After a weather-beating winter, it’s time to spruce up the appearance of your home, whether it’s to help sell it or just to make it look smart. The right styling can lure in buyers and help sell a home more quickly. But what are the best-dressed homes wearing this season? Here’s how to get the latest looks that will make you the envy of your road.
Wow your windows
Sure, double-glazing will add value to a home (at a large price to you), but it’s more important that your windows look smart and cared for if you want to boost your chances of a speedy sale.
Forget old-fashioned nets or fussy swag curtains, the look of the moment is wooden shutters. In fact, you can rate the desirability of a street by the number of homes with shutters – they’re a sure sign of a neighbourhood on the up. “Shutters are more flexible than other window coverings and can fit any shaped window even circular or triangular spaces,” comments property expert Sarah Beeny. “They are particularly popular at the front of a property as they look smart and, when you come to sell, will give your buyers a great first impression.
If you’re on a budget, the Shutter Store (www.shutters.co.uk) sells the most affordable shutters on the market – the catch? You need to measure and fit them yourself.
“Choosing attractive wooden shutters for the front windows also really improves the appearance of a building, creating a unified and stylish look to the exterior of a property,” says Mark Carter, founder of Shutterly Fabulous (www.shutterlyfabulous.com).
The latest trend that he is noticing is for wider slats that allow more light in, and while white is still the most popular finish, taupes, alabasters and greys are also proving increasingly popular.
And as for net curtains, window film is a quick, affordable and contemporary alternative – the Window Film Company (www.windowfilm.co.uk) even has laser-printed designs featuring birds and plants for extra interest, starting from £30.
A lick of paint
Where white or brown was once the preference for exterior windows, doors and masonry, a coloured finish is increasingly popular.
Premium window manufacturers are cottoning on to this trend and supplying fully-finished windows accordingly, ensuring that homeowners receive a beautiful product with a quality finish. Even PVC windows now come in a range of colours including grey and sage green – which is incredibly popular in the Cotswolds.
“The use of greys and conservation pastel green tones is proving popular, and even requests for royal green and blue are on the increase,” confirms Georgina Campbell, Head of Marketing at JELD-WEN (www.jeld-wen.co.uk) a manufacturer of timber windows and doors.
To make your home look instantly contemporary, even if it’s pebbledashed, Mylands (www.mylands.co.uk), who specialise in environmentally-friendly exterior paints, suggest a soft grey palette for smart sophistication. “Paint your front door in the charcoal-ish Mayfair Dark, choose a soft dove grey such as Sloane Square for the masonry and a mid grey – Mid Wedgewood – for the windows,” says Dominic Mylands, managing director of Mylands.
And in red-brick areas? “A green-based palette will work wonderfully and it will blend harmoniously with any exterior plants and foliage. You can choose softer grey-greens for more yellow stone.”
Plant for success
Don’t neglect your front garden or the space around your door – a couple of pots with the right plants can create a welcome.
“Structural evergreens always add oomph when planted in pots by the front door,” says Helen Derrin in-house designer at the nursery Crocus (www.crocus.co.uk). “In shady spots, you can’t go wrong with box or yew topiary clipped into cones or balls, while a pair of tree ferns framing an entrance will add real impact in a less formal setting. For sunny spots, try less structured olives or lavenders, which look modern and relaxed – and lavender offers the bonus of scent each time you breeze past.”
As for the pot, Derrin advises choosing something to complement your house – a contemporary home will suit a sleek metal pot, although terracotta is one of the biggest sellers at Crocus and is always popular as it blends into most settings.
But before you do a trolley dash around the garden centre, consider Chelsea Flower Show garden designer Marcus Barnett’s advice (www.marcusbarnett.com). “Be bold with your planting scheme but keep to a restrained palette of greens and whites such as striking forms of Buxus sempervirens mixed with white tulips such as Tulipa ‘White Triumphator’. A single highlight colour could be used which might complement the interior or pick out a subtle colour on the architecture of the house.”
Remember, just as fussy overly patterned interiors are a turn-off for buyers, your garden can have the same effect. Keep it simple and striking.
If you have more space, Barnett recommends herbaceous perennials to create impact through spring and summer: “Consider Echinacea, Helenium, Aquilegia or Valeriana mixed with Sanguisorba and Euphorbia species in a limited palette of colours.”
Peeling paint, draughty gaps or plastic-looking PVC are not what buyers are looking for when you greet them. A wooden door, with polished ironmongery, that suits the setting, is perhaps the biggest change you can make to the front of your home.
Adding a stately shade can make a simple cottage-style door look more sophisticated, while a casual, bright hue can make a formal façade friendlier and more imaginative. “Traditional colours such as black, red and blue create a smart entrance, and look especially effective in high-shine gloss,” says Mylands.
“Our current best-sellers are Bay Tree in a satin finish, which is a pale lichen green and looks great against white, cream and natural masonry, and Pillar Box Red, which makes a bold statement,” says Mark Bannister of Sandtex Exterior Paints (www.sandtex.co.uk).
But if you want your house to look the height of “now” after the sage greens and pigeon greys that have dominated for the last couple of years, Mylands suggests the robust Burlington Arcade – an almost turquoise blue shade tempered with grey that he tips to be the next big colour.
As for door furniture, while the trend for minimal ironmongery is till strong – think a large ring knocker above a central round door knob – the dominance of chrome finishes is waning as antique brass, satin nickel and faded gold make a comeback. It’s about looking subtly sophisticated, and they require less polishing.
Path to perfection
Don’t neglect your path and wall or fence – most people will give your home a cursory glance as they drive past or look at the first image online. What does a broken or missing gate, crumbling wall or concrete path say about your home? And will it really entice people in? Repair any damage and improve what you can.
Block brick paving along a path looks smart and low-maintenance, while tiles add a chic look to contemporary home and will enhance the period character of older properties – something buyers love. London Mosaic (www.londonmosaic.com) sells traditional Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian designs on large sheets, which makes them easy to install.
If you like the traditional look but hanker after something more contemporary, Sarah McClement of Original Style (www.originalstyle.com) recommends choosing a monochrome scheme. “While our traditional tiles (browns, reds, greens) are consistently popular, we have noticed a real shift towards more simple black and white patterns, and also those with grey, over the last couple of years. Feedback from our customers suggested that homeowners love the period style but prefer a more understated look than some of the very traditional styles.”
Accordingly, the company has created a new range, including three new greys, of more simplistic and contemporary patterns, which launched at the beginning of the year.
This article first appeared in the Daily Mail on 9 May