As noted in an earlier post, in this market outlandish or unexpected does not sell.
With one possible exception.
Many different and unique visuals come to mind when hearing the words 'contemporary style house'. Which is part of its appeal. Which IMO is also what makes it the trickiest of architectural styles to prepare for sale. Because these style houses are usually in the upper ends of many markets, it makes it very worthwhile to prepare the house well. Let's start with the exterior.
Typically these are large houses, with strong, sweeping lines, and lots of glass, and the finishing materials are chosen to compliment the scale and look. The unusual exterior of contemporaries is a great part of the appeal, so it's critical it be well-maintained. Any updates or repairs need to be authentic, and stay true to the design integrity, so value is not lost. Depending on the building materials, you'll probably have to consider power-washing all the surfaces, painting the trim, even re-staining whatever has faded.
One word of caution: Because of the size and shape of these projects, and often, unusual finishing techniques, this is not the time to trot down to the rent all place to save a few bucks, or enlist friends in a house-painting party. Before you do anything, speak with several licensed and insured contractors who have the equipment and expertise to work on these style houses.
Windows play a big part in the design of contemporary-style homes, yours should be in top shape. They need to be squeaky-clean, but first, look at the condition of the windows themselves. One of my pet peeves about older contemporaries are those huge double-glazed windows with broken seals, and condensation inside. This dates the house, as well as puts its overall maintenance into question, so get them fixed.
Patios and walkways need to be power-washed as well, and make any needed masonry repairs. Garden beds should be neatly detailed, and landscaping-when weather permits-should be shaped and manicured. Clean and polished sells here, not rustic 'charm'.
Conceptually, the interior is not that different from most other style homes. Fewer walls and grander proportions will throw buyers off, but here's what makes this style house different: Most every element in these homes is chosen for its high aesthetic value. Having a trained and clever preparer of properties evaluate your space and provide specific suggestions is always best, but here are some general points to ponder:
- Don't need to fill the space with furniture, but shabby, fussy, underscale or otherwise inappropriate furniture does little to enhance the inherent value of a contemporary house, so rent furniture if you don't own what is suitable: LR, DR and Family Rooms are the most critical.
- Embrace quality, strong lines and solid colors for the most sophisticated look. It will underscore what drew buyers to the house in the first place, and put dollars in your pocket.
- Don't rely on ceiling lighting to create a mood. Use area rugs and task lighting to define the traditional living spaces.
- Rent/buy oversize sculptural live plants/trees to fill in the corners, place freestanding can lights on the floor, shining up into the plants to create drama.
- Similarly, big art conveys great presence and character, especially when on a large wall or other prominent feature-like a two story fireplace. If you don't own any, check out local galleries, or artist guilds to explore options.
- Shots of vivid color are both classic and very of-the-moment.
- Replace worn hardware with sleek new handles to freshen cabinetry.
- Updating old or boring lighting fixtures with something fun and eye-catching will engage buyers
- Tons of ever-changing natural light will play havoc with light-weight wall colors. Never pastels, and no white walls-unless it's an uber-sleek stainless and glass creation.
One last suggestion: working with a smart REALTOR who knows the market and has a plan is always part of my plan, but the unique qualities each contemporary house has makes it harder to get and relay on comps-so make it part of your plan, too.
Marie Graham is an Interior Decorator, a Home Stager, and Owner of The Refreshed Home. Making the most of Westchesters spaces for a really long time, then helping sell them for slightly less time, she can be contacted directly at 914.607.2895, or firstname.lastname@example.org