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James Berry - Town / Country / Equestrian Blog

Viewing an empty house?

When you are house hunting, you will look at homes that both furnished and empty.
No surprise: houses that are furnished are much easier to visualize as a home, filled with your own furniture and decor. You can tell how big the bedrooms are, and where the sofa works best.

Home sellers, and their agents, know how a home looks when it is furnished and decorated, the windows hung with curtains and blinds, and the bathrooms appointed with necessities and lush linens. When the house is empty, it takes a special skill from an agent to help a buyer appreciate the size of the rooms and how traffic flows through the home.


Visualizing a space is a skill that very few people have – easily more than 50% of estate agents, let alone home buyers, cannot see how furniture would fit into a room. No matter how many times you are reminded that empty rooms really do look smaller than they really are, it’s hard to get past that first impression. And a house without furniture can be difficult to connect with emotionally, too.

Some sellers got to the extreme end by commissioning in a professional home staging service. Whilst this helps a home show better, and showcases the room dimensions and sizes, as well as lending a personality to the home it is a cost that many UK sellers cannot consider.

Furniture engages

Sellers and Estate Agents can also invest in “virtual staging.” This is accomplished by engaging photoshop experts to place virtual furniture into a photograph of a room, or of an entire house. The virtual furniture is coordinated in a style that suits the home’s architecture, and is sized to accurately reflect the dimensions of the rooms……. BUT the room is still empty at the viewing.

So what can a house hunter to do help themselves visualize an empty house, and not miss out on a house that may not seem as impressive on first visit?

First, walk through the home and make certain that you are very clear on the intended purpose and use of every room. Understand which part of a great room is proportioned for a living space, and which part for the dining space. Know which rooms are bedrooms, and which is the intended master bedroom. Figure out if a room is specifically intended to function as an office, or a bonus room that is meant to work as a playroom or a man-cave.

The next big challenge is understanding the scale of the rooms. Think about how hard it is to order something online and really know the size of the actual item. It helps if you have something that helps you gauge the scale, like an object that you use every day. Use a tape measure to compare the size of the online object to something you are familiar with.

You can use this same theory when visualizing your furniture in an empty house.

Choose one piece of furniture from the main rooms in your current home. These would probably be your living room sofa, your dining room table, and your master bedroom bed – including the headboard and footboard. Measure the total wall space that your bed and two nightstands take up. Measure the length of your entertainment unit, or the width of your wall-mounted television. Always keep your tape measure with you when you are touring homes. Record your current home’s “vital statistics” in the form of measurements, and keep them handy, as well.

Just pulling out your tape measure and referring to your recorded measurements may be enough to help you visualize how your furniture will fit into an empty house. If you are particularly challenged in the “creative visualization” department, you can carry a tailor’s tape with key dimensions marked on them. Then step back and imagine the space filled with your belongings.

Another great tip for visualizing the size and dimensions of an empty room is to sketch out those items on an empty floor plan, carry it along when you tour the home, and hold up your sketch as you study the empty room. You can also use that tailor’s tape and put a few markers on the floor of the empty room to help you. You might be surprised how small your furniture is!

When you are looking at an empty house, your challenge is to concentrate on the dimensions and special features. Remember that empty walls and floors often amplify imperfections that you wouldn’t notice in a furnished room.

When you are house hunting, make sure that you give empty houses the same time and consideration you give professionally decorated and beautifully staged homes.

From a piece by Anne Rose

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