Most real estate agents can walk into an original space and date the construction based on the wall and ceiling finishes, the color of the hardware, the way light fixtures look and the colors employed. And let’s be honest, a dated home will draw less interest from buyers online and in person, get fewer offers and sell for less than a freshly updated home.
If you’re seeking ways to help your sellers refresh their interiors, these 10 current design trends will prove invaluable.
1. Create definite spaces in an open floor plan
The open floor plan is yesterday’s big idea. Today’s buyers are saying “meh,” to great rooms and looking for more definition — even separation — in a home’s floor plan.
It’s not necessary to install walls to separate spaces by function, although dividers of some type can certainly help. But a change in materials from kitchen to dining to living areas also works.
Anchoring furniture arrangements on or around area rugs creates definition. And using differing, yet compatible colors and textures in different parts of a large, open space easily defines kitchen, dining and living areas.
2. Invite nature inside — in colors, materials, patterns and shapes
Organic materials are back in a major way. Think bleached driftwood, rough-sawn wood, vintage planks, sea glass, floral fabrics, fresh flowers and green plants — including succulents — and botanical color schemes.
California residents revel in seamless indoor/outdoor living. So bringing the garden inside in colors, shapes, materials and textures and installing quality furnishings and rugs outside blurs the line between indoors and out — especially when there’s a covered porch or patio to serve as a transition space.
3. Let existing art inspire a new color scheme
“Botanicals” covers a lot of colorful ground. To home in on the right color mix for your clients’ spaces, suggest they choose common colors that appear in art they already own. They may discover color preferences, by this means, that they’re not even consciously aware they prefer.
4. Add color to the kitchen
The white-on-white kitchen looked fresh and new once. Now, it just reads blah.
There’s no need, however, to rip out expensive cabinetry and countertops. Homeowners can introduce color to colorless kitchen in multiple ways.
Suggest changing out white knobs for matte black ones and adding black and white towels and curtains. Or recommend painting the base cabinetry of an island in a favorite color.
Blue and black, for example, contrast nicely with white and can draw the eye toward a feature that remains popular — the island. Or homeowners can replace dated light fixtures over the island with colorful pendants — or vintage lighting — to liven up a tired design.
That subway tile backsplash looking the worse for wear? Suggest they replace it with fish scale or patterned tile. It may go out of style fast, though; so advise clients to do that only if they are selling soon.
5. Rethink dining spots
The dining “room” hasn’t exactly made a come-back. What today’s buyers want is for enclosed dining spaces to be opened up and for open dining areas to be more defined.
If that dining area is in the kitchen, however, that’s still a popular combination.
A dining area in the kitchen can also serve as the place to add pops of color, rich wood tones and special lighting fixtures to create a visual separation from the kitchen proper while keeping the space unified.
6. Embrace bolder textures
Chunky woven natural materials show up in chairs, throws, basketry, pillows and other up-to-the-minute accessories. Use textural contrast to update every room in the house — and outdoor spaces, too.
7. Use bold, bright colors as counterpoints
Gray walls remain popular, especially if they’re light and have blue or green undertones (think less stormy night and more daybreak sky). Bright, bold colors — especially if clients plan to sell — don’t belong on walls but look fresh and new on pillows, lamps and other accessories, painted case pieces and even sofas.
Lipstick red sofas may not be for everyone; but bold, colors (or prints) on large furniture pieces create a focal point in an otherwise featureless room.
8. Incorporate metallics and mix metals
Brushed nickel and stainless steel are starting to look a little less new. But metallics are major, especially when mixed. Matte black finishes blend nicely with chrome and brushed nickel.
A copper bowl can liven up last year’s rose-gold fixtures, and coppery threads can even star in snappy wall coverings or show up in window treatments. But urge sellers to tread carefully and ask for design help if they need it. With metals, the line between mix and mess is fine.
9. Welcome back, wallpaper!
We know. You’ve stripped a thousand rolls of wallpaper from walls of previous homes. But one accent wall or a powder room done in a botanical print or agate-inspired wallpaper looks fresh and inviting in 2018.
10. Repurpose vintage items creatively
Think about painting an old — but not antique — Queen Anne style chair school bus yellow, employing driftwood — or rough-sawn tree trunks — as side table bases or using old maps, wine boxes or even skate and surfboards as wall decor. Everything old is new again, or it can be.
So, advise your clients to get creative and freshen their spaces with stuff they may currently view as junk. Creativity rules!
Empower your clients to employ some of these design strategies to liven up a listing, and they’ll be so happy with the results, you’ll become invaluable to them and rake in referrals in the future.
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.