Tag Archives: atmosphere

A flower vase and magazine above a table with a modern fireplace in a background

A flower vase and magazine above a table with a modern fireplace in a background

Whilst estate agents may extol the virtues of triple aspect rooms, double garages or south-facing gardens, it’s usually the smallest of detail that makes a house irresistibly a home for us. A lovely client of mine told me this week that during the viewing of her current home,  a whole family of tiny goslings came to the kitchen stable door to be fed. She was absolutely charmed, and they decided to buy the house at once. So it may be the way the sunlight streams in through the kitchen window, or the sight of a robin on the garden gate. These little but captivating images are extremely powerful, and can easily tip a wavering viewer into making an offer.

So how can a seller use these details to make their house more appealing to buyers, and give themselves an advantage over the competition?

Photography – instead of the photographer taking lots of wide-angled shots of the main rooms (yawn), encourage him to photograph some evocative details: a roaring log fire, a jug of Pimms on the garden table, horses in a nearby field, a freshly baked cake on the kitchen table.

Add atmosphere to the viewing – use the same approach when it comes to viewings; add atmosphere and a sense of homeliness with clever touches. Try some subtle music playing during the viewing, put some breadcrumbs out for the birds just before they arrive, add a reading corner with a comfy chair, lamp and a good book laid as if only just put down.

Paint a picture – if you conduct your own viewings, describe to your viewers how you use each space. For example, how you love to cook whilst watching the kids play in the garden, how you walk to the nearest pub on a summer’s evening, where you put the Christmas tree. If you can help your viewers to visualise the house as a home, you will give them the best possible chance to imagine themselves living in it.

Try making a list of all the things you love about your home, and plan how you can use these to turn your viewer into a buyer.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

A cabinet with a lamp and books on top of it with a painting on a wall behind it.

When your home has been on the market for a while, it’s easy to become disheartened and disillusioned. “What’s wrong with our house?” you may ask yourself. At first, I’m sure that every viewer got the star treatment – you would changed the bedding, banish the dog and buy fresh flowers for each and every viewing, now it all seems like too much effort for what you’re sure will be another timewaster.

However, it’s not all about doing what you can to make your house look as appealing as possible, though obviously this is important; you also need the right mindset.

Think of something difficult you have tried to do: perhaps you’ve given up smoking, lost weight or passed an exam. Maybe you tried several times before you actually achieved your goal. If you look back on your previous attempts, why did they fail when achievement was clearly in your grasp?

It’s all to do with mindset; any dietician will tell you that you have to be in the right mindset to lose weight, otherwise you’ll keep failing. Those friends I know who have successfully given up smoking after many years of ‘trying’ tell me that eventually they just set their mind on their goal, and that made all the difference.

But when you’re selling your home, it’s not in your control whether your viewers actually offer or not, right?  Wrong! Of course, you can’t force them to make an offer, but you can make sure that you are totally focused on your goal of selling.

When you are focused, you will call your agent more often, research the competition, keep your home looking beautiful, make suggestions to improve your marketing campaign; and all this because your mindset is that of a seller.  When you give up, you lose the fight.

To help you get into the seller’s mindset, make a list of all the reasons you want to move. Write them in two columns: one list for your motivations to move out, and the other for all the reasons you want to move to the place or home you have chosen. Keep this list taped to the inside of a kitchen cupboard you use every day. Read it often, and use it to motivate you to get out the vacuum cleaner one more time for a viewing; or polish the bathroom taps, or clean the front door.

Stay focused, stay motivated, and the buyer will come. All because of your mindset.

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If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

A lamp, flower vase and clock on top of the wooden cabinet beside a bed with pillow and blanket

So you’ve chosen your estate agent, decided upon an asking price, and planned your launch date. Your home is looking wonderful: carpets cleaned, and the whole house spring-cleaned. All that remains is some finishing touches. But what accessories represent the best investment when you’re trying to give your house that extra presentation polish to wow your buyers?

1. Cushions – a really easy way to instantly update that fading suite and add colour, texture and interest at the same time.

2. Rugs – a large, deep rug can transform a room, adding warmth and style. You don’t have to spend a fortune on them; decide on a budget and stick to it. You should be able to get a large rug, say 8’ x 4’, for under £150 if you shop around.

3. Fruit and flowers – try big glass bowls or wide vases of fruit in the kitchen to add colour; fill full of just one type of fruit (oranges, green apples or lemons look wonderful) for instant contemporary style. Make sure flower arrangements are in keeping with the style of the house and also the room: long elegant Cala lilies are great on a large dining table, and little hand-tied posies are just right for a rustic kitchen. Choose carefully for maximum effect.

4. Toiletries – choose the very best you can afford here; it matters: a little Molton Brown goes a long way!  Again, make sure that they are kept for viewings only.

5. New bedding – especially for the master bedroom, where it matters most to your buyers. Choose a subtle style that isn’t too garish or flowery, and add some cushions and a good quality throw. For the other bedrooms, adding new plain bedding with some tasteful cushions and throws can update them inexpensively.

