Notes from Our Love it or List it

Design 101


Presented by: Interior Designer, Amity Worrel, Architect Dianne Kett, Realtor Melody Birdsong, and Home Stager, Maureen Hodges



Think you’re ready to renovate? Architect Dianne Kett suggests starting with a list. Go through and make a thorough list of everything you love and don’t love. Be sure to include things beyond just the house, and what is in it. Consider the trees, neighborhood, neighbors, commute, and location as well. This will help you narrow down your list to the things you can change versus the things you cannot. The way the columns line-up can help you decide if you can just renovate and stay, or if the list is too oppressive, it may show why you need to sell your house and move to a new home in a new neighborhood.


Once you have your list of what you love and don’t love, talk to an interior designer and/or an architect to get their opinion on budget and feasibility. A good general rule is that if you are just changing the flow or design inside rooms, consulting with an interior designer may be sufficient. However, once you start talking about moving walls, changes plumbing or electrical, or adding on to the house, you’ll need the knowledge and expertise of an architect as well. And any good interior designer will help you find an Austin architect that you can trust. Reach out to them early and often. Good planning is far more desirable and valuable than re-working once you’re into a problem or mid-construction.


Now that you’ve talked to an interior designer and an architect, make the decision that matches your goals. If the architect tells you that a second story can’t be supported by the structure, or there is a heritage oak preventing you from extending that porch. Perhaps the budget and timeframe may not work for you. Or, since you are in love with your neighborhood and have a plan for a long-term design that follows the timeline of your life, you’re ready to move forward with making your house into a dream home. Either way, being confident that you have all the information you need to make the right decision will help tremendously.


Once you’ve decided on what you’re going to do, reach out to a trusted real estate professional, because a good agent will help you run the numbers. Since buying or selling your house is a business transaction, it is important to treat it like one. An excellent professional realtor can provide a current valuation of your house along with an estimate following the renovation. If you are going to sell, ensure that you get top market value for your house. Your real estate professional understands that while this can be a very emotional moment it is also a very important financial one as well.


Listing it? Then the goal of selling your house becomes the priority. As realtor Melody Birdsong recommends, the best way to do this is to make a mental shift from selling your home to selling a house that will evolve into someone else’s home. Start to think like a buyer. The easiest way to do this is to have a professional home stager re-arrange your house for the maximum appeal to potential home buyers. This can help relieve the emotion from the process of selling your house as well as make it easier for a buyer to imagine and dream of living there. Stager Maureen Hodges cited a quote from Barb Schwarz, “The investment in staging is always less than your first price reduction.”


Amity Worrel

Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.



austin, Austin Home Renovation, Austin Interior Design, Austin Real Estate, Home Staging