The Biggest Obstacle for Women Renovators

The podcast for women who want to create income and a life they love through renovating

Join serial renovator Bernadette Janson as she explores the ins and outs of renovating for profit!

Bernadette has over 30 years of experience in the renovating for profit business. She’s a registered nurse, a renovator, a mum, and a teacher.

34 – Why Property Styling Is Non-Negotiable When You Sell Your Reno

On today’s episode,

Bernadette is going to talk about why property styling is important when you want to sell your reno project.

Listen to Episode 34: Why Property Styling Is Non-Negotiable When You Sell Your Reno


Bernadette covers,

  • Bernadette’s good news
  • Recent field trip to Wollongong
  • Updates on last bootcamp
  • Why property styling adds around 10% to the sale price
  • Engages the buyer emotionally
  • What your theme is
  • Scoping out and giving context to space
  • Solve problems with styling
  • Styling to appeal to women
  • Virtual styling, does it work?
  • Where you don’t style a property

Episode highlights

02:27 – Construct your life how you want to live it.

05:29 – The mindset

08:42 – It’s about getting the price that you want.

10:54 – Relate to the demographic

11:50 – Depends on your market

15:08 – Style the property

16:47 – Buy key pieces

18:01 – Don’t present a whole lot of work to do.


“The reason why you need to style is because predominantly it engages the buyer emotionally and emotion is a very powerful conversion tool.”


Well hello it’s Bernadette and I’m back with another episode of She Renovates. Today the topic is Why Property Styling Is Non-Negotiable When You Sell Your Reno. Now this is the question I get asked a lot. Actually the question is, “Should I style my property?” This is a very important topic.

But before I get into that I just want to share a bit about what I’ve been up to in the last couple of weeks. The first thing and this is very exciting news is that we are about to welcome our third grandchild into the world. Our third child, Madeleine and her husband Luke are expecting her third baby in three, sorry two weeks time. They already have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. So if Madeleine is not busy enough now she will be exceptionally busy in a few weeks time.

But one of the reasons that I have made it a point of creating a life where I’m flexible is so that I can really engage in the joys of family life. And so now is one of those times. Madeleine’s really got her hands full and I want to be able to back her up. I also want to be with my grandchildren as they’re growing up, not every day, obviously, because they live in Wollongong. I’d certainly like to see them as much as I can.

And I have to say that’s one of the enormous benefits of running a renovation business. You construct your life how you want to live it.

In fact I spent yesterday in Wollongong and I like to mix a bit of business with pleasure. I got to meet two of our new students (who have recently finished our Bootcamp and are about to embark on their reno life) to get their strategy set. I also caught up with one of our longstanding students and one of the legends in our program, Sheree who’s just completed a quick and dirty reno on her own home. So I checked that out as well. That was the Wollongong field trip yesterday.

I’ve also run a bootcamp recently. It always amazes me at what a diverse range of people we bring together yet they’re all working towards a common goal. Everyone is working at replacing their income, some need to do that now, others are working to make sure that they have their income organised for when they retire.We generally do our bootcamps around a boardroom table in our boardroom. I like to emulate the kitchen table experience.

That’s where I really strategise and develop my ideas for myself and also with our kids. Those strategy conversations happen around the kitchen table and so our bootcamps are a little bit different. There is a huge amount of training and you have to consume a huge amount of material over the weekend. You also s get to have conversations and apply it to your personal situation so that you leave with a really practical step by step plan.

As I said, we have quite a diverse range of people. We have two nurses who come in to recreate their lives. I was a nurse. I know what a grind it is. And so they’ve certainly stuck at it a lot longer than I did. Now they are looking at an alternate income source. I also had a couple of women who have already stopped work and are developing their income streams . I had a town planner. Hi Leanne! Leanne’s already a rock star and she’s just added another powerful skill to her bow. But the other person we had was a young man and he is quite a rare occurrence in our demographic but I really want to take my hat off to him because he has the foresight to engage in some strategic planning and education before he embarks down the property route and I’m really in awe of that.

I feel quite passionate about the fact that a lot of our young people are despondent around the property market. They have this mindset that it’s out of reach for them and it’s absolutely not. If it’s something that you want, you really want then anything’s possible. And certainly I’ll be sharing some of the projects we’re doing with our kids in subsequent episodes to give you some ideas about what exactly is possible.

