Lots of us work from home these days, whether it’s running our business or, if you are an employee, you might work from home a certain number of days each week. Depending on what exactly we do, our work space needs will differ. In this blog I am concerned with the most common scenario, namely where you need a computer or laptop and perhaps some storage.
Needing more, or more functioning, work space is a common element in why we look to upsize but how do we address the problem of selling but still needing to work while our home is on the market?
Define Your Work Area
If you are upsizing in order to obtain dedicated work space or improved work space, then it’s likely that you currently use the dining table or perhaps a corner of a living room or bedroom. One of the most important things to do when presenting a multi functional space is to avoid confusion as to the purpose of a space. A lot of buyers struggle to visualise how a space or a room can be changed so make it easy for them and show how it can be done. This doesn’t mean that a space can’t be used be for more than one purpose, simply that the space needs to be demarcated for each function. For example, in a living room or dining room that is also used as a work space, identify where is the best spot to create a dedicated work area, preferably in a corner, an alcove or under the stairs. I recommend starting by analysing what is the basic workspace you need bearing in mind that this is a temporary measure e.g desk, work station, storage. Can you reduce what you need as this may make it easier to create your work space? Having done this, consider rearranging your furniture or even relocating your work area to a different room. In an open plan space, zone the work area using a rug or painting an alcove a different colour. In a small home you don’t need to remove all evidence of a work area, in fact, having a work area can be beneficial as it demonstrates to buyers that there is an area that can be used to work from. On the other hand, if you have a bedroom that is used solely for work and have squeezed two beds or bunk beds into another bedroom to achieve this then change the office back into a bedroom and create a new work area elsewhere in the property or even rent some office space short term. Buyers usually want a certain number of bedrooms and need to see them as bedrooms.
Clearly the type of office you need depends on what you do. If the nature of your work is “office based” i.e somewhere for a computer or laptop and printer plus space to set out paperwork etc then it will be quite straight forward. However, consider the environment in which you are working. If it is a multi functional space then try to use furniture that will fit in with the other furniture in the room and the style of the room rather than traditional style office furniture. A wooden desk or table can easily be transformed with a coat of paint and can you utilise an existing dining chair rather than an office chair? In a living room you may prefer to use a workstation that closes up and looks like a cabinet, it can be left open or partially open on viewings to show what it is.
If you work from home you may well need storage. Again, think laterally, if you have filing cabinets can the contents be transferred to a cupboard and the cabinets stored elsewhere (this may course depend on whether the contents need to kept securely) or could you simply move the cabinets and continue to access them elsewhere? Can storage be made to blend in with the other furniture and consider storage that doesn’t look like office furniture. An ottoman can contain a lot whilst at the same time serving as a coffee table.
In summary, when looking to upsize when working from home, define your work area, select appropriate solutions for your work station and choose storage. remember that anything you buy can move with you to your next home. Need help when preparing your home for sale call now on 07745 876182 or e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and book an appointment. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
When you are upsizing for the first time it’s all a bit of a mystery and you are not sure what you need to do, if anything, other than instruct your estate agent. Your agent is part of the marketing process because, after all, when selling your home you are selling a product just like a car, a dress, or a sofa. Infact you are selling a dream – a dream of what life is going to be like for the buyer.
Think about looking through an interiors magazine. You read the story about how the homeowners transformed the property and you see the photos. Those images will demonstrate the home owners life – a line of wellies lined up in a hallway, a cosy corner with a comfy chair draped with a throw, a tray with tea things on a coffee table. It’s similar with adverts for luxury cars. Who are your target market and what kind of life do they aspire to? One area of the home where you can create this aspirational feel is in a bedroom. With people traveling widely even for mini breaks the “boutique hotel style” has become increasingly popular. For these tips I’m taking inspiration from this Superior Grade room at the London Mandarin Oriental.
The décor is understated with soft grey walls, grey curtains and wooden flooring which provides a neutral backdrop against which the other elements stand out. This works perfectly when selling because the neutral setting allows your buyers to imagine themselves living in the property and can easily be changed to suit their tastes. These Compton eyelet headed curtains from John Lewis have a textured finish with sheen that gives a fabulously glamorous feel. In the Mandarin Oriental, gilded mirror artwork has been used to form a feature behind the bed, but a wallpaper would give a similar feel and when a design has been discontinued a couple of rolls can be bought cheaply. The rug softens the wooden flooring for walking on and introduces an element of colour for interest.
This particular room features a desk with chair. You might not need a desk but a console table and chair which could be used as a desk or a dressing table is a nice touch if you have room. A small occasional chair is somewhere to sit and relax. A feature of the hotel bedroom above is the statement headboard and matching bench style seating. This teal blue upholstered headboard by Mercury Row at Wayfair has similar impact. However, one very cheap and effective trick is to use a piece of stunning fabric such as the Velika Velvet range by Harlequin pictured below to cover a plain headboard using a staple gun. Use the same fabric to cover the lid of an ottoman at the foot of the bed.
A beautifully dressed bed is an essential component of the look. Start with plain white bedlinen of a good quality (remember you will be taking it with you so it’s worth investing, I like The White Company) and dress with a bed runner or throw. I think cushions stacked at the head of the bed are a nice finishing touch although they haven’t been used at the Oriental. A pair of bedside tables with lamps provides symmetry and positioning a book and small bud vase with a few flowers and perhaps a scented candle creates the lifestyle, viewers can picture themselves relaxing with a good book before going to sleep.
Although the bedroom at the Mandarin Oriental is definitely at the luxury end, it is certainly possible to develop the same ambience on a more modest budget appropriate for when you sell.
Like what you’ve read and need some help? Call now on 07745 876182 or e mail email@example.com. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West
Are you looking to upsize for more family space? Life has moved on since you bought your current home – you’ve married, got a partner, had a child and the family is growing. In short, you’ve outgrown your home. Selling with a young family is difficult particularly if you are upsizing. There are the practicalities of day to day living combined with the fact that it may be obvious why you are selling – toys, play pens etc. So here are a few tips to manage selling when you have children.
