The often-quoted first principle of the physicians’ Hippocratic Oath, “first, do no harm,” constitutes a ‘safety first’ message meant to curb over-enthusiastic docs from prescribing a cure that’s worse than the disease. 

For local homeowners who are preparing their homes for sale, if there were a Homeowners’ Oath, the same proscription could apply. That was the essence of Ana Durrani’s essay on last week’s’s ‘Home Improvement’ page: “Avoid These 6 Common Mistakes That Make a Room Feel Smaller.”

Durrani’s rules are worth quoting:

Color. Painting walls a dark color. Too often, the impulse to create a ‘cozy’ space can be more claustrophobic than cozy.

Furniture. Bulky pieces may look stylish but, in truth, can seem to bring the walls uncomfortably close.

Wall clutter. The ‘gallery look’ that seems to shrink a room.

Multiple colors and patterns. Just as homeowners should avoid the “house of beige” dullness, overdoing variety can make any space seem cluttered (thus constricted).

Rugs. “Loud-patterned” (or just too many) rugs create a too-busy, overfilled space.

Tile. Combining too many tile patterns can not only visually constrict a space but can actually be dizzying!

Avoiding such common miscues are among those that anyone prepping their house for sale can use as general guidelines—with the caveat that every property can benefit from exceptions when unique circumstances are present. The best advice is formulated on scene, at the property—especially when offered by a real estate professional who is constantly observing what’s moving best this season—someone like yours truly!