Exterior Design

Get Your Home Ready to Sell 101


Is it finally time? Time to sell your home? Of course, if it is, you want it to sell quickly. But that takes a bit of planning on your part. Just listing it with an agent isn’t enough. You need to plan, clean, and maybe do some work to get it ready to sell. Even though we are in a seller’s market, the better you make your home look, the faster and easier it should sell, even increasing your chance of selling above asking price.

At RDS, we meet with people daily that are ready to design and build a new home, while selling their existing home. Often, the conversation turns to how long it will take them to sell their existing home. That is the question, isn’t it? We’ve done the research, scoured the Internet, talked with people, and have come up with a list of projects you can easily tackle yourself and some that you might need a professional to do. Now get busy and ready to get top dollar for your current home. We’d love to design your new one for you!

Let Go and Declutter:

The hardest thing to do is to view your home as a potential buyer, not the one living in the home. Remind yourself that the home isn’t going to be yours much longer and see it with a critical eye. What can you get rid of? What won’t appeal to a potential buyer? 

  • Get rid of clutter. You want the rooms in your home to appear as large as possible. Clear off bookshelves, end tables, countertops, and anyplace you have collectibles, art objects, and things you just haven’t found a place for. 
  • Take down personal photos, especially if you have many of them hanging. Buyers want to see themselves in the home and pictures of your family can be distracting. 
  • Do you have a designated kids’ space or are there toys strewn everywhere? Organize the kids’ space, box up everything you can and remove toys from around the home. 
  • Clear out your closets so that they appear larger. You might want to invest in a simple storage system if your closet doesn’t have adequate shelving. 
  • Now is the time to go through everything. Sell, donate, and throw away what you don’t need or want. It’s easier to get rid of it now instead of moving it and then going through the boxes when you unpack.
  • Your kitchen cabinets need to be organized and clean. People will open up the cabinets to check how much storage is available. If you have them packed, the message is clear that there isn’t enough space! 
  • Box up everything that isn’t necessary for day-to-day living. 

Appearances Matter:

You only get one chance at a first impression (if they’ve actually made it through the front door) and nothing sets the tone like a clean and tidy home. 

  • Your home needs to be as clean as possible. If you can, hire a cleaning company to do a deep cleaning for you. If that isn’t an option, spend a day cleaning baseboards, windows, trim, tops of doors, ceiling fans, light fixtures, window frames and sills, and anything else that may not have been cleaned for a while. Thoroughly dust and sweep everything.
  • Clean the carpets, hardwoods, and tile floors. 
  • If you have pets, make sure the pet smell is gone. That can be an immediate turn off for buyers that don’t have pets themselves. If you aren’t sure if your house has a smell, ask a trusted pet-less neighbor to give your house the smell test!
  • Change out light bulbs in your home to bright white or blue-tinted bulbs, not yellow/soft white ones, especially in darker rooms. This will make the home brighter.
  • Remove heavy, dark drapes or curtains and replace them with sheer curtains or leave the curtains off altogether. This lets loads of natural light in the rooms. 

Make Minor/Major Repairs:

Some repairs might be more than you want to do, and you might already have that worked into the sale of the home, or you aren’t planning on making them. But, making some repairs can go a long way in getting the most money for your home. 

  • All homes settle and develop cracks over time, but you don’t want that to be what potential buyers see. Hire a good handyman and get those ceiling and wall cracks repaired.
  • Repaint if needed, whether it is inside or outside. Cracked or peeling paint or very personal paint colors could turn off a buyer. 
  • Fix any holes in the walls, repair leaky faucets (outside ones, too), check that doors open and close properly and quietly, and windows work.
  • Replace any burned out light bulbs and be sure your electricity is up to code. 
  • If you have good hardwood floors, use them to your advantage. Make sure they are cleaned and refinished. Consider pulling up any old carpeting that might be covering them. Buyers want hardwoods!
  • Speaking of carpeting, replace it if it is worn and beyond cleaning.
  • If you can, get rid of any wallpaper. That is a big turn off for some people; especially if they are looking for a home they can immediately move into without having to make many changes. 
  • Update whatever you can in the kitchen, whether it is appliances, faucets, fixtures, or lighting. 

Create Curb Appeal:

The first impression might be the only one you get. Some buyers can see past what a home looks like in order to see the potential, but most buyers can be turned off and never enter a home if it doesn’t make some kind of a good first impression. 