We all know that children have a lot of belongings and that they seem to get everywhere. If you are moving because the house isn’t big enough you don’t want to advertise the fact. If viewers see toys, games consoles etc all over the place they will conclude that the property isn’t big enough for them either. Remember, clutter prevents potential buyers seeing the true space on offer. Decluttering children’s toys is difficult because children might not understand why they can’t have all their things out. Enlist their cooperation in whatever way is going to work with your children. Involve the children in the adventure of the move and explain that you need to sell the house in order to have the adventure. Start by seeking to pack up as many items as you can, this will also help towards the ultimate packing up that you will have to do anyway. Whilst doing this see if you can persuade your children to part with at least some of the toys they have grown out of and donate them to a local children’s charity. If your children are engaged in the current debate on the environment this is a great tool for encouraging them to donate. Store the resulting boxes out of the way.
Having reduced the amount of items find appropriate storage. Create extra storage capacity by, yes you’ve guessed it, decluttering existing storage either by getting rid or packing up. Bear in mind that viewers are likely to be nosey and open cupboards so don’t cram them so full that things on them. Cupboards need to be tidy otherwise that will give the impression that you don’t have enough storage. If your property is likely to attract buyers who will want to start a family then it’s fine to show that it is a family home, for example, coloured storage baskets.
Be Viewing Ready
Some vendors like to be present during viewings, they feel they know their house better than the estate agent or they like to be on hand to answer viewers questions. If you are one of those vendors and you have children do try to arrange for the children to be elsewhere during viewings. However well behaved the children are they are likely to be a distraction and you don’t want the potential buyers to be distracted. Have an action plan and, if the children, are old enough, assign them certain tasks such as putting toys away (in that storage we created earlier) when they go bed or finish playing, hanging clothes up, making the bed etc. It’s handy to have a large storage crate that you can pile things in and then put in the boot of the car.
In summary, selling your home when you have children isn’t easy but reducing clutter, having storage and being ready for viewings make sit a little less stressful. If you would like some help then call today to book a decluttering session. Call 07745 876182 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
If you are moving in order to achieve a change of lifestyle then it’s likely to involve a change of area. Prices may be different in the area you are moving to – cheaper or more expensive. Indeed, you may be moving to a cheaper area precisely in order to move to a bigger property or have more money left over to enjoy other activities. What if it’s the other way though and prices are higher in the area you want to move to? Clearly, finding the right mortgage is crucial but so is maximising the sale price of you current property, that extra £5,000 or £10,000 may make all the difference. We all want to make as much money as we can when selling but when every penny counts it is even more important. Getting the best price for your home is all about maximising the appeal of your property to get lots of viewings which lead to offers. Here are a few suggestions.
Buyers love space. Look around your rooms and ask yourself “is there anything here that isn’t necessary?” – a table for example. Apply this to ornaments as well, it is surprising how a lot of “nick nacks” (if you’ll forgive the expression) make a space seem cramped and they are a distraction. Are there pieces of furniture that impede the flow of the room and make it difficult to walk around or move from one place to another. If so try moving them around or remove them. A useful tool is to take the furniture out if you can, cut a template from a piece of pieces of newspaper, place them on the floor and move them around. This will give you an idea of how much space they take up and it is much easier to move paper around than actual furniture.
There is connection with space. If your living space is open plan then it can be difficult for buyers to work out how they would use the space. It is important to create definition whilst at the same time keeping that feeling of space. There are several ways of doing this. One is to use different flooring in different areas, for example, wood or laminate in a dining area and carpet in a living area. Alternatively, use rugs. Another option is to use different wall colours or a combination of paint and wallpaper. You can also use room dividers, a low storage unit or console table or sometimes simply rearranging the furniture is enough. These are all cost effective options. After all, styling your home for sale isn’t about spending lots of money.
I think we are all aware that colour has the power to influence how we feel. Colours such as blue feel cool while yellow feels warming although it also depends on the shade and tone of the colour. Refreshing your décor with a coat of paint is a very easy way to make a space feel more appealing. When selling remember that it’s all about attracting the maximum number of viewings so if you have walls decorated in strong colours that aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, tone it down. You aren’t going to please everyone, and it is true that most buyers will want to put their own stamp on a property but you want them to walk in and think that they can live with what is there in the meantime. Off white, pale grey or a pale sage green are good neutrals.
To sum up, if you want to make that lifestyle changing move and need to maximise the budget then create great space, zone that space and think about the use of colour. Are you stuck on the market and need some help? Call me on 07745 876182 or e mail me at email@example.com and book a no obligation Fact Finding session. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
Friday the 21st June is the Summer Solstice which marks the longest day of the year. If you have planned that life style move it means we are half way through the year and perhaps your property has been on the market for a while without selling. If you have children you probably want them to start their new school in September so time is getting tight. One of the tell tale signs of a property that has been on the market for a long time is photos that were taken at a different time of year – the classic example is the photo that features the Christmas tree or snow in Spring or Summer. Dressing your home in a way that is appropriate to the season and having fresh photos taken is an excellent way to generate more interest. Here are some easy ways to update the look of your property and some suggested pieces.
It is always important to ensure that you get as much natural light into your property as possible. In contrast to winter months you want a fresh airy feel rather than that cosy hunker down feel. For Summer, substitute heavy drapes for curtains in light fabrics and colours. Opt for simple treatments such as an eyelet or tab top style rather than swags and pelmets. This change will instantly make a room feel bright and airy. These Kaolin voile panels in Natural from John Lewis would fit the bill perfectly, although they are plain they have an attractive weave.
Soft furnishings such as cushions, throws and bedding are a very simple and cost effective way to make seasonal changes to your décor. If you already have a property in mind choose pieces that you would like to have in your new home. If you are not yet sure of the style of your property or colour scheme then chose accessories that aren’t going to break the bank. My “go to” brands for budget accessories are Dunelm Mill, The Range and Matalan. When styling your home in summer look for lightweight fabrics in natural fibres such as cotton and linen. You want a summery colour palette and at the moment ochre, grey and blush pink are very popular. This Alisha duvet set, cotton dot throw and Balmoral thistle cushion are all from Dunelm.
I also recently found a fabulous selection in Marks & Spencer which I have my eye on for my next project. Check the condition of any houseplants and get rid of any that have died. Treat yourself to some new ones and a bunch of seasonal flowers is a final touch.
