Undecorating Trend Undoing Home Sales?


Undecorating: It's the design trend of the moment. There's even a new book to prove it.

"Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design" lauds the quirky, the personality-driven, the DIY approach to home design. Like the one practiced by the Chicago couple at left, who parked an Airstream trailer smack in the middle of their loft.

While giving your imagination free rein might be good for your ego (and, arguably, your pocketbook), what does it do to your ability to sell your house? If the central tenet of the undecorating movement is, in the words of the New York Times, "that personal expression matters more than professional polish," you have to ask yourself whether some of those undecorated homes aren't languishing on the market.

How do you undecorate and still sell your home? Start by "unarting" the place, says Dallas-based home stager Karen Eubank.

"It's not so much that personal expression will hamper the sale," says Eubank. "Stagers want your house to have some style and personality." The trick is to make sure your repurposed tables and flea-market treasures appeal to the taste of your potential buyer.

So that burlap coffee sack you've appropriated for a slipcover may fly with house hunters in Deep Ellum, Dallas' version of SoHo, but not in Highland Park, its equivalent of the Upper East Side. Ditto for photos and other highly individualistic works of art.

"I had to convince a Houston home owner to take down some Hurricane Katrina art," Eubank says. "Yes, it was beautiful and moving, but so depressing potential buyers would have wanted to slit their wrists."

A good professional stager will know the neighborhood and the lifestyle of potential buyers, Eubank says, and be able to draw a distinction between decor that is charmingly quirky and choices that could kill a sale.

Here are some more of Eubank's tips for selling an "undecorated" house:

  • Remove all clutter. Keep projects hidden in pretty boxes or baskets.

  • Organize every inch of space, including the home office and workshop.

  • Ditch the wild paint colors.

  • Put three-quarters of the items in your closets into storage to create the illusion of more closet space.

  • Clear the fridge and walls of any child's artwork or photos.

  • Consider your art collection. Is it overpowering? Could it be offensive? Does it dictate the mood of the home?

  • Take up the rugs. Bare floors make rooms look larger.

Undoing your undecorating isn't necessarily the answer to nailing a home sale, says Eubank. "It's not about painting everything beige," she says. "It's about making the home appeal to the target demographic."

For more information on staging your house for a home sale, see these AOL Real Estate Guides:
Candy is an award-winning, Dallas-based real estate reporter, blogger, and consultant. She's the gal who brought House Porn to the Bible Belt! Read more at SecondShelters.com. and send story ideas and tips to CandyEvans@secondshelters.com.


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