Friday, February 12, 2010

Help a reader with a decorate a condo-to-sell question! Pretty-please!

I have a tough question for you guys!
"I'm decorating our friends condo that he just purchased...for resale purpose. My decorating style is modern but has to be comfortable, uncluttered especially for resale. He has to tear out the old drywall because Florida had a problem with Chinese drywall. He wants to add architectural detail to the living room before hanging the drywall. What can be done to a typical condo living room to add interest but without closing it off? How can he make his condo look different than the other condos in the complex so that when a buyer walks in it screams, buy me."

This one is tough as I have very little (okay - no experience), with this sort of thing. Below are some ideas I have dug up that I think might work.

A. This would be for after the drywall is rehung, but "Another way to play up (or fake) architectural detailing in a room is with light. It's a good idea to incorporate a mix of light sources, so if possible, try to bring in overhead lighting as well as floor and table lamps. If you've got a focal wall, washing that wall with downlight can add a lot of drama to the room, as can picture lights or lighting installed inside cabinetry. If you can switch out flush-mounted ceiling lights for a pendant or chandelier, do. Adding sconces might require some electrical work, but if you're able to add the proper wiring, it can be worth the trouble. " - via ehow (click to read the whole article)

B. "Don't forget to look up. It's common to leave ceilings white and paint or paper the walls, and there's nothing wrong with that. But why not think beyond the walls and brighten up your ceiling with paint or wallpaper? Use the same color as the walls for a seamless look, or try something different; I like a glossy ceiling or a contrasting color or pattern. Depending on the style of your home, metal ceiling tiles can be a great, classic, yet modern look. They come in a range of styles, from simple to more ornate designs." -via ehow (click to read the whole article) With this tip, remember to pick a "buyer friendly" paint color.

C. Since you're style is modern - you may want to avoid moldings, wainscoting, and/or bead boards. One thing that really works for me is shelving - you can get very affordable modern shelving from places like Ikea, West Elm, and Crate & Barrel. Artfully adorn them with beautiful objects - nothing too large and distracting.

This image also shows another treatment - adorning one wall with wallpaper. Just make sure it's a wallpaper design that is not too extreme in anyway - modern - but clean, as you want all potential buyers to like it.
via House to Home

This is a great overall example of modern, but still livable decorating. Also keep in mind window treatments! I don't know what your living room has in the way of windows - but treatments (hard/and or soft) can make a huge impact.
via Domino Book of Decorating

I love the modern but cozy look of this room - the lighting and spine bookcase are very memorable.

via BHG

The two above images show how shelving and built-in nooks with lighting and make a big impact.
via From plus Function

I really hope this helps - please don't hesitate to click on the "comments" link below and leave your ideas. PS: If you get your updates via email click here - and scroll down to the very bottom past all the other comments, and you'll see a link to "Post A Comment"


Have a great weekend!


Erica said...

Great suggestions. Don't be so quick to dismiss mouldings as a purely traditional component. Consider raised moulding set in a rectangular, grid-like pattern for textural interest. This always lends a customized look and can be painted the same colour as the walls for a clean and striking first impression.

Consider beefing up the existing baseboards. If this proves too costly, simply run a small band of 1” moulding several inches higher than the existing baseboard and paint the new piece, the existing baseboard and the wall in between them the same colour. This will give a luscious, expensive look at a fraction of the price.

If you’re already having to re-drywall, consider installing sconces on your largest or most uninteresting wall. This will also give potential buyers the impression of a customized space. Be sure to consider potential furniture arrangements so that the lights will ultimately frame either a sofa, a special piece of art or another stand-out feature; having them hang in the middle of the wall without any context will look odd!

I would caution you against wallpaper. Even if the paper you choose might be beautiful, remember that beauty is subjective... you’re not selling your style, you’re selling your buyers’ style: they’ll want to be able to see themselves and their own style in the space. Wallpaper is also incredibly time-consuming to remove and I’ve seen buyers walk away if they feel too much work is involved to make a space feel like ‘home’.

Finally, if you’re still in the drywall stage, consider adding a pattern to either the ceiling itself or introduce texture with cove mouldings. Depending on your final room colour, this will help distinguish the unit from others in the building. Check out this link for images:

Good luck!

pillowthrowdecor said...

Getting a home ready for resale is about "best bang for the buck". In my RE market(Vancouver Canada), buyers always impressed with extra millwork / moldings and drapery! It gives the whole place a higher quality look.

For a modern look, use moldings with a simpler profile, but substantial "LOOK". Trim windows, doorways, closets and of course baseboards. Crown moldings add sophistication too.

For the windows, best mileage may be simple wood blinds inside the window frame. Simple stationary drapery panels on the sides of the windows gives great visual impact. "Ready made" drapes can have a colour block (horizontal colour stripe)added to give these drapes extra length and a more substantial, custom look.

Apartments must look big and bright. Lots of ways to do that without heroic measures of moving walls unless floor plan is painfully chopped up. Don't do anything extreme with paint colors or funky fixtures. Buyers will subtract from the price to change it.

There you go... just my two cents worth... from a 26 yr. retired Realtor now drapery /home fashion designer.


Marti said...

RE: the drywall installation for your friends place. Love the idea of color on the ceiling, I prefer carrying the wall color up on to the ceiling. Love the light idea; possibly 3 wall washers in the dining room. Not crazy about tin ceilings, I would prefer a flat (smooth) pattern on the ceilings instead, that could be painted over later on down the road. Possibly a modello. Love the idea of creating architectural interest with art niches or extra storage with the drywall. Wine bottle storage would be awesome. Possibly even creating an arched area (tudor style or square if you prefer) around the entertainment center or over the master bed. I think architectural interest with drywall is the most memorable and it's less expensive than wood!