When styling your home for summer don’t neglect your outside space especially your entrance, first impressions really do count. It’s time to refresh your hanging baskets and any planters. Any garden centre will have a selection of plants for tubs and hanging baskets. Petunias, geraniums and begonias are all very colourful and you can either go for a basket planted with all the same plants to create an impact or use a mixture of colour and foliage. It’s great fun creating your own but if you don’t have time or aren’t sure how to put one together you can buy them ready planted. Architectural shrubs such as box or bay trees are always stylish but replace them if they are looking past their best. Such shrubs are an investment but remember then can always move with you.
In summary, swap heavy curtains for lighter ones, add accessories in summery fabrics and colours and refresh the outside space. Once you’ve made these updates don’t forget to ask your estate agent to arrange for some new photos to be taken so that your property’s listing can be refreshed and generate some new interest to get you sold and on your way. Still not sure? Call me on 07745 876182 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do it all for you. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West
The two things that I would always prioritise when selling a property are cleanliness and clutter. If a property feels dirty then viewers will feel uncomfortable and will want to leave no matter how much the property may suit them in other respects. You don’t want viewers leaving with a sense that they need to wash their hands. That may be an extreme example but when you’ve made that momentous decision to change your life and move somewhere else you want to sell quickly either because you’ve already seen the dream home or because you are going to move into rented so you are ready to pounce. The kitchen tends to be one of the most important rooms when people are house hunting and it’s a space where hygiene is important so you want to get it looking good and thereafter easy to keep clean for viewings.
Having as little as possible on worktops has two advantages. First, the amount of workspace available tends to be a major consideration for buyers. People like to have plenty of space for preparation and to rest pots and pans, plates etc. Secondly, the less you have out the quicker and easier it is to keep worktops clean. So consider all the equipment and gadgets that you have out. How regularly do you use them, can they be put away? If there isn’t room to store them in cupboards and you use them frequently can you create space by taking out other items that you use infrequently, boxing them up and storing them in the loft of garage. Even better, can you do without them and dispose of them? I also advocate having as little as possible on window ledges as it can impede the light, perhaps just a pot of herbs.
Having reduced the number of items on your worktops it’s time for a serious cleaning session. My approach is to take everything off the worktops and put it elsewhere such as the dining room table. I then clean the oven including all the racks and trays, the inside of the oven doors (if you can remove the internal glass to clean then do so) and hob. Don’t neglect the extractor hood this can easily be overlooked, wash and/ or change the filter. If cleaning the oven isn’t something you enjoy doing then employ a professional oven cleaning company. I wipe down all the cupboard doors with hot soapy water and check the edges of the doors. similarly wipe down splashbacks and tiles. If the grout between tiles behind the cooker has become discoloured use a specialist grout cleaner. Clean the sink and taps, not forgetting underneath the dish drainer. Clean those worktops. Finally I mop the floor and leave it to dry. Again you may prefer to employ a professional cleaner to come in to do that first deep clean and thereafter say once a week while your home is on the market.
Do keep all washing up out of sight and don’t leave it in the sink. If you have a dishwasher get into the habit of putting things straight in there when they have been used. If you don’t have a dishwasher wash up immediately after each meal, dry and put away. The paraphernalia of the kitchen such as brushes, washing up liquid and dishcloths can look unsightly so have a basin or caddy under the sink that these items can easily be thrown into. Wipe down worksurfaces and the hob after every use. Being organised like this means you won’t have to panic if you get an unexpected call from your agent requesting to do a viewing. Keep a clean tea towel handy to put out when you are going out. Always be prepared!
In summary, declutter your work surfaces, give your kitchen a thorough clean and keep on top of it. Need a kitchen session? Call me on 07745 876182 or e mail me at email@example.com. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West
I am a big fan of the series Escape to the Country. You get to see some lovely parts of the country and see a variety of properties which is of course fascinating. However, I also enjoy hearing the participants’ stories – why they want to move and why they have chosen their destination. There are mixture of reasons for moving and of course the underlying theme is people wanting to move from busy towns and cities to a more rural location. Often it is young people with families who feel that a more rural environment will be better for their children, they may even have enjoyed that kind of childhood themselves and want to give their children the same experiences. Or it might be an older person who, freed from the ties of employment, wants a more relaxing lifestyle. Whatever the reason, the participants are moving for a change of lifestyle. Sometimes, those taking part in the show find their dream home but it emerges they lose out because they haven’t sold. So if you are moving for a change of life and need a quick sale what can you do that will increase the appeal of your property? One area to focus on is the garden.
Consider if there are any maintenance tasks that have been neglected. It’s easy to overlook a hedge that hasn’t been pruned, a fence that has rotted or not been painted for several years, or patio that needs cleaning. Fence panels are simple to replace and using a spray is a quick and easy way to paint if you don’t want to use a brush. Use a power washer to spruce up a patio the difference can be amazing. These can be hired if you don’t have one or can’t borrow one. If hedges have got a bit too high they may be affecting the amount of light that is enjoyed by your garden, something that could impact on how buyers feel about the outside space. If necessary engage a professional to do this.
The outside space is often hugely important when buyers are choosing a property so this is certainly an area that is worth expending time and effort on. If you have a young family it’s highly likely that you will have children’s toys in the garden such as a swing, slide or perhaps even a trampoline. It may be an inconvenience but it is worth putting these things away, or at least some of them, in order to enable buyers to appreciate the space especially if your potential buyer may not have children. Do the weeding, cut the grass (and don’t forget to edge the lawn), get rid of pots where the plants have died and if you do have a large number of planters and pots scattered about consider grouping them together. Once you have carried out the initial tidy it should be easier to keep on top of things for when you have viewings.
Another important ingredient to an attractive garden is a social area. This will obviously depend on the amount of outside space you have whether it is a little balcony or courtyard or a large garden with patio or deck. A simple bistro table and chairs for a small space or in a larger space a sofa, chairs and coffee table or even a dining set. The aim is have somewhere where buyers can imagine themselves and their friends enjoying a glass of wine or cup of coffee.
