Interior Design for Living: Selling your home? Refurnish it to make it more marketable

By Susan Gill Spellmeyer

Q: Our family has just bought a new house. We will soon be putting our existing home on the market.

Do you have any decorating sugges­tions that might make it more market­able? We are willing to make a few improvements if they would be worth­while.

A: First impressions are always important in selling a house. Potential buyers will immediately get a "feel" for the house when they drive into the driveway.

Make sure the outside presents well. Consider putting a few pots of flowers around your front stoop that may relate to the color scheme in your foyer. This creates a nice flow from the outside to the inside.

The foyer provides the first impres­sions of the interior of your home. Make certain it is spotless, well lighted, and walls — be they paint or wallpaper — in excellent condition.

If the walls are wallpapered and it's damaged or soiled, remove it and paint or select new wallpaper.

If you decide to wallpaper, select a pattern that has some interest to it, but not one that is so bold and bright that it may not appeal to a large number of potential buyers.

Keep in mind that everyone's taste is different, and although you may think it's ideal, others may not. A lot of people can't see beyond a wallpaper they dislike and think that it's the house that isn't appealing to them.

If you want to wallpaper, the key is to select something that is interesting, but nothing that is overbearing and highly individualistic. Your choice may very well be different than if you were decorating for yourselves.

Painting is always less expensive and may be advisable, unless of course, your walls are in poor condition. In that case, you may prefer to wallpaper — even if it's just a texture with no pattern.

If you do select a paint color, I generally feel that an off-white is best. I say off-white instead of pure white because it's softer. What I would refer to as appliance-white is too harsh. Off-whites are a white paint mixed with a little bit of color, such as yellow ochre, green, blue or black, which will give a grey cast.

Not only does a subtle off white appeal to most people, but a light color such as that will make your rooms appear larger. r-

These same principles apply to all the rooms in your house.

Furniture arrangement is also im­portant. In this case, less is definitely


A cluttered room, jammed with furniture, will look smaller. Keep the traffic patterns open and unobstructed. Try with your arrangement of furni­ture to make it look inviting and comfortable, as well as functional.

Bookshelves should be arranged aesthetically. A lot of people look at me in disbelief when I say this, but I think bookshelves are most attractive when the books are interspersed with other things and balanced visually. Doing this adds interest and "breaks them up." They appear less heavy and, thus, are more appealing.

Heavy, dark window treatments can also be a disadvantage. If you have draperies or top treatments that block a lot of light, you may consider removing them, or at least tying them back to expose as much of the light as possible.

If you decide to remove them, you may want to replace them with inexpensive sheers. They are soft and filter the light, but make sure there is adequate fullness so they don't appear skimpy. Double fullness is the mini­mum. In other words, if a window is 48 inches wide, you want, at the very least, 96 inches of fabric.

You may even decide to remove your old window treatments, wash the windows and hang a few plants. In many cases, this is an ideal solution.

If the carpeting is very worn, or badly stained and can't be cleaned, I would advise you to rip it up and replace it, or, if you're lucky enough to have them, expose the hardwood floors. Because many new homes have plywood floors, not hardwood, they are a great plus in selling your home.

Also consider spending a little extra

• time on good padding. Many people

gauge   carpeting   by   how   it   feels

underfoot. The more cushioned it is,

the more they like it.

Try to get lights in the four corners of the room. Eyes instinctively follow light and the size of the room will be shown off to its best advantage.

Also, don't deny the effect of flowers, green plants, bowls of potpourri and the like. They add color, softness and fragrance to a room.

A large mirror, placed in a dark room or small hallway, can visually work wonders and can always be taken with you when you move.

Before you proceed, make a list of any improvements that you are consid­ering and get a total cost estimate. Then consult your real estate agent and ask his or her opinion as to whether investing that amount of money will result in a higher selling price for you.

Readers with design questions for Susan Gill Spellmeyer may write her at: United Press International, 1400 Eye Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.