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.
In homes built during the 1950s and 1960s, we can usually expect to see classic characteristics, like clean, angular lines and minimal finishes. Many buyers go gaga for this type of architecture, so you can only imagine our surprise when we took a look inside this 1950s home in Dallas. The “before” photos clearly show it was full of mismatched features (stucco arches in the living room! Three different types of tile!) that didn’t reflect the trends of the period when it was built.
Thankfully, the most recent sellers knew how to make sense of the space. They purchased the home for around $700,000 in 2017, completely modernized it, and turned it into the treasure it was meant to be all along. And buyers noticed, because just two years later, it was listed again for around $1 million—and sold.
So how did the sellers make such massive changes in such a short time, and what renovations made the biggest impact? Our design experts spill their thoughts on the makeover, and on how you can pull off a similarly successful overhaul in your own space.
Before: Living room
After: Living room
“Removing the arches is the smartest thing they could have done to make the room larger and more modern,” says Katie Stix, partner and design director at Anderson Design Studio. She also applauded the sellers for replacing the outdated floor tile with hardwood, as it gives a much more luxurious look that’s consistent with the rest of the house.
Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction & Design, believes that the finishing touches really bring the living room together.
“This space has made a huge transformation into a beautifully textural and monochromatic space,” she says. “The trick with schemes like this is to layer lots of texture, and this is done perfectly with the rug, pillows, oversized artwork, upholstery, and finally with the contrasting black steel door system.”
The original staircase in the entryway of this home was an eyesore. Big and bulky, it spiraled out and took up most of the space. Plus, the newel post was far too large for the room and didn’t match the style of the house.
Luckily, our experts say the renovation was perfectly executed.
“This staircase goes from pure function to form and function,” says MacNeil. “I absolutely love the steel spine staircase that gives the treads a floating effect. It becomes a sculpture in the space, accentuated perfectly with simple steel spindles.”
Notice anything unique about the hardwood?
“I love that they used the same hardwood in the entry but did it in a herringbone pattern!” says Stix. “It makes the entry feel special and important.”
The footprint of the kitchen didn’t change all that much—part of a wall came down, and there’s a new island. But some significant cosmetic changes made this room sing.
“These simple moves had a huge impact on the space,” says MacNeil. “Also, losing the ceiling fans removes the visual clutter and allows your eye to rest on the stove and backsplash tile.”
“The biggest benefit here is the layout of the island,” says Stix. “The previous L-shape screamed ’90s renovation. The large island centered with the range wall seems much more practical and functional for eating quick meals.”
Tiffany Fasone, owner and CEO of Voila Design Home, agrees that continuing the hardwood flooring into the kitchen is a smart way to make the design feel consistent with the rest of the house.
Before: Dining area
After: Dining area
The biggest change to the dining area—aside from the fact that we’re no longer haunted by the memory of those unsightly arches—is that it’s now on the same level as the living room.
“Getting rid of the arches was majorly impactful,” says Stix. “It completely takes the room from old to new.”
Although a rectangular dining table would fit, the circular table looks great with the new chandelier and gives a softer feel to the modern space.
Both Stix and MacNeil are in favor of the oversize windows and doors.
“They give an industrial feeling and allow a great view to the freshened-up backyard space,” says MacNeil.
Speaking of the freshened-up outdoor space, it’s nearly impossible to tell we’re looking at the same backyard. The transformation is apparent—but not everyone is happy with the changes that were made here.
“The backyard prior to the renovation was something I would have kept intact,” says Fasone. “I really love how secluded and private it felt. With updated modern furniture, the original theme would still have been able to fit into the new style of the home.”
Stix is more on the fence about this one, but agrees it may have been the right step for a house on its way to being listed.
“I personally think the ‘before’ image is quite charming.” she says. “I love the quaint, ‘Secret Garden’-type vibe. But the renovation certainly cleans it up. Removing a lot of the foliage might be attractive to potential homeowners who’d prefer not to mess with the upkeep.”
MacNeil, however, is a big fan of the changes.
“This is a great backyard, with many levels of area to entertain, and a great patch of grass for kids to play,” she says. “The designer has given it a great modern update by clearing away some of the flora and allowing the new doors to be a showpiece.”