If you’d like some help call me on 07745 876182 or e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West. For more inspiration why not follow me on Twitter @JudithHomestyle
If you are downsizing you have probably lived in your home for a while, you have created lots of memories – good and bad. You have become used to it and all it’s little quirks – the tap that drips, the cupboard door that doesn’t close properly so you have to wedge it shut with some card. They are little things and you are comfortable with them, your home is like the well worn pair of slippers you gratefully put on when you get in at night. Nothing wrong with that – until you come to sell. Why is that? The problem is that a prospective buyer will come in and notice those little things. They might be little but they can add up and the totality may put buyers off. So time to take off the rose tinted spectacles and put your nosey buyer’s hat on. Here are a few things to look out for.
Walk round your home, including the exterior, with a notebook and pen and really scrutinise your home as if you were a buyer. I recommend doing this with a trusted friend and give them permission to be brutally honest. Make a note of all the things you notice that need attention. Examples are scruffy paint work, dripping taps, broken handles, double glazing units that have “blown” and include all those things that you already had on your mental or physical “to do” list.
If you have ever watched any of the property programmes you’ll probably have noticed how often the participants comment on the space, whether they include a sense of space on their wish list or they comment that the property feels small or feels spacious. Many people struggle to visualise whether it is when they are viewing or assessing a property from a floor plan. So consider the space in your property and ask yourself how you can maximise it. Is there any furniture that you can remove either permanently or temporarily. Are there things on the floor that can be put away. Even reducing the number of ornaments or changing window treatments can make a difference to how spacious a room feels.
I referred above to the difficulty people can have visualising. This applies also to the concept of purpose. Does each room in your home have a clear purpose so that a buyer entering the room immediately knows what it is meant to be used for. This is one reason why empty properties can be difficult to sell. It may seem obvious and you might think that it doesn’t matter how a room is presented because a buyer will use a room for whatever they want to use it for. However, making it easy for buyers to see how they would live in your home is key. So if a room is a bedroom, for example, present it as a bedroom (and as a double bedroom if it is meant to be a double bedroom) not as an office or storage room. In an open plan space the equivalent is zoning i.e. creating clearly defined areas for different purposes.
In summary, when selling approach your property from the perspective of the buyer do all those little repair jobs, create a feeling of space and give each room a sense of purpose. Want some more tips? Download my 10 Top Tips For Selling Your Home. For further information or an informal chat, call me on 07745 876182 or email me at email@example.com. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
So you’re ready to downsize, you’ve decluttered and you’re ready to instruct the estate agent. Fantastic! But what if you haven’t moved for a long time. The way people buy and sell houses has changed considerably in recent years. Choosing the right agent is vitally important if you want to sell for the best price and quickly.
Different Types of Agent
Historically, estate agents all had premises on the High Street and buyers would visit all the local agents, collect brochures and then decide which ones to view. Nowadays, so much house hunting commences online that in addition to High Street Agents we now have agencies that operate purely online and some that are hybrid. Fees vary widely as does the involvement of the seller who may be responsible for arranging and conducting viewings. What are you comfortable with? In my experience most buyers prefer to view with the agent. They feel less inhibited about discussing changes they would make to the property. After all, most of us are polite and don’t like to criticise a person’s home in front of them and it can be very helpful to buyers to be able talk about options and how they might make a property work for them. Sellers often think that they know their home better than the agent and this may be true, your agent should be primed to answer the questions buyers are most likely to ask but you never know what information is important to a particular buyer. If you like to be present then let the agent introduce you, the agent shows the viewers round while you remain in one room and the agent can bring the viewers back for you to answer any questions.
Who’s Going to Buy Your Property?
When selling it’s essential that you understand who is likely to buy your house because in order to generate interest and offers you need to get the right people through the door. You might be selling the family home which has four bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and a good sized garden. The people who are most likely to buy your property will be families. Visit local agents to see what type of properties they are selling – are they similar to yours. Look online at who is selling what because, as explained above, not all agents are on the High Street. You probably have a vague idea of what your property is worth so choosing your price bracket, search in your area for similar types of property. This may give a feel for which agents are selling your type of property.
Styling For Your Property
Your home needs to appeal to the type of person who is most likely to buy it. Coming back to the example of the family home, your home needs to be presented to attract families. Demonstrate that the house has the requisite number of bedrooms by putting beds and some bedroom furniture in them. If you have been using one or more bedrooms for other purposes such as a hobby room or study turn them back in to a bedroom. This is because a lot of people struggle to visualise so you need to show them that there are the specified number of usable bedrooms. If you have got rid of the beds, buy a second hand one or borrow one. One trick is to create a “bed” of the correct dimensions using boxes which you can then dress with bedding – just warn your agent so that no one sits on it!
Need more on presenting your home for sale? Download my free guide 10 Top Tips for Selling Your Home. Call now on 07745 876182 or e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
So you’ve carefully considered the pros and cons, put your business hat on and made the decision to downsize. As referred to in my previous blog, one of the perceived disadvantages of downsizing is the fact that downsizing, by its very nature, involves moving to a smaller property but it also represents an opportunity. It is an established fact that having too much around us can make us stressed and anxious. Now it might not feel that you have too much in your current home, but it is possible that you have things that you no longer use and have forgotten about. On a very practical note the more contents you have to move the more you have to pack and the higher the removal costs are likely to be especially if you are putting things in storage. When I was moving recently, I was forced to go through boxes in my garage that I had not unpacked from a previous move and was not only astounded by the amount of things I got rid of but also by how satisfying it felt. Now I’m going to use the dreaded “D” word – Declutter. Here are some tips to get started.
So when should you declutter? Undoubtedly, the best time is BEFORE you go on the market not when you packing for the removals. Not only will it enhance the appeal of your home but there will be less to pack. The prospect of decluttering can be overwhelming and it can be particularly hard to get started. It very much helps to tackle the task in manageable chunks. You can approach this from the angle of setting a certain amount of time for each session or focus on a specific area such as a drawer, a cupboard or a room. Marie Kondo advocates tackling the whole of a particular class of item, for example, clothes, books, paperwork. What you want to avoid is simply moving items from one place to another so tidy up first. Do not underestimate what you can achieve in a session, not doing as much as you planned makes you feel demotivated and feeling tired can impact on your decision about what to do with items.
