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. In our series “Lessons From Listing Photos,” we dissect the smart updates sellers have made to their homes, and how their listing pics highlight the home’s best assets.
Not every home needs a major renovation to make a profit, and this gothic San Francisco Victorian property proves just that. It was built in 1908, and its architectural charm was still very much apparent when it was purchased in 2016. Just a few simple cosmetic changes made all the difference, though—helping the sellers to rake in a profit of $650,000 when they unloaded it just three years later.
So how did the sellers make such a tidy profit without knocking down any walls? We went to our experts to find out exactly what changes made the biggest impact—and how you can apply the lessons learned to your own space.
Before renovations, the bedroom was nice, but very basic. This space was calling for more.
“The bedroom before just felt … blah. And now has a total cool vibe with a deep denim blue on the walls and a trendy neon lit skeleton art piece,” says Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design. “The designer mixed decades, with ’20s mirrored furniture, traditional bedding, and a midcentury chair and rug.”
The biggest change in this room is definitely the paint color, and the designers approve.
“This room didn’t need a ton of work,” says designer Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. “The blue wall color was a very simple way to make a huge difference. Painting a darker color below the molding lowered the room, making it feel more grounded instead of a huge white expanse. You can appreciate the beautiful molding more with the contrasting colors.”
Great room (before)
Great room (after)
The freshly painted navy blue fireplace anchors the room, and other small pops of color vastly improve the look of the space.
“The all-white look is just fading out, in my opinion,” says Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home. “The new arrangement and furniture choices add more life to the room. The midcentury modern dining table and chairs also make the beautiful floors stand out more.”
Stix reminds us that sometimes, just changing furniture can totally change a room.
“The dark dining chairs define that space,” she says. “And simply removing the lounge chairs across from the sofa make it feel like two separate spaces instead of a sea of chairs.”
“This space has far more impact now with its contrasting elements, versus the very monochromatic scheme it had before,” adds MacNeil.
Some of the changes that happened in this kitchen go against the usual rules.
“Removing storage is usually a big no-no. And going from bright and airy to dark and industrial is rarely heard of,” says Paul Trudel-Payne, founder and creative designer of Casa Consult+Design. But rules are made to be broken, right? Trudel-Payne wholehearted supports the changes made in the kitchen.
“Metal counters, dark base cabinetry, open shelving storage throughout, and even the small sconces about the sink play up the new effortlessly chic lifestyle they have created,” Trudel-Payne says. “It showcases a home with true originality.”
Thankfully, the original layout of the kitchen was sound, so all the sellers had to do was put in their personal touches.
“The designer simply removed the upper cabinets in favor of oak floating shelves and a new marble backsplash,” says MacNeil. “This instantly lightens and updates the space. Then by painting the lowers a deep blue and adding new hardware, the space is instantly refreshed!”
“I love the change from white to navy cabinets,” adds Fasone. “It adds more depth and dimension to the room.”
As you can see, what started as a bedroom is now a parlor. Located on the first floor, this room is actually adjacent to another sitting room, meaning that all the bedrooms are now upstairs.
“Transforming a space from a bedroom to parlor is so rock ‘n’ roll—and I love it!” says Trudel-Payne. “The space is filled with dynamic patterns and bold colors we rarely see in listing photos. And I would bet it’s this exact stark contrast to the norm that attracted large amounts of interest with buyers.”
As for the other impressive design choices, Stix notes the art and the fiddle-leaf fig, which add life and color to the room and help people visualize a homey environment.
Sitting area (before)
Sitting area (after)
This little room just off of the kitchen used to serve as a formal breakfast area, but our experts agree that transforming it into a comfortable seating area was the right move. We love the idea of curling up on the couch to read the news and enjoy a cup of coffee.
“Adding the small corner sofa and ottoman make the room feel more cozy,” says Fasone. “Previously, it just felt like a pass-through area.”
Trudel-Payne agrees that this new sitting area matches the chill, effortlessly chic aesthetic in the house.
“This home is a great example of how simple updates can drastically change a space,” says MacNeil. “There are no structural changes in any of these spaces, but it shows the impact a coat of paint and good design choices in furniture and accessories can have.”