what could be a bland space. For instance, light grey walls could be brought to life with pale blue accents around the room. Avoid bold and contrasting colours in favour of tone on tone which reads as understated elegance. In this case, a little goes a long way, and people tend to respond strongly to colour, so use it cautiously to avoid a negative reaction. The key is subtlety.
Furniture and accessories
The same principle of neutrality is generally recommended when it comes to furniture and accessories in your home. The trick to getting the furniture right is to choose pieces that maximize the impression of space, and avoid anything that looks out of proportion or makes the room seem smaller. You should dress each room to highlight the space and light available, and remove anything that takes up space without adding to the ambiance. You might want to consider using a theme for your layout, for example the mid-century modern look is a classic, open design that sets rooms off well to potential buyers. Try as much as possible to dress a room in the manner to which it would be described in the sales particulars. For instance, if you use your third bedroom to store all your junk, clear it out and put a bed in it so people can see how it will look as a bedroom rather than an oversized closet.
Depersonalizing your house
When you’ve put a lot of effort into personalizing your space and decorating it in a way that appeals to you, it can be dispiriting to feel you have to wipe that character out of your home. The way to look at it is that this place won’t be your home for much longer, and hopefully, you will soon be moving on to bigger and better things. Be sure to take photos before you make it over if you've become attached to your home.
If you put in the effort to make your current home more attractive to others, you should end up with a quicker sale and more money in your pocket, which you can then use to transform your new home into something even better. With that in mind, get decluttering and move out or get rid of all the accumulated possessions and bits and pieces that have built up over the years. Once you’ve cleared all your personal items out of the way, you’ll be surprised how different your home seems, and you’ll then be ready to clean, touch up, redecorate, repair, and re-dress the house ready for viewings.
Retaining warmth and style
Once you’ve removed all the clutter, completed any touching up or decorating that needs doing, and rearranged the rooms to show them off to best effect, take a step back and look at what you’ve achieved so far. Does the house seem inviting? Are there enough touches of style and color to make it memorable to prospective buyers? Ideally, you want to be somewhere between being a representation of you and your life, and the kind of identikit interiors new build houses often have. Keep the objects that make a statement or have artistic value, but take away the detritus of your daily life. If you have tasteful or thought-provoking artworks or framed photographs, these could add the style notes that will catch a prospective buyer’s eye.
There are all sorts of emotions at work when you make the decision to put your home up for sale. The reasons you’re selling could be positive, for instance, moving to a new area when you get a great job opportunity, getting married, or being able to afford the house of your dreams. There could also be less positive reasons for moving, such as a relationship breakdown, or downsizing due to ageing. Either way, it may be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster when you prepare to sell, but if you can present your home in a way that makes it easier for you to leave, while at the same time attracting the right person to move in, you’ll find the process more productive and a lot less stressful.