Decide what possible options there are. I like the following
- Donate to a charity
- Sell either for money or on a free recycling website
I prefer not to have a “undecided” pile. If you aren’t sure then by all means put an item on one side but for no longer than 24 hours. If it helps have someone to assist, it can be beneficial to bounce your thoughts off but not if it will cause arguments and at the end of the day it’s your decision. Donating to charity or selling on a website are a fantastic opportunity for recycling and doing your bit for the environment, plus the recipient will have the chance to derive pleasure from the item.
Sometimes people incentivise the process of decluttering by buying some attractive storage – a unit or storage boxes. While investing in attractive storage which you can take with you to your new home is a good idea, wait until you have decluttered as it is only then that you will know how much storage and of what type you will need. Plus, if what you are considering is in the nature of furniture, unless you know it will suit your next property you are probably best waiting.
I would love to help you declutter ready for your next adventure. Call now on 07745 86182 or e mail email@example.com to book a session. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West
I think most of us are aware that the colours we use in our homes has a major impact about how we feel and therefore the importance of colour when decorating our homes. Yesterday I had a great time attending a talk entitled Masterclass in How to Choose Colour with the top interior designer and architectural historian Edward Bulmer who has created a range of natural paints. The event was held at the stunning Knutsford store of renowned interiors brand Oka where we were welcomed with tea or coffee and delicious Florentines.
The talk began with an explanation of the history of paint, its formulation and how various colours represented a certain status owing the cost of creating them which was fascinating and continued with an explanation of choosing colour by reference to the various paint colours in the range. Here are a few things I learned and wanted to share.
The starting point of a paint is pigment. Originally these came from the natural sources – the earth, minerals or plants and then chemicals. As some pigments were expensive to create they became associated with status, for examples, cardinals wear red. Pigments are combined with a binder and a dilutant. Binders were originally plant oils or resin and subsequently crude oil.
You may already be familiar with the colour wheel, if not it’s it is a very useful tool and I would recommend obtaining a copy. The version shown is the Prismatic Colour Wheel, from Moses Harris’ ‘The natural system of colours’, London [c.1785]. Mr Bulmer explained that you use the colour wheel to guide the selection of colours in combination. Opposite colours on the wheel can be used in a balanced relation to each other. The colour wheel is a guide but colour is a personal preference underpinned by the right tonality. Colours are divided into the primary colours – red, blue and yellow and secondary colours formed by combinations of primary colours – green, orange and purple.
As mentioned above the key determinant is the tonality which comes from the use of the earth pigments which help the colour settle down. Reds can vary from dusky pinks which are a current fashion and interiors trend. According to Mr Bulmer one of the most popular in the range at present is Jonquil a yellow pink that I think would make a great neutral
At the other end of the spectrum dark reds can be used in small rooms, or where the is no natural light, to add drama. If using reds use those on the brown spectrum rather than a “pillar box” red which lacks tonality. Blues can range from the blue grey of Cerullian through to greeny blues such as Aquatic. With yellow Mr Bulmer advised that we should consider what we are putting with it and that paler shades combine with more colours. Ochre pairs well with grey.
Currently, it has become popular to make a feature of our entrance halls, after all it is the first space in our home that people enter so it is perhaps not surprising that we want to show it off. I was therefore interested to hear Mr Bulmer’s view that such spaces should not be challenging. The hall is a transitional space that we pass through on to the other rooms in the house and he made the distinction between these areas that we pass through and the dwelling rooms.
Finally, a few words on the paint range. We are all conscious of the environment and the damage that plastics are doing. The paints are all plastic free including microplastics. Increasingly, people are suffering reactions to chemicals including those used in the manufacture of modern paint and the range is chemical free and made from ingredients of plant or mineral origin. I am certainly keen to try them out..
I had a very enjoyable time and hope you have enjoyed this blog, a slight diversion from my usual format. Cal me on 07745 876182 or e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
So you’ve decided that it’s time to downsize – maybe you’ve come to the realisation yourself, an event may have occurred that has made you consider that it would be a good idea or perhaps the family have been dropping hints. Whatever your reason, it’s a huge decision and not one to be taken lightly and you may not even be sure that it’s the right one. Take your time and maybe view a few properties to get a feel. If you are downsizing it’s likely that you haven’t moved for a while so here are a few things to consider.
Pros and Cons
If you aren’t quite sure, or even if you just want clarification that yes it is the right thing to do, draw up lists of reasons for and against. Positives could be things such as
- Reducing outgoings – running costs should be lower on a smaller property and moving is an opportunity to have a home that is more energy efficient
- Less maintenance – this could mean either of the property itself and/ or the garden
- Less housework – even if rooms aren’t being used they will still need to be kept clean. Less housework frees up time for other activities
- A more practical layout – it could be that you want single storey living
The disadvantages are likely to include
- Having to get rid of furniture and possessions
- Fewer rooms for guests
- Smaller rooms
When we have lived in a home more many years it is bound to contain many memories, good and bad. It was your home with a loved one who has passed away, it was where you brought up a family. Any move is going to be difficult but you will always have those memories and you can take those memories with you in the form of a favourite armchair, photos and ornaments. I have recently been reading Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy and one element I took from it was expressing gratitude to the items that you discard (there will be more on the topic of decluttering in my next blog). I think this is a tool that helps generally when downsizing. It’s natural to feel sad but it is also a tremendous opportunity to recall all the good times and once you feel that gratitude then you are ready for your next adventure! I will explore the topic of emotional attachment in a later blog as it is so important.
When you have lived in your home for a period of time you get used to it. You live in it in a way that feels comfortable to you and that suits your lifestyle. However, this can mean that you overlook what a stranger would see, such as scuffed paintwork, an unfinished DIY project or a spare bedroom that is where you keep the ironing board set up. It’s fair to say that some of these things are very insignificant and buyers can see past them. Unfortunately, consciously or unconsciously, these minor points can add up to an overall impression that is unfavourable. An outsider can come in and identify these little niggles so that they can be addressed. Let me take the strain. I can either give you the tools to do what’s needed yourself or do it for you.
