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By Siobhan Hawken

Whether you’re preparing your home for sale or wanting to refresh your current living space, enlisting the help of an interior designer or stylist can help you maximise what your property has to offer.

Balmain-based interior designer Fiona Shakespeare from Shakespeare Design has been styling homes for over ten years. She describes interior styling as “dressing a room” in order to balance its aesthetic with functionality. “An interior designer or stylist can help by looking at your space with fresh eyes and seeing possibilities you may not have thought of,” says Fiona. “They will bring with them an encyclopaedic knowledge of furnishing suppliers and know all sorts of design tricks. They can make a room feel bigger or cosier, more family-friendly or more formal. Often a stylist can secure discounts at retailers and help you avoid making design mistakes.”

Fiona works with clients to put finishing touches on the space they live in, as well as those getting their homes ready for sale. “Interior styling is very important when selling, because some buyers will enter your home feeling half-hearted about the property,” she says. “You need to impress them with a great floor plan, a soothing colour scheme and rooms that have a clear purpose. You have only a few opportunities to show prospective buyers all the advantages of living in your home. If the layout and type of furniture you have isn’t easy to navigate or appealing, it will turn people off.”

It’s common for interior designers to request most or all of your existing furniture be removed and replaced by rental pieces, says Fiona. “Rental furniture is specially selected to fit the space in your rooms, suit a range of tastes and lifestyles, and bring a new colour palette to the house that will appeal to buyers,” she says. And it doesn’t need to be to your particular taste. “Remember you’re looking for a professional to help you achieve a better price for your home. They’re not there to help you choose furniture you like and want to keep.”

To find the right interior designer for your sale, ask for examples of how their styling led to a direct improvement in the sale price of previous properties. Ability to meet tight deadlines and clear communication skills are also important. “Good communication is key,” says Fiona. “You need to like their taste, but also feel they’re interested in you and your likes as well. You should feel able to tell them if you don’t like the options they’ve presented to you and feel comfortable discussing your budget with them.”

Bringing the skills and expertise of an interior designer or stylist together with a photographer makes for a winning combination. Your property will be presented at its very best and capture attention. “If you can work with both a professional photographer and a stylist, that is ideal,” says Fiona. “Together they’ll be able to achieve magazine quality images, which is what buyers increasingly expect to see.”

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