  • Wash the house! There should be no evidence of mildew or mold on the home. Just power washing to remove dirt and grime will make a big difference. 
  • Clean the gutters out. There should not be any leaves or growing plants visible. Plus, a good inspector will go up on the roof and inspect them, so be sure they are in good working order. 
  • Weeds and unkempt grass are a big deterrent to potential buyers. Keep your lawn mowed and weed free.
  • Paint the house or the trim, or both if necessary. If you can’t afford to have the house painted, just painting the door and shutters will be a quick facelift.
  • Is the front porch/entryway inviting? It should make people want to enter. Use color, a wreath, good lighting, a few potted plants, or a seating area to welcome them.
  • If you are selling your home in the winter, provide photos of the landscaping during the open houses or when buyers come to see the home. That way people can see what the house looks like in the spring and summer. 

Stage It:

  • Move furniture around so that it showcases the room. Remove excess furniture and make sure that the room is easy to walk around. That giant treadmill isn’t going to do you any favors in the bedroom. 
  • If a room is painted a very bold or unique color, consider repainting it to a more neutral color. Most buyers will repaint a home, but if they see they don’t have to do it immediately, you’ve just made it easier to sell. 
  • Add a few live plants and some pops of color with pillows and blankets. Even a new bedspread can add to the allure of the room. 
  • Set the table or only have a centerpiece on it. Keep it looking like a place buyers want to sit with friends and family.
  • Clear off kitchen countertops, but add some color. A bowl of limes or lemons, a bright pot on the stove, or a colorful vase of flowers will do wonders. Put all appliances away to showcase the countertop space. 
  • During showings make sure the beds are made, lights are turned on, pets are put away, curtains are open, windows cleaned, furniture dusted, carpets vacuumed (vacuum lines go a long way) and home feels welcoming and inviting. Your goal is for someone to walk in and realize that the home is loved and cared for!
  • Create an inviting smell by baking cookies before the showing (and leave for potential buyers to eat) or brew a pot of coffee.

Just remember that when you’re getting ready to sell, you have to remove all emotion and attachment that you have to the home. Look at each room critically, as you would if you were buying the home. What can you change, update, or leave as is? The better your home looks, the faster and easier it should sell. And if you’re ready to build a new home, our designers would be honored to design your dream home for you. 




What Our Clients Have to Say...the Shepards


At RDS, we believe that designing a home is one of the most satisfying parts of our work. We love building relationships with our clients, and working with them to bring their dreams to reality. We want you to get an idea of what our clients think of their experience working with us. As you will read, we can design a home for you to build anywhere!

Name: Kirk and Nadine Shepard

How was your experience with RDS – Residential Designed Solutions?
Our experience with RDS was superb! Working with Jim Wright and his crew was an easy and pleasurable process in designing our homes. After working with Jim on our home in Ohio, we were fortunate to have him design our next home in Connecticut (which was due to a business transfer). His calm and professional manner made this step to homebuilding a joy. Jim was so very helpful in providing suggestions and listening to our needs, which made our finished homes exactly what we had imagined.

What space(s) did you have redesigned or did you have a new home designed?
We have had two new homes and a renovation for a family cottage designed with RDS.

What is the favorite aspect of your new home design?
We loved the general floor plan of our homes; they were functional for a family of six (4 sons!) and were spacious enough to give everyone their own area when needed. Both homes have a warm, comfortable feel about them.

If you could change one thing, what would you change?
After living in the first home in Ohio designed by Jim, we went back to him to see if he could design the same home in Connecticut for us on the property we had purchased. Being the ultimate professional in his craft, at our first meeting, Jim asked us this question. “After living in our home for 2 ½ years, what changes would you want to make?” There were two small changes; he really designed it right the first time!

What was your overall experience like?
Kirk and I have been very satisfied. We have recommended RDS to others and have told them they would not be disappointed.

What advice would you offer to someone who is designing a home or redesigning a space in the home? 
1. Know that there would be many decisions to be made during the design process; it would help to get your ideas and requests down on paper. Start looking at home design magazines, internet sites, drive through some neighborhoods, even visit some open houses to get ideas of your likes and wants for your own home. 

2. Get an architect or residential designer that is reputable (do your homework before signing any contracts) and that you feel you have established a good rapport within the initial meetings. This will make the difference in a wonderfully pleasant home building experience, or a complete nightmare. 