Call today on 07745 876182 or e mail email@example.com to book a fact finding session to learn more about how I can help. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West
When you are looking for your next home you will probably look at loads of images – in estate agents’ windows, in property brochures, online, in magazines or perhaps even on Instagram. You might even have created a mood board of your dream house or maybe it was a picture of a property that prompted you to think of moving in the first place. But have you ever thought about the importance of photography when selling your home? So much of the home searching process these days is undertaken digitally that it means your photos are vital. Images lead to interest which lead to viewings which leads to offers and the more offers you get the higher the selling price. Here are just a few thoughts to get you started.
The Lead Images
When you search for properties on a portal such as Rightmove, you enter your search criteria and a list of properties comes up. Normally, in that list you will get two images (unless the property has what is termed a premium listing in case you see three images). You tend to scroll down and if you like a property you click through to see more images and read more information about the property. If those lead images aren’t appealing then buyers may not bother to click through and potentially you have lost an opportunity. You will often hear the phrase “kerb appeal” and it is so important. The lead image tends to be the front of the property and the living room or kitchen. Therefore the front of your property and it’s surroundings need to be attractive so that buyers are lead to click through to see more. Kerb appeal includes factors such as exterior maintenance, rubbish/ clutter and aspects that are attractive such as a nice porch, smart door and door furniture, flower beds or hanging baskets etc
The Remaining Images
Having created great kerb appeal so that buyers are attracted by the lead image and have clicked through, the remaining images need to continue the good impression and encourage them to book a viewing. It is important to convey a sense of the space that each room has and the purpose of the room. If a room is cluttered then buyers will assume it is too small. If the buyers are unable to work out what the room is used for then this may similarly put them off. Bear in mind also that buyers may not pay much attention to the description in the property particulars or the room dimensions. You want to create an impression that will enable buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. I would also caution about having too many photos on your listing, people get bored and sometimes you just can’t see the point of a particular image. Having said that if your home has any stunning features such as a feature fireplace that make your home stand out then it is worth including those. It is worth considering what made you choose the property when you bought it because that may be a clue about buyers will be drawn to.
I am a firm believer in using a professional photographer and I would always check with the estate agents who give you your valuations if they use a professional i.e. external photographer. You never want photos to be misleading because when buyers view they will be disappointed and react negatively. However, a professional photographer who is experienced in property photography will have the quality of equipment and necessary skills to show your home at its best.
If you are moving up the property ladder and this is the first property you have sold then I hope this information has been helpful. If you would like to chat then call me on 07745 876182 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West. Why not follow me on Twitter @JudithHomestyle
We all lead busy lives. As a former solicitor I know all about the long hours and weekend working – the sense that you barely have the time (or the inclination) to do other than flop in front of the television with a glass of wine when you get in, it’s a rush to get the laundry and the shopping done. It can feel like you are on a hamster wheel. If you are looking to upsize your home I guess there are additional calls on your time such as children. So when you decide to sell it’s probably as much as you can do to actually find an estate agent and get the property on the market yet you still need to maximise your sale proceeds which means presenting your home to its best advantage . That’s where enlisting the services of a property stylist helps.
As the homeowner you are familiar with your home, perhaps over familiar. You are comfortable with it. Obviously, if you are upsizing you realise that you want something bigger but you might not be aware of precisely why your current property feels small or you overlook little things such as a dripping tap. Perhaps you have never even paused to think about it. As an outsider, I am able to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and see the home from the perspective of a potential buyer. I offer advice on what you can do to make your property appeal to buyers.
Knowing What Works
If asked, you probably have some ideas on what buyers will think about your property when they view and what changes are worth (or not worth making) but would they be right? For example, home owners tend to assume that there is no point decorating because whoever buys their home will want to put their own stamp on the house. Whilst most buyers will want to decorate according to their taste, that doesn’t mean that they are not concerned with the current décor. I trained with the House Doctor® which was formed by Ann Maurice, TV’s House Doctor® from channel five and am now an Associate member. This, coupled with experience of buying and selling property and time spent in estate agency means that I understand what buyers are looking for and what puts them off. I know how to create the impression that buyers are looking for.
Getting It Done
Too much going on? If you haven’t got the time or inclination to think about the presentation of your home let me handle it. I offer a variety of services from a verbal consultation that gives you the knowledge to implement appropriate changes to a full hands on staging where I do everything for you. There is an option that will suit everyone and it includes a simple fact finding session if you just want to learn more.
To find more tips and advice why not visit and like my Facebook Page . Future blogs will address a range of topics to help get you on the move.
Contact me on 07745 876182 or e mail me at email@example.com. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
When you are looking to upsize, every penny counts. You have probably been saving hard, investigated the costs of estate agents and solicitors and researched the best mortgage deal. What you may not have considered is maximising the selling price of your current home. Your home is the asset you are selling so it makes sense to get the best possible price. After all, an extra £5,000 or £10,000 could enable you to buy the dream house you’ve just found. One analogy I often use when talking to clients is that of selling your car. If we are selling the car, we usually wash it, vacuum the interior or even have it professionally valeted – why? We do it because we expect to get a little bit more on the trade in value. The same principal applies when selling your home only more so. What you are aiming to do is maximise the space, give each room a purpose and create the right “feel”.
We all value space no matter how large or small our homes are. When I’ve conducted house viewings I’ve very often heard comments such as “it feels cramped” “We couldn’t fit our furniture in here” or “I want something light and airy”. These are all indications that space is an important factor to house hunters. You need ensure rooms are presented to show the true space available i.e. not crammed full of furniture or cluttered.
It is very easy to assume that buyers can visualise what a room can be used for. For, example, if you are using a bedroom as an office or junk room then it may seem obvious that it functions as a bedroom and the room dimensions may be on the property’s listing (beware, not all buyers bother looking at the dimensions). The issue when buyers view is that they struggle to picture precisely what space the bed will take up and whether they can fit storage in. This is the reason why I always take a tape measure and why you often see Kirstie Allsopp lying on the floor flapping her arms up and down as if she is making Angel Wings. So if you selling it as a bedroom furnish it with a bed and bedroom furniture. In reception spaces that are being used for more than one activity then try to minimise the number of functions and zone the areas so it is easy for buyers to see exactly what the space is being used for. This may sound like you are spoon feeding buyers but what you are doing is making it easier for them to imagine themselves living in your property.
