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Decorating Top Tips When Selling Your Home

December 2016

Property consultant Alex Goldstein delves into the world of decorating, interviewing a highly regarded Harrogate decorator Robert Crossman from Gold Standard Decorators. What tips and tricks would he advise? Look to redecorate your home – what should you look out for?

Gold Standard’s Robert Crossman divulges his numerous years of experience to give you the best advice out there when it comes to decorators.


Interview with Robert Crossman from Gold Standard Decorators

Full transcript below:

Alex: It’s great to have Robert Crossman from Gold Standard Decorators here in the studio with me. I often sum Robert up, he’s the only decorator I know that listens to dare I say Classic FM and that is all you need to know about the guy. Great to have you here Robert, thank you for coming in. I suppose getting straight into it, when it comes to selling your home I think a lot of thought goes into colour schemes, what is actually best, because I think the media say one thing, you’ve probably got a completely different angle on it all as well. Just talk everyone through your thinking.

Robert: Well you do have to go neutral. You might love aqua marine, you might love aubergine, but the chances are the people looking to buy your home won’t. So, if you’ve got a neutral colour my preference these days and it’s definitely on the upper curve of the designer chart is an off-white with a grey tint, looks chic, looks clean, doesn’t stand out as being yellow like magnolia might for example and people can see the size of the rooms much better in a lighter paint than a dark paint.

Alex: What’s the issue in your eyes with just going white? Because again a lot of the TV and the newspapers say take everything out, paint it white and away you go, what’s wrong with that in your eyes?

Robert: Right well, if you have a grand designs style contemporary home then you’ll probably already be white, so that would be good. If you’re a Victorian semi then white wasn’t and in my opinion generally has never been a colour of choice for people in period properties, and white all over might suggest that the owners have slapped on a quick coat of emulsion very quickly to hide all sorts of, goodness knows what rather than portray a sensible colour scheme as I’m suggesting.

Alex: You’ve obviously seen a lot of properties like myself, what do you advise in terms of presenting your room when it comes to selling? What would you say to homeowners?

Robert: Well you have to remember that somebody looking at your home isn’t going to comment on what a wonderful colour scheme you have or how gorgeous your furniture is, how super the carpets are in oatmeal or beige, they’re going to pick out the clutter, the untidiness the uncleanliness and any crack, crevice, hole or scuff mark they will definitely see. So, all of those have got to go, you’ve got to declutter, you’ve got to clean and although it’s time consuming a quick decorate throughout will resolve all of those issues and it won’t take you that much longer than a good deep clean and will probably add to the value of your property.

Alex: You mention about those hairline cracks and sort of plaster work defections sometimes you sort of get. What do you do from a decorating perspective, how can you get around this?

Robert: Well everybody will have heard of course, the secret to a good decorating job is preparation. That’s broadly true. I normally think that a decorating job you’re going to spend days on the prep and hours on the paint, so pitching has got to be right, cracks have to be gouged out, filled, sanded and if needed repeat the process.

Alex: And people often want to I suppose add value to their kitchens, very much something that’s a hot topic today, do they replace the kitchen, or can they add value to the kitchen in another way, what are your thoughts when it comes to kitchens?

Robert: Well in the old days people used to say that the kitchen probably added more value to your home than just about anything else in the home. In my experience these days people will almost certainly rip out the kitchen whatever it is, whether it’s high end, middle end or low end so I certainly wouldn’t recommend replacing the kitchen. If it’s looking a bit battered and a bit worn you can certainly smarten it up, there are primers available today that stick to anything, glass, Formica, metal and then onto that you can paint whatever finish and whatever colour you like, and it’ll make it look clean and respectable. And the people who buy the house will almost certainly rip it out anyway.

Alex: Quite right but I suppose for initial presentation purposes.

Robert: Yeah it stops them being hit with a big negative.

Alex: It’s often a bit of a hot topic in the decorating world, dare I say, you’ve got the brands out there, you’ve got the Farrow and Balls at the very high end, you’ve got the Dulux’s and you’ve got the trade paints and the more value end. What is the actual difference? Is there much? You can obviously colour match but how do you see it?

