Interior decorator reduces, reuses, recycles and remodels homes
May 2, 2008
Interior decorator Marianne Sax may not be a real estate agent, but she knows how to sell a home.
"We go into a house that’s on the market and try to de-clutter it," Sax said. "What I find is that people generally want to do more than they need. If someone comes to me with four rooms they want to remodel, I say, ‘Let’s try not to do that fourth room.’"
InnerSpaces offers three main services, Sax said. The company can design the interior of home from scratch, remodel or help stage a home before it goes on sale.
Sax represents 80 furniture, fabric and accessory companies and she said she does everything from faucets to fabric to the structure of a room. "No job is too small," she said.
Sax said she mostly remodels homes built before 1995.
She advises home sellers to follow a few simple rules to make a home more appealing to a buyer without having to cut into the bottom line.
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Sax said kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms to remodel both for comfort and to add market value to a home. "Some people want to remodel their laundry room," she said. That’s fine to do, she said, but clients won’t necessarily see a return on their investment if they spend too much on areas of the house that won’t attract a homebuyer’s attention.
Sax shared a few simple tricks to add value to some rooms in a house. Instead of buying new kitchen cabinets, customers can stain them a different color or finish. She said medium-to-dark colors remain popular in mountain décor.
Another way to avoid paying for new furniture is simply to refurbish it. "An average kitchen has between 30 and 45 knobs and handles," she said. "If you replace those, you’re going to give the kitchen a different look."
If cabinets must go, Sax recommends affixing them to a wall in the garage or laundry room rather than throwing them away. "You can always use more cabinets," she said. "I really try to recycle and reuse stuff where I can. If you’ve got a sofa with great bones, why get rid of it?" Instead of tossing the couch, Sax recommends simply reupholstering it in some cases. "I try to use a practical approach to remodeling and design," she said. "Whatever you remodel, you should get your money back [in resale value]."
Before remodeling, Sax said it is important to consider the cost of homes in the neighborhood. She said some of her customers try to do too much all at once. "If you’re going to stay in a home for 10 more years, that’s one thing," she said. "But if you’re remodeling to try to sell a home, one of the big parameters is that you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. You don’t want to put yourself at the top of the market."
Sax tries to start projects with a solid idea of what the budget and tells customers up front how much they’ll be spending, she said.
"Choosing accessories, furniture and styles to match a customer’s taste is the easy part of being an interior decorator, Sax said.
"Picking the stuff is simple," Sax said. "But doing the prices, contracting and getting the job running smoothly is the hard part. You can do all these creative things. Your hands can move a mile a minute, but if it’s not on budget and on time it doesn’t do any good. People think it’s interior designing, it’s a lot of fluff. But I spend most of my time making spread sheets."
In addition to remodeling homes, Sax and her three coworkers also stage homes for sale. "Mary Jane has her home for sale and she hasn’t gotten rid of anything since 1983," Sax said. "We’ll come in and de-clutter."
The de-clutter process involves rearranging furniture, adding lamps and overhead lighting to a room and removing unnecessary objects. "What we try to do is make the home look the best it can," said Kim Sachs, the person in charge of staging homes at InnerSpaces. "If there’s a stain on the carpet, we’ll add lighting or a picture on the wall to try to draw the eye up."
Sax said the exterior of a home is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of remodeling. "I don’t care what a house looks like on the inside," she said. "If it doesn’t have curb appeal it’s not going to get sold."
She said to have "curb appeal" house should look up-to-date and blend in with their natural environment. Homeowners should avoid painting their homes pink and yellow, Sax said, because they will look garish. "Exteriors of homes do become dated," Sax said. "Architecture changes."
She said white trim is one of the home fashion faux pas she sees in Park City. "Remodeling can be difficult because you’re working with an existing color palette," Sax said. "They might be from the 80s. But anything can be done."
Sax said her first rule of design is to listen to her clients. "I will never insult someone’s taste," she said. "What I do is try to blend the new stuff people want with what they’ve already got."
Homes are just like fashion. "Sometimes we get caught up in the moment," she said, "and later you’re like, ‘Did I wear that?’"
It is important to avoid "fast-moving trends" in home design, Sax said, because keeping up with a fad can cost homeowners plenty of money and may not increase the value of their home. "An example of a fast-moving trend would be copper sinks," she said. "They’re beautiful, but if they’re not finished properly they don’t last very long and they have to be replaced."
Sax said installing a farmhouse double-copper sink can cost several thousand dollars more than porcelain or other materials and removing copper can be an expensive prospect. "If you want a copper sink, put it in the bathroom," Sax said. Bathroom sinks are used less and endure less wear and tear.
"My main philosophy and goal is to create comfortable, family-friendly, durable places to live with a touch of current trends," Sax said. It shouldn’t look like the customer bought everything within 24 hours. It should look like people have accumulated things on their travels."
InnerSpaces Furniture and Design
P.O. Box 4228
1700 Park Ave.
Park City, UT 84060