Prepare your house for selling: 7 tips to style your home

We have just put our house on the market and that meant we had to make it look great for potential buyers. To prepare your house for selling means a lot of decluttering. I cleared out little by little for months, which is quite a nice thing to do believe it or not. The letting go of stuff, the minimising, the emptying out, it is all rather therapeutic.

Our house, which we redecorated top to bottom, remodeled and upgraded over the past ten years, is up for sale. I thought I’d share some tips to help you prepare your house for selling if you happen to be in the same position. We ended up taking all furniture with us to our next home already, so the house is currently empty. At least the photos for the advertisement were done before, to give viewers a good idea of what the house can look like when furnished. Here’s what we did.

How do you prepare your house for selling?

1. Pretend to be a viewer

To get a better idea of what work needs to be done to prepare your house for selling, have a walk through. Pretend to be a potential buyer. Come in through the front door. What do you see? Is there anything that catches your eye? What do you like and what annoys you? Take a note pad and scribble your comments while wandering from room to room. Once you’re done, make the changes. A good idea is to ask a friend or neighbour to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and give some honest feedback – sometimes you don’t see things yourself when you’ve been so busy doing all the work.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home
All shoes, bags, jackets neatly stored away in the hallway, nothing on the stairs. Mail and paperwork sorted out and cleared from the landing spaces.

2. Put the toys away

When you prepare your house for selling, you’d better clear all Lego away. Put those action figures in the cupboard and drag toy cars from under the sofa. You may have a busy family and all the junk that comes with it but no one needs to see that. It’s tricky to keep the house tidy all the time when you still live in it, but try to clear stuff away at least for the photos. Have a few nice big storage baskets handy for when viewings are booked and you quickly need to clear the decks.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home
Books and toys stored on the shelves, in baskets or put away in drawers for the time being. Bed made up neatly with a neutral cream woolen blanket on top, with added throw cushions. I also added three new pictures above the bed, replacing the more personal ones.

3. Clear away your own clutter

How many vases do you need in your window? How many picture frames or knick knacks? If you want to keep them, put them in a box under the bed or in the cupboard for now. Spaces look better with clean lines and clear surfaces. It doesn’t need to look like a house that’s not loved or lived in, but viewers may see themselves living in your house better when the shelves are not full of personal items and family photos. You’ve got to pack them anyway at some point anyway, right?

Prepare your housee for selling. Styling tips for your home
The kitchen never looked so tidy! All clutter put away, with just a few items remaining on the worktop. Jars tidied, some fresh fruit in the bowl. And don’t forget to polish that cooker hood!

4. Store excess furniture

You may have needed that extra armchair, comfy foot stool or side table in the lounge because it worked for you and your family, but the room will look bigger and tidier if you only leave the necessary pieces in. A sofa, an armchair or maybe two if space allows, a coffee table, perhaps a sideboard or lamp table, that should be sufficient. Store extra furniture in the garage or shed for the time being.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home
I took out some excess furniture such as a chair which I used to put my clothes on at night. It makes the room look a lot neater and more spacious. Books tidied, lamps straightened, curtains open. A nice throw can make a real difference to the bed.

5. Buy some new throw cushions or blankets

You may already have lovely pretty soft furnishings all over the house, but perhaps the cushions on the sofa have seen better days and the blanket on the bed is your dog’s favourite. Buying a few fresh new cushions and blankets for your living room or bedrooms will freshen up the look and will add colour and interest to the spaces. They don’t need to be expensive, try your local supermarket, Ikea or other affordable high street stores for some quick updates.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips for your home


6. place Fresh flowers and house plants

A house looks cared for when there are fresh flowers on the kitchen table and leafy plants around the house. A bit of greenery can do miracles for a room.

7. Tidy up the garden – or dig out some summer pictures

Our garden is large and it was winter when the photographer came around. Not great for pictures. Dead plants, snowy patches, no leafy trees. We still tidied up the garden furniture and potted plants and cleared away any stray toys from the lawn. We also found some photos of the garden in summertime. This helps viewers get a better idea of what the garden looks like in its full glory when the sun is out.

Prepare your house for selling. Styling tips
If you are selling in the winter months, a photo of your garden taken on a nice day last year may help give the buyer a better idea of what the garden looks like in summer.