Robert: In terms of quality of paint, I don’t suppose there’s much difference. Farrow and Ball make claims about the quality of their paint. Most professional decorators don’t particularly like using Farrow and Ball mainly because often you have to use three coats, super finish though it’s absolutely dead flat matte, which gives an almost chalky like appearance. Not practical if you have pets or children because it can’t be washed. The trade paints like Johnston’s, Leyland’s and Dulux are all good quality paints and as all your listeners will know Alex, paint is a solid suspended in a liquid, either solvent based or increasingly these days water-based. The liquid evaporates leaving the solid behind, the solids generally speaking these days are vinyl, plastic. So, when you see vinyl matte, the water in the paint will evaporate off leaving a thin skin of vinyl, which is durable, washable and protects the surfaces, dries almost completely flat matte, it doesn’t have a sheen. I would recommend to anybody who still thinks that a shiny paint on the walls looks good, it doesn’t, get a matte.

Alex: What about window sills and skirting boards because that used to be the fashion of doing gloss on it.

Robert: Those people still when they’re looking at a decorating scheme still think the ceilings have to be brilliant white matte emulsion, all of the woodwork has to be brilliant white gloss. It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t, depending on the colour scheme your going for you can paint all of the wood and walls the same colour, which will make the room look bigger. And on the wood my preference certainly and I think most homeowner’s preferences would be for eggshell. It’s a nice flat-ish finish it doesn’t put a spot light on all of the imperfections that you’re going to get, particularly in older homes where you’ve got dents and signs of decades and generations of repair and redecoration to the wood and it gives a nice matte finish. But I know your listeners should think about being adventurous here and forego the white gloss on the wood, go for the same colour as the walls, try one room and see what you think. Always looks fantastic in my opinion.

Alex: And people often I suppose go to all the big DIY shops, they think it’s all fairly straightforward, with your experience why would you disagree with that? What are you putting in with your time that you’ve done in the trade?

Robert: As opposed to people DIY-ing or getting a decorator? Well I mean some DIY-ers are perfectly competent. I see a lot of houses where the DIY work has been terrific, I’ve seen more where it’s terrible. You’ve got to get paint on the surface that it’s supposed to go on and nothing else, clean lines between paint colours for example, blemishes shouldn’t be visible, cracks, blisters, holes shouldn’t be visible. People looking to buy a house will see all of these things, a quick slap over of a paint to hide badly prepared surfaces wont fool anybody, you’ve got to do a decent job and it is worth getting a decorator in. It’ll be a few hundred pounds you might not want to spend but it won’t give your possible purchaser a opportunity to knock something off your asking price because they’re going to decorate when they get in.

Alex: Quite and yes that’s one of your sort of cardinal sins with your experience in terms of as you said don’t cut a corner with the decorations and as you earlier said it’s all about the preparation work.

Robert: Yep it is. I have done a number of houses for customers where the house has been on the market, they’ve not been able to sell, we’ve gone in and we’ve redecorated top to bottom and it’s sold within a few weeks after that. It does make a huge difference and for relatively speaking a minimal outlay, it’s definitely worth doing.

Alex: Out of interest what’s your biggest frustration with other decorators within the industry because I suppose it’s got a bit more of a mixed reputation if you like?

Robert: Generally, it is a sweeping generalisation here, tradesmen in the main can be pretty untidy and when you’re working in somebody’s home they do expect you to treat it with respect and tidying up as you go around is a simple thing to do.

Alex: Yep and when it comes to redecorating a room finally what are your, one of the Robert Crossman gold standard top tips when it comes to that?

Robert: Clear rooms out and if you’re looking to decorate in order to help the sales process then don’t be tempted to go for daft colours. Just pick a nice neutral as I say something in the grey spectrum is definitely in and is chic. You can be adventurous and paint the wood the same colour as the walls as I’ve said. You don’t have to go completely crazy and strip off every bit of paper and put another bit of paper and paint over that, but blemishes that are visible to you will be visible to your purchaser so make sure you deal with those. If you’re just doing a redecoration for yourself and you’re not looking to sell your house then when you’ve cleared everything out of that room, go for a different colour scheme and don’t put everything back, take that opportunity to de-clutter, maybe even look at changing a few bits of furniture. These days you can buy side tables, lamp tables, lamps, things like that because the furniture of the room isn’t just what you sit on, it’s what you put books in and lamps on and the lighting in the room is crucial as well and all of that is affordable.

Alex: Some great top tips there Robert, thank you very much. And if people wanted to reach you what is the best contact details for you?

Robert: or 07793807991.

Alex: Fantastic Robert, thanks very much indeed for coming in.

Robert: My pleasure Alex thank you.

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