When it comes to getting your home ready for re-sale or upgrading for your own enjoyment, getting a fresh set of eyes to give it a once over is a worthwhile investment and can avoid delving into some costly and even unneeded renovations.
That’s where a home stager and interior design specialist, such as Suzanne McIntosh, comes in. Since 2011, she’s been providing her clients with that unbiased view of what works and what needs work, before planting that for sale sign on your front lawn or deciding on an updated look for your home.
And usually, less is more, said the owner of Richmond-based One by Design.
“You need that new perspective,” said McIntosh, adding much of the work she does to get a property ready for the all-important open house showings deals with, first, de-cluttering a home and often re-organizing the furniture inside to give the impression of more space.
“You don’t want your client to be spending a whole lot of money, but the house should, first of all, be really clean, neat and tidy,” said McIntosh, who works exclusively in Richmond with local realtor Patti Martin. “Everything has to look fresh and new. And absolutely, less is more.”
Most of the time she works with improving on what clients have already got instead of launching into a large renovation project.
And that might be as simple as moving furniture into better positions.
“A lot of people don’t realize the placement of their furniture isn’t lined up and fitted properly to their rooms,” she said. “Maybe they need to omit a few pieces, keep those that are working and place them properly in the room.”
Next, one of the least expensive ways to make an impact on updating your home is by changing the wall colour.
“You should really harmonize the paint colours in their entire home because it neutralizes things and makes the space look bigger,” McIntosh said.
And if a kitchen needs a little freshening up, simply re-painting or re-finishing some cabinet doors, instead of gutting the entire space, could very well do the trick, she noted.
But if something requires fixing, by all means, get it done.
“If anything is broken, like cabinetry, it has to be fixed. I call those red flags and you don’t want any of those,” she said, adding that also goes for something as easy to remedy as broken light bulbs.
Simple renovations to make your home more appealing, whether you are selling or staying, also don’t need to be restricted to the interior. Curb appeal counts for a lot, so a touch up on the landscaping can go a long way.
“I’d bring in a gardener to make sure everything looks as good as it can,” McIntosh said. “Plant the beds with a border of boxwood, for example. Giving it that clean line look can make a big difference.”
Some of the renovation projects you may want to stay away from, if you are trying to sell your home, would be installing something as personal as a hot tub.
“Some people don’t want a hot tub, or even a pool. They don’t want the maintenance or costs involved with something like that,” she said.
“The upgrades, you want to be careful with them because everybody’s style is so different. Better you make your home look as good as you can with what you’ve got,” McIntosh said. “That way, the new homeowner can come in and change it the way they want to.”
Once the simple changes have been done, many clients have come to McIntosh and told her they wish they’d done them sooner.
“So, I have to be careful because we don’t want them to not sell their house now,” she laughed. “And when some of my clients go to their new home they want me to go there, too, and do the same things there.”
But getting to the day you’re ready to open your home to prospective buyers can be pretty simple, McIntosh stressed.
“Maximize what you have and make sure everything is in working order. If something needs repair, do it,” she said. “A lot of times my clients are pretty amazed what is possible after just making some really simple changes.”