It doesn’t matter how perfect your home is—if your listing photos don’t stand out, potential buyers won’t come by to take a look. “Lessons From Listing Photos” is our new series in which we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes and how their listing pics highlight the home’s best assets.
Most people don’t mind buying a house that’s in need of a few updates; in fact, taking on a couple of home improvement projects is practically expected. But when an entire house needs an upgrade, it can be intimidating.
Case in point: This two-story, single-family home in Rockville Center, NY, built in 1952. When the most recent sellers purchased it in 2017, it still held onto a lot of its original charm—and its original decor. Dark wood paneling, floral curtains, and wall-to-wall carpeting all made the inside of the home into a time capsule. While this vintage vibe might appeal to some, the owners made the smart decision to bring the decor into the 21st century with modern flooring and neutral tones that make it fit for a much wider array of buyers.
So, did the changes work? The house sold in August, so that’s a success in our book. Find out which interior updates made the most difference in this home, and why you might want to consider them for your own place.
Dining room (before)
Dining room (after)
Peace out, wood paneling
Although it doesn’t look like it, this is, in fact, the same dining room. The most obvious change is removing the retro wood paneling and replacing it with a fresh coat of paint and wall moulding that still has vintage appeal.
“Some people may think the wood paneling adds charm, but this look left the harbor a long time ago,” says property stylist Karen Gray Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.
Leslie Saul, interior designer and founder of Leslie Saul and Associates, calls the space “transformed.”
“The gray and white walls help make the room feel expansive and appealing to most potential buyers,” Saul adds.
Another fan of the new dining room is Sandra Funk, designer and founder of House of Funk in Montclair, NJ.
“What was once screaming ‘project’ is now a blank slate that home buyers can see themselves making their own,” she says. “This room feels twice as big as the original design thanks to a newly stained hardwood floor, lighter paint on the walls, a statement light fixture, and updated door and window detailing.”
Refresh the retro bathroom
In the bathroom, the sellers opted to keep the same layout and spend their money on modernizing every square inch instead. This included doing away with the Millennial Pink sink, toilet, and tub.
“Pink fixtures are trendy, but you are limiting your buying market by leaving a bathroom as is. Bathrooms weight heavily in a buyer’s purchasing decision,” says Gray Plaisted. “Buyers know that renovating a bathroom is a big expense—one many don’t want to make when first purchasing a house. When selling, updating a bathroom in the right finishes equates to hassle-free in a buyer’s mind.”
Funk says the makeover has wide appeal. “Classic subway tiles, a vanity with tons of storage, and simple, clean hardware” are all features that will impress buyers looking for a clean, updated home.
“The marble vanity top adds elegance, and the medicine cabinet is endlessly functional,” she adds.
Make the basement a blank canvas
This basement was spacious even before the makeover, but painting it white really showed potential buyers its true potential. Not only did this eliminate the to-do work of neutralizing the color palette of the room, but it also helps the buyers envision themselves in the space. No more wondering if their couch will look good in this basement play area—everything matches when a seller gives them a blank slate to start from.
The sellers also replaced the fluorescent ceiling light fixtures with modern-looking recessed lighting with LED bulbs.
“If you look closely you will see the paneling was just painted over, which likely saved the sellers some money,” Gray Plaisted says. “All the updates done to this room will give the seller bang for their buck.”