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6 styling mistakes to avoid when selling your house, according to interior experts

By Remi Harrison

We always want to impress when people visit our home. We sweep the floors, we fluff up the cushions, and we make sure we brush our hair.

But the stakes go up when we prep our home for sale and invite potential buyers through the front door. We want the house to look extra special – so special in fact, it might inspire an offer that leads to purchase.

Styling your home ahead of inspections (whether virtual or in-person) requires an eye for detail and level of restraint. We don’t want our styling efforts to appear too contrived but at the same time we don’t want to appear like we haven’t made any effort at all.

Here property stylist Hayley Robinson of House of Styling and interiors stylist Montana Valich share what to avoid and what to prioritise when prepping for an open house with bold, visual results

Sentimental items kept on display can distract potential buyers.

“As a home owner there’s the way you live in your home and the way you present your home for sale,” Robinson says.

“Try and remove a layer of personal items, so the buyer can better envision themselves in the property they are interested in purchasing.”

Swapping out family photos with small artworks or postcards in frames is recommended
Keep floral arrangements true to everyday life.

While Valich encourages styling your home with fresh flowers ahead of inspections, she leans towards loose, floral arrangements rather than extravagant bouquets that can feel out of place.

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“I love the same type of flower en masse rather than a mixed bouquet, I always think it’s a lot more chic to do two bunches of roses [or the same flower variety] than a mix of flowers,” says Valich.

If you have inspections every week and flowers feel a bit out of budget, opt for foliage or a branch of frangipani, eucalyptus or cherry blossom.

Selling a home is just as much about selling a lifestyle, so keep floral arrangements typical to everyday life compared to an intricately styled bouquet.

Don’t neglect the exterior of your home

It’s easy to become preoccupied with making the inside of your home look good at the expense of the outside, but for the potential buyer first impressions count.

“You don’t want a messy exterior to represent what people might think of the interior before they’ve even stepped foot inside,” Valich says.

“Tidying up the garden is always a good idea – a quick sweep, weed, mow of the lawn and cutting back some trees can instantly make your home more polished.”

Now’s not the time to experiment with colour

While playing and experimenting with interiors is generally encouraged, when you’re looking to sell you want your home to appeal to a broad market. The easiest way to achieve this is by sticking to a neutral colour palette.

“Having a calm, neutral colour palette without too many patterns is key, it also helps the space feel bigger and brighter,” Robinson says.

How the bedroom, specifically the bed, is styled can often be a source of contention because the space is deeply personal.

Robinson encourages forgoing bold, patterned bed linen for softer tones and textures, such as creams and linens.

Don’t be afraid to remove bulky furniture

Sure, your recliner armchair has served you well over the years but keeping it, alongside other bulky furniture, in the living area can make your home appear smaller than it actually is.

“Functionality of the space is key, at the end of the day we’re not selling furniture, we’re selling the home and the square meterage,” says Robinson.

Ask a friend or relative to temporarily store excess furniture during your inspection period, as creating more space will also help potential buyers move through your home more comfortably.

Just because you own it, doesn’t mean you have to show it

“Decluttering your home is one of the biggest things you can do to create a functional, liveable space,” says Robinson.

Within reason, Robinson suggests removing some knick-knacks, ornaments, kids’ toys and especially personal items in the bathrooms. But don’t remove it all or you might end up with a space that feels soulless or unlived in because everything’s hiding under the bed.

“You don’t want to have too many things out where the buyer is getting distracted from the property itself and not connecting to the space but you also don’t want your home to not feel like a home.”

Thinking of selling? Follow your home on Domain for Owners to find out its estimated value and keep up with your local market.

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