Designing to Sell From Design Star Challenge 2

For their second Design Star Challenge, the remaining nine contestants split into three teams of three and were challenged to design rooms in a house that's been on the market for eight months!

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This room suffers greatly from bad wallpaper, terra-cotta-look flooring and dark brown cabinetry. By painting the walls a more neutral color, Donna, Temple and David widen the kitchen's appeal to a greater range of buyers and update the look.

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  1. Home Staging

It's important to allow potential buyers to get excited about visualizing how their lives could unfold in a space. This is especially true in a kitchen, which is the nucleus of most homes and where the majority of families spend a significant amount of time. The challenge of getting this room more market ready becomes toning down some of the blatantly outdated elements as well as neutralizing some of the existing design to appeal to a wider audience.

Specifically, this room suffers greatly from bad wallpaper syndrome (pastel teacups appeal to a pretty limited crowd) and an abundance of terra-cotta-look flooring that clashes badly with more formal, dark brown cabinetry. By painting the walls a more neutral color (see next photo), Donna, Temple and David widen the kitchen's appeal to a greater range of buyers and update the look. Neutrals are the hardest paint colors to pick since there is a tremendous range. On TV at least, this particular neutral didn't work all that well with the tones of the existing flooring and faded a bit on camera. Something with more bite and a slightly warmer undertone would have solved both issues.

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Rugs can be inexpensive and they add visual warmth to a space.

The floor stands out even more than before, and an area rug in the kitchen to tie in the eating area sisal would have been a great idea. Rugs made out of 6.6 nylon can be inexpensive, durable and stain-resistant, and they add visual warmth to a space.

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Brushed stainless steel, chrome or pewter hardware and accessories help make a traditional home slightly more transitional, updating it while broadening its appeal.

Stronger artwork expressions and some lighter colors in fabrics and accessories would have helped balance out the dark cabinets. For example, white cookie jars on the countertop and a large white bowl full of bright green apples would have significantly punched up the visual appeal of the space. Brighter kitchen hardware would have also made the look more current. Brushed stainless steel, brushed chrome or brushed pewter hardware and accessories help make a traditional home slightly more transitional, updating it while broadening its appeal.

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Use patterns sparingly. Homes with less clutter often do better when reselling, and by picking three different, busy fabrics to re-cover a portion of the sofa, the team added to the visual clutter.

This is a large room with a lot of elements going on, and Joseph, Vanessa and Alice did little to improve the use of the space or the cluttered visuals. Homes with less clutter often do better when reselling, and by picking three different, busy fabrics to re-cover a portion of the sofa, the team made the room more of a visual mess. Although editing the number of items in a room would logically help (which the team did do), you have to be careful to ensure the remaining items work with added items in a cohesive and collaborative fashion to prevent fewer things looking just as busy due to lack of planning.

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Showcasing how seating can work efficiently and comfortably sets the stage for buyers.

This is also a less than ideal use of the room's square footage. The space appears disjointed and could have benefited significantly from a plan that demonstrated to potential buyers how to best utilize this area. Showcasing how seating can work efficiently and comfortably sets the stage for buyers to see how having friends and family over can occur easily.

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In this room, painted walls with stripes of burgundy and cream would have been visually better than three small plates that seemingly float in space.

Dotting the walls with three small plates that seemingly float in space looking for somewhere to land was the wrong way to add something attractive to anchor this area. One large canvas painted in stripes of burgundy and cream shades would have been a better way to fill a large visual void without necessitating a lot of money or artistic skills. The one high note seems to be the addition of drapery that softens the space and adds color and visual appeal to the room. At the end of the day, the room looks about the same as it did before—or possibly worse.

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Painting the walls in this room was an obvious necessity to remove any trace of the "castle" mural while giving the room a fresh pick-me-up, it gives the room an airy and open feel.

Tym, Teman and Teran had a large task ahead of them. This room looked more like it was home base for a 6-year-old girl rather than a master suite. Painting the walls was an obvious necessity to remove any trace of the "castle" mural while giving the room a fresh pick-me-up. By choosing a light-filled color for the master, the team gives it an airy and open feel (see next photo).

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The fireplace is a key selling point in this room as well as an attractive element.

By not differentiating the fireplace with a slightly deeper shade of the wall color, Tym, Teman and Teran accidentally camouflage a key selling point in this room as well as an attractive element.

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The plywood squares in this room have a more distinctively "modern" feel that may potentially alienate buyers of a more traditional home.

Although I applaud the choice of a new floor to replace the worn out old one, selecting plywood for this more traditional home would not have been my first choice. Aside from quality issues, the plywood squares have a more distinctively "modern" feel that may potentially alienate buyers of a more traditional home.

A prefinished hardwood floor or a wood laminate floor, in scenarios where budget is an issue, would give the same wood look with a broader buyer appeal—and can be done in about eight hours for a room this size. Placing contemporary accents, artwork, furniture and fabrics in a more traditional home you're trying to sell is fine since they are easily removable elements. Installing a plywood floor in the same traditional home, however, is a potential turn-off for many buyers who view that as a more permanent component that would be difficult to remove or replace.

The team did a respectable job of limiting the accessories to give the room a cleaner appearance, but artwork to compensate for empty wall space would have been a nice touch to give the space a warmer feel. Remember to keep rooms clean and clutter free—but the right accessories, artwork, plants and flowers are necessary components that showcase a house as a future "home."

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