Interview: Property Styling When Selling the Home with Chris Catarino

When you’re preparing to put your home on the market, you’ve probably thought about getting a designer in to show your home in its best possible light.

We asked Chris Catarino to share some of his secrets around interior design and property styling.

Photographed by Chris Catarino

Property styling using teak outdoor furniture

Decorating the indoor space with a transition to the outdoor area featuring teak outdoor furniture 

This is the first part of a two part series.  Part one will cover property styling and in part two, Chris will dive deeper into the principles of interior design.

What is the difference between property styling and interior design?

Chris: Property styling (also known as home staging) is actually quite different to interior design, even though it uses most of the same design principles. Property styling is a service that helps home owners, developers and real estate professionals best present a property for maximum buyer appeal to get the absolute best sales price.

The goal here is to appeal to the masses or target a buyer demographic and not the current home owner. Whereas interior design is all about the current home owner or occupier of the space and what will make them enjoy and use the space to its best potential.

The best analogy to distinguish the difference is when selling a home, a property stylist is aiming to take your home and turn it into a product for others, to enable them to imagine themselves there and for them to fall in love with it. Interior design takes a house and makes it feel like home to you by appealing to your tastes and personality.

Your property styling has produced some great results. Any memorable moments that have stood out for you?

Chris: We have been part of a lot of amazing projects over the years. One project that stands out was a small cottage that was listed for sale the week COVID lockdowns were starting. We were able to push the installation forward and complete the project quickly so that the agent could get buyers in before the looming lockdown. The house sold within one week for 50k above what was expected before COVID struck.

propertystyling

The skill of an interior designer can be a huge help when preparing a property for sale

Using "neutral colours" when selling your home tends to have the widest appeal. What do you say to that?

Chris: Neutral colours are critical when selling your home. Strong colours may make you enjoy your own space, but they can be polarising to buyers that may not have the same taste or style as you do. By using neutral colours on walls and adding in pops of colour through accessories, cushions and artwork, you allow the buyer to easily move through the space without having glaring distractions that detract from their ability to see all the space has to offer.

Why do you think people wait until they're ready to sell before they fix their place?

Chris: It's the age-old balance of life. We get so busy focused on the day to day, we find time slips by and we never get to making our homes the best they can be. We also are creatures of habit and we get used to the way things are, or always have been. The most common comments I hear from homeowners are “it has always been set up that way” and “I never thought to change that around the way you have.”

So, when it comes to selling, most have finally decided to let go of what they are used to for the exchange of getting the most out of their investment. They then realise that in order to do so they need to make those improvements they have always wanted to do in order to attract the greatest number of buyers at the best sales price.

Property styling with reclaimed teak dining table

Indoor space with the rustic look using a reclaimed teak dining table

Does anyone ever get their property styled and then decide not to sell after all?

Chris: It's more common than you think. Often my experience with sellers is they never reached a decisive time to bring in a stylist. Taking it back a few years to when they first acquired this property, they were flat out just moving in. They were making a big investment already and were focused on getting all their tasks prioritised with a new home.

That usually means taking years' worth of stuff they have already accumulated with them and just making it work in the new space for the time being. Then life takes over and the 'would be nice' improvements end up on a dream list instead of planned out and executed.

That’s the value of a fresh set of eyes, right?

Chris: Yes. When it comes time to sell, having a stylist come in with a fresh set of eyes to organise furniture, artwork, and colours to enhance the space. Or even to review and re-arrange how existing items could best be used—all of a sudden, the home takes on a new life of its own that the owners never imagined.

Of course, the homeowner falls in love with the property again and wishes they had done it sooner. We once styled a property where we used the majority of the owner's large furnishings and we simply brought in the bits and pieces such as rugs, artwork and small pieces of furniture. The home was set to market with a 4-week auction campaign.

The day before the auction, the homeowners called us and said they’d cancelled the auction and decided to stay. They told me, “we just love the house too much to leave now. Would you sell us everything you brought in so we can keep it how you've arranged it?”

We've also had the scenario where the buyers fall in love with the place so much that they want to buy the house as-is, with all the furniture we've brought in.

Interior Design with Teak Furniture

Merging the indoor and outdoor spaces and with the application of a bold ceiling feature, black leather lounge and a teak outdoor dining table

For more information on Chris Catarino and his company East Coast Collective you can visit him on Instagram.

In part two of this interview, Chris speaks about some of the key elements of interior design, to make a house look and feel like a home.

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