Design to make Visual

A Home Flipper Shares 10 Moves That Lift Property Values, Repel Buyers

  • Erin Lichy is a real-estate broker, flipper, and new “Real Housewives of New York City” castmate.
  • Her company, Homegirl, advises clients on the interior design trends that boost resale value.
  • Lichy said used furniture and digital art are in, while curvy furniture and black hardware are out.

When people in New York City, the Hamptons, and South Florida are thinking about selling their dated homes, they call on Erin Lichy.

Lichy is the founder of Homegirl, an interior design consultancy and project management firm that upgrades interiors to help buyers get the most money possible when they list their properties. (She is also, not to mention, one of seven new cast members of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” whose latest season premieres later this year.)

Erin Lichy wears a hot pink blazer and is seated on the stage set of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" with Andy Cohen.

Erin Lichy, center, in a pink blazer, along with the rest of her “Real Housewives” castmates. Their season premieres in 2023.

Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty Images

Drawing on her expertise as a real-estate broker with Douglas Elliman’s extremely — $4 billion in a year — high-selling Eklund/Gomes Team, Lichy carefully considers the design of each residence Homegirl is commissioned to update.

Because of high mortgage rates, buyers are less willing to take the plunge on properties. So she uses market statistics, such as whether residences with more bedrooms are selling more quickly in a certain area, to guide the design process toward measures that will compel buyers to shell out more money for a home. 

“Instead of designing a project with what’s currently trending, we’re thinking about what is trending in that particular five-block radius,” Lichy said. “And by doing so, we’re finding out who’s moving into the area and catering to those peoples’ needs.”

One of Homegirl’s biggest success stories was a Hell’s Kitchen apartment that was purchased for $670,000, renovated at a cost of $55,000, then sold for $1.6 million — a 139% increase. The buyer who won the bidding war offered $65,000 more than the list price.

She spoke with Insider about what trends buyers want right now that will help sellers get up to 30% more when listing their homes, and what styles are no longer in their favor.

IN: Earth tones are homey. OUT: A ‘Fixer Upper’ farmhouse aesthetic can repel.

Two images of bedrooms, one with earthy tones, and the other with a sliding barn door.

Earth tones in the home, left, are timeless. But sliding barn doors, right, and other farmhouse-style touches have had their day.

Marco Ricca/Homegirl, The Washington Post/Getty Images

Earth tones have staying power in terms of color trends. Think “anything that makes you think of beach pebbles or forest greens in different contexts and different shades,” Lichy said. “People feel more at home when they’re connected to nature in some way.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum? The “glammy look,” with mirrored furniture and shiny objects, is less desirable these days. “It’s more about being muted,” she said. Also on the chopping block? The farmhouse aesthetic that brought us sliding barn doors and ceramic apron sinks. 

IN: Recycled pieces add nostalgia. OUT: Curvy couches are passé.

Left: a living room with an antique set of drawers. Right: a Millennial pink room with arched doorways and rounded furniture.

Using antiques, left, is in and overusing curves, right, is out.

Nadav Havakook/Homegirl, YKvision/Getty Images

Lichy said she loves using resale furniture websites like Chairish and 1st Dibs to bring unique pieces with age into peoples’ homes, especially if they’re remodeling before listing. “It adds a level of nostalgia, it adds something old with something new. It’s a very special way to make your apartment feel interesting,” she said.

Buyers are tired of the “curvy millennial” aesthetic that layered curved couches with rounded rugs, bucket chairs, and other furniture sans a right angle. But Lichy wants to be clear: “It’s not that the curved couch is out,” it’s that overdoing curved furniture in a room is out.

“What happens in this age is that we overdo certain trends, because it aesthetically looks really good on an Instagram post,” Lichy said. “But once you start decomposing that trend and adding in some others, then it’s fresh again.”

IN: Funky art stands out. OUT: Minimalist art fades into the background.

Digital art, left, is all the rage. Minimalist art, right, is out of style.

Digital art, left, is all the rage. Minimalist art, right, is out of style.

Marco Ricca/Homegirl, BorisSV/Getty Images

“For a while, everybody wanted that monochromatic art that was just like white panels and maybe one squiggle,” Lichy said. Those days are behind us. 

She said she now sees a growing interest in “funky art” with pops of color, the return of old posters, and a growing interest in digital art that’s displayed on screens. Lichy said for some of her wealthier clients she’s installed digital art, particularly from a company called Anotherview that displays a 24-hour loop of certain locations around the world. 

IN: Unlacquered brass hardware lends a sense of history to a kitchen or bathroom. OUT: Black hardware appears dated.

A sink with a brass faucet on left. A sink with a black faucet on right.

Unlacquered brass hardware, left, adds a sense of age to a room while black hardware, right, has fallen out of favor.

John Keeble/Getty Images, in4mal/Getty Images

Things that have a patina or sense of age are taking favor over things that look new and sleek, according to Lichy. Therefore unlacquered brass hardware, which ages and takes on a more individualistic look the more it’s used, is all the rage, Lichy said. 

The black hardware that dominated kitchens and bathrooms just a few years ago is starting to appear dated, she mentioned, and is reminiscent of sleeker designs that are also on their way out. 

IN: Statement lights add intrigue to a room. OUT: Low-impact fixtures are too forgettable.

A statement chandelier above a dining table, left. A plain light above a chair, right.

Statement lights, left, make a room’s design pop while minimalist lights, right, are forgettable.

Nadav Havakook/Homegirl, Wachirawut Priamphimai/EyeEm/Getty Images

Statement-making, sculptural lights that double as art pieces are what buyers are looking for these days. Pieces like Apparatus’s oft-photographed cloud chandelier are taking over for the minimalist fixtures of yore. 

“We went through a long period of time with light fixtures that were just linear and clean and just kind of went away,” Lichy said. “Now it’s about making a statement.”