DIY: Home staging & property styling, complete with before and after pictures

A few weeks back I wrote about styling my little cottage for sale.  After the agent appraised it, I had an interior stylist come through to give me a quote with respect to styling and hiring stage furniture.  The quote was in excess of $2,000 for a very small 2 bedder for a hire period of 4 weeks and then $200 per week for each week thereafter.  Having just bought our new home, paying $2,000 plus for something I could not keep was out of the question, so my boyfriend and I opted to style the property ourselves.

While it's been on the market, I’ve gone back on multiple occasions to check the state of the fresh flowers and to empty the junk mail from the letter box – but only the other week did I finally remember to take my camera.

Of course a post like this is not complete without the before pictures. In this case the pictures are of the property when I first inspected it prior to purchasing (and also a few just after settlement).  Also let me set the scene for you...

It was the first weekend of opens for my little cottage, this was what seemed like the millionth property that I was inspecting and as per usual there were hoards of interested people inspecting it also.  My parents were too busy that weekend to have look and to give me their honest assessment and my boyfriend was interstate.  I had a good feeling about it and although it was clear that whoever resided there adored it in all its purple glory, it was a far cry from what I imagined it could be.  I left the inspection excited by what I had just seen but a little hesitant about making a big purchasing decision all by myself. 

The agent rang me on Monday morning to tell me that 3 offers had been submitted and unless I put one in by COB I would miss out on securing the property.  I put my offer in regardless of the fact that neither of my parents nor my boyfriend had seen it... Of course I secured it.  My boyfriend's comment when he saw for the first time was “it has potential” but on the inside he was thinking – what have you done!?

The BEFORE pictures

The main bedroom.

The dark purple feature wall, was in reality much darker...

The lounge room.

The vendor assured me that I would get used to the purple...

The kitchen.

Believe it or not, the kitchen cabinets were originally pink - the vendor had opted to paint them cream and burgundy.

Second bedroom
I found the wall colour in this room very unappealing.  Because the only natural light source was a skylight, the murky pink tinged grey just wasn't doing anything for the room!

Hallway & Bathroom
The hallway in it's original condition was dark and dingy due to the burgundy feature wall (again much darker in reality).  Also not only were the hallway light fittings ugly, but they were not centred!

I should point out that I put up with that horrible pink basin and pink tap ware the entire time I lived in my little place... In the end it was so cheap and easy to update the bathroom that I regret not doing it whilst I lived there!

During renovations

Main bedroom
Unfortunately the floorboards were mostly knackered when we ripped up the carpets, so all new floors had to be put in.

Selecting a white for the lounge room, ripping up the carpets and priming walls before painting.
We lived with concrete floors in the lounge room for 7 months before we had the time and money to install floating floors. I found the concrete to be more pleasant than the crusty old carpet.  Looking back at these photos makes me feel very relieved that the house we just bought has freshly polished floors and has been recently re-painted white.  Thank goodness!  It now means we can concentrate on the fun stuff!

How my little cottage looks now – staged for sale

After primer, paint and new floorboards, new light fittings for the hallway were one of my first purchases for my new home.  Hallway light fittings help set the scene as you enter a home and in my case they helped modernise my 1900s cottage.

Main bedroom
I styled each room using the wall art as the focal point and as the inspiration for the room's colour scheme.  In this room I picked up on the the teals and blues in the painting above the bed.  I bought cushions in that colour from IKEA ($4.95 each) and just happened to own the Glasshouse 'Coney Island' candle which comes packaged in a vibrant teal coloured jar (on the bedside table, which I freshly painted high gloss white).

My Country Road striped bedlinen has also gotten a work out.  I can't wait to actually sleep in it!

Second bedroom
The idea behind the second bedroom was to show off its size and hence versatility. 

Believe it or not, but apparently unless a potential purchaser sees a double bed in a bedroom (especially in a second/spare bedroom), they will assume it does not fit.  We do own a spare queen ensemble, but hiring a truck or removalist to move it into there did not fill us with joy, so we instead purchased cheap IKEA bed frames ($80 each) and placed blow up mattresses inside ($30 each).

With this particular room I also created a little study nook in the corner of the room.  My IKEA Billy (which I already owned) was meant to show where one could put robes.

Incidentally, when we lived in this house, this room was utilised as our lounge/TV room.