6. Towels – used towels never quite look the same as brand new ones; treat your home to some gorgeous new towels, and make sure that no one uses them – they’re just for show! Whip them away and hide them after each viewing so they stay looking their best.

7. Atmosphere – in the form of soft music and gentle fragrances. Choose soothing background music to encourage buyers to linger, and scented candles in subtle fragrances to provide the finishing touch.

Where to buy:

To stay up to date with current trends, colours and styles without breaking the bank, try these high street retailers:

Next – great range of coordinated soft furnishings and home accessories at value-for-money prices.

Marks and Spencer – usually a little more traditional, so better for older homes in the main.

John Lewis – my favourite, but the more expensive of my suggestions. Great for sumptuous fabrics and decorative touches.

Matalan – not the best quality, but you definitely get a lot for your money! Right on trend, and full of bargain pieces like vases and ornaments. Well worth a visit.

House to Home – great online website for sourcing all the things you’ll need, and finding inspiration too

eBay – A fantastic resource for homewares, both new and second hand. You can search by item, size, colour, shape, you name it. I once furnished almost an entire house for sale from eBay, and saved a fortune.  Try it!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Wine glasses filled with wine on top a wooden table with a candle glass and a magazine.

There’s nothing worse than viewing a cold home at this time of year.  Unloved living rooms, draughty corners and freezing bathrooms all mean that we just can’t wait to get out of there.  Not a good way to see the best in a house!

Buyers need to feel warm and welcomed.  Comfort is about temperature and safety, and visual delight is just a bonus.  Walking into a well-heated hallway, with a welcoming lamp and a smiling host will make anyone feel “at home” – and that’s exactly what we as sellers need our buyers to feel!

It’s not always easy, especially if you’re living in a house that’s too big, and perhaps therefore only using part of it; or maybe it’s empty, as you’ve had to move out.  Certainly empty houses are often very difficult to sell, and statistics show that they can achieve up to 30% less than furnished homes.

So – what can we do to make sure that our property feels like a home?  Here’s 7 steps to take to make your buyers want to move in:

  • Heat – keep it warm and cosy throughout your house.  The hallway is the most important area to keep at a welcoming temperature, but it’s also vital to keep bedrooms – even unused ones – well heated.
  • Fires – if you have a real fire, light it!  There’s nothing more welcoming than a lovely roaring log fire on a cold evening.  Your buyers will love it, and in turn, fall in love with your house.
  • Refreshments – if you’re going to be present, serve hot drinks and cookies or cakes; if you’re not there, leave out a really nice tea tray for your agent to serve them with.  You would do it for a special guest, so treat your buyers to the same!
  • Light – add atmosphere by making sure you light all the lamps you have in the house, and overhead ones wherever you need to – provided it’s not too harsh a light.  I’m usually in favour of lamps in the bedrooms and living rooms, and overhead lights in all the other rooms.
  • Soft furnishings – make sure your home has plenty of soft, textured materials.  Velvet cushions, fluffy rugs and luxurious throws all help to add an overall feeling of luxury and warmth.  In the bathrooms, add texture with big towels and modern rugs – make sure these are newly bought for viewings though – threadbare mats or worn out towels won’t do!
  • Colour –  take a cue from your view and make sure your home reflects the lovely seasonal colours right now.  Golds, reds, purples and burnt oranges are very cosy and flatter most homes.  Pick some accent colours and buy accessories that you can take with you, and which don’t overwhelm your existing décor.

Remember the keywords here – warm and welcome – and your winter viewers could move in by spring!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

A bright living room with a chandelier, multiple sofa sets, some wooden furniture and a fireplace.

I don’t know about you, but even if your lucky enough to be in an area of the UK that is seeing a rise in property prices, it’s easy to wonder why to bother styling a property when it’s hopefully going to be snapped up quicker than an an Ikea sofa in the sales….

Well, I hope that you, the reader, have already screamed at the screen “NO! This property is probably the biggest investment of a person’s life! Why WOULDN’T they want to show if to it’s full potential and maximise the selling price?” If this was your reaction, may I shake you by the hand and welcome you to the 21st Century ! If not, well, then you may have a little catching up to do.

Walking into this otherwise beautiful kitchen, the buyers first impression was a blank wall and a bin. Storage solutions were addressed and the space was styled to feel more welcoming, spacious and highlight the selling features of the room.

Regardless of whether you are in a region of experiencing a buyer’s or seller’s market, showing a property to it’s best advantage in the marketing photography and during viewings can only enhance the greatest profit for the owner and estate agent alike. Agents are starting to realise that by having a Home Stylist/Stager ready for referral brings a little added TLC and customer service, that goes a long way in these fiercely competitive times.

Eating area before and afterThis eating area was very narrow and normally seated only 2. By adding an inexpensive table, chairs, and repurposing the existing furniture in other rooms, the buyer could now experience the advantages of the space and imagine having friends round for dinner.

