Why the interiors of model homes look better

Here are some tips to help your home look more like a model home:

Professional home stager and model home designer Katie Schafer of Chicago-based Dressed to Sell has a one-word explanation for why many new homes bear little resemblance to picture-perfect models: clutter…

Another common mistake, designers say, is assuming the furniture from your old place will fit effortlessly into your new scheme. Moving is a great time to get rid of pieces you no longer need while identifying new ones to enhance your space, said Mary Cook, president of Chicago-based Mary Cook Associates…

Cook’s upcoming book, “The Art of Space,” scheduled for publication in 2013, elaborates on those seven elements in detail. A biggie, she said, and one that most homeowners tend to overlook, is scale, the size of something, and proportion, its relationship to the things around it. Rooms that are too full — or too empty — just look wrong, she said…

Color is another element that well-decorated models employ wisely. While new homes are often delivered with white walls, a Mary Cook-designed model can have as many as 25 different paint colors. Thoughtful-yet-fearless use of color can add richness that makes a home feel warm and inviting.

In addition to color, model home designers are experts at mixing patterns and texture, said Helen Velas, president of Naperville-based Eleni Interiors. While the average homeowner isn’t likely to be as skilled, home-goods retailers have become good at bundling pieces together to help people get that custom-designed look, she said.

Staging can go a long way to helping make a sale. However, I’ve always been struck by the unreal image model homes present. The lived reality of an average American home includes clutter, probably some non-perfect furniture, and maybe some clashing colors and patterns. It involves residents and family members moving around, appropriating spaces for their own use, and being comfortable. We know this from our experiences so why would we fall for the “staged” home?

I wonder how much of this has to do with presenting an aspirational image. Think of the average cluttered home: how many residents would be willing to show that off to strangers without cleaning up(though after going through a number of for-sale homes a few years ago, there was a higher percentage of people doing this than I would have imagined)? Or think of the common image of a home: in advertisements, new homes, movies, art, magazines, etc., homes look put together. That is what we think it is supposed to look like. I remember reading about a company that had started including people in their staged homes; this added a special touch in helping people imagine themselves in the home. And this all ties into the larger American Dream image of the “perfect home.”

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