Bonus tip: use baby wipes to get marks off walls!

Before you get the pain brush out to redecorate the walls when all of a sudden you spot all those marks and hand prints, sometimes all it needs is a baby wipe and some elbow grease to get rid of them or at least make them less visible. If all else fails, by all means go over it with the emulsion, but I tell you, just give it a try 😉

Have you tried any particular thing to sell your house?

For anyone interested in finding out more about our house, please visit for more pictures, the full details and to book viewings.


Transform a farmhouse kitchen with skylights

Last year I had the pleasure work with a family in Aberdeenshire who were looking to update the kitchen in their 18th century farmhouse. I made the suggestion to transform their farmhouse kitchen with skylights.

The house was lovely and old located in beautiful countryside, but when I arrived, I immediately felt claustrophobic. The kitchen was a very dark space, with low ceilings and small windows, which was probably OK for slightly shorter owners a few centuries ago, but not for 21st century people of 5ft 8″. So before taking out my notebook and discuss any colour schemes and styles, the first question I asked my client was:”What’s in the roof space? Can we break through and add some skylights?” I could literally see their eyes light up.

Opening up the roof with skylights can make a difference of day and night – literally. Imagine the lack of light in this example, if it wasn’t for the large windows in the ceiling. Image: Hege in France

the kitchen as the heart of the home

Now, while they went off to find a builder and get some quotes, I put my design hat on and came up with some ideas. They wanted a livable, modern space that would function as the centre of the house – for meals, homework and reading the paper. They wanted light, neutral and timeless colours, nothing too ‘trendy’, but also not something “boring and too grey or beige”; a room that would be unique and enjoyable for years to come.  Oh, and it needed a big, chunky farmhouse table!

Mood board for farmhouse kitchen makeover

Mood board in mustard and grey to transform a farmhouse kitchen with skylights

Grey and mustard colour scheme for a scandinavian look

I chose grey as basic colour, but added mustard yellow as accent colour in the style board (who doesn’t love that combo?), and rustic natural wood to go with the farmhouse theme. They already had original slate flagstone tiles on the floor which is a great original feature and will make a great contrast with the contemporary white kitchen they were going to order.

transform a farmhouse kitchen with skylights

The craquele glaze pastel/grey tiles are ones we selected for our own kitchen a few years back and are just a great choice if you like the metro tile look, but are looking for a softer, less industrial style.

I would add some Scandi’ style pieces such as a clock, pendant ‘barn’ lights, a patterned blind and contemporary dining chairs to bring the farmhouse look up to date. The large rustic table and some vintage pieces add uniqueness to the room. The skylights would likely be on one side of the kitchen (near the windows and patio door), to leave space for storage in the attic.

transform a farmhouse kitchen with skylights

transform a farmhouse kitchen with skylights


My clients were pleased with my suggestions and I can’t wait to catch up with them to see if the roof lights are in and how much difference it has made so far. What do you think?

Room makeover ideas: from dated pine to art deco glam

Everyone love a great room makeover ideas! Last year I had the pleasure of designing a living room for a lovely couple in Aberdeen. Typical Victorian granite property, high ceilings, fire place and a large front window. They loved dark moody colours for their home interior and the dining room was already decorated in a beautiful deep blue. Their living room was still very much in need of some love and attention. A lot of dated pine woodwork, tall white walls, nothing really worked and it lacked warmth. The only thing they really liked and had added to the room was grey patterned wallpaper on the chimney breast.

Art deco, greens and gold

They didn’t quite know what else to go for with their living room, but they did tell me that greens, golds and art deco were colours and styles that had crossed their minds. They hired me to provide my ‘design package’ for them, in which I suggested practical solutions and ideas to make the room look more ‘together’ and add the cosiness they were looking for. They were very pleased with that and decided to go and decorate and finish the room themselves, using my designs as a guide.

room makeover ideas

room makeover ideas
The room before the makeover: a lot of pine and big white walls.