The other thing to mention is that we’ve had two student projects go to market this week. These are both in Sydney one is in Edgecliff. This is a group of three women that I’ve been coaching through the project and another group of two who have put their property on the market in Darlinghurst.

If you are interested in going and having a look at some of our student projects I will post the links in our show notes. And both those groups have done an awesome job and fortuitously also the market is starting to pick up and so things are looking pretty good.We have another bootcamp coming up in August so if that’s on your radar then either send us an email or give us a call and we’ll shoot you through the details.Now let’s get on to today’s topic and that is property styling.

I had a distress call from a lady not a student. She and her builder husband had bought a property to renovate and sell. She believed that her research was accurate and that her estimated sale price was realistic. But when they went to market the property just didn’t sell and they would have had to have sold it at a loss. She rang up to get some advice and I really going through what she’d done with the property and they had gone over budget. That’s not unusual but there was nothing else I could really put my finger on that could explain, if her research was accurate why it wasn’t selling.

And then I just said, “You did style it didn’t you?” And she said, “Oh, no because we went over budget we didn’t style it because we didn’t think we could afford to”. Aha! That’s the problem.Statistically we know that property styling adds around 10% to the sale price. If you turn that around and look at it the other way if you don’t style it you’re looking at making 10% less. 10% off your sale price is not a good scenario.

property styling

And for what it would cost to style the property it’s really very short sighted thinking because here’s the thing when people take their property for sale to market. Most think it’s worth more than it is. And so they already have inflated expectations of the sale price of the property. They think, “Oh well, I don’t want to style, I don’t want to spend money on styling because that’s money that I won’t get to keep”.

But what they don’t realise is if they don’t style it they won’t get the money, the price that they’re hoping for. In those scenarios, it’s about getting the price that you want.And the reason why you need to style is because well there’s a few and I’m going to go through them in a minute but predominantly it engages the buyer emotionally and emotion is a very powerful conversion tool.

property styling

So they’re coming to you to buy a better life because when people come to look for a new home generally they’ve grown out of the home they’re in. In their eyes it’s not up to scratch. Often they will be cramped and in most cases the home will be chaotic. They’ll leave chaos at home, come out and start looking at property.

Your goal is to be the answer to their prayers, to be that picture of serenity and calm and beauty that they yearn for. They’ve got to imagine their life in your home to be perfect.I’ve often heard it said, “Oh you know people don’t want the house to look like a magazine”. Actually they do. But depending on the demographic determines which magazine they want it to be like. And so while you do need to present that Utopian picture it does need to relate to the demographic that’s likely to buy the property.

A dear friend and stylist who was my teacher in the early days was Belinda Woolrych of Papillon Styling. She does a lot of styling for downsizers and she often talked about the fact that downsizers aspire to travel and so one of the themes that she would use is what she called the “Global Traveler”.This is not a property that’s stuffed full of souvenirs. Its subtle and tasteful suggestions that the occupants are global travellers so it might be a coffee table book that suggests a particular location. Cultural artifacts that work with the general contemporary look as well as building on that theme of travelling.

It depends on your market what your theme is but it’s also important not to overdo it because you don’t want to be telling your buyers that you’re trying to play them. So yes, theme. But be very subtle about it.

The other great thing about styling is that it scopes out the space. For instance if you got a bedroom and you can fit a double or queen bed in there without it looking cramped then you need to do that because it helps buyers to know the size of the room.

The School of Renovating and She Renovates Podcast with Bernadette Janson

Of course you have floor plans and they can look at the measurements but it’s an immediate understanding. If you’ve got a large bed in there and it doesn’t look out of place then that’s a decent sized bedroom. When someone’s been looking at half a dozen or maybe even more houses in a day they start to blend together. So you need to make it easy for them to remember your property and what it offers for them. Scoping out the space is an important element of your styling.

And the other thing it does is it gives context to the space. I heard that people have no imagination and I’m sorry to say but that is absolutely true. If you’ve got a spare room and you want to be able to tell your buyer that you could use that as a home office then you set it up as a home office. If you want to tell them that you can use it as a bedroom then you set it up as a bedroom .It takes a lot of brainpower to figure out what you can use a room for. Just make it easy for them and that will help your buyer connect with the property quickly.

