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 midcentury modern–style home in Portland, OR, does exactly what a home in the Pacific Northwest should do—it embraces the natural beauty of the city with ample views and a great outdoor space. The home itself is tucked among the trees, but all of that gorgeous foliage didn’t get to be appreciated when the inside of the house is cramped and stuck in the 1960s.
The most recent sellers knew exactly what major renovations were needed to make the property shine. They purchased it in 2011 for $351,000 and brought it up to date with modern finishes and a reworked floor plan.
Eight years later, they listed the home, and their hard work paid off big-time. They sold it for $975,00, nearly tripling its value.
So how did they do it? Our experts analyzed the before and after photos to determine which changes made the biggest impact, and how you can make it happen in your home, too.
Before the renovations, this home had a large front porch that was hidden by a faux wall. Removing that wall allowed the homeowners to showcase the larger entryway.
“This is the epitome of a curb appeal transformation,” says Paul Trudel-Payne, founder and creative designer of Casa Consult+Design.
“The white exterior walls with the natural wood ceilings delivers that special ‘wow’ moment.”
The most obvious update is the Chartreuse color on the front door. It’s a bold shade, but it suits the modern architecture.
“Even in the rain, the pop of yellow is so bright and happy,” says designer Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. “Who wouldn’t want to come home to this? I love how it contrasts with the black trim, wood ceiling, and white house.”
Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home, notes how the tall windows and wood porch make the entry feel cozier than the original concrete pavement.
The foyer is the first chance to make an impression on buyers when they step inside your home, and this one was—how do we put it?— dreary. Thankfully, the renovation gave this space the attention it deserved.
“The foyer before was ho-hum, and now it’s vibrant with the continuation of the yellow door color inside,” says Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design.
“This is a great trick homeowners can use to liven up their foyer versus just having a plain white door inside.”
“Getting rid of the carpet and adding hardwood makes the biggest difference,” says Stix. “Carpet in the foyer is never a good idea.” That makes sense, considering the area by the door is where all the dirt and grime from outside comes to rest—and it’s way easier to clean up hardwood.
Of course, the most noticeable change from the original design is the staircase. Not only was the old spiral design dated, but a staircase this narrow was likely difficult to get up and down. The updated staircase is safer and way more stylish.
“Changing the curved glass railing to metal and wood takes about 20 years off of the house,” says Fasone. “I’m a huge fan of the living wall, too, because it carries the outdoors into the home.”
Before: Living room
After: Living room
The wall of windows was the star of this room, even before the renovations, but the sellers made some strategic design decisions to brighten up the room and open up the floor plan.
“I like that they didn’t add any window treatments to the windows. It feels modern and focuses on the view, which is so pretty and private,” says Stix.
White walls and hardwood flooring also contribute to the clean, airy feeling of the living area.
“Removing the worn-out carpeting and adding the hardwood floors reflect the light,” says Fasone. If you’re looking to make the square footage look as expansive as possible in your home, consider hardwood, vinyl plank flooring, or another sleek option for your living room.
The old galley kitchen, awkwardly situated next to the foyer, wouldn’t inspire any culinary creativity. But knocking out a wall and borrowing a bit of space from the oversize living room made all the difference.
“The previous layout felt very closed-in and dark, but opening up the wall between the entryway and kitchen makes it feel like you’re looking at a completely different home,” says Fasone.
While opening up the floor plan made the most obvious impact, it’s not the only big change that happened in the kitchen.
“I love how they kept the skylight but made the ceilings taller and added recessed can lighting,” Stix says.
One of the biggest selling points of this home is the surrounding foliage, and while the outdoor space was functional, it was in need of an update. By removing the sunroom, the sellers added more patio space and made it match with the rest of the exterior changes.
“Adding the wood decking is the best way to tie in the wooded surroundings that make this home special,” says Stix. “I love that it connects to the front porch and works well with the white glass railing.”
Stix also didn’t miss the detail added to the underside of the roof.
“Adding the shiplap wood to the ceiling adds texture, repetition, and clean lines, which are pleasing to the eye.”