Ask any home buyer to describe what convinced them that this house was the one, and you’ll hear one word come up over and over again: “love.”


Buying a home, after all, is often a highly emotional thing, so when the right place comes along, buyers get giddier than a high schooler heading to prom. Plus, there’s plenty a home seller can learn from this rush of emotions in terms of prettying up their own place to sell like hotcakes, too.

Just check out these stories on what made buyers fall in love with their homes, and how sellers can capture that same magic in their own place.


A knockout front door


“What I first saw is what first made me fall in love with my house: the gorgeous double doors at the entrance. They were the same pretty raspberry color as the foyer, which really made them pop.” –Carol Gee, Atlanta, GA


To capture the magic: “Creative front doors are a great way to add a ‘wow’ factor to your home’s entrance,” says design consultant Barbara Mount of Barbara Mount Designs in Lake Oswego, OR. The easiest fix is to paint the door a bright but complementary color, or stain a wood door to match the porch railing or hardwood floors just inside.


You also might want to consider a door style out of the ordinary. Some of Mount’s suggestions include a Dutch door, double doors with transom windows, or an antique door—in an eye-catching color like red or cheery yellow.


“Any style can offer an opportunity for you to try a paint color that brings a smile to your face as you enter,” she says.

Sky-high ceilings


“I remember the moment I walked into the house. It was like out of my dream. I was sold on the spacious, airy ceilings.” –Amber Turner, Colorado Springs, CO


To capture the magic: The big fix, of course, would be a remodel—by vaulting the ceiling or knocking down a wall. But if that’s out of the question, paint your entry white, ceiling and all, recommends Mount.


“That fluidity of color will make the ceiling appear higher and the rooms more airy,” she says.


Another tip is to hang wall art low to give the illusion of high ceilings and a sense of spaciousness. Or, using the same concept, try hanging a mirror low so that a window can be reflected in it.


“You have instant light and a sense of airiness just by reflecting what appears to be another window,” she says.


Finally, she recommends eliminating window coverings, because they tend to make windows appear smaller, which in turn makes the whole room’s scale seem small.

Standing out in a sea of sameness


“One of my biggest peeves are collections of houses that are all basically the same scaled-down ‘McMansion’ with one of three types of floor plans. In a neighborhood of houses all with red brick, our house stood out because it was painted white brick, which really caught my eye.” –Luke Johnson, Jackson, MS


To capture the magic: If you find yourself living in a home that looks like every third house on the street, the first plan of action should be to paint the home, the trim, and the front door with three complementary colors, Mount says. Then add some architectural features like shutters, flower boxes, new light fixtures, and updated house numbers. Shingling details at the eaves or on the garage front is another nice way to add texture.

Privacy please


“I’m over the ‘open concept’ style of the early to mid-2010s and love my century-old house’s defined rooms with specific purposes and privacy from the rest of the house’s activities.” –Rebekah Alt, Columbus, OH


To capture the magic: Mount recently had a client ask how to reduce the noise that was carrying upstairs due to their home’s open floor plan, and she suggested adding a wall between the front living area and the dining room to create a space for more privacy and quiet.


“It seemed strange to suggest putting a wall back up in an open floor plan, but more and more, clients are asking how to create more privacy and differentiation between their living spaces,” she notes.


Quick fixes include a bookcase as a room divider, or a room screen. In a kids’ area, a great option is to hang curtains from the ceiling to divide their space from the rest of the room; since curtains are soft, they won’t injure little ones when they’re playing.

Good bones—and major potential


“What I loved most was the potential: I wanted a home that was done enough to live in, but with enough room to make it our own. I think if your home has the bones, then that’s all you need. Have an open mind and a little bit of vision, and you can make it yours.” –Megan Carolan, Somers, NY


To capture the magic: “Good bones” is a phrase we often hear ascribed to an older home, but what does that mean?


“To me, ‘good bones’ means that with some TLC and cosmetic changes, the house will have the charm and character I want because it has started with all the foundational elements you need,” Mount says. While old homes tend to naturally have this character, newer homes can have it, too—so keep your eye peeled wherever you go.