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Designing Dilemma January 2004

Decorating Tips that Sell

Dear Designing Solutions: My house has been sitting on the market since October. Our realtor has advised us to make decorating changes to help it sell. What kinds of decorating changes can we make that are most likely to make our home more appealing to a buyer? Raul

Dear Raul: The goal is to make your home appear clean, spacious, neutral and up to date while keeping your expenses to a minimum. Wherever possible, de-personalize your rooms so that they have a wider appeal to homebuyers of different tastes and styles. Here are some easy decorating tips to follow:

  1. Clean up clutter! Go through your attic, basement, garage and closets. Throw away old papers, donate old clothes and furniture and store materials you want to keep in clean, color coordinated plastic boxes or in wicker trunks so that clutter is hidden and stored in style.

  2. Edit your display of knick- knacks, family photos, lace doilies, books and other personal collectibles- by at least half! Store away the items you remove for future display in your next home. Keep accessories to a minimum.

  3. Replace table and floor lamp bulbs, ceiling fixture bulbs and recessed fixture bulbs with halogen bulbs to give off brighter, white light and help your home look more spacious and brighter.

  4. Paint over boldly patterned or colored wallpaper and friezes with neutral colors such as warm beige or creamy white.

  5. Update older bathrooms and camouflage out-of-style tile with a new shower curtain, coordinating towels, bath rug and a wastebasket. Hide your toiletries in behind-the-door hanging pockets, small decorative storage boxes or baskets. Replace any low wattage bulbs in the vanity fixture with higher wattage, brighter bulbs. Clear the sink area of any and all personal effects.

  6. Rearrange or remove small pieces of furniture to help rooms seem more spacious. If your floors are in good shape, remove area rugs to show off the spacious hardwood floors underneath.

  7. Use ready-made slipcovers in neutral colors on any seating that is worn or damaged.

  8. Replace old kitchen cabinet knobs with fun, new knobs that can be purchased in any home store. Try using a knife or fork on the cutlery drawer, color coordinated ceramic knobs or metal knobs in geometric shapes.

  9. Increase your “front door appeal” by adding fresh plants and flowers in pots, baskets and vases at the door landing and in the front hall or foyer. Place an herbal wreath on the front door. Camouflage concrete outside with a large grass doormat; add a small splash of warmth and color with a decorative doormat or area rug in the front hall. Again, up the wattage on outdoor and indoor lighting fixtures to make the home entrance brighter.

  10. Consider paring down older, layered window treatments or outdated valances to let in more natural light and expose more window frame and wall, making rooms seem bigger, brighter and newer. Even removing heavy drapes down to the sheers or roller shades underneath are okay- as long as they’re clean and in good shape.

Choosing Wall Colors

Dear Designing Solutions: I read your tips on choosing ceiling colors last month- thanks! But how do you choose wall colors? We don’t know where to start when choosing new paint colors for the walls and we’re tired of white. Kim and Scott

Dear Kim and Scott: To be honest, when it comes to walls, there’s no set of rules or recommendations- there’s only inspiration. First, do you have any room furnishings that you re keeping? Let those furnishings inspire your color selection. A favorite piece of wall art, a rug, toss pillows or the upholstery fabric may lead you in the right direction. Don’t try to match colors- blending or complementing is much more interesting and looks less contrived and more natural. To help one color stand out, use contrasting color as background- for example, put black, red or blue furnishings against a bright wall in red, yellow, green or orange to show off each color. Keep the intensity of the colors the same so that no single color looks pale or washed out against another.

If you have no furnishings for the room and still need a starting point, think about the effect you are going for- warm and cozy or cool and open? Sophisticated or country? Certain color palettes lend themselves to certain effects. Colors that give off warmth have reds and oranges in them. Apple greens, true soft yellows and creamy white make rooms look fresh and new. Medium blues, taupe and beige are easy to live with and thus commonly used in large and small degrees in almost every home. Dark, rich colors including purple, burgundy, navy blue and chocolate brown give off a dramatic, elegant, sophisticated look. Gray, blue gray and pure white give off a cool, open feeling. Color and effect are partners- let the effect you are going for guide you to the correct color partner.

Finally, the amount of natural light and artificial light in a room will dramatically influence color and effect. So when you are choosing your colors, be sure you test them in the room under existing light conditions before painting all the walls. You may need to adjust the intensity of your chosen color so that it gives the desired effect with your room lighting. If you are planning to add new lighting to the room, choose your final color after the new lighting is in. You can follow last month’s guidelines to choose your ceiling color.

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