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The window to your property soul

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

I'm talking porches and hallways, which generally tend to have few or no actual windows. Still, they set the tone for what is to come and therefore it's important to get them right so as not to turn people off your property the minute they set foot through the door. Apologies at this point to those of you who have terraces with stairs in the middle and therefore no actual hallway, and quite possibly no porch either.

Inevitably in real life these entryway spaces become dumping grounds for muddy shoes, wet umbrellas, and the detritus of daily life, but when you're showing your house to prospective buyers you want them to feel like that there's lots of space to dump all their stuff, not that there's no more room because you've already dumped all your pushchairs, bikes, schoolbags, work bags and 27,000 pairs of shoes/trainers/boots/wellies, etc.

So, what to do?

A welcome mat is another word for doormat and to be honest I think a preferable one. What's more welcoming than a mat that says welcome? Obviously the mat doesn't have to explicitly say the word 'welcome' on it, but a nice new mat is a nice touch at the front door and can be bought as cheaply as £3.99 so won't break the bank, but it will make a good first impression (together with the freshly cleaned/painted front door recommended in my last blog post).

Are you team doormat inside or doormat outside? For me I think it depends on your front step/storm porch/enclosed porch situation. At our front door I have a pretty one outside that we have to renew every year because of the elements, and a more functional one inside. For viewings I would say that one is enough, just make sure it's in good nick and says 'welcome' in some way.

Whether you've got a porch and/or a hallway (that's two boxes ticked on your potential buyers' wishlist if you've got both!), the key to making these spaces look bigger is by having less stuff in them. Yes, you may have to temporarily store all your coats and shoes in the boot of your car but it'll be worth it.

If you have coat hooks then artfully hang up one or two nice lightweight coats, the odd scarf, and a small bag - less is definitely more and will illustrate to buyers what they can hang there and let them see that there is lots of space - if they're wearing coats, try asking them if they want to hang them up, it'll make them feel like they live there. Limit the number of shoes on the shoe rack to two or three nice clean pairs, or better still, move the shoe rack and just line up a couple of pairs of wellies (especially if you have footpaths/walks/a park close by). Baskets are handy for gloves/hats etc. and can be kept out of the way on a high shelf, but be careful not to fill them - just a couple of hats etc. in each will do. Bikes, pushchairs, bags etc. will have to be housed elsewhere for now. In a porch a plant or two or a few sprays of flowers in a jug or vase will brighten up and break up an otherwise functional rectangular space and will welcome your buyers with a splash of colour.

In a hallway a mirror is a must. Not only is it useful for a final check of your person on your way out, but these spaces are often fairly dark and narrow so it will bounce light around and generally look pretty. It will also give your buyers a chance to literally see themselves living in your house for the very first time and that can be quite a powerful moment.

If there's room (if there isn't then please don't bother. If you have to skirt round or dodge anything in your hallway then it shouldn't be there) then a console table/shelf is a useful place to keep keys etc, but beware, it will quickly become another dumping ground for junk mail etc. A few pictures at head level will also add interest and personality and make it feel homely. As always, plants are also a must for me in a hallway. On a ledge, console table, or on the floor, a plant will instantly make your hallway welcoming and full of life. In any entryway space I would recommend artificial plants and flowers due to the lack of natural light.

Good lighting in a hallway is essential especially now the nights are drawing in and viewings are likely to be after dark. Wall lights are perfect for hallways but unless you're ready for the mess and expense of rewiring that is just not practical - if you do go down this route make sure the fitting doesn't project too much into the space and is high enough to not be walked into. Instead, make sure that any ceiling light fitting is one that throws light out, not one that funnels it down to one spot on the floor. Ideally there should be a couple of ceiling lights down the length of the hallway. If you have a console table or shelf below your mirror then add a small table lamp. No socket? No problem: there are now some great options for battery operated cordless table lamps.

So, if you want people to do more than peer into the windows of your property soul then walk away, from the doormat onwards, everything in the entryway to your home should say 'Welcome! We have loads of space!' and pique the buyers' curiosity. A little bit of time and effort spent getting these small spaces right will go a long way.

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