Interior Thinking: First Impressions

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By Kelly Oakley

This month, we are hoping to help you understand how and what your home looks like when a stranger walks in and decides whether or not to purchase your home. It’s all about how it looks. It’s what we call “staging.” Staging is most commonly used when you’re a builder or realtor and you’re trying to sell a brand-new home. Our team at ReFresh Home has found a way that home-staging can benefit a wide variety of clients and homes. From new-construction to pre-owned and from vacant to occupied, we’ve tackled a little bit of everything. When talking about staging, the target to consider is your audience; the home-buyer.

At a glance, it might seem like the only thing real estate and retail have in common are sales. However, just like a clothing store, potential home buyers are shopping for something that fits their needs. So, when you’re ready to open up the house and show the masses what you’re working with, here’s what we recommend you consider.

FINISH SMALL PROJECTS
We get it. We all have our list of “honey-do’s.” Maybe it’s that one outlet in your guest bedroom that quit working or maybe it’s the wobbly faucet in your bathroom. There always seems to be something that needs fixing, but other activities and events can top these chores. If you’re a builder, you might have a similar list of punch-items and you’ve been bugging your subs to get out to the site. FINISH THAT LIST. If you run a clothing store, you aren’t going to call it your best item if it’s missing a button or has a small hole in the sleeve. That’s what the clearance rack is for. Your potential buyer doesn’t want to come into their new home with a list of to-dos. Trust us, they will accumulate their own list rather quickly.

DE-CLUTTER
Do you know what it’s like to walk into a new clothing store, but every rack is over-packed? There are clothes falling off their hangers and you can’t get to your size without knocking items on to the floor. It’s overwhelming. You can’t even see past the clutter to what you’re searching for. No matter how much you love that store or the actual quality of the product, the experience has automatically been cheapened – and it seems that what you’re purchasing might not be worth the price. It’s the same when shopping for a home. Make sure when a buyer walks into the home, they’re seeing the house and its unique features. Anything that distracts from the quality of the home instead of contributing should be removed.

CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN
It might seem like common sense, but so many of us have those small problems, like the little bit of dog hair or saw-dust on the baseboard we keep overlooking. Don’t overlook it. Your buyer is going to check over this house with a fine-toothed comb. For a home buyer, it’s likely they are investing at least a good chunk of their savings into this property. Although dirt can be an easily solved problem, it also makes the overall impression of the home a little disappointing.

Now that we’ve addressed your job as the seller, we can get to the staging guidelines.

DESIGNATING MULTIPLE TYPES OF SPACES
If you are running a clothing store, you’re going to rely on repeat customers. You can’t operate a successful business by selling twenty varieties of floor-length red dresses or fifteen varieties of blue suede suits. You need to have a lot to offer. A consumer only needs so many formal outfits. That’s why you make sure you offer items that appeal to other areas of life. Houses have to be able to do the same thing. They need spaces for work, sleep, to relax, play and entertain. At ReFresh, we like to make sure the home feels livable and functional by designating different spaces for different purposes. Not every room needs to be the same.

USING APPROPRIATE FURNITURE
There are two aspects to selecting furniture that is appropriate for the space, style and size. Your furniture should fit the home just like an outfit fits you. Not just any outfit; THE outfit. Your go-to that never seems to go out of style and always fits you just right. Let’s face it, many buyers will walk through your home and think that because the furniture layout is strange, it means the floor plan or room sizes are strange. Similarly, they can often be so distracted by the style or size of the furniture that their opinion of the staging becomes their opinion of the home.

PERSONAL TOUCHES
For our staging team at ReFresh, there is a difference between “personal touches” and “personalized.” We find it important to incorporate small details such as a painting in the upstairs hall or a throw on the arm of a sofa. These items make the home feel warm and welcoming, helping the purchaser process the property as a livable space. It’s like the difference in selling a t-shirt that reads “Franklin local” vs. “Tennessee local.” You want to identify with the buyer, creating something that feels special and unique without ruling out all of those shoppers who were born in Tennessee, but not in Franklin. When your home is too personalized by having very specific style elements, too many family photos, an abundance of cultural or religious accessories, it’s easy to make a space feel foreign to a large portion of your audience. If a potential home owner feels like they’re intruding on someone else’s space, it’s going to be difficult to see the house as their home.

We hopes this helps you create the best, first impression of your home.

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