By the time this column is published the results of the national and provincial elections will be finalised, and President Ramaphosa will have the mandate and the support of the country to #GrowSouthAfrica together.

No matter for which party you voted, no matter your political persuasion, let us all stand together to build our country to its deserved level within the global community of developing and emerging markets. The property market is eagerly anticipating a return to a more usual trading environment now that the uncertainty over the election outcome is behind us.

The relatively weak South African Rand makes foreign investment in our properties more affordable for overseas buyers, and a recent experience with a couple from outside our borders created the topic for this particular column.

A well-decorated house had been purchased, title of the property had been transferred to the new owners, the previous owners had removed their furniture and all the contents of their home – and the new owners suddenly realised that their new house now looked like a house, and not like a home.

Whether your new home is a large, many-bedroomed property on a golf estate; a quaint, historic property in the centre of town; or a townhouse in a new development, here are a few ideas on how to turn any house into a home.

Don’t be afraid to use colour effectively. White or cream walls are often a safe choice, but a feature wall or darker colour can provide an essential linkage between your home and its furnishings. Experiment and be brave – and allow your walls to contrast your furnishings in order to achieve a more modern look.

Let your accessories reflect your personality. Personal photographs, different or unusual souvenirs from your travels, vases and candles – they all add character to a room and, importantly, reflect your personality and lifestyle. Living in a house that matches your personality obviously turns it from a house into a home.

Cushions, cushions and more cushions… A most underrated accessory that allows you to add colour, texture and indeed character to any room, at a relatively low price. Page through any design magazine and notice how the use of cushions adds flavour to a room.

Lighting is the key to creating the correct ambience for your home. Establishing a focal point in a room by installing a commissioned chandelier or even, merely, changing harsh cold lights to the modern, warmer, softer hues will go a long way to brightening your home. Place feature lamps on either side of sofas, beds and console tables to create height and brighten dark corners. Use down lighting under shelving units to allow you to highlight key accessories Consider changing your switches and use dimmable lighting to transform your home’s atmosphere.

Choosing your own style for your home can often seem overwhelming. This is why the use of professional interior decorators should not be perceived as an expensive luxury but may often, in the longer term, deliver the required result in a far shorter time – and with less personal angst than would otherwise have been experienced. The homeowner will need to be able to indicate the required aesthetic to the interior designer (classic, antique, modern, contemporary or a mixture of all of them), and give the professional an idea of his/her personality. Are you an organiser, artistic, eclectic or traditional? Do you like minimalistic and simple? What is your favoured colour palette, how do you feel about patterns?

The professional interior designer will assess your requirements based on your personality and needs; and deliver your home to you within your agreed budget. This was the case with regard to the property that triggered the creative thoughts for this article, and the new owners are now happily living in their new home.

In closing, the tips above are just as relevant when looking to sell your home. The initial feeling that a prospective buyer gets upon entering your home is often more important than the detailed review of the property that takes place during the viewing. Consider introducing some of the above options before deciding to place your property on the market for the first time.

The views expressed above are those of the writer in his personal capacity and may not necessarily reflect the views of Fine & Country as a national and international brand.

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