The London property market is notoriously competitive. Prices, as we all know, are high – at more than 14 times average earnings – and even with a slowdown in sales in the middle of 2016 there are still about 5,000 properties sold in the capital every month.
Dressing your home to stand out from the home is a serious business, especially in the turbo-charged London market, and it’s something that all sellers need to consider.
Did you know that you should be tailoring your home décor to the season your buyers are booking viewings in? The weather and light makes a huge difference to your home and there are numerous ways you can take advantage of each season’s quirks to present your property in the best possible way.
As Jade Tilley, Editor of Interior Design Today magazine, told us: “The way you lay out your living room and main social hubs can have a huge impact on the ability to sell sell sell. It’s not just about location, Kirsty and Phil!”
The cooler period
With this in mind, let’s start with the here and now. Winter is the time of year that feels the longest and perhaps the most difficult season to sell your home in.
Tiffany Duggan, founder and design director of Studio Duggan, said: “Staging your home for re-sale is something that every vendor should consider. Once the more obvious areas have been taken care of – such as de-cluttering, re-painting, replacing lightbulbs and minor repairs – adding those all important finishing touches can really make your house stand out from the crowd.
“Our clients are moving away from the ‘vanilla’ aesthetic of years gone by. Keep the base neutral and light and but add some personality, colour and texture through accessories and artwork.
“Empty walls can look sad and depressing, so dress them with striking photography, which is less personal than fine art or prints. Oversized wall-hung mirrors do far more than open up the space – they bounce light around, and chosen correctly can be wonderfully decorative.”
When it comes to property selling, the months of April to August are considered the ‘warm season’ and when most completions take place on property sales, while September to March are the ‘cold months’, as people hibernate for Christmas and money is tight.
However, due to the average amount of time it takes to sell a property – 65 days – many of these homes sold at the start of the warm season would have been marketed in colder times, so bear in mind that it’s perfectly okay to put that for sale sign up in February, or even January. Alternatively, if you don’t want to play the ‘long game’ online sellers such as House Simple reckon they can sell homes in 25 days, making it easier to stay within one season.
Rightmove also disclosed that there were more than 14 million page views of its properties on Christmas Day 2013, proving that property-buying is still on people’s minds even as they unwrap their presents and tuck into their turkeys.
Create that cosy, clutter free vibe
Jade Tilley also noted that winter is a time when people are seeking out warmth and cosiness: “Trends that continue to pervade the living space are all about texture, surety of materials and little nods of colour that demonstrate you know how to dress a room, without going overboard with the Pantone palette. Deep blues and navy teamed with burnt orange tones create a feeling of luxury but also comfort.
“The key to making additions that won’t break the bank is in the accessories. First, organise your room in a way that says clean, tidy and spacious by eliminating any unwanted items that do not need to be seen, including surplus side tables and small items of furniture that have crept their way into everyday use in the living room. Potential buyers do not need to see them.”
As she recommends, ensuring your home is as free of clutter as possible will help when it comes to prepping it for viewings. Unless you’re organising a single open house day (a trend that has started to gain momentum in this country) you’re going to have various potential buyers visiting at different times on spaced-out days throughout the week, and it will help if there is less to clean up before they arrive each time.
She also went on to say: “Furniture is the mannequin for you to subtly dress. Adding cushions to an otherwise neutral sofa will lift it. Work in threes, it is more appealing than pairs and ups the comfort ante. The same rule applies for candles and vases to dress sideboards and the like. Clusters of three suggest a design savvy mind. They do not have to be matching but usually work to complement each other.”
Utilising your space and furniture to make a room appear larger is also important. It’s not necessarily about feng shui but more about ensuring you aren’t reducing the appearance of a room’s size by filling it in a poor manner.
For when things warm up
Spring is one of the most anticipated times of year; when the weather begins to warm up, the days grow longer and the gloom that once loomed over us dissipates as we look forward to blue skies, evening walks and the garden coming into bloom. Spring is a time for romance and also the best time of year for property buyers to fall in love with what you have to offer.
Take advantage of the light and warmer temperature by encouraging viewers to pop round early in the evening and have a couple of windows open to give your property an airy, fresh feel. This tip can also be carried through into summer, when the light is at its best.
However, bear in mind that in these brighter seasons there’s less to hide behind. In the winter you have the cover of dark and the soft glow of a lamp to perhaps mask the fact the walls need a good lick of paint, or the carpet could do with a thorough clean. Spring and summer don’t allow any wiggle room for cosmetic errors.
If the walls and ceilings are looking a little dingy it might be worth topping them up with a coat of paint. Carpet shampoo doesn’t cost a great deal but can help create a good impression.
Karen Chapman, one of the experts behind home dressing and staging service Dress it to Sell, noted that: “The change in seasons is always a time when we think about improving or reinventing our living spaces. Typically spring is when, after a dark, gloomy winter, we feel the need for much lighter colours around us and prettier, pastel cushions, throws and accessories.
“Similarly, as winter approaches we start to think of rich, warm colours and cozy throws, infused with festive items. Sometimes, we can get this badly wrong by following trends that are too dramatic. Dark, red walls may feel warm and festive but these will only close in any limited spaces and in fact drag our moods down. By next spring you’ll be well and truly sick of them! Clashing prints are popular at the moment too but no one wants to leave your home with a headache – everything in moderation.”
Tiffany Duggan also noted that those trying to sell their property should do the following: “In spring/summer, [you should] get window treatments cleaned and throw open the windows. Display freshly-cut flowers and large indoor plants in vintage planters to bring the outside in. New towels, and fresh white sheets, really help to create a hotel-like vibe too.
“Scent is often overlooked – we love Diptyque diffusers and always use them in our show-homes. We like ‘Mimosa’ in the summer months, and switch to the woody ‘Feu de Boi’ in winter.”
Sheena Notley-Griffiths, Head of Studio for Helen Green Design, agrees with Tiffany. She said: “Bring a little of the outdoors inside with seasonal foliage and combine with a layering of rich textures to create a cosy and welcoming space.”
She continued: “Be conscious of the seasons and adapt furnishings and accessories accordingly; opting for softer shades – think pastel pink – on walls or even a delicately patterned wallpaper during spring and summer months will make for a lighter space. Heavier fabrics such as velvet should be used for cushions, and paired with a fine wool or cashmere throw will add warmth during colder months.”
Karen noted that not only should you take advantage of the seasons but also special holidays throughout the year: “Easter, for example, is a great time to add some quirky dressing to give detail to your living spaces.
“A rabbit-shaped candle on a shelf unit, a twig tree sprayed white with hand-painted eggs hanging on it or perhaps a bespoke ‘Happy Easter’ picture with the names of family members included on it. You could make these yourself – get the kids to help.”
When it comes to dressing your home depending on the season, take these tips on board and ensure you’re making the best first impression with those potential buyers!