Starting with the exterior, the first and most obvious thing to do is to have a really good tidy up. The lawn is one of the most visible elements of your garden and you will be amazed how much of a difference it makes when it is neatly cut. The good news is that while you’re mowing it, you’ll be clearing away the leaves at the same time. And don’t forget – give the edges a trim while you are at it. Next, sweep the remaining leaves off any pathways and terraces and cut back any dead plants. If your garden is still looking a bit drab, there are one or two winter flowers you can buy, such as cyclamens or winter flowering pansies. Even the odd evergreen shrub can help, especially if it’s got some bright berries on it, so get yourself down to the garden centre and see what is on offer.
Unfortunately, in winter, everything seems so much more exposed, so the little details show up more than normal. It means you need to ensure that: windows, doors and gates are either washed or repainted: knockers, knobs and numbers are shining – hinges are oiled and the porch light actually has a working bulb in it! And, in the run up to Christmas a little holly wreath wouldn’t go amiss either.
That brings us on to the next steps. When you go inside a house at this time of year, if there is a welcoming glow coming from inside, it makes you feel good. If it is dark, it has the opposite effect. So, light it up. Not just the hallway, light up the whole house, especially those dark corners. A great tip is that, if you want to replicate natural light conditions, you need lots of low-level light sources. A single, high wattage bulb, on the other hand, can make a room look like an interrogation centre.
Temperature is just as important as the lighting levels and can have a big influence on how someone feels about your home. Normally, most people turn off the heating while they are out, but if there are going to be viewings, make sure it stays on and is at a comfortable temperature – that means neither a sauna, nor a fridge. According to most experts, that is around 19C. And, clearly, the most welcoming thing of all is a fire, roaring in the hearth. Mind you, you should always think twice before leaving a real fire unattended – after all you want to sell or rent the place, not burn it down.
If you still need to add some extra cheer, you can always put some cut flowers around the house. A Christmas tree and a few festive lights would be great too, but don’t clutter up the place too much as it can make the rooms feel smaller. Another mistake to avoid is that huge bit of plastic that covers the carpet by the front door. It is highly practical but not the kind of thing that makes visitors feel relaxed and welcomed. Things do get mucky at this time of year, it’s true, but if you’ve got a spare bit of the carpet in the attic, cut it to size and use it as a rubbing mat. Or you could get some coir matting from your local DIY store.
There you go – plenty of quick and simple ways to make your house sparkle, whatever the weather.