Taste-Specific Decor Scares Away Buyers!


imagesl8f441f44-w10oIf you want to attract the most buyers possible when selling your home,
you need to present it to appeal to the masses by adopting at least some popular trends and eliminating taste-specific décor. In my 3-plus years of staging, I’ve come across some homes and seen countless photos on-line of many more that languish for many months or even years because they showcase out-dated colors, materials, finishes, or unusual décor, artwork, and collections that apparently no agent advised them to put away or change. About 95% of the time, homes have too much furniture that makes them look cluttered, cramped, or worn and tired! I find it hard to believe that any seller who truly wants to get top dollar for their home and move on would choose to waste months of time trying to sell a property that isn’t competitive in the marketplace.

Since many sellers don’t spend hundreds of hours a year keeping up with décor trends and they don’t have an eye for design, or know what sells, your best bet is to hire a stager to consult with you on how to present your home in order to market it effectively. Staging is a critical part of any home’s marketing plan, just like grooming yourself and dressing up in a conservative suit or dress is a part of a job interview in order to make a good first impression. A good stager will tell you much more than just what and how to de-clutter and what should be cleaned (OK, that’s easy, everything!). Stagers advise you on:
• What décor needs to be changed in order to capture many more prospects, 90% of whom troll the internet to decide on the homes they want to see: things like 1980s mauve and green carpeting, bright or out-dated paint colors, wallpaper, for instance, or bathroom fixtures and appliances in anything other than neutral colors, knotty pine paneling, old laminate kitchen cabinets, outdated lighting and hardware, Hollywood lightbulbs around bathroom mirrors (this is endemic in northern New Jersey, for some unknown reason), etc.
• How to enhance curb appeal, both for daytime and nighttime (think good lighting for pathways and the front door, even inexpensive uplighting for trees)
• Why and how much to pare down personal collections that will distract buyers from the selling features of your home and prevent them from seeing themselves living in it; I’ve seen gun collections, doll collections, old toy collections, deer heads on walls, stained glass “art” throughout a home, etc. These items are way too personal and can even be offensive to the vast majority of buyers.
• Eliminating family photos, pet paraphernalia, grandma’s crocheted afghans, doilies, etc. , and anything else that screams “this house is someone else’s home, I can’t see myself living here.”
• What repairs to make, if they are obvious to a critical eye: thinks like broken steps, doorknobs, missing tiles, mildewed grout, cracked walls or outdoor foundations, etc.
• What to stow away, such as garbage cans and personal hygiene items or cleaning supplies.
• What furniture should be removed, re-arranged, slipcovered to neutralize outdated patterns and colors or cover up stains, and generally positioned to maximize both space and your home’s selling features, such as fireplaces, views, nooks, etc.
• How to visually expand spaces by getting rid of scatter rugs, rugs that are too small for rooms, exposing hardwood floors, removing curtains, changing paint colors or adding mirrors in dark rooms.
• How, where, and what size artwork to hang to bring color and life into a room as well as to emphasize features
• And more . . . just too much to cover in this blog post!

The return on investment for staging is anywhere from 200% to 600%, according to HomeGain’s annual surveys on improvements that sell homes. I never make recommendations that won’t, in my experience, at least return their cost for that home’s location, and most improvements are inexpensive. Also keep in mind that buyers tend to over-estimate the cost of repairs, many don’t know who to turn to to get those improvements done, or don’t have the time to make those repairs and updates. They just know they want to live in homes like the ones they see on TV and in magazines, and sellers that give them what they are looking for are the ones who get more buyers and competitive bids and sell for higher prices!

Choosing the Right Accessories

Various accessories contribute to the traditional feel of this living room

Bright red pillows and vase add much-needed color

accessories such as a plant, mercury glass vase, and decorative balls add color

A bright-white ginger jar and decorative tray with silver shells

A white orchid is always in style in just about any room.

Mercury glass is a trendy and glamorous addition to a bedroom

In decorating or staging to sell, accessories are the finishing touch in any room, the “icing on the cake” if you will, meant to add interest, warmth, texture and often, color, in order to create that indefinable “wow” factor that makes a room look truly pulled together. Here are some basic principles for choosing accessories:
1) Less is more. A well-designed room should not look cluttered, and too many items are distracting and irritating to the eye. If you do have a collection of many items you want to display, group them together, or in a couple of different areas, and if you put them on a coffee table, use a tray to corral them in a grouping to create a more dramatic effect.
2) Large items create more of an impact than small ones. Little items lack drama and contribute to the cluttered look, something design is meant to eliminate! Large-scale art or several smaller pieces of art grouped together are more dynamic and striking than small pieces, especially in large spaces and over large pieces of furniture. Ditto with larger sculptures (think Buddha heads, animal head sculptures, etc.) and with floral arrangements, decorative bowls, boxes, etc.
3) Make sure your accessories and art fit the scale of the room — large rooms or high-ceilinged rooms call for larger pieces of art so the art doesn’t end up looking under-sized.
4) Numbers count! Arrange items in uneven numbers, which are more pleasing to human eyes. Use 1, 3, or 5 items, occasionally even 7 (as with decorative balls in a large bowl or vase). Of course, a pair of lamps flanking a sofa or bed or a pair of candlesticks flanking a mantel add symmetry and balance, just be careful not to make everything a matching pair, which will look monotonous.
5) If your room is monochromatic, mix in some texture (beehive vases, seagrass baskets, dimpled glass or variegated or oddly-shaped ceramics, fluffy pillows or a shag rug) or punches of color with accessories to prevent the room from looking boring. Don’t forget to vary interest with different materials, such as metals or organic materials in an all-wood and glass room, for instance, or by bringing in pattern to a monochromatic or pale-colored room.
6) Continue the color scheme or theme of the room by selecting accessories with at least one color already in the room, or jazz up a low-key look with a totally new color, but use multiple pieces in that color for flow. For example, if you have a blue, brown, and white room, consider adding a complementary color such as red in several items to really enliven the room and attract the eye to key features, like a fireplace or handsome coffee table.
7) Plants or organic materials, such as twig trays, wooden boxes, or woven baskets, always add warmth that makes rooms look more comfortable. If you don’t like florals or even plants, consider adding a collection of different sizes or colors of glass or pottery vases (stick to one type) or ceramic or seagrass balls to achieve a similar effect. Another inexpensive and easy way to add warmth and coziness is to bring in books. You can use a coffee table book or stack 2-3 attractive hardcover books on a coffee or end table. Or arrange a few hardcover books between bookends on a console table, or group them in several horizontal and/or vertical arrangements on bookshelves.
8) You can “shop your home” for accessories that might be stored in your basement or attic (or your glassware cabinets), create dramatic ones using basic materials such as clear vases or urns filled with colored beads, flowering branches, decorative balls, pinecones, seashells, etc., or shop for inexpensive accessories at stores such as HomeGoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Pier 1, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Target, Walmart, or KMart.

Adding white pillows and decorative plants and a box add warmth to this formerly “blah” room.

Re-Use, Re-Fresh with One-Day Makeovers

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and easy way to refresh and revive your home to make the most of your space, a one-day makeover is a great solution! First, I’ll interview you by phone about your goals, style, favorite colors, and anything that bugs you about your space, and then make an appointment to come see your house and assess it in person. Depending on what we discuss and decide about your space, I will give you a list of suggestions such as new paint colors or adding crown moldings, new drapes, slip-covers, bedding, etc., and/or I can start re-arranging furniture, art, accessories, rugs, etc. right on the spot to make your home “feel” better. This is a great, inexpensive option that typically costs less than a nice weekend away and results in a house you’ll be happy to show off AND come home to!