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 pictures highlight the home’s best assets.
This spacious Portland home has an innate cool factor, thanks to its high ceilings and midcentury architecture. When the sellers purchased it for $548,000 in 2012, it was already a unique home—but the dark, outdated interiors were badly in need of a refresh. It’s a good thing this place had so much potential!
A total redesign with a Scandinavian minimalist twist turned things around, and in 2019, it sold for $920,000.
So how did embracing less result in a home value that nearly doubled? We went straight to our experts to find out what the best design moves were from the sellers—and how you can make it happen in your own space.
If you ever doubted how much power white paint can have on a space, look no farther than this room.
“So simple, yet so effective. It completely changes the staircase and makes it feel more architectural and modern,” says Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. “Yay for keeping the pendants—they’re so classic and add to the ‘white on white’ layering and texture.”
One of the main architectural features in this room is the staircase, which now blends into the design instead of standing out.
“Not only does it make the room seem twice as big, but—true to Scandinavian design—it provides the perfect backdrop for decor to shine,” says Paul Trudel-Payne, founder and creative designer of Casa Consult+Design. The color palette is now neutral and natural, which makes the house feel cozy.
We know that retro kitchens are trendy, but (as you can see in the “before” photo) this one just wasn’t cutting it. The sellers did keep one key element that our experts say enhances the new additions.
“I’m glad they kept the stainless-steel countertops,” says Stix. “It looks amazing with the marble and white.”
Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design, appreciates the new slab doors on the upper cabinets. They hide clutter and give the kitchen that streamlined feel that the sellers were obviously searching for.
And you can’t move on from the kitchen without talking about that new island.
“It updates the space and allows for an ideal kitchen flow, with optimal prep room,” says Trudel-Payne. Plus, few buyers can resist a marble countertop.
Many buyers still have an affinity for the industrial-style look with exposed brick, but the floor-to-ceiling design was a little much, and didn’t fit in well with the rest of the home. Thankfully, the sellers had a solution.
“What I love about the Scandinavian aesthetic is that it allows for you to work with what you have,” says Trudel-Payne.
“Making everything white, and building out that ledge below the fireplace is all that was needed to completely transform this dated area. It’s such an adaptable aesthetic that helps transform a dated space into something modern, without losing any of the personality.”
MacNeil notes that this part of the house now feels defined, whereas before, it felt wasted.
“Now it allows the fireplace to be the focal point,” she says. “And by simply placing a seating area around the fire, it allowed the space to be more functional.”
“Drywalling the brick fireplace and adding the marble ledge across the entire wall was a very nice choice,” adds Stix. “It makes the room feel more luxurious and usable. Someone could sit there and enjoy the fire. I know I would!”
The den was once the most dated room in the house, but now, it’s the place where families would probably be most likely to hang out.
“This room previously felt like a dated log cabin, but now it feels like a bright modern space to entertain in,” says Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home.
Trudel-Payne says he sees a lot of Scandinavian inspiration in this room. “Keeping the rustic element of exposed wood ceiling, but adding a white treatment to everything, really speaks to that Scandinavian style,” says Trudel-Payne.
He also notes the smart use of angular furniture and eclectic accessories, such as the gold drum table and the simple but comfortable accent chairs.
“I want to curl up on this cozy sofa with a tea and enjoy the beautiful view outside,” adds MacNeil. “Before, the room felt busy and cluttered, but now you can truly enjoy the setting outside and feel wrapped in warm layers of textures inside.”
Such a striking transformation in this room was likely made with very little effort. Here, the sellers used a paint change on the ceiling to lighten up the bathroom and make it feel like an oasis of calm.
“I love that they did a rustic white finish to the redwood ceiling that previously was so aggressive in the space,” says Trudel-Payne.
Stix agrees, saying that painting the wood ceiling keeps texture and interest in the space but makes the room feel bigger.
“That simple change makes everything else seem very modern,” she says.
“I love how spalike this room now feels,” adds MacNeil. “The focal point now is the luscious vanity and the flora and fauna, inside and out.”