“Making sure your home is prepared for someone else to move in is key to increasing the value,” explains Tamara of the The Visual Merchandising Group. “Changes can vary from minor changes like de-cluttering and re-painting in neutral colors to major changes like installing new flooring or knocking down walls,” says Nicole of Nicole Marie Designs.
“It’s always difficult to definitively say what will or will not increase value,” says Crystal of TVL Creative, but new kitchens and a remodeled bathroom are your best bets for high-value renovations. “An updated kitchen will sell a house much faster,” says Wendy of Modern Elegance Designs. “You can update paint colors, counters and flooring for a fresh look at minimal cost.”
Decorators and Designers Aren’t The Same Thing
“Interior designers have a knowledge of construction that decorators do not,” says Ann of TF Design and Color. “If you’re going to be doing any structural changes, hire a schooled interior designer.”
Interior designers need at least four years of strict, accredited education and most states require licenses for them to practice. “This means designers can not only advise you on the layout of your space from a decorative perspective, but can plan wall movement, electrical placement, plumbing plans, and more,” explains Crystal.
How a Designer Can Help
“We have experience in what home buyers are looking for that can seal the deal,” says Ann. “A professional interior designer will be able to assess your home and breakdown areas to focus on first,” says Breanna of Breanna Megan Studio. “We help limit the options which is what I find is the hardest part of re-designing a space, says Ann. “It’s often overwhelming for clients to face so many choices.”
If major renovations or updates sound like a huge pain, don’t fret. You may do just as well without. “Buyers often say they want upgrades, but if you splurge on green marble countertops, some buyers could be turned off by the color,” explains Lisa of I Can Help. “Interior decorating can be a mixed bag for resale values.”
Feeling Gung-Ho Anyway?
Remove old carpet. Clear and update the front yard. Add skylights. Create a home office. Add energy efficient fixtures. Replace anything dated, like those popcorn ceilings and the fridge from 1987. Update bathrooms and the kitchen. Add dimmer switches. Update cabinetry. Update hot water tanks. (Hot water tanks aren’t exactly sexy, but they’re something home buyers have no interest in replacing as soon as they walk through your door – and can do great things for your selling price.)
Choose the Right Pro For You
You want to connect with your designer on a personal and aesthetic level. You’ll also want to trust them, as they may be in the house when you aren’t. “Reviews on Thumbtack will give you valuable information,” says Kari of Jordan Design.
“Hiring a designer should begin with a meeting, where everyone is able to ask questions, even the seemingly dumb ones, to see if everyone involved is a fit,” says Hector of Hector Romero Interior Design. Make sure you like their work and they understand what you need – though if you’re renovating your house to sell, it’s less about you and more about what the market desires.
For an interior designer who will be making major changes, at least five years of experience – or ten completed projects – is recommended. But if you aren’t making structural changes, you have more leeway. “Great decorators can be fresh out of college or ten years in the field,” says Tamara. Nicole adds, “A decorator doesn’t need to be licensed. Everyone has to start somewhere and everyone needs someone to give them a chance.”
Questions To Ask Prospective Pros
- What will help my home be most attractive to buyers?
- What’s the timeframe for my project?
- What do you charge – and what’s the breakdown?
- Do you charge travel expenses?
- What is billable time?
- Is there a cancellation fee?
“Interviewing designers is a must for clients,” says Tamara. But consultations may not be free, as the pro needs to come to your home to see the scope of work and offer up their valuable expertise.
Designers may ask for an up-front down payment or retainer. “Some work out installments if the project is long term,” says Breanna. “Others are happy to bid per square foot or at an hourly rate. Most designers will have an outlined contract that discloses all the details.”
“Designers usually work with you over the course of an extended period of time to perfect all technical and aesthetic portions of your project,” explains Crystal. “This can include the management of contractor labor and lead time delivery for products.”
“We work with many clients who have tighter-than-average budgets,” says Crystal. “We pride ourselves in being able to create spaces that look like a million bucks.”