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Nix the neutrals: Undoing open house decor to make a new home your own

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:36 am, Sat Jun 21, 2014.

(BPT) - When selling a house, the mantra for most is neutral, neutral, neutral. To help potential new owners envision themselves moving in, real estate experts remind sellers to de-personalize their homes. That means removing family photos and mementos and replacing favorite color schemes with more vanilla shades and hues. So as a new homeowner, how do you begin to de-neutralize your new house to make it your new home?

Color your world

It’s a pretty safe bet that as the previous homeowners were preparing to sell, they went through the house and repainted with shades of beige or gray. While nice for an open house, these colors can be a little impersonal. It’s also likely the homeowners didn’t invest in the highest quality paint, saving that money for their new home. Therefore, one of the best ways to make your mark is by giving rooms a fresh coat of paint.

Choose colors that reflect your personality and style, and don’t be afraid to select bolder hues. Darker, more vibrant colors work well, especially for accent walls or rooms that could use some drama, like your guest bath.

Spend the money on a premium paint to ensure you see excellent hide (the paint’s ability to conceal the color under it) and coverage (how far you can paint with a gallon). Accolade Interior Paint + Primer from Pratt & Lambert is a good option. Not only can Accolade be tinted to any one of Pratt & Lambert’s lush colors, but the paint is also washable, durable and easy to maintain so it lasts until you’re ready to change colors.

Treat your windows well

When it comes to the floors, most real estate agents advise their clients to replace carpeting before the house goes on the market, particularly if it’s worn or on the more colorful side. As a result, you can hold off on the expense of putting in new carpet and instead look at window treatments.

Once you paint, the blinds, curtains or cornice boards that were part of the open house staging efforts may not fit in with your decor. Consider the function you need from window treatments. Do you need to create privacy as well as style? Is blocking light essential, like in a bedroom, or would sheer drapes be an option? Will the treatments be used in a child’s room, making cordless blinds important? Examining the function will help you determine the type of window treatment to select. Once you decide what type of window treatment is best suited for a particular room and window, you can begin to look at fabrics and colors that complement your paint choice and provide your new home with a fine finishing touch.

Bring in your belongings

During the open house, you used your imagination to picture where your family heirlooms and prized possessions would be placed. Now, it’s time to turn that picture into a reality.

Collect your photos, mirrors, artwork and other objects. Then look around your new house to create a blueprint of what to hang or place, and where. Sticky notes provide an easy method for remembering where items will reside.

To create your desired look, you may need to replace photo matting or frames to match or contrast with new paint colors. You’ll also want to look at room features, like fireplaces or angled walls and ceilings, and position objects to highlight them, rather than hide them.

Now that your home is no longer an open house, you can feel free to nix the neutrals and instead use color, style and accessories to identify it as yours. While the previous homeowners may have done many things to get the house show-ready, you have to evaluate the quality of products used, the integrity of the workmanship and, most importantly, the feeling you want your home to evoke, as you embark on projects. Once you do, you’ll see what you need to change and what can stay the same so you feel happy in your new home.

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