Almost a year on I contacted them to find out what had happened since I last saw them, as I was keen to see the room again. I was pleasantly surprised that not only had they managed to redecorate, they also became new parents to a beautiful baby girl! Time for a visit.

room makeover ideas

room makeover ideas

Emerald green walls and brass accents

I was a bit nervous to see my designs brought into reality. Still, I was delighted that it looked much as I had envisaged. The walls were green (I had initially suggested a more smoky green but their choice definitely makes a great, bold statement and works well). White shelving had been built into the alcoves. They put down a beautiful dark mahogany colour floor and the furniture they had picked was not far off my ideas. They had splashed out on a very nice brass and glass coffee table from Rose and Grey but saved on other items such as the grey Ikea sofas and a simple cream rug. The lovely dark sideboard came from House of Fraser. Their existing framed stag print now looks great against the green back drop. It’s really picking up the green in the picture.

room makeover ideas

art deco sideboard

Buying everything new at once certainly has its conveniences. My clients did confess that if they had sourced an original art deco sideboard that it would probably have saved them some money. Buying vintage also means getting something totally unique.

room makeover ideas

room makeover ideas

white woodwork as a contrast

They decided to go for white woodwork rather than the grey I originally suggested. I think it makes a good, fresh looking alternative. Still a few finishing touches to make, such as perhaps some light weight curtains and a different lamp base. They are also still looking for a mirror above the fire place, artwork above the sofa and maybe a vintage art deco drinks trolley. Still, they achieved a gorgeous result so far nonetheless. Well done to them for doing all of this by themselves! And all of it in quite a hectic time of their life with the new addition to their family.

“We absolutely love the room now, it is lovely to spend time in”, they said. And the baby and cat seemed very happy with the calm atmosphere in the room too, cooing and purring away.

Does your room need a makeover too?

Contact me to discuss what you need. A first no obligation meeting is free. Call +44 7724622835 or click on the link below:

Interior design services


Guest room makeover

If you are lucky enough to have a ‘spare’ room you may, like me, once have had grand plans of it doing this beautiful boutique guest room makeover. You know, with soft hand towels neatly folded on the bed with a cute bit of hotel soap on top. Fresh flowers, some carefully selected books…slippers even. Yes? No, I didn’t get there either.

guest room ideas

Somehow over the months, years even, laundry ends up drying in the room, subsequently dumped on the bed in a pile waiting to be be ironed. A desk with a computer arrives. And the junk and boxes of stuff just increase. Stuff you have no idea where to put, but you don’t want to throw out yet, so – oh heck – you just chuck in the spare room to “sort out later”. And then one day, it looks a bit like this:

guest room ideas

And this:

guest room ideas
Not much happiness going on here.

Or even this:

guest room ideas
Spare room? Spare shelves.

The guest room makeover

Time for some hardcore tidying to get this guest room makeover on the road! There is only so much ‘let’s just shut the door and ignore it’ I can take. Besides that, my mum will be staying soon, so I’d better give her a bed. After my friend kindly offered to take my children to the indoor play-barn for the afternoon (she deserves a medal…indoor play-barns…the stuff of nightmares), I had time to wizz around the room and give it a quick makeover.

2.5 hours later it looked like this:

guest room ideasguest room makeover ideasguest room ideasguest room ideasguest room ideasguest room ideas

Still no folded hand towels and miniature soap on the pillows (hey, it’s a sofa bed!), but it’s looking like a usable space again. Multifunctional and pleasant. Now let’s keep the junk out.

What do you think?


How to paint a dated traditional wooden kitchen

So I was tidying up the other day and stumbled across some photos of when my husband and I first moved into our house nine years ago. Our house is a detached 1930s granite house in an Aberdeenshire village. It has a kitchen extension built by the previous owners. The decor at the time was very dated throughout the house; terracotta walls, mahogany woodwork, pine staircase, green carpets and a traditional maple shaker kitchen. But the kitchen was solid wood, good quality, made locally and as moving house is expensive enough as it is we decided to try and live with it. We lived with it for six years! Today I will show you the before, the interim and the after.

So this how we found it. Oucha. Yellow walls and orange wood. But a good cooker!

Below: looking into the kitchen extension from the main house (the garden was also a little over grown, look at the windows! And what on earth are those light shades?). Excuse the poor quality picture – it is a picture taken of a print.

I thought about a colour scheme to somehow tone down the yellowness of the room and decided on steel blue-grey for the walls to combine better with the natural wood. We replaced the cheap sticky vinyl flooring with (also pretty affordable and very practical) dark slate look laminate, which is in fact still our flooring today. I painted over the 1990s yellow floral tiles with some grey tile paint and ordered some colourful tile stickers online. We also replaced the wooden door knobs with brushed steel ones and stuck a chalkboard sheet on the cupboard door. Oh yes, and that silly breakfast table went of course.

Here is the interim phase! Slightly better than it was.


Below: the dining area. Looking pretty neat, I think, and much fresher in greys than yellow. (Those wishbone chairs? I sold those…I know, aren’t they nice?)


We must have grown rather fond of our silly old kitchen, because six years later, when we decided to change things again, we amazingly still didn’t rip it out. We just hate waste and rather ‘upcycle’ something. The kitchen worked fine for us, so why not just update it a bit more? We also felt sorry for the kitchen – we are such a sad bunch! After all, it wasn’t her fault that she had gone out of fashion, was it?

So we took off the wall hung cabinets and another unit on the other side, painted the ones left, spent some money on a fancy big fridge, a freestanding dresser, oak shelving, new tiles and a slate worktop.

Of course, I would be lying if I said it all happened as by magic overnight. For a while I seriously doubted our decision. The dust, the disruption…trying to keep a baby out of the mess. You get the picture.


In the end it must have taken us a good few weeks to paint the cabinets, organise tradesmen and redecorate. But the result was worth the effort. Hello contemporary country kitchen!


So how do you paint an old wooden kitchen?

1. Prep & prime

You really don’t have to go and strip the cabinet doors before painting. Giving it a good sand to create a key – is key. Then wash off the dust with sugar soap and get the primer out. This doesn’t need to go on too neatly, but the bigger your brush strokes are, the harder to sand them smooth afterwards. Buy good quality soft brushes and do the brush strokes in the same direction. With the shaker style doors you will also have the beveled edges and corners to deal with. It worked well for me to first do the inside (lower) square in one direction (making sure to take away any surplus paint from the corners with the tip of my brush), and then the middle panel and outside frame. Once it is dry, use fine sandpaper to create a nice smooth base for your gloss (or eggshell). You may need more than one coat of primer, and remember to sand in between coats and wipe off the dust.

2. Top coat

For the final colour we chose Farrow and Ball Off White eggshell (water based), used on the cabinets on the right. A nice colour that looks neither white nor cream and sometimes even a bit grey depending on the light. For the ones on the left we decided to get that same colour mixed up as an oil based paint at a decorator’s trade centre (Crown). Why? Because it really makes a difference! Now, three years later the water based paint is starting to show some wear, whereas the oil based paint is still perfect. It maybe isn’t the most eco friendly paint to use but for a high traffic area like a kitchen you really don’t want flaking paint after a year or so. Oil based paint is good to work with, goes on smoothly, but takes longer to dry and can still feel a bit sticky for days while it is hardening. So don’t touch it! And don’t try and sand it when it is not hard yet. I must admit I did not sand in between the top coats, as the paint stuck fine and I was scared to ruin the previous finish. It worked ok.

For a more detailed how-to you can find plenty tutorials online including this one

3. Hardware and other upgrades

We reused most of the brushed steel knobs and handles we put on previously, which looked great on the newly painted cabinets.

Other alterations we made were moving the sink away from the window to create more work surface next to the cooker. Lethenty Cabinetmakers did an excellent job refitting the cabinets, placing a new worktop, tap and big cooker hood, steel splash back and the nice floating natural oak shelves.

Last but not least we had the wall above the work top covered in pastel coloured craqueled glaze metro style tiles and the room painted in a soft pale grey-white.

Do we still love it? Yes! The pretty slate work top proved a little bit sensitive to lemon stains and knocks…but hey, it is a work top after all so we just have to be careful. The kitchen overall feels lighter, brighter and more modern – but still very unique because of the choices we have made. We could have ripped it all out, but it feels so much better giving the kitchen a new lease of life. And we saved some money too. What we’ll do in the future? Oh, we are always full of ideas and no doubt there will be changes again in years to come. But the kitchen stays for now.

