Giving a home a makeover is more than just making the aesthetics look pretty. When Jennifer Milne reflects on what it means to style a property in preparation for its debut on the selling market, she likens it to dressing yourself for an interview at that dream job.
“You wouldn’t go to the interview in your pajamas,” says Milne, a Gold Coast-based interior stylist who has transformed some of the most ordinary living spaces into eye-warming ensembles that can charm any house hunter who dares step foot inside.
“So don’t put your house out there hoping for maximum price and a quick sale if you haven’t dressed it for the best outcome.”
Over the past few weeks, homeowners from across the country have had to take their everyday lives and vacuum it into the four corners of their abodes.
Never have we been so observant of the faded tone of a wall or the need to elevate the dining room so that it extends beyond simply serving as a point of gathering – or the fact that the makeup of a place can have a direct impact on our mood.
With some vendors having recently refrained from selling via a digitally-led auction, either preferring to switch over to private treaty or wait for the pandemic to simmer down – now might be the time to consider how your property can stand out from the slew of others that could inundate the market at the same time.
Knowing what it takes to set a home apart from the rest, Milne shares the difference that some colour and decor can make, as well as how homeowners can bring two of the most trending styles to life.
The difference through another set of eyes
For Milne, adding to the canvas of a home is an investment in itself, and it doesn’t have to cost a heavy penny.
“Making sure that your home is looking its best; that its best features are highlighted and are displayed in a way that really showcases not only the style of home you are offering but also the lifestyle that the home offers to its new owners,” Milne proposes.
“Furniture doesn’t have to be the latest trend and it doesn’t even have to match,” she adds. “But it should be positioned well.”
An inviting atmosphere will also allow prospective buyers to envision how the home “flows from one area to another”, Milne notes.
Followed by a long spell of being present in a space, however, a homeowner can often glaze-over areas that require attention. This is where Milne’s expertise steps in – “[A professional stylist] is especially helpful when you have been living in a space for a long time as things tend to get overlooked, but are usually things that others will notice straight away,” she shares.
Deciding on your angle
Every well-executed plan requires some thought in the lead up. In the case of preparing a home for the best possible outcome on the selling market, knowing your buyer becomes key.
Milne says that choosing a specific style to adorn your home with largely comes down to your location, the furniture that is already on hand, and the property’s sales margin.
“If you’re living in an area, for example, that you would find a lot of first-home buyers buying into, and your home is at the lower end of the market, you probably aren’t going to need or want to spend time and money making your house look like a high-end NYC style loft apartment,” Milne explains. “Nor would you try and style it in the popular Hamptons style if all of your furniture is of a minimalist nature.”
Her best advice when the options are endless? “Use what you already have and create a style that will work with as much of your existing pieces as possible.”
Milne discusses how to fashion together two popular home styling looks, which she says are not only easy to replicate but can be achieved in most homes.
- The versatility of going eclectic
A personal favourite of Milne’s, the eclectic style plucks a little from here and there to offer a cheekily resplendent and no-fuss look.
Milne says that it puts plenty of personality on display and it doesn’t always have to look “maximalist”.
“What makes it easy to replicate is there really aren’t many ‘rules’ – furniture of different styles and finishes combined with fun playful fabrics and quirky decor pieces make this style relatively easy to DIY,” she explains.
The beauty of the eclectic heralds from its rebellion against being tied down to one specific style and rather bringing forward each room’s strong point using differing pieces.
“For example, if you have a living room with fantastic light and plenty of space, don’t be afraid to accentuate this with a fabulous piece of artwork to draw the eye and capture the light streaming through the window,” Milne shares.
A Gallery Wall, which Milne says can be curated with personal photographs, travel memorabilia and artworks (that don’t necessarily have to come tied to a loan), is another way of injecting the eclectic style.
Turning attention towards how to achieve this within a bedroom, Milne says: “When styling cushions on your bed or couch, use pieces you already have as a base, pick a colour that is in the existing cushions or bedding and add in one or two new velvet or macramé style cushions in the colour you have chosen to really add the wow factor.”
She adds, “By adding in decor pieces of this same colour to a small display on a nearby end table or nigh stand you can really tie the space together.”
But while you don’t want the style to look too contrived, Milne says, “Make sure that you have a colour that flows throughout the houses living areas.”
“The great thing about the eclectic look is that you can use a lot of what you will already have,” she says. “Keep the styling simple, don’t overcrowd a room with big heavy pieces of furniture, and make sure you leave plenty of space for the air to flow and [the] light to filter in.”
- Bringing the seaside indoors
The coastal style – with its breeziness and light-bouncing palette – is one that Milne believes has wide-ranging appeal for the way it evokes a comfortable and relaxed look.
“It can easily and equally be used to style older style homes with older style features, such as weather board exteriors and timber floorboards, as well as more modern brick and tile-style homes,” Milne says.
“Natural light coloured timbers work best with this style, as well as using lots of white and neutral coloured fabrics and decor pieces; natural textures such as timber, linen and wool; soft furnishings in colours you would find in nature, such as blues, greys and taupe as well as greens and even darker colours such as navy – like the sea.”
Textured rugs, lamp shades in natural hues, overstuffed cushions, knitted throws and sheer white curtains, can all be incorporated, Milne adds – as can using coral imitations, candles, and old books to style furnishings.
“Don’t fall into the trap of plastering every wall with prints of the beach or tacky beach themed homewares either,” she cautions, however. “Simple, clean and fresh – keep these words flowing through your mind.”
The jute rug is a hero piece of the coastal mood-board, the stylist notes. “I particularly like looking in second hand stores and goodwill shops for decor pieces, crockery and glassware, books, as well as little decor bits and pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.”
“You can use these to create cute little vignettes (displays) to compliment the style and highlight the look, feel and lifestyle you want to convey to potential buyers,” Milne adds “All without spending a fortune.”