Liz Finkelstein is the owner and principle consultant of Mile High Style, the only style consulting business in Colorado offering services for both personal fashion and interior design. Because interior design is such a natural part of buying, owning, and selling a home, we wanted to talk with Liz about how to make the most of a space, whether for personal comfort or as a way to appeal to potential buyers. Here, she offers some valuable insight and tips for you, our readers. Enjoy!
What are some things that influence the way you style your clients’ homes?
The two things I take into consideration first and foremost are the style of the home and the style of any furniture that my clients want to keep. I helped with an early 1900s foursquare in Mapleton Hill that had very small rooms original to the home and lots of heavy wood trim (also original). Those conditions dictated that furniture needed to be smaller, window treatments very simple, and every last piece needed to really bring something to the space because we had no room for extraneous *stuff*. But in a large, lofted space you have the literal and visual room to add a side table to every seat, to play with proportion, add more accessories. You have to move with the current of the home.
In your experience, how are personal fashion and home styling interconnected?
To me, they’re exactly the same. Great design is about honoring the existing architecture of a space (home or body), addressing the need for functionality and comfort, choosing the larger style while balancing the perfect amount of contrast so the design is always slightly unexpected, and paying exquisite attention to detail.
Tell us about some of your favorite furniture repurposing projects.
I love using antique dining chairs (which are small, simple, and inexpensive) as a bedside table or in the corner of a bedroom with a small stack of beautiful books. I also recently repurposed a mid-century glass and metal bar cart, also as a bedside table. I’m allergic to bedroom ‘sets’, so finding ways to switch it up and keep that room feeling inspired and original is very important.
What are some of your suggestions for “go-to” pieces that every home should have?
An upholstered headboard for the master, crisp hotel sheets in a neutral color, statement lighting in a main room, creative tablescapes, an orchid with all the fixings (moss, branches, etc.), art, a dramatic paint color in at least one room.
What are some examples of bathroom upgrades that offer the highest ROI?
Bathrooms are one of the most important upgrades in a home, returning an average of well over 50%. As far as style goes, the trend in bathrooms and kitchens is minimal and modern- no fancy wood carvings, ornate lighting and tilework. Instead, marble, subway tile, light grey paint, industrial style lighting, organic elements (teak, bamboo, etc.) and a brushed pewter finish all translate beautifully and broadly. Brass is the newest finish getting heavy play amongst the uber stylish set, so if you want to be ahead of the rest, make that your metal of choice.
Say a homeowner has a room with a beautiful view. What are some suggestions for how they can turn those views into a focal point for the room?
First, arrange the furniture in the room around that view (as opposed to around the television, or the fireplace). Then don’t obstruct the view- keep window treatments super simple or keep windows bare.
When purchasing art on behalf of your clients, what influences your decision for which pieces to buy?
First, I try to stay local. Supporting our artists and galleries is so important for keeping our community full of beauty and culture. Since reaction to art is 100% subjective, I really try to let my clients choose for themselves and only weigh in on matters of size, color and placement. I also encourage them to think out of the box- art can be anything.
In your experience, does staging a home really increase its appeal to potential buyers?
Absolutely. You want potential buyers to see themselves in your home, so neutralizing the style and depersonalizing the decor helps so much in that regard. Additionally, you want to eliminate any questions of ‘what goes here’ and ‘what is this room for’. Staging shows buyers how the space can best be used, even if that’s not how you used it.
What are some key points to consider when staging a home?
Buyers will always overestimate the cost of repairs, so make them all yourself so nothing needs fixing. Then the name of the game is CLEAN, as in sparkling clean. Declutter by removing 3/4 of the contents of every single surface in the house, turn on all the lights, and depersonalize so the buyers can mentally move in: store photos, severe art, religious iconography and anything that will bring attention to itself and away from the house.