Ashley said...

WOW! Great input so far! Keep it coming guys!

Jeannine @ Small and Chic said...

Condo buyers are a different market, IMO.

The lighting comment is right. A modern condo should already be wired well, but many developers are cheap and don't install enough lighting. Case in point, my condo has no overhead lighting in the bedroom or living room. All lighting has to come from lamps. I've fine with that, but it'd be nice to have the option of something overhead.

As for mill work, I would just go for simple, clean crown molding. Size it according to the height of the room.

The owner of this place should go see units in other condo complexes. Generally they will have the same finishes, but there will be some that will give him ideas.

I looked at the condos in the same price range as mine and slowly upgraded items in my place so my one-owner unit would be head and shoulders above a never-occupied, but upgraded unit. Honestly, the walls are where you win that contest. You win it in the bathroom and kitchen.

Good luck!

Jeannine @ Small and Chic said...

OOPS! I meant that the walls aren't where you win over a never-occupied, upgraded unit. You beat the competition in the kitchen and bathroom.

Lynn Warren said...

Some easy ways to make a small space look larger and more intereting:
1. strategically place textured items to draw the eye where you want it
2. Place reflective items higher in the room to draw the eye up
3. paint the walls one color and then paint almost invisible thin lines or arrows in a paint color just a little off the wall color and the subconscious will see the room as larger
4. Consider multiple seating arrangements in small spaces
5. Use a lot of white furniture; add interest by using dis-similar, comfortable chairs
6. Place color strategically
7. Don't put up taste-specific wall paper
8. You can buy wallpaper with flakes of mirror in the pattern
9. Leave space in the closets so they appear to hold more
10. Pare down the accessories on the surace
11. Mix periods in a couple of pieces to attack diverse buyers
12. AIR OUT THE HOME for hidden smells
13. Add real flowers or a real plant
14. If you don't want to add molding to an entire space, you can building a molding vignette for the corners of a room, in a hallway, etc.
15. Replace personal photos with neutral but happy accessories or just clear the space. One or two happy photos on a table top would be okay.

manumitre said...

You must meet the Novogratz!

Diane said...

I think molding is always a good idea, even in a modern space. The trick is to avoid beadboard, as you said, as well as "fancy" molding like dentil or heavily carved. A clean ceiling molding, medallion around the light fixture or even a chair rail will warm up the space. You could choose to paint a chair rail in a black, for example, to highlight it in a modern space. Depends on the overall design of the space. I would avoid wallpaper and fancy faux treatments all together since many people see this as work down the road removing them rather than as pleasant. An accent wall in a neutral such as gray, sage green etc would appeal to most modern enthusiasts. An unusual paint job such as horizontal stripes done inthe same color meaning one stripe in a flat wall paint, the next stripe in the same color paint but a gloss creates an interesting modern look and can even make the space look larger. Built ins are always a good sell idea and especially if they can be placed between the studs in the wall to save space. New cabinertry hardware, new interior doors, wall sconces and intersting light fixtures etc all stand out as upscale details.

Would love to see what they ultimately do.

Ashley said...

@manumitre - Thanks! I featured the Novogratz's awhile back -

Interior Paint Color Guide said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sallie Ann said...

So much good information here. I second the use of art "cubbies," but am especially fond of some shallow built-ins, if budget allows. This is a huge selling point and really gives a unique look. I would be careful with wall paper for the afore mentioned reason, and instead might consider an interesting molding or texture.

I actually added a brick wall recently to a kitchen. The trick is, you should only really do this on an outside wall, unless you're in a loft-style building. Pavers are not too expensive, and give a totally different architectural vibe.

libraloves said...

I agree with the comments about lighting. I recently purchased a condo, and lighting has been our biggest challenge. I would rather see money spent in functional lighting rather than architectural details.

Whatever changes are made, however, I would say that the most important is quality of the work. Make sure the workmanship is immaculate.

One more suggestion is to go undercover, and attend open houses at similar condos. is a good place to start checking open house schedules. This way you can get an idea of what other people are doing, and see how prospective buyers are responding to the spaces.

Judy said...

Two words: John Saladino!

AppleTree said...

I agree with Erica, moldings come in many different styles and clean modern lines can be found. We trimmed our windows with straight cut 2x4s and then framed that with a inch square piece of molding all was painted in glossy white and it was very clean and modern.

Also adding an arch of some shape would add character and interest.

Wallpaper is very in right now, but maybe not in the condo buyers market. If you were selling to design bloggers then yes, wallpaper, but for the general public? Best not to.

Meredith said...

You might want to add some simple corbels, assuming there's a rational place for them.

A Melbourne Girl said...

When re-installing the new wall, why not build it with a small return so bookshelves can be built-in...or it can be used to house the entertainment area like TV stereo etc. Seeing it's an interior wall and isn't load bearing, he could make it slightly more shallow so it doesn't take up a lot of space...just make sure he insulates with sound proofing batts so the noise doesn't travel through to the adjoining room.
Lighting, mouldings etc are a given...but an interesting wall that ofers storage and simple but elegant kitchen and bathroom would be the winners for me.

Bailey @ peppermintbliss said...

Modern design is great, but if you totally avoid traditional details like arches, moldings, wainscoting, chair is just going to look like any other condo...I would suggest incorporating some traditional architectural elements and then decorating in a more streamlined modern aesthetic.
I don't like fussy places either, but when we were looking at rentals it was the details that drew me in, that made the place feel special.

Diana Jane Cervantes said...

I'm planning to redecorate my Cubao condo and these tips are really a big help. Thanks for sharing these, maybe I would do the dramatic style of lighting.


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