Even if you spend your life glued to TV makeover programmes, it can be hard to keep your house ‘viewing ready’ all the time – as you have to keep living in it! The trick is to have a major clear out before you do any viewings at all, and then go with some quick tidy-up tricks that can be achieved in a few minutes when you get that surprise phone call.
Here’s what to do…
Let’s get busy
As soon as you’ve decided to put your home on the market (and ideally before the marketing photos are taken), gather your family together for a strategy meeting. Walk round your home, and decide what will and won’t be coming with you when you move.
Re-home any unwanted or unwieldy pieces of furniture at this point – after all, the less you have to move the better! Be very ruthless – if you’re not completely sure about anything, put it in the pile to go. Bag up outgrown clothes, toys and unwanted books for charity.
Try not to have anything on view – if necessary, invest in some storage options. If you’re not yet sure what you need for the new home, there’s no need to spend a fortune. We like these felt magazine storage bags £29 – buy several and stack them up to conceal magazines or work papers.
Charity Sue Ryder do a great range of budget storage, including shelves, storage benches and bookcases, all ideal for temporary use. When you’ve finished with them, you can always donate them back to the charity if you don’t want to keep them! We like this white wooden ladder shelf unit, £39.99.
In terms of colour, aim for a neutral decor. You might love with those purple, tasselled patchwork cushions you brought back from India, but they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea! House viewers like to see how they can impress their own personality on a house, and if it’s already too full of your personality they may not be able to see past it.
Once you’ve done the major clearout, life gets much easier! A couple of these roomy rattan baskets strategically positioned around the house will enable you to do the ’30 second tidy up’ – just scoop everything out of sight and put the lid on.
Set of two Garden Trading Cadgwith laundry baskets, £85, available from Black by Design. Made from a half weave of kubu rattan, they’re strong and lightweight.
There’s often no time to clean the house, but do take a few minutes to wipe down kitchen counters and sinks and bathroom sinks. If you can, run the vacuum cleaner over the floors of the main downstairs living rooms. An air freshener in the hallway creates a good impression, as the house will smell clean and fresh when you come in.
Fresh flowers are a great idea and really help to bring a room to life, but you will need time to look after them including changing water, picking up petals and replacing them when they start to wilt. A vase full of smelly, browning blooms is much worse than no flowers at all! A few wild or garden flowers stuck in an improvised vase can look less staged than a formal bouquet and helps create a vision of a lifestyle.
Finally, plump up cushions on sofas and chairs and make sure than bed linen is straight and un-rumpled. Then, you can put the kettle on and hope you have time for a quick cuppa before your viewers arrive – good luck!