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How to style your home for sale: tips from a home staging expert

This Auckland couple gave their heritage villa a modern makeover before putting it on the market. We chat to professional home stager, Simon Gill, about how to style your home to get the best results

Meet and greet

Eden Houlihan, company director, Lisa Houlihan, 38 owner of Tattoo Removals Ponsonby, Daniel, 29 (now flatting), Brooklyn, 14, and Harrison, 4, plus dog Hugo and cats Barbie and Louie.

How to style your home for sale: tips from a home staging expert

Simon Gill, Director and Owner of Interior Concepts Homestaging

What styling mistakes do people make when preparing their home for sale?
It ranges from not making enough effort to overdoing it. There are those that overdo colour so you need sunglasses to view their ad. Cluttered bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens just look messy.

What’s one thing every home-seller should do?
Having a great set of photos is paramount. In order to achieve fabulous photos you need to do a bit of styling. Declutter your accessories and art and move furniture that is not to scale out of the way. Photos look best when there’s air around objects so even if you have to push items out of view, it’s well worth the effort.

Tips for styling a house to get the best results?
+ I recommend hiring a professional. But if you decide to do it yourself, look at updating your accessories to something more on trend. Gold or brass accents are warming and contemporary.

+House plants give a sense of nurturing (provided they are healthy) and, of course, add some fresh cut flowers.

+Rehang art in groups. Use different frames and sizes in a balanced way to make an impact. There’s nothing worse than seeing art hung too high or a small artwork placed on a large wall simply because there was a hook there when you moved in.

+ Consider every room in your home through the eyes of a potential buyer. Perhaps the study should be presented as a third bedroom to attract families, for example.

+ Make any outdoor space as liveable as possible to enable people to envisage spending time outside. Use outdoor sofas or lounge chairs to make it seem like another room; this feels much more sociable than a table setting and adds value to any home, no matter what the price bracket.

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Expert Q&A

With interior designer Katie Scott

What were your best decisions?
I got recycled kauri for the missing flooring so there’s a flow through the house – you can’t tell where there were once rotten floorboards or walls that have been moved.

Worst reno moment?
When the painters poured paint all down the side of the house! Also, when I ordered hedging plants “for instant privacy” and when they arrived they were only knee height.

Any splurges?
The master bedroom wallpaper; I bought it right at the start of the renovation, to ensure I had money in the budget for it. The LouvreTec deck roof was another big cost but it makes a huge difference to how big the house feels – it’s pretty much added another room.

Any bargains?
None of the tiles were expensive, other than those for the splashback.

Best moment?
Seeing Eden and Lisa walk in and hearing Lisa say, “Oh my gosh, I love it” – that’s all I’d been waiting for.

What gave you the best bang for your buck?
The lighting has made a huge difference and highlights everything that’s good. Lights make dark-coloured walls look dramatic and amazing.

Style tip?
I like to exaggerate height with tiles and wallpaper so I recommend you take curtains quite high, even if you don’t have high ceilings. It looks luxurious. With curtain runners, I either match them to the wall colour (powder-coating them if I need to) or make a feature of them.

Renovation tip?
Never expect it to be easy or straightforward. Something will come up so have a contingency fund.

How did you keep track of costs?
I got quotes for everything – tradies, products, the kitchen etc – and we had a contingency fund for all the little extras. At times we went over budget when we thought it would improve the value of the house.

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography: Helen Bankers.

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