Who else did you reach out to for designing your home?
We were fortunate to have a neighbor who was a home builder who we admired and trusted, Mr. Ed Lynch, Lynch Builders. Ed recommended Jim Wright, Residential Designed Solutions, as the one to work with. After meeting with Jim, we never needed to contact anyone else.

Would you do it again?
Yes, most definitely!

We’re thrilled that Kirk and Nadine have such confidence in us and have been happy with their homes. Let our designers help you make your dreams a reality. We’d be honored to work with you!



Design Don’ts…Could These Hurt Your Home’s Value?


You’re excited, ready and anxious to start on your design of your new dream home or the renovation of the home you already love. At RDS, we understand as our residential designers work with clients every day to help develop their dreams to reality.

Many of the families we work with have built several homes and understand the process thoroughly but we are all inundated with so many media options from Houzz to HGTV that often the inspiration sources provided can have divergent ideas. It is our responsibility to ask you detailed questions about your ideas and work with you in making decisions that will serve you and your family best for the long term.

What you love now, or what you’ve seen on HGTV, might not work for a future buyer, and while we don’t want to think about selling, it all too often can become a reality.

What to Consider:

Investment Level: the homes in your neighborhood have a range of pricing and if you’re not careful you can spend more than you can recover if you would have to relocate unxpectedly. This shouldn’t be the only criteria to make a decision but it is an important one.

Does the design fit the home? How does the design of the home, impact the neighborhood? Creating an ultra-modern look in a traditional neighborhood might not be the best fit, especially in a historic district.

If you need to include Universal design in your existing home due to accessibility issues, then by all means, do it. But if you’re thinking of widening doors and hallways in your renovation plans to add resale value, think again. The costs may far exceed the perceived value.

Depending on where you live, don’t upgrade a kitchen beyond what is typical for the neighborhood. You can easily price yourself right out of the market and never recoup your investment. Work with our design team to find the best options to fit your home and neighborhood, while still achieving the look you want.

Not every kitchen renovation can accommodate an island without adding or repurposing space. Many times the budget limits the extent of the work and a careful redesign of the existing kitchen will provide solutions to address the functional improvements within the space.

Swimming pools…you may dream of having one, but if they’re not common in your neighborhood it may be hard to recover your investment. If you have to sell, a pool could be a deterrent to buyers that might see it as an added cost, more maintenance, or a liability.

Live in a historic charmer that you want to remodel? If you have areas that are beyond repair or can be changed without losing value, then go for it. Be careful about getting rid of all of the original features and historic charm of your home though…it’s historic for a reason!

Your home is listed by the number of bedrooms, so the loss of a bedroom to enlarge an owner's suite or create a new bathroom could backfire on you. Adding bathrooms or expanding a bedroom is a smart choice, but not at the expense of reducing the bedroom count, as it will change your home’s comparables in the neighborhood.

Set on having granite? It’s still a popular choice, but do your research and see what else might be an option. Marble and quartz continue to be strong contenders. Not everyone is excited about granite anymore.

Your home needs a tub, especially with children, but be wary of jetted or spa tubs. These are not what buyers are looking for. Walk in showers and freestanding tubs are design dos!

Love the aquariums you’ve seen on HGTV, and wish you had one? Think twice, built-in aquariums will only appeal to certain people.

All white rooms are out. Texture and color are in. All white cabinets and walls in a kitchen is not trending anymore, but if white is what you want, add pops of color in the backsplash and other areas such as countertops.

As much as you might love barn doors and shiplap, they will, like many hot design trends, date your home eventually and might make it difficult to resell. But if you want it, be creative and original with it.

Wallpaper is making a comeback, but only as an accent. Too much wallpaper might be too much of a good thing. If you do use it, be sure it can be easily removed for potential future buyers.

Hardwood and tile are still the flooring options of choice, with carpeting used in certain spaces. Look at what’s out there, to make an informed choice about flooring.

If doing a remodel, converting a garage to a gym or another type of room is not a smart move. Buyers want garages. A smart remodel would be to redefine the space and add storage. If you really want to convert the garage, do it in such a way that it can be converted back to a garage - don’t remove the garage doors.

Ultimately, it’s your home, and you should include design ideas that you love. Just remember that future buyers might be scared off by your choices that are too personalized. Are there ways to be able to appeal to future buyers even with your design choices and still recoup your investment? Our designers listen to you, help guide you, and present you with the best options available for your home. Get started on your home design ideas with us!