The other thing that it does is it solves problems. Often when we’re planning out renos we’ll be looking at an area and think, “You know that’s going to be a problem area”. But rather than spend money on it , we sometimes resolve to actually style out the problem , maybe use a key piece.

For instance, you’ve got a really long bland wall you might be thinking about maybe putting a fireplace in it to break it up. Using a statement piece of furniture could be an equally suitable solution and cost way less. The other thing is that a key piece of furniture or decor can actually take the eye off something that’s not exactly perfect.

You may not have been able to execute a renovation in the way that you wanted to. You might have an area that you think it’s okay but it would have been nice if I could have done it better then maybe distracting your buyer with some clever styling is always an option. Now I’m not talking about covering up but creating some interest that draws the eye can help.

The thing that you want to know is that women buy property, you need to style the property so it appeals to women. If you style your property like a man cave it’s not going to work. And that doesn’t mean all pink and girly. It just means tasteful and elegant or contemporary. Something that a woman would like. Doesn’t mean a man won’t like it, too. But as women we have very specific needs in our surroundings so make sure that your styling meets those needs.

Now I’ve heard a lot of people asking about virtual styling recently and I think virtual styling has its place but you really need to be careful. It may get people in the door which of course broadens your market but it won’t engage your buyer emotionally because when they get on site, instead of having that emotional connection you may find that they feel a bit let down because when they saw it on the Internet it was beautifully styled it looked like it was a lovely home but when they get there they’re faced with empty rooms.

Times when virtual styling can be used effectively is if you’re renting a property and you’re wanting to increase the turn up rate. That’s certainly a good application for it but I would be wary of it when you are styling to sell.

Styling doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can do it. Most of our properties we style ourselves. We buy the furniture, we buy a lot of eBay, Gumtree, Facebook marketplace. I usually do buy the key pieces new because it’s important that they are spot on, things like the sofa and often the dining table and chairs. But things like beds and appliances and the like can easily be bought from those sites that I’ve mentioned.

And the good thing is, when you buy your furniture you can also Airbnb your property in the settlement period which is another way of adding to your profit margin and then you can sell it off afterwards so your styling can cost you very little. But it just requires some planning.

And the last thing I want to talk about is when you don’t style and there are a couple of situations where that is the case. First one is in very rural locations. Of course any decision you make about your property should always be backed up with your research. I sold a property for my mother and it was in a rural location.

The general consensus from the agents was that styling was almost a negative because buyers perceived that as wasting money and that’s the last thing you want to be saying to your buyer. So I didn’t style. But of course you want to make sure that it is very clean and tidy and presentable. You don’t want to be presenting your buyer with a whole lot of work to do because that will get factored into the price. So de cluttering and making sure that it’s clean and tidy.

This is a question that comes up a lot when people are selling their parents homes getting them into aged care. Do I style or not? Well, generally speaking yes and you present the property in the best condition possible and that will get you the best price. But of course always depends on your area.

And the other scenario would be if the property is being sold for land value only. But in saying that, if there is a house on that land, you want to make sure that once again is clean and tidy and presentable.

Even someone planning to develop the land will probably want to rent the house out while they’re getting the approvals that’s a long slow process. Having a house that’s clean and tidy and liveable is the bare minimum and will certainly add to the value of the property because it means they don’t have to do this work themselves. They can get going quickly.

Okay, I hope this answers the question “Should I style my property?” And I look forward to seeing you next week. And for those of you who’ve enjoyed this podcast could I ask a little favour that you go over to iTunes and leave us a review and spread the reno love? Thank you!

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    “Just dropping by to show my support for your podcast Bernadette. I look forward to each episode and I am never disappointed with the content. It’s such a generous offering and compared to many of the other property podcasts I subscribe to, yours is the clear winner. Perfectly suited to people embarking on a new renovator journey but equally suited to more experienced folk like myself - there’s something for everyone. Keep up the great work. Your honesty is so refreshing! I look forward to future learning and hearing more student success stories. Best, David Michos (And yes... a bloke) 😉”
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