Lounge & Eat-in Kitchen
The stylist mentioned that because the property did not have a dedicated dining room, an eating area had to be created, otherwise potential purchasers would be asking "but where do I eat".  We did not own a little table setting, nor did we really need one for inside, but we were delighted when we found this cute 'ROXÖ' white powder-coated steel outdoor setting in IKEA ($129 for the set).  This little beauty will soon take pride of place under our lemon tree in the back yard of our new place...

IKEA 'ROXÖ' outdoor table and chairs

Fresh flowers breathe life into a vacant property... Had I had more time, the IKEA 'Lack' coffee table would have been painted high gloss white.

Updating the kitchen was one of my holiday projects when first moved into the property.  I sanded back the cabinets and then used a roller with a short nap, primer and Dulux Aqua Enamel in Vivid White to paint the cabinets. The new handles are from IKEA.  I had also planned to paint the tiles white with tile paint, but ran out of time.

I can't wait to have back my Le Creuset pot...

In the bathroom all wooden accessories were removed, walls white white, pink fixtures replaced with stainless steel and a shiny new white basin to replace the old pink one.  I also painted the cabinet high gloss white.  I had planned to paint the mirror frame white, but unfortunately ran out of time.  All up, updating the bathroom cost a few hundred dollars.

So there you have it! We spent a fraction of the money on bits and pieces than it would have cost to have the property professionally styled.  Although it took an entire weekend to set up, I'm very pleased with the results!

In case you are wondering, all paintings photographed are originals painted by my Mother.  Some have recently even been exhibited and are for sale (contact me for details).  We had a great old time flicking through her collection to select the appropriate art works!

mycatssaymeow culling & buying retrospect

I have been playing around with my blog labels, hence reading over some of my old posts.

First of all it's a wonder that some of you have kept on reading (thank you) given that I write that I'll blog about it, but then I don't (sorry, but such is life - too much going on).

Secondly, I have been chuckling about my failed attempts to come up with my 'ideal wardrobe'... I thought it would be interesting to do a retrospect post, so that you too can have a chuckle at my failures and also to eventually show (in the distant future sometime) that it won't happen overnight, but it will happen when trying to build the perfect wardrobe. I think too many of us get caught up in having to have it all right now, instead of thoughtfully building it slowly.  You will see shortly that I have certainly fallen into this trap in some respects.

So without further ado, I hereby present the mycatssaymeow retrospect.

Country Road Spend'n'Save Purchases

On a whole I find that the majority of my Country Road purchases are usually successful.  This is due to me carefully selecting items to take best advantage of my Spend'n'Save vouchers by trying on the entire store. I don't usually buy an item unless I am certain that I will get the wear the out of it.

The beige pants were identical to the black pair, but I had to cull them as I inadvertently bought the wrong size and only realised this after quite a while. I went to wear them and realised that something was not right...

The jeans, although I'm not happy with the fit entirely, have been well worn... Given this point I will not hesitate to invest more money into a pair to replace these - I'm thinking a pair of blue Nudie High Kais to join the black pair I bought earlier in the year.  Nudie High Kais are flattering and comfortable on me.

On top of what is pictured above, there were a number of other purchases from Country Road, including dresses, tops and a pair of boots. All have been regularly worn.

Cue Purchases

I find Cue to be a little hit and miss for me.  I get quite excited by their mega 70% off the original price sales, but often buy things that are not quite right. The two slit sleeve blazers I bought and since culled have instilled in my mind not to get sucked into weird cuts and shapes that appear to be 'cool' because more probably than not these pieces are totally impractical for me.

I think the bow belts will get more of a work out in Summer - being a big wearer of black and grey in Winter, they highlighted the fact that I'm not so skinny anymore. I look forward to wearing them with printed dresses.

On top of what is pictured above, I also bought a couple of dresses, a few skirts and tops. My choice in tops has proven to be a little bit questionable, so these may in fact end up on the cull pile to be sold to raise funds for a more thoughtful purchase.

Online Purchases

I love shopping online.  Surprisingly the majority of the time I get it right. The items I have labelled best buys really are.  The much hyped Isabel Marant 'Dicker' boots are honestly one of my favourite things in my wardrobe, as is the dark grey jacket from her spin off 'Etoile" label. I would buy both of these pieces 100 times over.

