A dated mural depicting an outdoor jungle scene in the dining room of this 1,200-square-foot Bloomington townhouse grabbed more attention than it deserved. "That mural was the first and only thing you noticed," said Lori Matzke of Centerstagehome.com. "Wallpaper is definitely making a comeback this year, just not this wallpaper," she said.
Besides the dated mural, the carpeting was stained beyond the help of a professional cleaner and the table and chairs were wobbly and in disrepair. Here's what Matzke did to freshen the space and give the room a more modern appeal.
Boxed clutter and moved it to a storage unit. The table and chairs needed repair, so the owner opted to junk them, and a small serving buffet was moved to a secondary bedroom that Matzke transformed into a den.
Matzke spritzed the wall mural with a combination of water and fabric softener, then scraped it off with a putty knife.
Matzke painted the walls a soft shade of cocoa with an eggshell finish -- including the trim around the windows, baseboard and iron railing, even though conventional wisdom holds that there needs to be a distinction between the walls and the trim.
"I would agree with that, had this been a nice oak or mahogany," she said.
"It was not great quality, and it was not attractive, and there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to play it up." The result was a streamlined, modern look that also made the room feel more open and spacious.
The stained and worn carpeting had to be replaced. Matzke encourages sellers to replace carpeting rather than offer an allowance. "Buyers can't see a carpeting allowance," she said. "They can only see what they're walking on at the moment." In this case, that meant spending an extra $1,000 on a higher-quality, more contemporary frisť-style carpeting rather than basic replacement fare. Townhouses and condos often take longer to sell, so a $1,000 investment might help you avoid a $10,000 price reduction a few months later.
Matzke furnished the space with a large buffet that had been used as a bedroom dresser and a metal folding table and wicker patio chairs. The buffet is positioned off-center along the wall to draw a prospective buyer's eye through the room to the sliding glass doors and deck outside. Using larger pieces helps make the room look larger.
To help complete the room's new contemporary look, Matzke accessorized with an oversize, contemporary wall hanging she made by wrapping colorful fabric around an old picture frame and stapling it to the back. She also used a chrome swing-arm style lamp and a palm tree to help frame the outdoor view.
Fresh flowers and plants always are a nice touch, so Matzke put a large glass container of fresh flowers on the table and some hardy shrubs on the deck.
To brighten the room, Matzke replaced the worn vertical shades covering the sliding doors with a set of Swiss dot sheers she bought for $6.99 at a local discount store. Cleaning the ceiling fan globes helped make the space feel lighter, too.