Though the expectation might be that winter is a bad time to sell, it’s actually not the case. The weather can work against you though, so before you list your property, be sure to pay some attention to your outdoor areas. These 5 outdoor styling ideas will be sure to make them look the best they possibly can on even the bleakest of days.
1. The green, green grass of home
If you know well before winter that you will be selling up, try to prepare your garden in the warmer months. Keep lawns well-watered through summer and start to aerate them in late autumn. Grass is often hardest hit through winter, so give your lawn some food in August and try to keep it looking as fresh as possible. Autumn is a great time for preparation as there will be plenty of leaf litter to clear, some of which may be useful as mulch. Invest in some good quality mulching materials and make sure all your garden beds are well mulched and plants cut back wherever necessary. You can also add colour by planting a few bright seasonal flowers – a trip to your local nursery will give you some ideas but a colourful pot with some French Lavender or Calendula in it can brighten a dark corner immediately.
2. Paint the town red
Well not the town exactly, but at least some part of your house’s exterior. A smart approach to property styling is to create a vibrant feature wall in the garden. Contrast is key so imagine a terracotta wall with lush green spiky plants – some cacti even have bright pink flowers. Some strategically placed cacti or succulents can bring a warm Mediterranean feel to your home’s exteriors and can transform a drab and empty space. If the entire outside of your home is looking tired and listless, you might consider repainting but choosing a brighter and warmer colour than the original. Even just rendering a front or back wall and adding some climbing plants or espaliered lemons or oranges can transform an entire outdoor space. If walls are too big a project or in good condition then why not freshen up the mailbox, the fences, the window frames with a deep and contrasting colour?
3. All decked out
Decks can really start to look tired at the end of summer and downright shabby by winter time, so if your house has a deck, a porch or any kind of outdoor timber surface – give it some love. Clear the entire deck of everything that is normally stored on it and give the whole surface a good deep scrub or high pressure clean. Identify and deal with any repairs that might be needed such as replacing boards or trimming back protruding nails, then repaint it in a darker stain. Depending on its location, you can also style the deck with some furniture, terracotta pots and some greenery – rosemary, lemongrass, cacti and succulents are all trustworthy winter plants that are easy to grow and provide lush contrasting colour. Don’t underestimate the value of your deck as an additional living space and style it accordingly. If it is well sheltered, you can add an outdoor heater and some comfy chairs. Don’t neglect paving and pathways in general either, hiring a high pressure hose get is useful to get in and give everything a good deep clean.
4. Come on baby light my fire
Nothing says warmth like fire and there are plenty of options to bring actual warmth rather than perceived designer warmth to your outdoor spaces. There are inexpensive, easy to install options like fire bowls and pits on stands and table top heaters, to solutions that will warm a crowd, like free standing patio heaters, woodfired heaters and chimeneas. You could even create a small outdoor fireplace in a suitable space in the garden – place some recycled timber sleepers for seating and dig out a fireplace in the soil. Mark out its perimeter with a ring of smooth stones and add an elegantly stacked woodpile and suddenly buyers are dreaming of toasted marshmallows and mulled wine on a cold night under a starry moonlit sky. If you’re ambitious enough, a small pizza oven may even be worth the investment – for warmth and as the centrepiece of an outdoor cooking space. Finally there’s the dilemma of trying to sell a house with a pool in the dark grey days on winter. Houses with pools don’t appeal to all buyers, but converting the pool to solar heating and adding a few strategically placed fire pits at its corners creates a wonderful atmosphere that can totally flip buyer’s perspectives.
5. Style over substance
Once everything is clean and painted and you have created inviting new options for outdoor living spaces, you can start to decorate to bring that extra personal touch to the garden. You can easily do this yourself – check out pinterest for some great styling ideas – or engage the services of a home stager who will take care of everything for you. Invest in (or rent) some good quality comfortable outdoor furniture - such as a couple of cosy wicker armchairs - then add some colourful cushions and blankets and a strategically placed book to make unused areas more inviting. Hurricane lamps with big chunky candles can be dotted throughout the garden or string some solar party lights through the trees. They may not be noticeable on inspection days but if it’s a miserable day they are a fun bonus for the agent to light and show off to prospective buyers. Most properties have an ideal spot, so make sure you know yours and maximise the sunniest spots in your garden, by adding a chair or lounger and maybe a quirky potted arrangement such as some succulents in a colourful teapot.
Of course not all of these improvements will increase the value of your property, but some of them will certainly gain you a little extra on the sale price - especially if you are transforming spaces that were previously unused into new and aspirational outdoor living areas. Arrange an appraisal before you start cleaning up and see what your agent says about things that might need some attention. It’s important to make sure your home looks it’s best, but it’s also good to make strategic decisions about what to work on and at how much expense, so you maximise the possible return on the improvements you make.