I take frequent walks and the houses I pass always grab my attention. As part of my Tranquiliving business, I give staging consultations to folks selling their homes. I’m hyper-vigilant about every single exterior detail of a house—the curb appeal. After all, the exterior is the introduction to the entire home. Many a buyer will turn away before getting near the entry if they’re unhappy with what they see!
First prize for the Most Unwelcoming House (my conscience prevents me from calling it a home!) goes to one I saw last week. Of modest size, and plopped down in a pleasant little community, this place had no less than four large NO TRESPASSING signs. One of the signs was posted on the front door! Right where some people might hang a wreath or place a brass door knocker. I gulped when I walked past. I had to turn and walk by a second time just to let it sink in. I couldn’t help but imagine the story that had transpired beyond the front door. Had they incurred a devastating tragedy? Or was there one too many a proselytizer or Girl Scout? As a resident in that house, I wonder what kind of mood you’d fall into as you returned to your own home?
That house took the cake as my parents would have said. Next in line after the no trespassing house would be the house that is completely hidden behind shrubs and trees. You’re not sure there’s a house there, so obviously you don’t feel welcome.
Plenty of other dwellings I’ve seen could qualify for second or third place.
Twenty-one items that might make a home feel unwelcoming:
trash littering the yard or bulging garbage bags
broken down bicycles or cars
excessive toys covering the porch or yard
an ambiguous entrance—not knowing which door to use
a walkway that’s difficult to maneuver because of overgrowth or clutter
dead plants, grass or shrubs, especially near the entrance
dirty front door or peeling paint on door or trim
decorative metal that is discolored or damaged (I’ve used metallic spray paint rather than replacing certain items.)
cobwebs or hornets’ nests overhead in porch or entry area
burned out bulbs at night
dirty or broken light fixture
ragged door mat
inordinate number of yard ornaments
scattered tools or plumbing and construction materials
excessive and mismatched yard or porch furniture
broken or dated flower pots or too many pots
plastic flowers (sigh)
missing shutters or ones in need of paint
peeling house paint
Christmas decorations displayed when it’s not Christmas
a mailbox that’s seen better days
If you want to be welcoming to friends and neighbors you don’t need perfection. Pretend to be a guest and imagine what another person might feel when they walk up to your door. Clean it up, declutter and bring cheer to yourself and others by having one or a few healthy plants near the entry. But not twenty.
If you’re putting your house on the market, you still don’t have to achieve perfection but you should come a little closer to it! Be intentional to create curb appeal that is new, fresh, clean and green. You don’t want to run anyone off!
Now please excuse me; there are a few things I need to tend to outside:).
I love helping folks stage their homes when they are selling. Staging makes an enormous difference.
I also enjoy helping clients stage to stay. If you are living in your home— as opposed to marketing to prospective buyers— your home should tell your story.
I have been privileged to be invited into many homes since I launched my organizing/staging business thirteen years ago. I’m honored and humbled that clients would invite me into the most private —and sometimes most embarrassing— part of their lives.
Observations I’ve made when visiting homes:
If a house is hidden behind overgrown shrubs and trees it says, “Go away”.
A dirty or cluttered entrance is not welcoming.
Most people don’t know the best way to arrange furniture.
They do not have a specified purpose for each area.
Pictures are hung too high or incorrectly.
Traditional design principles are not embraced.
Clients are stuck with old furnishings that currently don’t work.
They have been talked into purchasing furniture that does not meet their needs.
They make an erroneous assumption that a container of some sort will make them organized.
They plan a costly and expansive construction project thinking their problems will be solved.
Tips for making your home truly yours:
Create areas for conversation so that you can look another person in the eye when you’re chatting. Don’t line the walls with furniture.
Every little spot does not need to be filled. Empty space is restful for the eyes.
Decide what is the main purpose for each area or room. Do you play games, visit with friends, read or watch television? What furnishings are needed?
Think creatively when choosing pieces of furniture. Repurpose second-hand items to suit your current needs.
Don’t get bamboozled by impressive ads of expensive pieces that look like they’ll solve all your problems. Make shopping decisions based on your own unique needs.
Choose lamps that are adequate in size. I’m surprised at how few lamps I see in homes and how small they are. I often ask, “Where do you read?” Lamps are important for warmth and ambience in addition to reading.
If you have a rug in your main living area, make sure it is large enough to incorporate furniture into a warm cohesive unit.
Locate the focal point in your room–usually the largest decorative feature— if possible set your sofa parallel to it.
Make sure your accessories and decorative pieces are things you love and use. Have just enough old things to weave the stories of generations together. Don’t obliterate your current life with all the old stuff.
Be open-minded. Furniture items eventually become a part of the wall and you may not realize that your crowding can be alleviated by simply moving out one item.
Before embarking on a huge reconstruction project bring in the experts! You may be able to solve your problems by rearranging and repurposing.
Lastly, don’t design your home around what you think other people will like. Create an environment for you and your loved ones! When you are comfortable in your home the feeling is contagious and others will want to share it with you!
Having a beautiful home isn’t an end in itself—its purpose is to provide joy and peace in the place you live.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelou