Scroll through online real estate listings and you’ll notice some homes have it, some homes don’t.
Precisely what this elusive “it” is can vary from place to place and style to style. Broadly speaking, it’s the real estate equivalent of fairy dust, sprinkled by home designers, stagers and stylists to make their clients’ properties stand out from the pack.
Just what trends are proving irresistible to buyers in 2016? And how can you embrace these looks in your own home?
Inject some greenery
There’s nothing like a splash of foliage to freshen up a space.
Cat Brown, whose company Simplify Me prepares homes in Melbourne for sale, says leaves can be even more appealing than flowers, which might trigger allergies or garden-variety dislike.
“No matter what the style of the house, whether it’s an old lady’s home or a ridiculously modern home, greenery will always work,” Brown says.
The fiddle-leaf fig is, in her view, close to overdone. Her current favourite? Lush, glossy monstera leaves in vases.
“They’re a really cost-effective way to use greenery in your house. They last pretty much the whole campaign and you can go any size, depending on how big your dining table is. You can even get them as big as your torso.”
Alex Zabotto-Bentley, the Sydney-based director of AZBcreative, nominates indoor palms, devil’s ivy and the classic 1970s rubber plant as his go-to indoor plants for staging. “They always change the energy of an interior,” he says.
Up the luxury with marble
With the amount of Carrara marble used in decor today, it’s a miracle there’s anything left standing at the Italian town where it’s quarried.
Tanya Giuffre, director of Evolve Styling in Sydney, says marble is hotter than ever, both in renovation finishes and furniture pieces. Paired with metallics such as brass or copper, it makes a modern style statement.
“It adds that luxe touch to interiors and takes the look to another level,” Giuffre says. “People can do this look inexpensively by adding a little side table with a marble top and brass legs.”
Make like a Scandinavian
Can those Scandinavians set a foot wrong? From education to social welfare, from crime dramas to Skarsgards, those Swedes, Danes, Norwegians – heck, all their Nordic buddies – can’t seem to stay off the top of international league tables.
And so it is with interiors, as Australia continues its decorator love affair with all things Scandi, from light oak floorboards to cosy sheepskin throws.
“There’s a lot of texture, with knitted highlight cushions, peaches and soft greys which go back really nicely with light oak, sisal and flat-weave floor mats,” Giuffre says. “It’s a really fresh look.”
Embrace al fresco living
Why eat out when you can enjoy al fresco lounging and dining in the comfort of your own home?
Steve Taylor, the managing director of Melbourne landscape design company COS Design, says al fresco rooms – usually, but not always with a roof – are booming.
This kind of outdoor entertaining space, he says, works well near large stacking bi-fold doors. Optional extras include outdoor kitchens, integrated barbecues, servery bars and even built-in entertainment systems.
For a cheaper alternative, Taylor recommends investing in a portable barbecue, a few nice pieces of outdoor furniture and a cantilevered umbrella.
“Playing calming, relaxing ambient music [at open homes] helps create the feeling that people can see themselves living outside. That’s what we do really well in Australia,” he says.
Be bold in the bathroom
One of the smallest rooms in the house is also one of the easiest to make over, according to Zabotto-Bentley.
“While a house should generally be neutral, you can afford to have a bit of fun with the bathroom,” Zabotto-Bentley says. “This is where you can use an unexpected colour, a unique tile or a bold wallpaper.”
He advises matching thick, fluffy or waffle-weave towels in neutral shades to create a hotel spa vibe. Take it up a notch with a basket of rolled towels and a towelling robe.
Six-star hotel style
As the property market comes off the dizzy heights of the past few years, developers are working harder to sell off-the-plan apartments.
Diana Sarcasmo, general manager of design, marketing and sales for developer Mirvac, says finishes in the style of luxury hotels are proving popular in new apartments.
“It’s very luxe and sophisticated and the quality of the materials used is paramount,” Sarcasmo says, pointing to a new development in the north Sydney suburb of St Leonards.
“You can see the impact of this trend at St Leonards Square, where the use of stone and timber-look joinery is very refined and elegant. People value the sense of timelessness and permanence these materials suggest.”