My IKEA Story
When I pulled up in front of the blonde brick single level home, I knew it was going to be a popular listing. Now all I had to do was make sure I was the agent.
The 1950s were very good to the emerging suburbs in Australia’s big cities.
There was a strong post-war optimism and opportunity was everywhere.
A new generation of designers and town planners had bigger and better visions for an exploding population.
Big light filled rooms courtesy of larger windows and combined living and dining rooms gave families more space to live and grow.
Kitchens had to accommodate an ever-increasing range of new and bigger ovens and refrigerators.
Many homes had a carport. The fancy ones had garages and developers were forced to innovate to capture the attention of home buyers with many choices.
My potential client had recently moved her mother into aged care. The home looked tired and the décor was dated.
I’m often reluctant to frighten off a potential client by suggesting improvements.
Improvements cost money and many home sellers simply don’t appreciate how cosmetic ‘tweaks’ can make a substantial difference to presentation, buyer volume and ultimately, the selling price.
But I sensed my potential client was up for it so I forged ahead.
“If I wanted to get top dollar for this home, I’d make a few changes before going on the market” I said, looking for signs of positive feedback.
“Like what?” She replied.
“Well, we’re standing in a home that’s very popular with buyers. People love the lot sizes around here not to mention the lovely big rooms and all the light. I’d be looking to show it off so our marketing photos make buyers jump over each other to see it.”
“Well the kitchen and bathrooms are costly to change and they don’t really need it. Okay, the tiles are a bit dated and some of the door fittings are yellowing but the expensive to fix items are okay. I’d focus on the big spaces that can more easily be freshen up. The walls badly need painting and the carpet is worn and gives the place a smell it doesn't really deserve. How would you feel about letting me get a price to re-paint and re-carpet? I’d also like to suggest new door knobs plus new handles in the kitchen and bathroom plus some modern light fittings to compliment the new paintwork.”
If I was going to lose the chance to sell this home, it was now. If the seller doesn’t buy into your plan at this point, you can pretty much pack up and move on.
It was also risky because the property market was just starting to improve after a few years of poor prices and limited market growth.
“Well I agree” She said “A bright fresh home always looks better and I’m confident buyers will be impressed if we get these rooms looking great. Who knows, we might even get a bidding war.”
I love marketing great real estate but getting a home looking really special is where I shine.
Within a week all our estimates were in.
I was going to focus on new paint, new floor-coverings and other details like door handles and knobs. My client told me she would take care of creating an amazing look with some cool furniture ideas.
We got to work.
Fast forward ten days and it was starting to look like a new home.
We chose an off white wall color (I think it was called chalk) with a matching semi gloss on the doors.
In the bedrooms we lifted up the smelly old carpet and polished back the floors. The freshly lacquered timber looked amazing with the white walls as did the wheat color carpet in the living areas and the hall.
The bathroom tiles were okay and a coat of paint made all the difference.
We also lifted the old linoleum then sanded back and clear-coated the kitchen floors, which looked amazing.
Late on a Friday night, we met at the house.
I had to admit the transformation was stunning. Everything looked twice as big and thanks to the new carpet, the ‘old house’ smell was completely gone.
“So what are we going to do with our new empty house?” I asked my client.
“I have some ideas.” She said. “Meet me back here this time next week and I’ll show you what I’m thinking.”
I honestly didn't think much about it until we met the following Friday. A week feels like ten minutes when you’re busy in real estate and there was a lot going on.
So I pulled up in front of that blonde brick house that Friday night not really knowing how the pace was going to look.
I half expected to see her some of here mother’s things back where they were before we started work but what greeted me that night blew my mind.
There was no sign of the old stuff. Instead, everywhere I looked was a marketing photo.
A stunning white dining table surrounded by colorful chairs sat beautifully under a brand new and very impressive light fitting
In fact, each room featured one or two (but no more than three) stand out colorful things and the impact was breath-taking.
Each room looked like it was out of a home magazine with tables, bookshelves (complete with books) and other items that made the space look amazing.
I couldn’t wait to get back with my photographer and get to work on so many great photo-marketing choices.
“Wow. You’ve been busy.” I said. “How on earth did you do all this in just week?”
“Well I started searching online which lead me to IKEA. Which lead me to their store in Richmond and from there it was easy. We already had a few pieces like beds but Ikea’s range of options and ideas made them the obvious choice plus I couldn’t beat their pricing.”
The photos looked amazing as I knew they would and there was something I call ‘buyer buzz’ right from the first open house.
We like to sell homes in Melbourne by auction and this one took off like a frog in a sock!
I forget the eventual selling price but I remember two bidders throwing $5000 bids for what seemed like ten minutes. The atmosphere was incredible.
In the years since, I’ve been a party to the ‘IKEA makeover’ many times.
This is robust functional furniture that’s beautifully designed, super affordable and easy to assemble. I’m an idiot with a hammer but I have never struggled to follow the IKEA assembly instructions and get that satisfied feeling of accomplishment on a job well done.
I think IKEA have made the world a better place and if you’re selling and want to really make your home stand out, click this link to find your nearest IKEA store and get busy.