House Rules 2019: Lessons on how to transform your home

By Suzanne Commerford

One of the leading lessons in this year's House Rules season was that finding a sense of consistency within and between rooms is a winning formula. With contestants working on multiple rooms in proximity there was significant scope for clashes to occur in both their day to day work and design decisions. 

This is a lesson that we can take into our own homes whether we are styling to sell or styling to stay. 

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Consistency is key!

As a property stylist, when I enter a home to assess it for how we can best style it for sale, I am often confronted with the homeowner's progressive purchasing.  

That means they have a bit of furniture that maybe both parties bought into the home - likely a bit of ninety's large chunky timber furniture and a black leather sofa are the common culprits here. Then there is the functional and obligatory bit of Kmart or IKEA for high wear and tear items - who is investing in velvet sofas when you have kids and dogs, right?

And finally, there may be one or two rooms or some pieces in each room that are heroes. These are the furniture or pieces of art that will stay or travel with the family to their new space, or become the hero pieces in their efforts to style their home for sale.  

Not much in the way of consistency! The effect can be at best lacklustre and at worst jarring for either the occupants or worst still, potential property buyers. 

Read: 5 tips to sell your home faster and for more money

Creating cohesion between rooms

In this season of House Rules, homes that were consistent from room to room did the best in scoring. A great example of this was the guest bedroom for Lisa and Andy in South Australia. There was a use of common materials from the timber flooring to the timber feature wall. This blond timber was repeated in other subtle highlights around the room including the mirrors, art framing and bed base.

"In this season of House Rules, homes that were consistent from room to room did the best in scoring."

The light timber tone was paired with crisp white plantation shutters, lighting and side tables, and was carried through into the colour palette of the bedding. 

Importantly, you can also see that there is consistency with the adjoining rooms: the entry, dining and even the kitchen which featured a similar timber wall panelling effect on the walls, shelving and kitchen cabinetry. There is also a repeating use of crisp white accents.

The choice of tiling throughout this home was also a great way to create consistency. Whilst the colours, tile patterns and sizes varied, there was a common matte pastel colour effect, often in a herringbone pattern that ranged from pinks in the kitchen to blue/grey in the bathroom, and a sage green in the laundry that all helped to make the space cohesive.

Let's face it, our homes whether we are styling to stay or to attract a buyer should be a gentle, cradling retreat from the hustle and bustle of life.

But that doesn't mean they have to be boring!  

On the contrary, it's those hero pieces which could be an inherited and much-loved family heirloom, a feature artwork, a dramatic light pendant, and a love for velvet that creates interest, emotional engagement and a lasting impact among buyers.

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Styling hero pieces: Do's, don'ts and tips

In Andy and Lisa's master bedroom, the round pendant light feature was a hero for me, as was the use of natural light in the kitchen and a pop of pink tile splashback, that just evoked a beautifully retro moment when combined with the rounded curves of the fridge.

As a property stylist, I generally wouldn't encourage a client to add a pink kitchen splashback, as the 'fixed' nature of it could be jarring to a buyer who isn't a fan of pink. However, if pink is your hero and moment of interest, why not incorporate it through the use of cushions, throws, vases and other decorative touches? Pops of colour can be easily achieved with accessories and artwork which are interchangeable for future buyers. 

"Pops of colour can be easily achieved with accessories and artwork which are interchangeable for future buyers."

In this year's House Rules, there was often too many hero pieces within and between rooms which, given it's a competition, is to be expected as contestants seek to outdo each other in both their build and styling efforts. It's also a lesson we can take into our own homes as we can so clearly see what the contestants do right and wrong. 

Too many heroes can result in competing and clashing finishes, lots of different focal points in each room, and an overall lack of white space or the sense of relief that can be created by leaving some areas of the home open and bare. It's breathing space that allows you to move from one space to another without feeling constantly cluttered and bombarded with colour, texture and movement.

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So, find your hero piece - something meaningful or something you love (and you get bonus points if it's functional too) - and build your room around that. A property stylist can assist you to make these changes when you are preparing your home for sale or even when you're trying to achieve a home makeover that will make you want to stay (and never ever leave!)

When I go into either an occupied home or an empty property, I seek to create singular focal points and often take my lead from one hero item of furniture or statement artwork. The rest of the property styling selections will then often flow more easily once this focal point has been identified and established. From here, I will then use colour, texture, repeating patterns or items of furniture that coordinate and complement to create a consistent flow.

"A good tip is to find your hero piece and build your room around that"

These lessons from this season's House Rules can help you make decisions that will not just reap a reward when you come to sell your home, but will also help transform your house into a home worthy of a room reveal show of its own.

Content supplied by Suzanne Commerford, Director of Property Styling Melbourne.


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