The jacket marked "to be culled" has become superfluous due to the love the IM Etoile one gets, the striped top is not quite right and my Mum managed to wangle the red jeans from me after I returned from the US with burgundy J Brand skinnies.  So really, all in all I haven't done too badly in the online shopping department. I guess you could say that my saving grace is that I am yet to buying anything from ASOS (I've heard it's hit and miss).

Witchery Purchases

I think the proof is in the pudding: I should stay generally stay away from Witchery, especially from their sales on sale items.  I loved both the floral dress and the over-the-knee 'Ella' boots to death, alas each only lasted one season before they literally fell apart. I still have the dress for around the house as I adore the print, but I think next time I would rather invest my money elsewhere.

Miscellaneous Buys 

I'm glad I bought the Joseph trench coat, but it has not received the love that it deserves, problem being that as soon as I started wearing the coat pictured below - I forgot about all my other coats. I think next Winter I will make more of an effort to wear it.

The top I like, but it drives me insane. Within 15 minutes of putting it on the sleeves are stretched (as I like to scrunch them up my forearms). I'm vowing to myself not to buy anymore 100% linen tops.
And the dresses... they are cute - but I'm not anymore *sigh*.

The Winners

Every item pictured above except the animal print shoes has earned its keep.  I really like both animal print shoes but I have not worn either enough to determine whether they truly belong.

More Animal Print and Stripes

Some of the above items have helped me understand that things are not always what they seem... 
  • Both striped items seemingly simple and classic but had features which annoyed me.
  • The animal print items were badly cut, I returned the blouse for this reason but kept the dress due to my lack of work appropriate dresses at the time. The dress ended up tearing the entire length of the back seam within the year!
  • The Country Road grey dress is a size large (!) and still quite fitted. I now often find myself with three different sizes of the same item in fitting rooms to get the right fit.
  • The ACNE Pistols seemed like the perfect ankle boots, yet I have found that on me they only look good worn with skirts and dresses... thankfully, I wear skirts and dresses a lot of the time, so they have been consistently worn throughout Winter.
In retrospect

This post has helped me see that it's worth spending a little extra to buy the things that one really wants (my handbags [not itemised in this post], all the ankle boots, the IM Etoile and IRO jackets fit into this category for me).  I realise now that if something seems a little unaffordable it's worth foregoing the cheaper bits and pieces (that will end up on the cull pile in any event) to eventually save for the pricier items.

Also, I have to say that I am shocked about the volume of new things that I have added to my wardrobe throughout the time since starting this blog!  What's scarier is that I have not blogged about all of my purchases... For example pictured above are only two items that I bought in the US - but upon my return to Australia they almost didn't let me on the plane (which tells me that there are many more recent purchases)!

I really think that I need to get a wish list together for the following year to keep better focused on this 'ideal wardrobe' plan of mine.

Moved but no settled...

So we've moved into our new place... but we're a long way away from being settled in just yet.

Due to needing to get my boyfriend's place ready to rent out, we have not had the time to unpack and set up much except the kitchen (the most important room in the house in my opinion).  There are boxes stacked in every corner of almost every room and I am living out of various clothing receptacles; suitcases, boxes, department store pillow bags, you name it. I don't even know where half my shoes have gotten to? In light of my comment in my last post about not putting away anything until I determine its need, I have left unpacking my clothing and shoes until such time as I have a solid few hours of spare time to sort it all. Maybe this weekend...

On the shopping front, I am proud to say that it's now been exactly 1 month since my last fashion related purchase.  Sure I want to buy pretty new things, but items for the new place seem more important right now (eg a new kitchen bin, new furniture, a dish rack, new crockery, things for our garden etc etc etc).  Also when window shopping, I think back to the suitcases, boxes and department store pillow bags full of clothes and think to myself that before I buy anything fashion related, the new item must earn it's place in my limited wardrobe space. 

My mind is also bursting full of things I want to do around our new place - some 100% necessary (build and install flyscreens in all windows*) and others 100% conceited (pretty up my boyfriend's old filing cabinet so that it doesn't make our study look ugly). There are honestly not enough hours in a day!

* Not only did we discover that all the windows in our new place had been painted shut (hahahahaha *sigh*) but there was not a single flyscreen to be seen anywhere! The things you fail to notice during open inspections...