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Have you ever walked into a home, taken one look at teetering piles of clutter, grubby walls and ugly furniture and wanted to run away screaming? A badly styled home – whether it’s for sale or everyday living - is not a pretty sight.

If you’re selling, value-wise it’s definitely worth styling your home beforehand according to leading real estate agent John McGrath. “Most people spend between $3,000 to $8,000 on professional styling and my gut feel is that it adds between 5 to 10 per cent sale value,” he says. A survey of LJ Hooker agents also found that property styling added between 7.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent in value.

Property stylist Leah Fotofile of The Beholder Styling + Design says getting a professional in is always a good idea. “A stylist approaches a home with fresh perspective and no emotional attachment, they look at homes through the ‘buyer’s eyes’,” she says. “Stylists understand buyers and stage homes with a focus on creating an aspirational space that encourages a new emotional connection between the buyer and the property, creating a space they can envisage themselves living in."

Research shows once there’s an emotional connection with the buyer and the home it increases the perceived value of the property and therefore drives up the price the buyer is willing to pay.

However, if you want to save cash, you can always style a house yourself which is better than no styling at all. You also get to keep all the stuff you buy! You probably only need to spend between $500 to $1000 on décor which could potentially add thousands more to the sale price.

Tips to follow to style your own home for sale

  1. Tip 1. Declutter all rooms

    If you’re selling get ruthless. You don’t have to get rid of everything however do hide excess stuff out of sight. “We all know first impressions matter,” State Custodians senior manager Anouska Linz. “So a tidy home is a must.” Remove all photographs and overly personal touches. “Personal décor can sometimes detract from the features of a home, particularly if it is not to the buyer’s taste.”

  2. Tip 2. Make your lounge room feel spacious

    The lounge area needs to shine and be roomy. If your sofa’s grubbier than a compost bin, hire a couch or buy a new one. Get one in white, beige or grey which you can dress with colourful cushions and a throw. Neutrals are also the favoured shades for the walls. “Neutral colours allow the buyer to more easily imagine they could live there,” says Anouska.

    An armchair or two situated nearby will complete the room’s ‘talking space’. A good artwork, which has colours that reflect some of the accent pieces, is also essential. A bright abstract print has more universal appeal. Don’t get something avante garde like a nude, or graffiti painting. Finish off with a few knickknacks such as a vase, candle or ornament on a mantelpiece or small coffee table

  3. Tip 3. Create a serene bedroom

    Ditch the daggy doona for a start! A classically staged bedroom features all white fitted sheets, top sheet, doona cover and pillows to create a tranquil blank canvas. For a queen-sized bed, the doona cover should be king-sized so it can hang all the way down around the sides. Position four pillows – all in white pillow cases - at the head of the bed. Arrange two cushions vertically against the pillows.

    Position two smaller cushions against these and finish with one accent cushion. At the foot of the bed drape a colourful throw. Install two bedside tables with two identical lamps. Even if you live alone, buyers still want to envisage how the bedroom will look for a couple.

  4. Tip 4. Ensure the kitchen and bathroom scrub up

    These rooms often “sell” a house, so it’s vital they’re styled. The number one priority is to thoroughly clean. There’s no bigger turn off than stray hair or mysterious stains! The kitchen needs little more than a bowl of green apples, a cookbook, a few herb pots or mortar and pestle. Remove towels, shower curtains and everything else from the bathroom. A toothbrush holder or pot plant on the vanity will do the trick

  5. tip 5. Add eye-catching pops of colour

    When choosing art and accents make sure they pop with colour as this will draw in the buyer emotionally and add the finishing touch. Soft blues and greys create a feeling of relaxation so they’re good for the bedroom. Meanwhile bright colours such as red, orange and yellow will energise living areas. Greenery and flowers will also add freshness and create a connection to the outdoor areas.