How often do buyers talk about the “feel” of a property when they are viewing? A house might tick all the boxes but they don’t go for it because despite that it doesn’t grab them. There is a balance between head and heart and very often it’s the heart that wins. So when you are selling you want buyers to walk through the door and just know that it’s the one. It’s those little touches that will make the connection and that’s why presentation matters.
So a quick reminder – if you want to maximise your budget and be able to afford to take that next step up the ladder then your home needs to have a sense of space, every room (or area in a room) needs a purpose and the home needs to touch the buyers. If you are selling then I have a free E Book with my 10 Top Tips so visit my home page, click on the link and down load today. For any further information call 07745 876182 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
So you’ve outgrown your current home, you’ve decided to sell, you’re excited, you’re nervous if you haven’t moved before, you’re bewildered by the number and variety of agents and friends and family all chip in with their well meant advice which has made you more confused. It’s a misconception that all you need to do to sell your house is stick it on one of the property portals. Choosing the right agent is vitally important if you want to climb to that next rung on the ladder. Here’s some advice
Your Target Market
When selling it’s essential that you understand who is likely to buy your house because in order to generate interest and offers you need to get the right people through the door. For example, if you are selling a two bedroomed terrace your buyers aren’t going to be a large family. It’s easy to imagine that your home could appeal to everyone but chances are it won’t, everyone’s needs and tastes are different. If you try to cast your net too widely you risk missing out on your best prospects. If you are selling your first home and selling a house is new to you, think about why you bought the property. What was it about the house that made you buy it – the access to bars and restaurants, the ease of the commute. Who is your property likely to appeal to.
Right Agent, Right House
Having identified your target market you need to work out which agent is likely to be selling your type of property, if you are selling that two bedroomed terraced house in town the agent selling it is likely to be a high street agent not the one that sells the million pound country mansion. Do your research and visit local agents or look online to see what type of houses they are selling. When choosing an agent, people often drive round the local area to see which agents have the most boards as a measure of which agent is the most active. If you do this look at the type of locations where your type of house is situated. Don’t just look at For Sale boards, look for Sold slips on the boards, as an indication of which agents are actually selling.
Not All Agents Are The Same
Estate Agents have a bad press and sometimes this is justified but often it isn’t, having worked in the industry I know that a lot of hard work goes in to the selling process. If your budget is limited then it’s tempting to opt for the cheapest but bear in mind what you want is the best selling price, an agent may charge more but if they achieve a higher selling price then it’s worth paying the extra. Consider factors such as the quality of the listing, do the Particulars contain sufficient information, are the photos taken by a professional photographer, does the agent have a dedicated sales progressor. A third of house sales fall through before completion so having an agent who is proactive at seeing the sale through from offer to exchange and then completion is crucial. Presentation – is this something that the agent discusses with you or do they simply take things as they are? Presentation is a very important aspect of maximising your sale price. Why? Because most buyers do their searching online and if the images they see on your home’s listing aren’t appealing they may not even bother to click through. Plus you want your home to stand out from the competition.
Do you want to know if your home would benefit from professional styling to look it’s best, or are you on the market but not sold, my Fact Finding session is the perfect way to find out. Call now on 07745 876182 or e mail me at email@example.com. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
On Sunday I had a fantastic time visiting the Ideal Home Show at London Olympia. The show is full of lots of different products and services – from those for renovating such as doors and windows, kitchens, bathrooms, flooring etc to accessories for those finishing touches. However, on this occasion I wasn’t thinking so much about the future property but ideas I could share with those who are selling and might benefit from a few tips.
When selling one of the key steps that I advise clients to take is declutter because you always want to let buyers see the space available, plus clutter is a distraction when buyers are viewing. Having decluttered then you need appropriate storage. Storage needs to be functional of course but also attractive. One stand that caught my attention was that of Fineline Furniture a family run company located in Kilkenny, Ireland who specialise in making handcrafted furniture. What really caught my attention was the Box on a Box storage solution. I got talking to Kevin, one of the two brothers, who explained that the idea came about some six years ago and originated from them using boxes to stand on and then for standing the telly on. The system consists of nine boxes which can be configured in one hundred and forty different ways but the boxes can be purchased individually. The boxes are constructed from solid wood with dovetail joints. What I thought was so good was the sheer versatility of the system. Not only can the nine boxes be used for different storage options but they make great bedside cabinets, side tables and individual boxes can be mounted on the wall for display. Even better, when you move you simply take the boxes with you and reassemble to suit your new home. Visit the Box on a Box page to learn more.
If you are selling a home with limited outside space such as a yard or area with a small area of grass then one problem you have is that you either have no greenery or the grass is looking unkempt. If you do have grass and it is in poor condition then you can remove the existing turf and re lay but if perhaps you aren’t living in the home and maintenance is an issue, or you don’t have a lawn, then artificial grass is a practical option. The Artificial Lawn Company offer several versions.
Another problem that often arises for those selling their home and trying to keep the home tidy is the jungle of cables for all the devices we own. One option is of course to tidy them away in a drawer but if you want a more stylish option, TouchDown Charging offers side tables and lamps which do away with cables and of course will move with you.
One area where I did notice a lot of interest was log cabins and the centrepiece of the show was the Evolving Home, a seven unit modular house. The increase in changes in family living such as accommodating grown up children and elderly parents not to mention home working is a reason behind a lot of moves. It is always important when selling your home to ensure that each room is presented with a purpose in mind, precisely what that purpose should be will vary according to your target market and in certain circumstances, converting a garage or outbuilding could be a worthwhile investment.
If you are thinking of selling or are already on the market but struggling to sell, book a fact finding session with me to discover how exactly I can help maximise the value of your home for sale. Call me on 07745 876182 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and the North West
Did you know that Inuits have over 17 words for white which they use to describe the various qualities of snow and ice? White isn’t actually a colour, it’s a combination of all the colours of the spectrum. White is good at reflecting light and has the potential to make a space look bigger. However, in the wrong light or large spaces it can look very stark and clinical. How many of us have been on holiday to the Mediterranean and been inspired to redecorate when we return home only to find that it doesn’t have the same appeal? That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use white it means that you need to find the right one.
