Want to top a buyer's shortlist? Here's how to decorate your home to sell

15 October 2020

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression and this is never truer than when selling your home. Buyers often frame their perceptions about your home within a few seconds of seeing it.

Most of us know the feeling all too well - you love your home and its safe familiarity, generally giving little thought to the aesthetics of your surroundings - until one day when you suddenly notice that its beginning to look a little shabby and dated. And once the realisation has dawned, it's impossible to ignore.

SEE | Thinking of selling your home? Now is the time to make first impressions count

But decorating a home is a daunting prospect and, although there are now a multitude of home decor shows on television to inspire and guide us, they also highlight the amount of work involved as well as the potential pitfalls and mistakes that can turn the dream into a nightmare.
But what are the tips and tricks to put your home at the top of the buyer's list?

1. Create more space

There's no need to compromise on style if your space is tiny. In fact, there's so much you can do to make it a small space 'wonder'- throw in a rug or two, and maybe even a floor lamp, accompanied by a beautiful piece of wall art, each tailored to your individual taste, and your space will be home in no time.

2. Neutral colour scheme

Not everyone is a fan of bright colors, and that's a fact. So when you are trying to sell your home, and your walls are hot pink or bright orange, you might have a tough time finding potential buyers. So what to do to avoid that situation? The answer is easy - grab a brush and get to painting.

Stick with neutral colours such as white, beige, cream, etc. People usually want their home to be a relaxing place, where they can put their minds at ease after a very long day at school or work. They can't really do that with a bright wall right in front of them, can they?

READ | 4 budget-friendly decor trends that will boost your property's value

3. Spend time on your kitchen

The kitchen is often a deal-breaker when it comes to selling, it's a room where any money spent on renovations - will be well spent. Update your kitchen counter tops, lighting, taps and fittings, and paint.

SEE | 5 easy ways to update and add value to your kitchen

4. Kerb appeal

Your front door - or walkway up to the entrance - is one of the first things any buyers will see when visiting your home. If you want to make a good impression, or perhaps a statement, revamping your front door and adding a few planters filled with colourful or interesting plants will definitely do the trick.

You can start by painting the front door in a bold colour to make a show stopping feature that guests can't fail to miss. We generally tend to slap on some wood tinted sealer or varnish and leave it at that.

READ | 4 affordable ways to up your home's kerb appeal

"No matter how quirky your personal style, if you follow the key principals of design and know which current trends have longevity, it's still possible to decorate to your own taste while maintaining or introducing the key elements that tick most buyer's boxes," says Dawn Bloch, veteran agent for Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty in Cape Town's sought-after Southern Suburbs.

Bloch offers guidance for combining style with the functionality that buyers look for in a home - and how to create an impressive first impression.


* Consider the architecture and the location of your home - an ultra-modern interior with lots of steel and sleek lines will probably not suit a beach cottage. Embrace where you live and use your environment to inspire your decorating scheme.
* Make individual mood boards and floorplans for each room - yes, you want to know how the overall design works as a whole, but each space needs its own thought, time and effort in order for it to be successful.
* Take your time - there is no need to rush and finish it all at once at once. That's when mistakes and regretful purchases are made. Often, the best spaces are those that have evolved over time.
* Set the tone at the front door - this is, after all, where the first impression begins. Re-varnish weathered for a natural look or paint in a bright glossy colour. Place a pot plant or two alongside or add a quirky welcome mat.
* Let in natural light - there really is no substitute for natural light. It not only benefits our health but it also makes rooms appear bigger and colours bolder. Use window coverings that can be opened completely and ensure bushes and trees outside windows are trimmed right back.
* Plan thoroughfares - one of the most common design mistakes, especially in open-plan areas, is cramming in too much furniture without leaving enough room for people to comfortably move around. As a rule of thumb, the busiest thoroughfares in your home should be at least 90cm wide, leaving enough space for two people to pass each other.
* Make flooring cohesive - Using the same flooring throughout your home is an easy way to make the space feel much bigger than it actually is. Larger open plan areas can be broken up with the use of rugs which will demarcate different areas and break the continuity.
* Mix old and new - even if your preference is for modern furniture, add a couple of pieces such as antique candlesticks or a vintage lamp to stop the room from feeling too uniform.
* Look up - ceilings are commonly overlooked yet it's the biggest blank canvas in a room and deserves your attention. Choose interesting light fittings and remember that although white does, indeed, make a room appear brighter and the ceiling higher, choosing another colour in, especially in larger rooms, can add much character and atmosphere.
* Bear in mind that the arms of furniture can potentially take up crucial circulation space - this is especially important in smaller rooms where space is already tight. If you want to put a large piece of furniture in a small space, buy one with a track arm for a clean and modern look.
* Mount curtains high above your windows - the closer to the ceiling, the grander and bigger the room will feel.

SEE | The dos and don'ts of decorating small spaces


* Create rooms that are too themed - we all have one or two particular styles or eras that we love but be careful not to take this too far as a homage to Bali or the 1950's is taking the inspiration a little too far. Rather select your favourite elements and incorporate them into your decor.
* Decorate around only one colour or colour theme - a lounge with everything in green and yellow will NOT impart a sunny tropical island feel. You can certainly have dominant colours, but infuse complementary hues for depth and interest. A failsafe way to create a balanced colour scheme is to stick to 60% for your dominant colour, 30% for your secondary colour and 10% for an accent colour.
* Place all the furniture up against the wall. By bringing pieces in, you give the walls breathing space and use the whole room. Add narrow bookshelves, plants etc to better utilise the remaining areas. This works particularly well in open-plan spaces but if your room is too small, for a central sofa, keep it against the wall and arrange a few armchairs at angles facing towards the sofa.
* Clutter the space - yes, there is such a thing as having too many ornaments, pot plants or throw pillows. Less is very often more in decorating so stick to your base style and don't go overboard when adding adornment.
* Feel that you have to get the matching set - you don't need everything to look the same, just related. For instance, buy the couch you love but don't take the accompanying armchairs - rather buy one or two in a similar style and colour.
* Underestimate the importance of your wall space - Empty walls are wasted spaces and it can make a room seem very unwelcoming. They are also your biggest display area and, being at eye level, an opportunity to showcase what you really love. Use large art to make a small room seem bigger.
* Neglect the lighting - It's more important than you think. Old fittings can make a room look dated, despite the new furniture whilst the right lighting can really set the mood in your house - and can even act as wall art.
* Confuse "aged" and "worn out" "just because it's old does not mean it's antique so unless the piece is a functioning antique and/or made from high quality materials it's probably past its prime.

READ | Ready for a home refresh? Try these 5 on-trend furnishing styles


"Perhaps the most important tip of all, is to have confidence when decorating and to trust your instincts. The more unsure you are of yourself, the more likely you are to make the wrong choices and decisions," says Bloch.

Article published courtesy of Property24

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