How to make the most of your house and sell it quickly - a home stylist’s tips
Rachel Smith is waging a war against clutter.
The home styler from Wakefield set up her business Clutter is the Enemy last year to help people make the most of their homes, whether they are putting them on the market or making small changes to improve the quality of their lives.
She said: “I’ve always had a keen eye for colour and detail and before I set up my business I was asked to help a friend ‘stage’ her house before putting it onto the market.
“I was able to suggest simple things like moving the bikes from the porch to the cellar, putting on new bedding, re-purposing the attic office into a master bedroom and adding cushions, throws and plants.
“These suggestions seemed obvious to me and I was amazed that until I mentioned them, she just couldn’t see what needed to be done. She was totally house blind.
“The makeover didn’t cost very much at all, most items were borrowed or begged from friends and relatives and others were sourced from budget homeware stores and supermarkets.”
The house was sold for more than the asking price within five days and when Rachel was made redundant due to Covid, she realised her skills could be translated into a business.
She said: “The message that I aim to get across to my clients is that they are selling their house not themselves and they should take a step back and see it through a potential buyer’s eyes.
“I usually start at the front door and walk through every room asking the owner what they can see and what they feel a buyer would see.
“By doing this I am encouraging vendors to change their mindset and when they do it’s easier to be honest with them about their house and the changes that need to be made.
Rachel has successfully turned around houses that have been on sale for more than 12 months, those that were empty and others that previously had no viewings.
However, Rachel warns that de-cluttering can be taken too far.
“I’ve seen houses that have been stripped of everything that makes them homely.
“They have no personality and so I usually take along items of my own to add character.
“The overall effect I’m looking to create is to inject some love into a house so that potential buyers get a warm feeling when they walk through the door.
As well as staging houses for sale Rachel also offers decluttering and affordable home styling services.
She said: “I just want people to be happy in their homes.
“Your home environment feeds into your mental health and you should be able to close the door when you get home and feel that it is your sanctuary.
“Often people know that they don’t love their house but they don’t know why.
“I can walk into a room and see what’s wrong immediately and sometimes it can be as simple as decluttering, rearranging furniture or changing the colour of the walls .
“People think that the services of an interior designer are going to be expensive and they are going to suggest high-end furniture and accessories.
“I want people to see that having a nice home is accessible to anyone, no matter what their budget.
“I want to help and empower people to make small changes that are not necessarily expensive but change the way that they live and change the quality of their lives.
“My mission is to make people happier, one room at a time.”
During the first lockdown Rachel was contacted by a client who said he hated the flooring in his flat and, as he was working from home, it was starting to get to him.
She said: “I had to do the consultation and give advice over the phone and internet and we agreed to change the floor to a sunny herringbone parquet which completely transformed the room.
“Once I was able to view the flat I realised there were other aspects that needed to be changed as well.
“He had far too much stuff laying around and kept buying more without thinking how it was going to fit in.
“And his rooms were laid out the wrong way around with furniture blocking access.
“I changed the layout, put some of his stuff into storage. I replaced his tiny table and chairs for a much more practical breakfast bar and high stools which suited his tall frame.
“It also had the bonus of adding a height differential and interest to the room.
“These small changes which cost hardly anything changed the way he interacts with the house.
“He never sat down to eat but now he eats breakfast at the table and sits there when comes in from work.”
“He is much happier and that, for me, is what interior design is all about.
“Making small changes that are not necessarily expensive but change the way people live and improve the quality of their lives.”