Two months ago I was approached by a lady struggling to sell her cottage in a very desirable area. It is not a huge property but it has prime location, period character, and could be a perfect home for a single professional or a young couple.
When I first saw the property I struggled to see its appeal - it looked dated, neglected and quite depressing, to be totally honest. If it were a development project you could argue it is not relevant but the kitchen and the bathroom were fairly new and in a good condition and there was nowhere to extend so it was not your typical development project material.
Plus, for a lot of buyers this is a transitional property where they live for a couple of years until they start a family and move out of London into a bigger house. And I think, those are the kind of buyers who want to walk in and see themselves living there. For them, that property would have been a turn-off.
Plus, I always think there are two types of buyers - those who buy with their head and those who buy with their heart. The latter ones would have been lost the minute they walked in through the front door. And you cant afford it when you are trying to sell a property.
With a limited budget I had to prioritise. I decided to focus on lighting, flooring and smart but cost-effective storage, all those things that are essential for comfortable living but also things that add value to the property (after all, we had to keep an eye on the ultimate goal - selling the property!).
Once I had the basics sorted out, I could then focus on pretty things and staging. I am not a believer in painting everything neutral builder's magnolia colour. I think the modern buyers are more demanding than that. Without creating too much of a theme, I think you want to show people what they could do with the property, how they could live there, what it could look like... You need to create an interesting and aspirational look while still appealing to a very broad target audience. Not an easy thing to do but if you do it right, it really works.
I was determined to change the colour scheme, using light but trendy neutrals and darker colours to give depth to the rooms, harmonise various clashing woods, install practical but stylish flooring, change the furniture and accessories style and introduce lots of mirrors to open up the space.
Enough of me talking, let's have a look at some pictures.
The sitting room looked very dated and uninviting with drab yellow walls, tired old-fashioned furniture, red window blind, worn out carpet, poor lighting and lack of a focal point.
This is what it looks like now... New wooden flooring compliments the old re-varnished pine doors, stairs and bannisters dark wood painted stylish grey, built-in shelves and various shades of blue give depth and interest to the alcoves, stunning Cole & Son feature wallpaper makes the chimney breast a focal point, the big lean mirror enhances the feeling of space while looking quite opulent and re-upholstered mid-century armchair with the new made.com sofa and a couple of scattered cushions and accessories complete the look that feels modern and exciting.
The narrow staircase with heavy dark wood and yellow walls felt heavy, and dingy.
The wood has been repainted - stairs in white and bannisters in grey and to save money on a runner (which we couldn't really afford) we had the runner painted in deep blue to prevent the look from looking too clinical and to tie in with the sitting room scheme.
The tiny landing now has a huge mirror (a charity shop find) which reflects the light and gives you a feeling of a more continuous space. Clever trick to use! You can never have too many mirrors (ok, almost never..)
Bedroom 1 had bare floor wood which I normally love but it was in a really bad condition and was way too dark for the property. There were generally two many different types of woods in a small space which hardly ever works - it looks busy and heavy. The layout was not ideal and the sticking out wardrobe not only was taking up too much space without giving adequate storage but also looked ugly.
The cold off-white on the walls looked clinical and... cold.
And this is what it looks like now.. Pale aqua walls look serene and the deeper-coloured fireplace with a mirror becomes more of a focal point. The new built-in wardrobe (using IKEA carcass and fixtures) gives ample storage but looks neat and stylish. The new layout with the chest of drawers on another wall works much better and the re-painted white bed with a floating white shelf, duck-egg dim-out curtains and scattered cushions in aqua and pink compete the scheme.
The second bedroom is a darker room and the white walls with lots of brown furniture and dark blue worn-out carpet looked very uninviting there. Plus there was an exposed boiler with a desk underneath in a different type of wood to everything else sticking out. You just didn't want to be in that bedroom...
And this is it with some tweaks...A warm grey on the walls, mirrors, boxed-in boiler, re-painted chest of drawers and a few pops of colour make the room stylish and inviting..
Bathroom was too good to rip out (nor did we have a budget for a new one) - it just lacked character and felt desperately bland. The same pale yellow paint just didn't work with the basic white tiles and all the accessories were a complete mismatch.
A lick of deep teal paint offset the white tiles nicely, gave the small room depth, interest and cosiness, a larger upcycled mirror increased the feeling of space and a few accessories made it all look smarter.
Hopefully when a potential buyer walks into this house now they will think: "I can see myself living here...It feels good.."
Isn't that what it is all about?
Drop me a line if you have any questions and I will keep you posted on how we get on with the sale.
Speak to you soon..