Tips and tricks from leading interior stylist on selling your house quicker and making it more desirable
When Housesimple approached me to work on a property transformation for their pilot home makeover service – designed to help UK homeowners sell their property more quickly and to increase its desirability – I was instantly intrigued to see the pilot home in question and work out how I could use my designated budget of £1,000 to make a big difference.
After talking to the homeowners about their personal style and their likes and dislikes about the house currently, as well as determining what they felt was letting it down saleability-wise, we realised that, as their design tastes had changed over the years, a lack of cohesion in the home had developed. Spaces which had been recently decorated were stunning and favoured punches of strong, bold colour and a geometric, Scandi aesthetic, leaving other rooms which had been somewhat abandoned looking tired and dated in comparison. Topped with everyday clutter that had creeped in over the years, it became apparent that a good clear-out would play an important role in the makeover, so whilst I went away to work on my ideas, Lucy and Andrew were tasked with having a good declutter, temporarily placing excess items into storage as a short-term solution until a sale of the property was made.
Design-wise we mutually felt that continuing this geometric Scandi look they’d started in their most successful rooms would bring everything up to the same high design spec, giving it modernity and a wow factor to help make it feel memorable in buyer’s minds. By prioritising the five areas most in need of some help – the hallway, dining room, living room, kid’s bedroom and guest room – we were able to allocate the £1,000 where it was needed most and simply give the rest of the space a simple tidy without eating into the budget.
Once we had determined our proposed style and which rooms we would work on, I pulled together some inspirational imagery to share with the homeowners, sourced from great go-to sites such as Pinterest as well as from my collection of magazines and press lookbooks, to establish they were happy with the overall design direction. Next came working out key purchases and ring-fencing these costs from the budget, such as paint and wallpaper. A few small furniture items were also earmarked but in order to have enough cash left for those all-important styling props, we kept this to a minimum, opting instead to give some of the existing furniture an update with a lick of paint. Then with all the key items confirmed, the remainder of the budget was split between soft furnishings, lampshades, rugs, curtains and ornaments – always something of a financial juggling act but by sticking to inexpensive retailers, such as IKEA, Argos and Homesense, we were able to stretch the budget pretty far.
As we only had one day to complete the makeover, it was crucial to be organised and create a schedule of works in advance, taking in practical factors such as allowing time for coats of paint to dry and assigning tasks to people. All the props were organised by room and with a small team of helpers, we were able to run pretty much to schedule, even squeezing in time for a garden lunch to assess our progress. With a handyman concentrating on the painting and decorating, helpers to get stuff in and out of the house and my brilliant assistant, Grace, to help me with painting, ironing and styling, we proved that it’s possible to make a vast difference to an entire property within a day.
Whilst spending money on a property you’re planning to move out of may seem counter-intuitive, it is money well spent: the shorter-than-average sales time plus a full asking price offer on this finished property received really is the proof in the pudding. If you’re planning your own property makeover to aid selling your home, a similar approach could help: take a step back and be your own interior stylist; assess the property impersonally with fresh eyes and try to establish its weak spots, then set yourself a budget and timeframe to get everything finished by for estate agent photography. Getting a few friends and family members to help for your own ‘makeover day,’ can give you the kick-start you need to get things turned around and completed.
[Product Credits] How we spent it:
Patterned cotton runner, £24.99, H&M. Mono lampshade in Black & White, £14.99, Argos. Chalkboard paint (on wall), £29.99 for 2.5L, Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish furniture paint in Coral (on table legs), £4.99 for 125ml, both Homebase. Wire noticeboard, £15, Ceramic votive in black and white, £3, both Sainsbury’s. Gradvis pastel vases, £7 for two, IKEA. Small metal tealight holder (holding chalk), £1.99, H&M. All other items, homeowner’s own.
Mosaic metallic wallpaper, £16 per 10m roll, B&Q. Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish furniture paint in Graphite (on built-in cabinets), £12.99 for 750ml, Homebase. Marble granite-look contact paper (on built-in cabinet tops), £17.99 per roll, Amazon. Nunnerort curtains, £20, Brunsta lampshade, £16, Avsiktlig square patterned cushion, Livslang vase in Mint, £6, Begavning glass dome, £6, all IKEA. Gold and black vase, £8.99, Mudcloth printed cushion cover, £8.99, Tassled cushion cover, £12.99, Metal candlestick in Copper, £8.99, Pyramid candlestick in Black, £6.99, all H&M. Yellow velvet cushion, £14.99, Grey diamond throw, £29.99, HomeSense. All other items, homeowner’s own
Lower walls painted in Dulux Hawaiian Blue 2, £19.99 for 2.5L, Succulent in blue pot, £5.49, Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish furniture paint in Fire Brick (on chair backs), £4.99 for 125ml, all Homebase. Patterned table runner, £8.99, H&M. Circular tray, £12.99, HomeSense. Justina chair pads, £4 each, Stockholm fabric (used on lower half of bookcase), £6 per metre, all IKEA. Tezz gloss pendant light in Anthracite, £20, B&Q. Bar stool (by bureau), £47.99, Amazon. All other items, homeowner’s own
Star print duvet set, £17.99, Patterned duvet cover set, £17.99, Animal motif plates (on wall), £6.99 and £3.99, all H&M. Heavy duty large clips (used to hold pictures on wall), £6.37 per pack of two, Little Chip Mini triangle wall stickers, £15, both Amazon. Trailing ivy, £3.99, in Red ceramic pot, £4.99, Homebase. Mariam curtains in Yellow, £18, IKEA. Geometric navy throw, £19.99, Coloured throw, £14.99, Grey and orange knit cushion, £14.99, Yellow pom pom cushion, £12.99, all HomeSense. All other items, homeowner’s own
Lower walls painted in Dulux Night Jewels 3, £19.99 for 2.5L, Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish furniture paint in Laurel Green (on stool legs by bed), £4.99 for 125ml, both Homebase. Vivan curtains (hanging in front of fitted wardrobe), £10 per pair, Kalanchoe Madagascar plant, £6, with Nekjon plant pot, 50p (on chest of drawers), Hedera Helix trailing plant, £3, with Skurar hanging planter £4, Dekdad alarm clock, £4.50, Skogsta stools (used as bedside tables), £15 each, Tejn faux fur sheepskin rug, £10, Sommar mini vases, £7 for set of three, Sanela cushion cover in Navy, £6, all IKEA. Dark washed cotton pillowcases, £6.99 each, Yellow geometric cushion cover, £3.99, Velvet boudoir cushion cover, £6.99, Clear glass mini vase, £3.99, Scented candle in glass holder, £3.99, all H&M. Tassel bed throw, £19.99, HomeSense. Estiva table lamps (by bed), £18 each, B&Q. All other items, homeowner’s own
[note – supplies such as masking tape, hooks, light bulbs, cushion pads etc were included in the £1,000 budget but are not included in breakdown – please ask if further details on this required]
Amazon – www.amazon.co.uk
Argos – www.argos.co.uk
B&Q – www.diy.com
H&M – www.hm.com
Homebase – www.homebase.co.uk
HomeSense – www.homesense.com
IKEA – www.ikea.co.uk
Sainsbury’s – www.sainsburys.co.uk
Joanna Thornhill is a freelance Interiors Stylist and Writer based in London. She works on editorial and commercial photo shoots, trend reports and written features for a wide range of clients. Her first book, Home for Now (CICO Books) was published in 2014, with a second book due for release in early 2019. www.joannathornhill.co.uk