Life can be completely chaotic in the weeks leading up to selling, as you frantically declutter and spruce up your space, hoping to create a buyer’s dream home.
But what if you got your place in order well before that time? Not only could you set yourself up to make a tidy profit down the line, but you might just get to enjoy the years left in your current digs a whole lot more.
Here are some of the simplest updates you can knock over now that will not just make your home more liveable but will stand the test of time if you one day choose to sell.
When homes are styled for sale, they’re often selling a dream life, so consider what plans you had for your spaces when you first moved in.
Was there a room you wanted to make a creative studio or a feature you wanted to highlight?
“What else could your junk room be if you styled it?” asks professional organiser Amy Revell, host of The Art of Decluttering podcast.
“Could it be a study or a playroom or a yoga room or home gym?” she says. “Sometimes I’ll ask my clients, ‘When you bought this house, what were the things you loved about it, and what are you doing with it now?’ They might say, ‘We loved the deck and thought we’d eat dinner there every night but we haven’t eaten there in six months,’ so I suggest they start using the space for [the reason] they bought it – and loved it – for.”
Justine Wilson, director of Vault Interiors, urges homeowners to challenge their default furniture placement to see if there are space-opening opportunities.
“You can refresh your home quite quickly by removing some items, doing the room in a slightly different way or swapping the sofa position to create new flow and circulation,” Wilson says.
“Look at your pieces and think, ‘Can we actually rework this to create more space and to make it more practical?’”
If your house was on the market, you can bet that you’d give your wardrobes and linen press a big clear-out so that potential buyers could sense the storage opportunities.
“It can be overwhelming to consider decluttering the whole house, so you might just do a deep dive on the linen cupboard and enjoy that,” Revell says.
“Then the next month you might do the laundry and you’ll find you have a linen cupboard and laundry that not only look like you could sell them, but that are practical in the meantime.”
A pot of paint can work wonders on a tired or outdated space.
“Whether that’s looking at painting kitchen or bathroom cabinetry, re-painting the walls or doing some feature walls, a fresh coat of paint will inject a fresh, pretty feel,” Wilson says.
Laying new flooring is another typical before-sale task that could be done sooner so you can enjoy the benefits.
“Floating floorboards or vinyl floorboards can quite often be installed over old tiles or existing timber boards and [be quite durable] with families and pets,” Wilson says.
“New area rugs in the living room or under the master bed can revive things or cover stained carpet too.”
At the same time, consider whether you can brighten dark nooks by letting in more natural light or adding some lamps.
“If it’s summer, put sheers up instead of heavy drapes, or consider installing inexpensive roller blinds – light has a big impact for sellers, but also for you living there,” Wilson suggests.
“Look at table lamps, floor lamps or overhead pendants too, because if you get the lighting level right in your home, it will make you feel better in the space and will also benefit you for sale.”
Well-styled real estate always features indoor plants, so pick up some pots to bring the outside world in.
Dominic Hooghuis, horticulturalist and co-founder of The Plant Runner, suggests Ficus elastica, devil’s ivy or a giant bird of paradise if you want a plant that looks great now and will last the distance.
“Ficus elastica – rubber tree – is tolerant of a wide range of conditions and its large, fleshier leaves look lush and are less likely to reflect occasional neglect. Place in a bright room, out of direct sunlight for best results,” he says.
“A giant bird of paradise is a statement plant that thrives in bright spaces and is great for empty corners, and devil’s ivy is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to look after and will reward you with regular growth.”
If you want to bring your garden up to “sellable” condition, then killing the weeds, installing some neat edging and laying down fresh mulch will do wonders.
“Steel edging lasts a long time and steps up the level of quality – measure out your edging then get a local steel guy to weld some pins or pegs to the bottom, then they’re really easy to install,” Hooghuis says.
“If you’ve got weeds, spray them with an eco-friendly weed killer, then mulch straight over them once they’ve been sprayed. It really cleans up your garden and makes the plants pop.”
If your lawn is looking less than lush, lay out some instant turf or do some repair work in the dirt patches left by general neglect or exuberant dogs and kids.
“To top-dress your lawn, mix some compost and half a packet of seed in your wheelbarrow then spread it across your lawn, rake it in then water it in,” Hooghuis suggests.
“Keep it damp and it will really green up. Do this at least a month prior to photos for inspections.”
Whether it’s that old, rusty trampoline or some fledgling festoon lighting, consider cleaning up the bits and bobs cluttering your yard.
“Decluttering in the garden is a big thing,” Hooghuis says. “People tend to end up with things like hanging plants and ornaments hanging off the fence but sometimes less is more if you want to refine the garden.”