Below: a bit more of a ‘lived in’ and messy real-life picture after two years! (and oh, look, we also broke through to the lounge in the meantime! But that dusty episode I will leave for a future post…)


The interior makeover of a vintage 1971 Airstream caravan

Anyone else thinking about the summer holidays yet? I would love to pack up and make a long road trip through Europe, stopping off wherever I fancy, no set plans. Visiting flea markets (of course!) in France, sipping wine in Italy, climbing a mountain in the Alps, going wild at a festival in Berlin. Dreaming… And what better way to do this than to take your own perfect little mobile home with you?

Airstream lettering on the exterior

From drab seventies to striking Scandi

A few years ago I got the incredibly exciting job to redesign the interior of a 1971 Airstream caravan for a client. Oh my word, what a beautiful shiny silver beast. The interior décor was still in its original state and looking very dated. Think brown laminate walls, yellow fabrics, smelly carpets and saggy sofas. My clients, Gavin and Angelique from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, were feeling a bit overwehelmed by the thought of doing it themselves. Where to start? So they called me.

After an initial consultation about what was reqired, I found out they wanted something fresh, ‘Scandi’ style, and also asked for the colours orange and mustard yellow to be in it as well as some retro patterns without going overboard.

I went away and had a good think, creating mood boards on Pinterest and colour schemes to give my clients an idea of what the caravan could look like. I decided on the combination to be hot orange, teal blue and grey, with a splash of mustard and combined with some playful animal/outdoor prints as a reference to the trips into nature they’d be doing in it soon. The fabrics are by Scion (by Harlequin) and Moon, who produce beautiful quality wool materials. The latter being a lovely high quality wool that is perfect for high traffic areas like caravan seating. The Scion patterned fabric was used mainly for scatter cushions but also for a few of the back rests. My clients chose the carpet themselves, which I feel compliments the look perfectly.

The airstream caravan parked outside

The dark brown interior walls of the caravan were painted grey, which made the space immediately a lot brighter and more modern. The mustard coloured kitchen worktop stayed the same, but immediately looked a lot better in its freshened up surroundings.

Before the makeover of the airstream caravan

Before the makaover of the vintage airstream caravanNew interior of vintage airstream caravan

For the sofabed in the front of the caravan I selected a grey wool with a small pattern on the back rest and a lovely deep teal wool on the seat.

For the beds in the back of the caravan I decided to add a bit more fun and pattern, with the back cushions done in different fabrics, stitched together in a contemporary patchwork style. As the cushions are loose they can be moved around and changed position if wanted. The scatter cushions were all made from scraps from the upholstery material that was used on the furniture.

Interior design of airstream caravan with Scion fabrics

The loose Mr Fox cushions by Scion are great to add some colour to the understated sofa bed.

makeover of a vintage airstream

Airstream upholstery makeover
Interior design of airstream caravan

What do the owners think?

The clients were very pleased with the end result. Gavin, owner of the Airstream, said about the project: “This was a challenging project that Nina not only rose to with enthusiasm but exceeded all expectations! An unusual request for sure – transform a very tired old, 1971 Airstream caravan interior from it’s drab, beige Texan original state to something modern and contemporary for a family of four with two young children.”

“We contacted Nina just as we were ripping out the beige shag pile carpet and three original, tired old brown sofas wondering really what we had gotten ourselves into – could this ever be the ‘mobile extension’ of our modern new home? Nina not only rekindled our enthusiasm for the major project with her excitement and ideas but went away and created a number of fantastic proposals, all of which were spot on and all of which were professionally presented. Left to transform the full design of the interior with soft furnishings, Nina by far exceeded our expectations for how a small space could look – the caravan is now our perfect family home from home, doubling up as the perfect business presentation space at trade shows.”

Office inside a vintage airstream caravan

Papillon Landscaping and airstream at the AECC Scottish Home Show

Since then the beautiful vintage Airstream has been on many outings with its owners, who run Papillon Landscaping.  The caravan doubled up as an eye catching office and showroom at the Scottish Home Show at the AECC in Aberdeen.

When it is not used as mobile office space or rented out to others (yes, you can rent this beauty!, owners Angelique and Gavin enjoy taking it on camping trips with their kids around Scotland. And well, who wouldn’t?

Vintage airstream in Scottish highlands

If you would like our help in revamping your caravan or camper van, please get in touch! We’d love to work with you!