There are a few myths and misconceptions about Home Styling or Home Staging: Yes, decluttering a space, painting everything White (this season’s ‘Magnolia’) and pushing all the furniture to the edges of the room CAN make a space feel bigger, but this is not what Home Styling is about…. where’s the wow factor? the USP? the thing that makes THIS property stand out from the the other terraced houses on the street and have the buyers springing off to secure their mortgage?

conservatory area before and afterThis small conservatory was previously just a passageway to the back door. It was transformed into another ‘room’ where fresh coffee and the beautiful garden could be enjoyed in the sunshine.

The small investment required in hiring a Home Stylist/Stager who can address those tricky features, storage or layout issues of the home while also enhancing the positive features, is a sure-fire way of reducing a buyer’s concerns and increase the perceived value of the property. It is all too easy to assume that the buyer has the same vision as the agent or seller. This is often NOT the case.

guest room before and afterA cluttered office space that overlooked a tarmac driveway was transformed into a tranquil and spacious office/guest room.

Home Styling taps into the buyers aspirational requirements as well as their practical needs in order to secure the best possible price for the client and estate agent alike. It is an inexpensive service that is likely to pay for itself when clinching the deal… It’s a “Win-WIn” situation all round.

Catriona Archer offers Home & Retail Styling starting from £95 for a half day consultation and is based in Bath and the SW of England.

For more details, visit www.catrionaarcher.com, email [email protected]. or follow on twitter: @catrionaarcher.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

An oak bedroom with a wide space reflecting the outside's veiw through a glass window

An oak bedroom with a wide space reflecting the outside's veiw through a glass window

“Didn’t we have a loverly time at the Henley Regatta……”

It was fantastic! I went along with my husband Michael and my baby sister Kathy (the very talented photographer Katherine Ashdown), courtesy of a client of my husband’s. We dressed appropriately, as I hope you’ll agree, and Kathy and I were particularly pleased with our nautical styling! It was amazing to see everyone so beautifully dressed up, and as a lady, much of the enjoyment of my day was in watching all the other ladies, and admiring their gorgeous outfits. My husband was very content to cheer on the rowers as Kathy and I engaged in some serious people-watching. More of that in tomorrow’s blog.

The highlights of our day were:

  1. The delicious catering, absolutely in line with the quality and creativity you would expect from such a prestigious event.
  2. The outfits: some outlandish, some beautifully elegant, but almost all worth looking at!
  3. The shopping: all the best of British shops selling lovely pretty things.
  4. The atmosphere: and the rowing, of course!  Seeing all those young university men competing against each other was a real treat. Just think, they could be competing against each other in the House of Commons in a decade!
  5. The company: I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with two of my loved ones, but also the other people we met really made the day fun and it was over before we knew it!

So what’s today’s lesson from Henley Regatta? Well, I suggest you look at your home and ask yourself “What are my highlights?” Looking at my five highlights above, can you arrange some visual and sensory treats to wow your potential buyers?  How about homemade cookies, served by you wearing a special outfit, having staged your home with some pretty things, and to create atmosphere, some well-chosen music playing? Then all you have to make sure you do, is to be the best host or hostess, and make your viewers feel like the very special guests they are.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

An oak table with book andf a scented candle behind a wooden fireplace

An oak table with book andf a scented candle behind a wooden fireplace

My second blog post on the Henley Regatta is on the subject of ‘vignettes’. What exactly are these and how do they relate to selling houses? Well the dictionary describes a vignette as “A short story that presents a scene or paints a picture.” The key word here is ‘story’. What’s your home’s story?  Where has it come from, and where is it now? What is your home’s personality? Kindly, warm and cosy, or else sophisticated, elegant and poised?

Let’s look at the Regatta. The vignettes below all tell a story. The man with the chirpy boater and the characterful beard; I bet he’s a really interesting person, full of wisdom and twinkly eyes. If he were a house, he’d be a thatched cottage with big chunky beams and a flagstone floor. Or the couple with the ice-creams. If they were a home, it would be a good solid village house, extended several times over the years and full of family laughter and memories.

What’s your story?  What is your home’s personality? I once helped sell a house in the Cotswolds that had been on the market for over two years.  Its owners had come from London, and the house ‘felt London’ with dark coloured hallway, large bold abstract prints, and ethnic ornaments and rugs.  This kind of styling was completely alien for the Cotswold buyer, who was looking for a life that would include village fetes, long dog walks and longer pub lunches, and a large glass of Merlot in front of a roaring log fire. Not exactly a London life. I helped them understand their buyers, and give them the clues that they were looking for. Out went the prints, rugs and ornaments, and in came the muddy Hunters, vases of hand-picked flowers and big soft throws. The comfortable Cotswold life was snapped up immediately at the asking price for the first buyers that walked through the door.

And where had these buyers come from? London of course!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.