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Interior designer sold her house in a month. Her tips can help move yours, too.


When Paloma Contreras and her husband bought a home in Cinco Ranch in Katy, it made sense logistically: She was starting her career as a teacher there.

But Contreras soon realized that interior design was her calling, and she switched careers. She started Paloma Contreras Design and built up her business but found that many of her clients were inside the Loop.

After 11 years in Katy, the busy decorator sold her suburban home and moved to Richwood Place, between Montrose and the Museum District.

Her Katy home sold in less than a month, even in a slower market. Even thought Contreras kept her home picture-perfect, she knew that she had to take a step back and get it ready for someone else to love.

Here are Contreras’ five fixes that helped sell her home quickly.


1. Small things matter.

Contreras said that if you can only do one thing in your kitchen, it just might need to be updating the countertops. Her Katy home originally had salmon-colored laminate countertops, and she changed them to gray Wilsonart laminate. After a few years, she knew she wanted something that felt more elevated and polished, so she installed Silestone in “gray moss.”

“New quartz would be appealing for potential buyers,” said Contreras, who is also an “insider” for the National Kitchen and Bath Association. “It’s neutral and pretty and can work with anyone’s furnishings.”

In her new house, Contreras painted everything white, to create a crisp, clean feel. “Don’t underestimate the power of paint. If you take the plunge and buy paint and spend a weekend painting, you’ll be surprised at the impact it can have,” she said.

2. Don’t forget the master bathroom.

You don’t likely need to gut your master bathroom to sell your home. If you’re considering a major makeover, do it for yourself and enjoy it while you’re there.

Installing subway tile can instantly freshen up your bathroom. You can also update the plumbing fixtures – consider your faucets and showerhead the jewelry of the room. Or, if your counters are damaged or yellowed, try adding new counters in marble or Dekton Aura, which mimics the look of marble, she said.

3. Clean it up.

Your Realtor or real estate agent has likely already told you to box up most of the family photos and store home accessories to depersonalize your home. When you hear feedback that something in your home isn’t right, don’t take it personally. Remember: You don’t want to live there anymore.

“Be mindful about what people’s impressions will be. Think about what appeals to the greatest number of people. You might need to put some furniture in storage and put away photos or tone down paint choices,” Contreras said. “Not everyone can envision what a house can be. Some people will say, ‘I don’t like this paint, I don’t like this house’ and not give it a chance.”

4. Grab onto gray.

Perhaps no color has had as big a heyday as gray – in every shade. Contreras loves Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter,” a light gray with warm undertones. It’s flattering to everyone and works in different styles: contemporary, traditional or modern. While she used the gray in her former home, her new home doesn’t yet have any gray walls.

5. Curb appeal matters.

Take a look outside at your front door and/or porch and your landscaping. Pull weeds, plant flowers and add some fresh mulch. If your door is boring or faded, refinish it or add a fresh coat of paint. Contreras painted hers with high-gloss black lacquer and added a hexagonal door knocker for a sophisticated look. Her new home has a door with natural stain, but that might be the first thing she changes when she’s done unpacking.

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This is the second home that I have bought. My first was several years ago and it was for sale by owner. Buying my current home was the first time I have worked with a realtor. I had a good experience with Keller Williams Realty. Barry Evans was very friendly and professional. I would recommend Keller Williams Realty to a friend.