Have you ever drunk a smoothie? They're wonderfully delicious, but it can be challenging to identify each individual flavour when strawberry, spinach, ginger, honey and turmeric are all vying for your attention. House hunting can be a bit like that. Evenings and weekends full of viewings and meeting estate agents can make homes begin to blur as the numbers mount up, and recalling all the different rooms can be an impossible task.
So, when you've tidied, decluttered and cleaned to perfection, how can you make your home the one that buyers remember? If you've spent any time on Instagram or Facebook, you'll probably have seen this quote pop up from the American poet, Maya Angelou: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." In that spirit, let's explore how to create a feel-good factor in your home that gives buyers that warm and fuzzy feeling that turns into a sale.
FEATURE THE HIGHLIGHTS
For the majority of viewings, the living room is the main event. As the most used, sociable and visible space, it's where buyers make a large part of their judgement. Whether your main living area is a classic reception room at the front or an open-plan kitchen and family space with a view of the garden, it's time to showcase all the inherent character.
Fireplaces - modern, traditional, working or retired - are a natural focal point of any room and high on the list of plus points for buyers. They can also be seductive at any time of year: a rack of chunky logs on the hearth, candlesticks and ceramics on the mantelpiece, and a large mirror or picture on the wall above are timeless ways to make them the centre of attention, whatever your personal style.
For any glazed doors to the garden, give them the limelight by keeping them clear of furniture or obstacles and clearing a sightline from where you enter the room. The idea is to draw people's eyes beyond the walls, bringing the outside in and blurring the lines between home and garden. Is there a TV in the room? Can you camouflage its presence in an alcove or among books and shelves? Keep the focus on your home.
SPECIAL SMALL SPACES
Give your little rooms the big-star treatment. Nobody needs to go roller-skating in your spare bedroom, so concentrate on a fabulous feel and a clearly defined role. Having a dedicated home office, guest room, or nursery gives a small space a larger sense of purpose and value. Nurseries and single bedrooms are easy enough to arrange, but a common mistake with offices at home is using miniature furniture to create an illusion of space. The result is usually a room that's impractical and unenjoyable to use, and it's an unnecessary step: even the smallest bedroom will comfortably take an adult-sized desk and chair.
If you're still concerned about the space looking too small, mount a clear glass desktop on slender legs so you can see the walls and floor through the structure, then pair it with a transparent chair or one with a cut-out frame. Whatever the room's purpose, avoid it feeling spare. Use side lamps, pictures, books or plants for a sense of completeness, with perhaps a sheepskin throw or rug for a touch of luxe. Elsewhere, the loo is the perfect spot for a memorable scene. How about a decadent unrolling of opulent wallpaper from John Lewis or Liberty? A cost-effective sumptuous splash that will stick in the minds of your viewers long after they've left.
Bedrooms are our most private and personal spaces, but when it comes to finding a buyer, they need to welcome in the world. Nobody knows more than hotels when it comes to making strangers feel immediately at home, so take a leaf out of their book to create a sanctuary of rest and relaxation. As any of their designers will tell you, it's all about the bed. Headboards are the foundations of a showstopper, whether crushed velvet, rich walnut or polished brass.
Modern or traditional, they give a bed an aura of grace and look great with pillows plumped and stacked against them. Paint the wall behind in a deep luxurious tone to complement and contrast with your decor. You'll achieve peak boutique with a pair of bedside tables, dressed with the rule of three used by professional stylists and photographers. Perfect accessories include lamps, clocks, books, vases and photo frames – play around until you find your favourite trio. At the bottom of the bed, a throw or blanket draped casually or carefully adds texture, comfort and warmth while softening the room's acoustic.
By night and by day, gardens and balconies are the icing on the cake at viewings. Whether it's playtime, sunbathing, dining or thinking, having somewhere outside to unwind, relax and socialise is a valuable commodity in any home. Whatever space you have outdoors, look for opportunities to enchant. A table and chairs prove you have the room for dining under the sky, but it's the styling that sends an irresistible invitation to sit down and stay. Small potted succulents or cactuses on the table are an instant and low-maintenance dash of green that's not only hardy and handsome - it doesn't need moving whenever you sit down to eat. Solar-powered storm lanterns look splendid while the sunlight charges them up, then later as evening falls when they cast a friendly glow with zero plugging in or replacing batteries. Lightbulb chains strung overhead also look magical at night, with yellow-toned bulbs emitting a warm and cosy radiance without attracting insects. Even if your garden or balcony is free of foliage, placing a few ready-planted seasonal pots around the dining area will elevate the appearance of your photos and the experience of your viewers.
To paraphrase a quote from the film Steel Magnolias: "what separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorise!" Was ever a truer word spoken? Despite what you may read, you don't need to be afraid of personal photos: it's where you place them that counts. A gallery of joy in the hall, up the stairs or on the landing is the perfect way to show that your home is where happiness lives, and without overpowering a room. Mirrors are perfect anywhere for a shot of glamour, extra light or filling a bare wall. Whether you're going for classic gold, a bold upcycling or a sleek modern frame, they give you the freedom for some playful garnish. Seasonal fruit and veg look fantastic on a kitchen countertop and, if you're feeling particularly arty, try displaying them directly on the surface.
Otherwise, a bowl brimming with colourful fresh produce is a universally tasty sight and talking point. Fluffy towels and robes add a spa-like quality to bathrooms, so treat yourself now to the ones you've been eyeing up for your new home and keep them just for viewings. Timber or bamboo accessories like bath shelves, caddies and dispensers add richness and warmth that goes with anything. For anywhere else you feel could use an extra something, Pinterest is your friend! Just type in "how to style a…" followed by your room or furnishing of choice, and a world of inspiration will open up before you.
With some simple styling and a few well-chosen accessories from what you already own or a shopping list, you can give your property the final finishing touches to attract the best buyers in Southampton. Are you looking to get your home ready for viewings? Call for a chat on 02380 987610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for some expert and friendly advice on hitting the market in style.