Holiday Touches

Make your listings sparkle

October 1, 2004

With Halloween approaching and the holiday season around the corner, encourage sellers to festoon rooms for showings. One caveat: Urge them to use restraint and not make decorations overly personal. You don’t want prospects to feel they’re invading the sellers’ private turf. Here are ideas to share.

  1. Introduce holiday aromas and sights. With homeowners’ permission, bake cookies or an apple pie during open houses; keep a pot of cinnamon, oranges, cloves, and vanilla in some water simmering on the range; or add potpourri with different fragrances in a few choice rooms. Decorate the dining room table with a pumpkin and gourd centerpiece or put fresh seasonal fruits—apples, oranges, and cranberries—in large, pretty bowls along the table.
  2. Arrange a gift-wrap center. Work with sellers to set up a gift-wrap center in a corner of the dining room or kitchen. When people walk in at this time of year and see a tidy station with boxes, colorful wrapping papers, ribbons, and gift cards, they’ll think: “This is a happy house.”
  3. Add light. Since brightness sells and daylight dwindles this time of year, suggest additional lamp light. Three out of four corners of a room need to be lit by lamps, except in smaller rooms. Ask homeowners to place a few “uplights” in large plants. White lights in one or two evergreen trees in the front yard will set the right mood.
  4. Update doorknobs. Old hardware on front and interior doors gives homes a dated look. A simple Georgian-style round knob in burnished pewter or bronze—but not shiny brass—will add a chic touch without breaking the bank.
  5. Add warmth. If there’s a working fireplace, light a fire before prospects arrive. Use real wood logs for their pleasant aroma. Or arrange candles along a table or on a mantle, using one color for greater impact. A grouping of 12 candles in three sizes makes the most dramatic effect; work down from 16-inch to 12-inch, 9-inch, and 6-inch tapers.
  6. Remember real flowers and greenery. Arrange tall branches of fresh evergreens in vases in different rooms. Cover the tops of the plants with moss and pine cones. Use a range of colors rather than just ho-ho-ho red and green.
  7. Add mood music. During open houses, play classic Frank Sinatra for a blast of retro-cool. To be hipper, play jazz: Miles Davis or Wynton Marsalis.
  8. Don’t forget stars and flakes. String and suspend tiny stars and snowflakes in rows from your entry ceiling or around a dining room chandelier to add sparkle. Make them yourself; homemade wins more hearts.

Sources: Elaine Griffin, Elaine Griffin Interior Design, New York; Barbara Brock and Nairn Friemann, A Proper Place, New York; Leslie Levine, Life Integration Concepts, Highland Park, Ill., and author of Will This Place Ever Feel like Home? Simple Advice for Settling in After You Move (McGraw-Hill, Contemporary Books, 2002); Kathy Taslitz, Kathy Taslitz Interiors Inc., Northbrook, Ill.; Jeffrey Bilhuber, Bilhuber & Associates, New York, and author of Jeffrey Bilhuber’s Basics: Expert Solutions for Designs for the House of Your Dreams (Rizzoli International, 2003); Renee Parcheta, Home Depot, Minneapolis; Susie Coelho, host of HGTV’s Outer Spaces and author of Styling for Entertaining (Simon & Schuster, 2003), La Canada, Calif.

Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).

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