The Timeless Details Real Estate Agents Always Recommend You Add to Your Home



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After you buy a home, it’s natural to want to put your own stamp on it with decor and finishes. Your house, your rules, right? There are no more landlord security deposits to worry about, so you can go ahead and hang a disco ball from the living room ceiling or paint the walls bubblegum pink, if you want. (In fact, if you did the latter, you’d be right in line with the Barbiecore trend.)

But when the day comes to sell your disco palace/Barbie Dreamhouse, your real estate agent will most likely beg encourage you to revert the space back to something more timeless. Sure, there are some buyers who will dig the bold look. But if you’re looking for a quicker sale with a (hopefully) higher offer, it’s better if the space offers a broader appeal.

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“The thing about timeless and classic [homes] is that there is something inherently familiar about them that makes them appealing,” says Molly Gallagher, partner at Falk Ruvin Gallagher Real Estate. “We are comfortable with them, but they aren’t challenging our senses.”

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, here are some timeless details to add to make it more appealing for buyers.

Even though bold colors have made a major comeback in home design — Viva Magenta, anyone? — Nicole Beauchamp, senior global real estate advisor and licensed associate broker with Engel & Völkers in New York, urges her clients to embrace neutral tones and clean lines.

“You have to think of your home like a canvas where someone can envision creating their work of art and customizing their home,” she explains. Beauchamp has often recommended additions — but usually subtractions — for clients with highly customized designs. 

Most real estate agents would agree with this strategy. Gallagher says neutral choices are especially important when it comes to finishes in kitchens and bathrooms. White and cream subway or penny tiles and marble, though expensive, will “never go out of style,” she says. Metallics and brighter colors, on the other hand, are too much for most people, and she recommends that you avoid too much veining in countertops as well.

“The fastest way to ruin a classic bathroom is to run some blue metallic-sheen glass tile down the center of the shower,” Gallagher says, and the same goes for an over-the-top kitchen backsplash. “We have asked clients to paint backsplashes when we bring a home to market.” 

If that sounds like your kitchen, don’t worry. “There are some good tile paints out there,” she says.

As for hardware and faucets, while gold, brass, and even black fixtures are making a splash, they’re going to be “very twenty-teens in a couple of years,” Gallagher says. “Polished nickel will always look good and stand the test of time.”

“Timeless design transcends eras and industries,” says Nancy Greager, a real estate agent based out of Denver. She says that what happens in the fashion world also happens in home design. “The advice is similar: Invest in classic, well-constructed pieces that will last and that are transitional, she says. “[This means] they can be dressed up or down, they can fit with just about every mood, they complement the space and the architecture rather than hijacking it, and they celebrate the owner’s personality.” 

Greager says when designing your home, opt for quality fabrics made of natural materials like wood and leather. Go ahead with adding pops of color with decor and art. Plus, you can’t go wrong with biophilic design elements like plants and flowers that bring the natural world indoors.

Some homeowners might find a timeless, neutral look to be a snooze, but there’s a way around it, says Vickey Barron, licensed associate real estate broker at Compass in New York City. “Always think about modern and classic elements that can be mixed,” she says. She does recommend, however, staying away from hard surfaces that are too of-the-moment. “Permanent fixtures, fireplace mantels, wood flooring, tile, and bathroom fixtures should be timeless,” she explains. 

If these features are indeed outdated in your home, Alexis Carpinello, a licensed real estate salesperson at Elegran Real Estate in New York, likes to remind clients that mantels, moldings, and hardwood floors can always be sanded down and restained to revive or transform the look. “Most of those things can be complemented by whatever style of furniture a tenant or purchaser likes, and I’ve seen them significantly increase the price of a sale or rental,” she explains.

Paint is also an easy fix, says Gallagher. And there’s a reason neutral colors like beiges and grays are always recommended. “As boring as it may be, it simply photographs better, and the goal is to get people in the door,” she explains.

Barron also likens a timeless home to fashion — more specifically, the little black dress.“You can change the accessories any time, but the dress will always stand the test of time.” But if you absolutely must dabble with current trends, she says, “Do it with pillows.”


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