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Styling for winter: Does how you dress your home affect your sale when it’s cold?

By Ray White Drysdale Customer Service

Selling a home is all about the senses – what can the buyer see, touch, smell and hear as they walk through a property.

In summer, the warmth and light that a home receives from the sun, the smell of a freshly cut lawn or flowers from the garden can all help seal the deal.

But when winter hits, especially in the colder climes of Melbourne, there is a different approach needed to warm a buyer’s heart enough to make an offer.

And with Melbourne’s real estate market kicking back into gear after closing for the city’s circuit-breaker lockdown, plenty of owners will be keen to show their homes to full effect.

The Real Estate Stylist co-founder Sara Chamberlain, who styles homes for sale across Melbourne, said winter styling was about adding layers, light and warmth.

“In our beloved Melbourne climate we do need to consider a few things,” Ms Chamberlain said. “Potentially you’d be looking to have the same furniture but be looking to add different layers.”

Chunky throw rugs on couches brought warmth into any room, as did adding thicker-piled floor rugs and hallway runners, Ms Chamberlain said.

Bringing light into darker rooms was also important, especially in bedrooms where lamps and floor lamps could help lighten and bring warmth to a room.

A trick to make a bed look even more inviting and warm was to place two doonas inside one doona cover to make it look even fluffier than normal.

While plants were often used in styling during the warmer months, in winter the greenery being used indoors changed to something that is more hardy and can take the extremes of hot and cold temperatures.

“They’re almost redundant at this time of year,” Ms Chamberlain said.

She often advised clients to keep outdoor or pool lighting on during open for inspections, especially when the weather was gloomy or dark, to give the outdoors a bit of sparkle.

Perhaps most important was having the heating on for a few hours before a prospective buyer inspected a property, Ms Chamberlain said.  This would ensure the home was warm and welcoming.

Home buyers and sellers may think of winter (and of Melbourne) in terms of darker colours, but stylists prefer to use brighter hues in their furnishings and decor.

Creations Property Styling’s Lin Kwan said they took the opposite approach in winter to other times of the year, ensuring there was colour throughout the home.

“In the winter we try to make it a little bit more cheerful and colourful. In summer we typically try to keep the colour tones down,” Ms Kwan said.

Adding colour can also add warmth, experts say. Photo: Stephen McKenzie

Brightly coloured throw-rugs and cushions could be used throughout the home, in relevant spaces.

Artworks, sculptural pieces and photos could also be used to bring colour into a home listed for sale.

Ms Chamberlain said many natural wood colours were in style this season, with warm browns and plum colours very popular during the colder months.

When it comes to actually selling a home during winter, real estate agents say people should not be put off by the colder weather.

Kay & Burton South Yarra associate Michael Armstrong said the colder months were the best time to sell properties that were south-facing [away from the sun].

“Buying real estate is always a sensory experience,” Mr Armstrong added. “So for homes that are vacant, we’ll go around in the morning and flick the heating on, or, the owner will.”

Not only will potential buyers be warm, but they will be able to feel how well the heating works, he said – a win-win.

While lighting is important, Mr Armstrong said he avoided switching too many lights on as buyers often wanted to see a home in its natural state.

There are always the traditional tricks of warmth, smells and sounds and if you can control these then you’re maximising your opportunities. That included lighting a fire at home.

“If you have a fireplace and you have a fire going in the winter it changes the whole dynamic of the house – even the smell of the fire is such a cosy thing to enjoy,” he said.

Though it may seem old fashioned, baking cookies in winter could also be a winner, to have the smell of freshly baked goods through the home when a buyer was looking through.

“It’s a really homely thing to experience in winter … and it’s really easy to do,” Mr Armstrong said.

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