Upcycling project: a vintage display cabinet goes oriental

I don’t have much time these days to work on furniture as much as I did on this upcycling project, but I think it paid off. I found the old display cabinet in a charity shop and it immediately caught my eye. It is always a guess what you come across in these places, but I just knew that this one had potential. And for 30 pounds, it was a steal.

seeing the potential

The vintage cabinet had gorgeous carved detailing around the edges, original, rippled antique glass panels and a design on the doors that reminded me of Japanese patterns. Japanese patterns, I thought? I think I have just the thing for that. Time to breathe some life into this treasure.

upcycling project graphite chalk paint


Repurposing vintage kimono silks

It was a smelly old cabinet.  The first thing I did was rip out the old vinyl lining paper from the back wall. It had obviously been stuck on in the sixties. I considered sticking some kind of patterned paper back on, but then I remembered a patchwork I had been sewing ages ago. I once ordered a batch of vintage kimono silk remnants and been trying to turn them into a blanket. As with many projects, it never got finished. How about I try and line this display cabinet with it? That would be perfect!

graphite chalk paint for the upcycling project

I chose a graphite chalk paint to cover up the dull dark brown varnish on the wood. I lightly brushed some dusky pink over the floral carving on the edging to make it stand out more. The inside I painted with the same pink. A wax and a bit of elbow grease gave the cabinet a nice sheen without becoming too glossy.

The cabinet is beautiful, unique and I am proud of the way it turned out.

It is so satisfying to bring an old discarded piece of furniture back to life and I think that whoever owned it in the past would be pleased to see it being loved again. I hope the future owner will treasure it forever.

upcycling project graphite chalk paint

upcycling project graphite chalk paint

upcycling project graphite chalk paint
upcycling project graphite chalk paint
upcycling project graphite chalk paint
upcycling project graphite chalk paint
upcycling project vintage kimono
upcycling project vintage kimono

Chair makeover – painted and reupholstered

Reworking or ‘upcycling’ furniture is part of my business so I am delighted to be able to share the latest project in the shop with you today. It is a French style occasional chair, painted and distressed in Annie Sloan white and duck egg chalk paint, waxed – and reupholstered in floral linen fabric ‘Indienne’ by Villa Nova. Here’s the result! It would make a perfect chair in a bedroom or hallway.

Upcycled, painted and sewn together: chairs, bar stools and colourful cushions

A few photos of recent projects by myself and Willow Cottage.

Breakfast bar stools I have upcycled and painted for customers in Annie Sloan mixed white and duck egg blue chalk paint and recovered in fabric by Prestigious
Cushions I made from a pile of vintage embroidery panels. Prices from £18-22
Ercol chair painted in graphite black (£45) and an large old ‘Viresa’ wine bottle/vase (£55)
What a line-up! Chairs painted by myself and Willow Cottage. £45 each
Piano stool reupholstered for a customer in a ‘patchwork’ style
Cushions made with designer fabrics. £30 each

And so now…I have my very own shop! With a door and a key: Nina’s Apartment

Sometimes things change quickly. Less than a year ago I set up my own business and started promoting my ventures online. In January I set up an Etsy account, in May I started selling at Yeadon’s bookshop in Elgin and I’ve done a number of craft/vintage fairs since last Christmas.

(Oh yeah, I also had a baby)

It is August now and I have just got the keys to my very own studio & shop space. Eeek! What’s going on?! Am I scared? Yes, I am!

It is out in the sticks and not on a busy high street, so I am going to have to shout loudly to draw attention! Nevertheless, it is hugely exciting and I will be part of a lovely old building housing other creative people who make furniture – and even complete handmade kitchens (the woodworking workshops there would make any joiner drool!). Oh yes, and it has lots of parking space (try to find that in a city!).

It will be my own little work space where I can let my creative juices flow, paint, sew, design, make and also show off and sell my furniture, vintage, unique and handmade homeware and other nice things. I hope to make it a fun, inspiring and welcoming place to be, where people can come and spend some time, find inspiration, join me in creating things – or just catch up over a cup of coffee.

But first things first: redecorating! An opening party will follow. Promise.


Nina’s Apartment will soon be located at:

Lethenty Mill
AB51 0HQ