White is of course fabulous as a neutral backdrop and a crisp white makes the perfect setting for a collection of modern art for example, and combines with bright colours. It is also popular in coastal locations. If you are someone who wants to use white but wants a more cosy feel then there are a plethora of choices of “off whites” – in fact sometimes it feels that there is too much choice! To give just one example, the Little Greene Paint & Paper Company have no fewer than 28 shades that they classify as white. As with any paint you should test on different walls and in both natural and artificial light. I paint a large piece of card or paper which can be moved around and a larger area of the colour gives you a more accurate feel for how it will look on the walls.
Off whites work well with other neutrals such as grey or beige to create a calm relaxed feel. When considering your scheme remember to incorporate different textures to add interest, such as wooden flooring or furniture and different fabrics. I’ve chosen a few pieces to give you ideas.
There is nothing better than crisp white bedlinen to provide comfort at the end of a long day and that chic boutique hotel style. The Santorini Collection from The White Company is made in a wonderfully smooth and luxurious 200-thread count, pure cotton percale, and features a stunning, hand-worked ladder stitch along the edges. Plain white bedlinen looks expensive but also provides the opportunity to ring the changes with cushions and throws.
This vintage Morrocan Handira or wedding blanket from Bohemia Design makes a stunning throw, bedspread or wall hanging. The beautiful brightly coloured rows of kilim textile, soft fringing and silver sequins add texture and interest to what is otherwise a plain background and the detail is exquisite.
A sheepskin rug adds a comforting touch wherever you use it. Ideal to step out onto in a bedroom with wooden floors, positioned in front of the fire or draped over a chair or bench as a throw. Wool has a number of qualities including being warm in Winter yet cool in Summer, it’s fire resistant, durable and hypo allergenic. Make sure you choose one that is 100 % sheepskin such as this one from WoolRoom. Alternatively, kilim or rag rugs add contrast to plain white walls and can be found in a variety of colours and designs to suit either traditional or modern decor.
The GRIMSÅS pendant light from Ikea is a fun statement light which has a pretty daisy like design that gives decorative pattern on the ceiling when lit and would suit both a contemporary or period interior
If you are selling your property then white is the ultimate neutral background that enables buyers to picture themselves living in your home. Use colour in accessories to make it stand out online.
Looking to create your dream white interior? Call me on 07745 876182 or email me at email@example.com. I cover Wirral, Cheshire and the North West.
I’m normally talking about what to do when selling your property but this time I’m going to flip the coin and look at things from the buying perspective. I’m actually looking for a property at the moment and thought it would be useful to pass on some insights, after all, if you are a seller it always pays to consider things from the buyer’s point of view.
When we view properties we often talk about the “feel” that a property gives us. A property may tick all or most of the boxes on our wish list but somehow doesn’t grab us or conversely may not be what we had on the list but we fall in love (that’s why I recommend keeping an open mind about viewing properties). The “feel” is something that I talk to sellers about because as a seller you want to create that feeling.
If you are looking to buy, when you view a property for the first time it tends to be all about that feel. When you stand outside looking at the property does it make you want to get inside – the so called kerb appeal. When you walk through the front door do you feel excited, does your instinct tell you this is “the one” and does that sensation continue as you walk round. You could say that the first viewing is all about the heart.
By contrast, second viewings are about the head. They should be an opportunity to assess the practicalities. It can be easy to be blown away by a property only to realise later that in reality it doesn’t work for you and/ or your family and it’s better to discover this before you have incurred the expense and upheaval of a purchase. I recommend taking someone with you who doesn’t have any emotional investment in the property, someone you trust and who you can rely on to offer impartial input. If there is any suggestion that there might be work to be done take the appropriate professional. On the second viewing you need to try to detach yourself and be objective. It helps to have a list of practicalities that you can consider as you go round, for example, is there sufficient storage, is there somewhere you can use as work space if you work from home, do you need a downstairs wc and if there isn’t one could one be fitted, which way does the garden face? Take a tape measure so that you can check if any particular items will fit. Look carefully inside and outside for any possible repairs that might need to be undertaken. Consider also the practicalities of the location. One thing I often find myself thinking when watching programmes such as Location, Location, Location or Escape to The Country and people talk about long commutes is “really?” If you are thinking that you would be prepared to commute say, an hour, remember to consider what that would mean day to day – what time what you have to get up, what time would you get home, would you have time to enjoy sports, would you see the children before they go to bed? Other external factors are the proximity of schools, shops, friends, family etc. So take your time to way up these different factors that way you won’t end up regretting your decision either way.
I hope that this has been helpful and, if you’re property shopping at the moment – good luck! Please contact me by phone on 07745 876182 or e mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org I’ d love to hear from you.
As you might expect, I enjoy watching all the property programmes such as Escape to the Country, A Place in the Sun and Location, Location, Location. One thing I have noticed from these programmes is that many of the older participants are looking to purchase larger homes when you might imagine that they would be looking to downsize. Why is this?
Such buyers appear to fall in to two categories. The first is those looking for a property that can accommodate visiting family members. The second is those wanting extra rooms for themselves. I have been thinking a lot about this and what it means.
In the case of the first group I think it’s a lot to do with modern life. Previously, families used to live close to each other geographically, in the same village or town, perhaps even in the same street. They were in and out of each other’s houses all the time. As they lived close by they didn’t need to be able to accommodate them overnight. In current times, children and siblings can be scattered far and wide up and down the country even abroad, whether for work or lifestyle considerations. We all travel more so we are familiar with other locations in the UK and overseas. This geographic distance means that parents need to able to put people up whether it’s for family gatherings at Christmas or having the grandchildren to stay while mum and dad snatch some time away for themselves.
For the second group, it’s driven by people retiring earlier, semi retiring or simply reassessing the work/ life balance. Buyers have more time for themselves and they want to pursue their interests. Therefore, they need rooms for crafts, hobbies, music or maybe a workshop. Retirement or semi retirement means people are likely to spending more time together and this may mean they want separate space for themselves.
Finding this extra space can be difficult, especially if you are moving to a more expensive location. It may be necessary that some rooms will have to serve more than one function – hobby room most of the time but extra bedroom when family or friends come to stay. Alternatively, it may require additional furniture. If you are upsizing and need some help then please call 07745 876182 or e mail email@example.com. I cover Cheshire and the North West.