Your Best Winter Home
Megan Owen, June 29, 2017

Here are some expert tips from two of Joburg’s hottest interior designers to help you prepare your home to go on the market in winter, while at the same time giving your home a recession-proof facelift!

Out with clutter, in with velvet! Jenna Penny and Bronwen Barnes are both glamorous, dog crazy, and two of Joburg’s hottest interior decorators regularly featured in Garden & Home and other top publications. Here are some of their expert tips for preparing your house to go on the market in winter, while at the same time giving your home a recession-proof facelift!

What gives you a good/bad first impression of a home?

Jenna: Mess. I have a serious case of OCD and I love things to be organised!

Bronwen: I am not a fan of clutter. There is a place in every home for objects and art, but if you are a fan of knick-knacks then best to group them for more impact. I love a light and warm home. If your home is dark, consider putting in skylights, enlarging window openings, installing stacker doors or making rooms open-plan to maximise light. Use mirrors to bounce light around and light wall colours.

What would you advise winter sellers to do to make their houses appealing to buyers?

Jenna: I love winter! If you have a fire place, get a fire going and have a pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen. The warmth and smell of coffee are both inviting. Fresh flowers in a home are always important no matter the time of year or occasion. Create a cozy ambience by turning on sidelights and table lamps.

Bronwen: Bake! There is nothing better than walking into a home with the welcome smell of vanilla in the air and a mountain of muffins or a delicious cake standing invitingly on the kitchen counter. In my opinion, food transforms a house into a home. Pull out comfy throws to drape on sofas or hang on hooks on the wall. Use candles and winter flowers like Begonia & Daffodils to decorate bare surfaces.

In a tough economic climate, what are a few affordable things one can do to give a home a facelift?

Jenna: Having furniture painted by a professional can be expensive, but if you are willing to put in the elbow grease this is a great way to give things a new look – if in doubt, paint it white! Little things like changing old cupboard door handles to new ones, rehanging pictures/paintings and putting large fresh green leaves into a vase on your server or side table always looks fabulous. Get rid of any clutter and focus on only a few good accessories.

Bronwen: De-clutter and group similar items. A new coat of paint is one of the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective décor tools. Consider re-painting old kitchen cabinets rather than replacing with new. You can even paint a screeded floor at minimal cost. Update your dining room, kitchen station or patio with affordable contemporary plastic chairs. Have a look at places like Chair Crazy, Esque, @Home and Merge. Re-silicone the bathroom – there is nothing worse than mouldy bath edges. Silicone is a quick, easy and cheap way to freshen up your bathroom.

What are some of your favourite trends at the moment?

Jenna: Velvet! Never in a million years did I ever think I’d say this, but I have grown hugely fond of velvet and whichever store you walk into or whatever magazine you page through, you will see velvet and I LOVE IT! My other favourite is vinyl flooring! It looks great and is ultra durable.

Bronwen: The use of marble on tabletops, wallpapers and fabrics. I enjoy incorporating marble into organic schemes by mixing it up with wood and metal. Velvet is making a comeback with most fabric houses launching velvets in rainbow hues. Paired with metallic accents, this trend is spot on for winter. Patterned tiles are in again and being used on bathroom floors and walls and kitchens to add a quirky WOW factor.

What is a common mistake people make when redecorating/renovating their homes?

Jenna: Red feature walls. Nothing disturbs me more than one painted wall, especially if it’s red. I find that so often when people are looking for a pop of colour, the first thing they do is paint a wall red. I’d rather you paint all the walls red as this creates a real impact and is something to talk about. I feel the same about wallpaper – for me it’s all or nothing!

Bronwen: Over-spending on the renovation and leaving little money for decorating is a common mistake, as is cost cutting by employing cheap trades people – not worth it in the long run! Another big one is not getting planning permission from both the estate management (if applicable) and council.

We all want a home out of a magazine, but dogs and kids make it difficult! How do you advise people who want to decorate in a way that isn’t easily destroyed by dogs and children?

Jenna: Slipcovers are one of my favourite things! In fact, I did an article on this for Garden and Home last year. The importance of a slipcover is getting it well made as there is nothing worse than a badly made one. The best part about it is that you can take it off and chuck it in the wash. Just make sure you wash it cold otherwise it might shrink! Try to make sure when choosing fabrics for cushions and curtains that they too can be washed. Patterned fabrics are usually a safer option.

Bronwen: Choose synthetic fabrics for slipcovers e.g. polyester and acrylic which are easily washable. There are some very good washable linens nowadays too. Synthetics, however, will always be more durable. Choose darker colours for large items like sofas and rugs so that you are not washing them every week. Keep coffee table surfaces clear so that little hands can’t gobble or break your special goodies and choose an easy-to-clean floor.

What’s the favourite part of your job?

Jenna: My best part is installation day! I feel like a child on Christmas morning. I cannot wait to put all the pieces of a home together and then to see the client’s face at the end of it all is priceless.

Bronwen: Working on a variety of projects and meeting interesting people. During one day I might go from a fun, young couple’s townhouse in Bryanston to a colonial-style mansion in Hyde Park, to a modern farmhouse in Sandhurst.

Megan Owen
Megan grew up in Bryanston and left for New York after completing a BA in Law and Politics at Wits. In the States she started working as a Head Hunter and spent her free time traveling extensively and immersing herself in her passions - all things cultural. Megan returned to Bryanston five years ago and has never looked back. She continues to place senior executives around the world, while also running a celebrity booking agency, Actorvate, with her sister, actress Hayley Owen. Megan and Hayley live next door to each other in Bryanston and enjoy soaking up everything the neighborhood and its surrounds have to offer, from food, to fitness, to entertainment, to spa treatments, to nightlife. This blog is designed to share some of the highlights and experiences that this part of Joburg has to offer.

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