Entertainment Style Not sold: Kirstie Clements gets some tough lessons from home stylists

Not sold: Kirstie Clements gets some tough lessons from home stylists

Home stagers from Red House Staging accessorize a home
Choosing a home stylist can be one of the more challenging aspects of selling a house. Photo: Getty
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Challenging world circumstances may have had a huge impact on the fashion industry and red-carpet stylists, but as a result of booming property prices in Australia, never has the house stylist been quite so in demand.

I have just been through the torture of selling the family home where we have lived for more than 20 years, and I am now thankfully out the other side.

It was quite the process, choosing a stylist. I didn’t realise I had heinous taste in interiors until the real estate agent told me. I then had to suffer the ignominy of taking various stylists through my home to get quotes on how much it was going to cost to remove all my treasured pieces to make way for … not much.

“I think everything has to go” said the first contender, who was eyeing up the hallway which was lined with books. Real books, not even arranged into colour groupings. Apparently, books are anathema to potential home buyers, unless they are four or five fashion and/or interior coffee table books, which can be displayed stacked next to a vase of tulips.

“Do you have a Tom Ford book?” she asked, because apparently that is the ne plus ultra of book styling, and embarrassingly I did, so that could stay. “The kitchen bench should be cleared completely, and we will put a simple ceramic container with some wooden spoons in it” was the following pronouncement, which when I later costed it out, was going to cost me about $3000 per spoon.

The second stylist had similar sentiments about everything I owned. “That lounge is very aggressive” she commented, eyeing my lovely pomegranate red sofa with distaste.

I was learning fast that colour is very frightening to potential buyers who like to imagine themselves living blissfully in a sea of white and beige, punctuated by marble side tables and bleached driftwood objets and earthenware bowls, scented with a Cire Trudon candle.

Nobody likes to see any trace of pets, children, food, or someone else’s style, all the things that make a house truly a home. It’s all Scandi neutral linens and wall mirrors trying to convince you that a dingy walk-up in Kings Cross is really a snazzy inner city pied-à-terre worth $1.9 million.

“They’re not really stylists” I said grumpily to my husband. “Technically, they’re pretty much just removalists”.

Buyers have obviously been influenced by all those home reno shows, because they are far more excited by the potential of an empty, blank space than the horrifying actuality of a visible microwave.

The fourth stylist arrived. “Take a look around the crowded hellscape that is my home” I muttered. “Ooh, those chairs!” he exclaimed upon seeing two black painted French chairs with multi-coloured striped silk cushions that I bought at auction.

He turned to my lilac bedroom drawers. “I love these. I love your things. I love colour”. Tell that to the real estate agent. And you’re hired.

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