We recently went on a family holiday to Urenui in the early New Year and stayed in a two bedroom bach apartment. We had a great time and we realised that living out of a suitcase with the bare minimum of ‘stuff’ was actually really do-able and that, as a family, we didn’t need a large space to hang out in nor did we need 100 things in each room to be comfortable. So, when talking into the early hours of the morning with my man (it was like a beach date which was long overdue), we decided that our lives could be simpler (read ‘better and easier’) if we moved somewhere smaller so that we can live with less, reduce our mortgage and consequently afford to go away more often. This fits in nicely with my ‘declutter and add more colour’ 100 day challenge - so now the much bigger and more exciting challenge is to downsize meanginfully in order to make the process as smooth as possible.
So our place is now on the market and I’ve been researching easy and inexpensive ways to dress the property for sale. Here’s my top ten list to share:
1.Declutter and simplify
I am a Konmari fan but I have never had the guts to properly clean out ‘all the things’ but after our wee break away I decided to put on my ruthless hat and really assess the ‘does this spark joy’ question. Half a wardrobe and half a bathroom’s contents later (not to mention SO many toys and books) and we really do have so much less stuff, so much more space and so much less to organise. In the bathroom I bought a set of new matching towels in yellow so that they all fold in a neat stack and in the wardrobe I added some stacking boxes to make room for things that we don’t need to use all the time but can't quite part with yet. And now the bathroom has been transformed to be photograph-worthy simply by removing the toothbrush cup. Imagine!
Simplifying has also meant only keeping products that I love. I think I’ve shaved a good ten minutes off my morning routine by opting for simple and easy products (I go BB cream from Oasis Beauty and general pre-skincare from my friend Katie’s store Natural Beauty Skincare NZ) and the whole lot fits into a lunchbox sized container in a drawer under the sink. So organised! AND no clutter! This is a massive win.
2. Give every space a purpose
In my online research I found some great tips for fashioning nooks into reading spaces or strange corners into home organiser spaces. Advice was also to make every room be useful so I have restyled my old sewing/drawing room into a double room with Queen bed and I’ve moved my computer and drawing tablet into a standing office space beside the kitchen. We have a couple of nooks so I have put cushions and toys in there so you can see how the children squirrel themselves away to play. Actually I’m typing in the standing office corner right now and I can’t believe I never thought of using the space like this before! It’s also great for following recipes on a big screen in the kitchen and it’s repurposed a previous ‘chuck space’ where keys and life debris were thrown to die.
3. Keep themes to small spaces
I know a lot of interior designers give advice to stick to a colour theme. For example if you have Quarter Tea walls then style your home with beige and browns and keep everything neutral. I also have read that you should buy red cushions and a red vase to go with your red curtains. This is not for us! My ‘add more colour’ motivation has to step in and stamp this stuff out and I can also say that all of the Open Homes we have been to have been a bit over-beiged and we’ve been turned off the purchase because it would involve a full repaint over new paint which seems silly. So my advice is be bold with your colours, clash on purpose if you like and keep themes to small spaces. In our home an example is our jungle bathroom where I’m channeling an urban jungle apartment feel with bright yellow towels, botanical paintings, leafy prints and lots of house plants.
This one is a tricky one that I asked our Real Estate Agent about. Should I defunk our house to make it seem more desirable to a larger catchment of people? Her advice was to declutter and remove personal items but leave your personal style the same. This seems like a reasonable happy medium so I’ve removed things with the kids’ names on them, taken all the magnets and notes off the fridge and turned the blackboard wall into a wall of potential rather than everyone seeing our weekly menu, shopping lists and silly notes to each other.
5. Hang art
Of course my advice is to hang lots of art (you know where to go!). The houses we have been to that have lots of blank walls seem like they have no personality and it’s harder (I think) to imagine works on a blank wall than to imagine a blank space without art works. Plus it’s nice to see what is possible in a space rather than feeling like you are walking around a dead house. Prints can be an inexpensive option and framing wallpaper (I’ve got lots!) is also a fun way to add some style.
6. Go with bright or light bedding and don’t scrimp on bed dressing
Before we decided on this whole ‘sell up’ thing, I had my heart set on a bold duvet print, yellow pillows and a retro wallpaper headboard behind the bed (my Retro luxe Lilies print was waiting in my shopping cart!) but, because this might be ‘too crazy’ and make the room feel busy, I’ve instead opted to take down the jungle headboard (it’s now a wallpaper in my painting space) and dress the bed with white linen and big European pillows. It looks fresh and bright in there now and we can save the retro yellows for the new place once we get in there. I also bought a bright Queen coverlet with matching pillowslips for the spare bedroom and have made the kids’ beds up with similarly bright colours. You should have seen my car when I had all those Euro pillows in there! But it’s made a big difference to how large the rooms look and how comfortable and restful it might feel to live here.
7. Pull furniture away from walls
My good friend Sarah Jayne Kavali (also an artist and my bestie) once helped us style a home for sale just by shifting the couches away from the walls and being more choosy on the things we had out on display. It was amazing how much larger the lounge felt! This is a nice easy tip to give an illusion of more space.
8. Create easy potential
We had plans to renovate my painting space in the garage into a self-sufficient studio apartment one day but, now that we are selling up, have to park that plan. So to help buyers see the potential that we saw (since we won’t be showing them through ourselves) I’ve styled my studio space more like a fourth bedroom/studio with a rug and chair and wallpaper (taken from the headboard in our room) so that it is easy to imagine the space of another room. I’ve even painted up an old dresser in some nice pastels to tie the space in with the rest of our retro-ish home style inside. I’ve also stacked storage spaces and left them accessible because storage space is often something that home owners look for (especially if they are failing on decluttering like us!). At least the journey has begun though right?
9. Clear surfaces
I cleared a shelf in the pantry for our appliances so that we can leave the benches clear for Open Homes. Other than the odd weird moment when we put toast in the ghost toaster on groggy mornings, the kitchen is actually a much nicer space to work in now too!
10. Add flowers
This final tip is the bit that shows that you want to finish the job off nicely. I’ve started putting fresh flowers in a boob vase (made by the lovely Jolene from Warm Your Ghosts) in the bathroom and I love it. When they droop I have to find new ones in the garden to replace them. Not a bad ritual really plus the extra touch of colour is in line with my current goals (declutter, add more colour!).
So those are my top ten home styling tips. What do you think? Are you doing any of these things already?