london homes

Grey and yellow are in this year…unless you’re my builder…or my client. But not if you’re a House & Garden reader!

It’s been a while since my last post, but for good reason, as I am currently in the middle of an interesting house doctoring project. So interesting (that I never go to sleep), that I thought it merited a post of its own.

This particular project is situated by the Tower of London (which could do with a bit of doctoring too after all these years – no, just kidding!). We’re looking at a two bedroom flat, with a very compact bijou kitchen/lounge/diner. All a bit on the dark side, with not great lighting. Whilst magnolia is good, too much is definitely not a good thing. This apartment really needs bringing up to date, and colour being injected gently. My clients have lived in this flat for many years, which has now become quite dated.


So currently, this flat is not on the market, and I have been called in to turn this around in six weeks. No pressure!

Three weeks in, and I have demolished their two bathrooms (don’t worry, it wasn’t by accident, it was by agreement), boarded up the old fashioned tiles in the kitchen, taken off door handles and light fittings, and ripped up all the carpets. Not bad, for three weeks of work! The only problem being, that sometimes design vision doesn’t always mesh with the client’s expectation.

Now the clients are lovely, but that doesn’t mean things always go to plan. In this case, we agreed upon colours schemes throughout the apartment, including a lovely retro yellow (very in right now) wall for the kitchen/dining area – just one wall. The clients okayed the samples, but weren’t so keen on the yellow wall once painted.

But that’s okay!

Despite my own vision of how to weave that yellow wall into the overall scheme, the mellow yellow had the opposite effect on my client (and the builder, who hates yellow with a passion!). As I could see my clients becoming distressed, I reassured them that at the end of the day, they are paying for this service, and I want them to be more than happy with the results. A wall can be repainted – business relations are harder to recover.

I am, of course now slightly revising my colour scheme (though I will be sneaking in some yellow via accessories and cushions). Hopefully, we will all be happy, and this flat will finally find a new owner. Who may even paint one of the walls yellow!


Alternatively, I could end up banished to the nearby Tower of London.

For more images of the completed project check out the gallery.


Property Styling, House Doctoring – the new way to sell your home

What?  What’s wrong with the old way of selling your home, Michele? This is one question I’m asked a lot, along with, what exactly is property styling? It’s a question I usually answer by turning up three months after a house has languished on the market and remained unsold.

Calling the doctor to take the temperature of your home

Why use an Interior Property Stylist, a.k.a. a House Doctor, prior to selling your home? Well, here’s why it’s a good investment 

It makes good financial sense

Selling your property for the best price can be achieved if it is “dressed to look its best”; it is not the time to save pennies on presentation if one wants to sell it faster.

Utilising a Property Stylist can make this happen.  They can offer guidance via “Home Style Reports”, assist you to declutter, style/dress your property or devise new schemes and project co-ordinate such works on your behalf, saving you time.

This is where I believe the term “speculate to accumulate” really does apply.

Purchaser expectations have become more sophisticated

A few years ago no-one in England hired a professional stager; it was just an American idea.  Trends in the UK clearly now show that owners employ Home Stylists prior to selling, no matter the property price.  Plus the advent of TV programmes such as Amanda Lamb and Phil Spencer are endorsing and raising awareness of this trend.  So to avoid finding your property languishing why not re-evaluate with a “Home Style Report”, prior to placing your home on the market?

The Internet enables sellers to sell independently

Another new trend is to sell online and save estate agency fees.  BUT you need fantastic photography to drive those important viewings.  A Property Stylist can arrange for a professional photographer to take photos for you and assist to style it on the day, ensuring the photographs are tip top to get those important viewings.

Home styled properties sell faster and for more money

Only 10% of purchasers can visualise a home differently from the way they see it when viewing.  By styling the property, you entice the purchaser with a prospective lifestyle.  If your stylist is an Interior Designer, then they can help with Spatial Planning too, which is invaluable.

Return on investment

Styling, fixes the negatives and shows off of your property’s best assets, so that you can see a return on your investment of between 5% or 15%. The question to ask is, why wouldn’t you try to gain that profit?

Stylists are objective and provide solutions to help you move forward

Owners often due to sentimentality or habit, find it difficult to notice flaws or see their property through the eyes of a prospective purchaser.  A Stylist can be objective about a property’s flaws, and spot hidden assets.


Styling highlights the good features and minimises flaws

Those initial impressions are vital! Viewers will form a view about the property almost instantly.  So your property needs to appeal from the moment they view it, from the kerb.  Styling helps draw attention from any weaknesses.  If your stylist is an interior designer then they can also consider Spatial Planning, to make sure any unusual spaces are utilised and shown off to add value.

Unless you were a dressmaker, you wouldn’t make your own wedding dress, you would hire an expert to ensure it looks fantastic on this special occasion.  So why treat your home differently?  An expert Property Stylist can stage your property, to guarantee it stands out for the right reasons.

Stylists can assist with Spring Cleaning & De-cluttering

This is something that should be done from the outset.  Many people don’t realise how de-cluttering has a huge impact and once done can enable you to re-assess the space you own.  A cluttered home stops buyers from seeing a home’s full potential. Clutter also makes life more stressful for those living in it and if excessive hoarding happens, this can lead to illness.

Not many people live minimally like John Pawson, most of us collect things, but this is the time to clear out as many of your personal items as possible, to show how large the areas are, how they can be utilised, but beware – avoid the areas becoming bland.

So you’ve decided to hire a stylist – what’s it going to cost?

Costs will vary. Every project is unique and there are many variables. You may have an unfurnished property and it needs to be dressed throughout, or have a pied a terre apartment not renovated for years, requiring numerous DIY works such as painting, decorating, new carpets, kitchen tweaking and finally staging.  You have a Victorian home and don’t know where to start, but maybe you also have a builder in the family, and all you need is a styling report.  All properties have different needs, and this is where the negotiation starts and where you can find out about services such as:

An initial “Home Style Report” for a fixed Fee – This is a great way to get an objective view.  The Report outlines the strengths and weaknesses of your property and gives solutions, enabling you to progress and implement the works yourself OR utilise their expertise to project co-ordinate works for you.

Project Co-ordinating DIY Works are charged on a Day/Hourly rate – If you haven’t the time to do the work yourself, then a good Stylist can project co-ordinate tradesmen and works on your behalf to save you the time and hasstle.

Styling charged at a day rate, with fixed hiring costs – Finally, there is the actual staging element.  A Stylist could work with some of your own items or purchase new items for you to utilise now, but also enjoy taking to your new home.  Perhaps you have an empty property then hiring may be required.  Hiring is never usually for less than 3 months and can be rolled on if necessary.

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Photography at fixed rates – Once styled, it’s ready to be photographed to entice those viewers.

So to answer the question at the beginning of the post, there’s nothing wrong with an un-styled property, but if there are problems, it’s unlikely they will be addressed as quickly without a stylist. A stylist will also help you to not just sell, but likely to make you a profit.

*Haynes Interiors can provide a “Home Style Report” and handle all Project Co-ordination, Spatial Planning, Hiring or Purchasing of additional items plus Photography.