Selling a house can be a daunting task. In addition, when most of the furniture has been moved out, the house can lack appeal, and it’s hard for many people to visualize living there. Gardener Marianne Binetti offers these tips for sprucing up the interior of a house on the market.
• Use houseplants to add color, texture and fragrance to an empty space. For this model house, there are few pieces of furniture and freshly painted walls. “It’s a clean slate, but it is very cold and sterile looking,” says Binetti.
Between the front door and a large window, Binetti uses the dark purple foliage of this cordyline to stand out against the freshly painted white walls of the living room. “It takes the place of the fact that there aren’t any artwork, wallpaper and window coverings,” she says. (Note: Cordyline is sensitive to chill, so don’t place this plant near an outside door where winters are cold.)
The creamy-white leaves of a variegated umbrella plant (Schefflera) can be used to brighten up dark corners.
Using fragrant plants adds freshness and personality and that all-important homey feeling to an open house. Although cyclamen and gerbera daisies have colorful flowers, they don’t offer fragrance. Plus, gerbera daisies dry out quickly and should be used only if someone will be around to keep them well watered. Instead, Binetti uses hyacinths to add a spring-flower scent.
For additional color, consider bromeliads and African violets. Bromeliads are unique plants whose leaves form reservoirs where water is stored (figure C). They are very forgiving and can survive in an empty house without a lot of care. African violets offer a variety of flower colors and come in small pots that are great for windowsills.
• Brightly colored containers add a punch of pizzazz to a sterile-looking room. Since many houseplants come in plastic pots, dress up these pots with decorative ones. (You don’t have to repot the plant: Just place the plastic pot inside a larger one.) Colorful pots can add interest to a bland spot and are much cheaper than furniture and other accessories. Draw out colors from a ceramic pot with other accessories, such as a similarly-colored throw on a chair. (Note: Use saucers or corkboards to catch water and protect the flooring.)
What to do with an empty table? Binetti adds polished rocks to a colorful plate and places it next to a lamp where they can glisten in the light and add interesting texture to the table. African violets are flowering houseplants that thrive next to a table lamp. They are also small enough to fit onto a small table.
To showcase a bar in the kitchen as an entertainment area, Binetti places a bottle of wine and some wine glasses here. Then she uses recycled wine corks as a mulch to dress up a planting of hyacinths and bromeliads. “Not only do the corks hide the pot, but it adds a really neat texture.”
- Adapted from HGTV.com