Visual Selling: Tips for Making Your House Look as Beautiful as Possible

A good Realtor should be your right-hand-(wo)man!

a home lit up at sunset
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Katherine Bauer


Jan 21, 2021

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When trying to sell a house, you want people to see the things that you love about it so that hopefully they’ll love them too!  Here are a few tips and tricks for making your house look and feel as appealing to buyers as possible.

There are a lot of things you have to consider when you’re trying to sell a house, especially if it’s your first time.  You have to find a realtor you can trust, set a timeline, and possibly even prepare for a move if you’ve already bought a new place.  One thing that is super important that may slip through the cracks is staging;you have to make your house look beautiful and appealing to potential buyers, and that includes staging for photos, videos, and even open houses.  All three of these require slightly different forms of staging, and it can be overwhelming, so we’re going to give you some quick tips on important things to consider when staging your house. We’ll be looking at

  • Staging for photos and videos
  • Lighting
  • Angles
  • Cleaning
  • Staging for open houses
  • Cleaning
  • Organization

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Staging for photos and videos

Take it from a film set-dresser and art-department worker: staging your house for photos and videos is like trying to take any other kind of good photography or videography.  You have to look at your house and its best spaces as though they are a model, and shoot them at their best angles.  Don’t know how to do that?  Well, here are some beginning pointers.


several light bulbs hanging from ceiling in dark room
‍Hint: the lighting in this picture would be very bad for home photography

Lighting is an important detail of any home, and often, it can be overlooked.  Conversely, it’s also possible to have specific, purposeful lighting fixtures that don’t photograph well because when it comes to photography, lighting doesn’t mean light fixtures as much as it means “being able to see everything clearly.”  When lighting photos and video of your house, remember these other tips

  1. Just because lighting looks good in person doesn’t mean that it will look good in a photo.  
  2. This is particularly true of low-light and “mood” light.  Even with a professional photographer (or yourself if photography is a hobby), substituting camera settings for light is not a good idea.
  3. it’s often best to keep lighting fixtures out of photos all together as they can throw off the contrast and white balance of the photos making them look either too bright and washed out or too dark.
  4. Use diffused light.  Things like spotlights or very bright, harsh lights will cast strong shadows, which may obscure parts of the room/facade.
  5. In film, harsh lighting with dark shadows is called “low-key” lighting, and it’s the kind that is used in things like film noirs to give an ominous vibe.  Do you want your house to look like a crime scene or a den of sin?  (Well, we hope you don’t…)  Instead, you can place a diffuser like cloth or paper of some sort over the light source, or turn the fixture so that the light reflects off of something rather than hitting the room directly.
woman sitting in chair smoking a cigarette in low-key lighting
‍Unless you’re trying to sell your home to a filmmaker, you probably don’t want your photos to look like this.
  1. If you’re photographing the outside of your house, PLEASE do it in daylight.
  2. It doesn’t matter how impressive your evening lights look, they will not photograph well if you don’t hire a professional photographer, and even then, it can be a risky venture.  If the exterior of your home is nice, you shouldn’t need all the extra bells and whistles of lamp posts and accent lighting to make it look better.
  3. If you REALLY want those lights to be featured, take the photo at sunrise or dusk (depending on which cardinal direction your house faces) so that the natural light illuminates the facade while the accent lights are still visible.
a mansion, lights off in the left half of the picture, but nicely lit in the right half
See the difference?


The angle you shoot a room or a house from can really affect the way it looks, making things look larger or smaller than they actually are.  Remember:

  1. Take photos from corners of rooms facing towards the rest of the room.  This will make things look more open rather than cramped and claustrophobic.
  2. Don’t take photos looking straight on towards a wall, as this removes depth from the photo and subsequently the room.
  3. If you must take a photo towards a single wall, make sure that the lines of where the walls meet the ceiling and the floor run parallel to the top and bottom of the photo frame.
modern living room interior with very nice furniture and decoration
‍See how big the room looks and how your attention is drawn across the photo rather than to one location?


This should go without saying, but we’ll mention it anyway.  Make sure your rooms are clean and free of clutter before you take photographs.  Floors should be vacuumed, there should be no visible trash or dirt, as well as no piles of dirty (or clean for that matter) linens or laundry.  That doesn’t mean the room has to look unlived in; it’s up to you to decide if you want the house to look like a “model home” or one that has been lived in and loved.  Examples of aesthetically pleasing “lived-in” looks include:

  • Blankets thrown over couches and chairs and draped so as to show use while still looking clean
  • Furniture left in the positions you like to keep it in
  • Personal books/items on places like coffee tables and on bookshelves
living room interior with blue couches and an ocean view
Aesthetic: Clean but a little lived in (note the tousled pillows).

Staging for Open Houses


person with yellow cleaning gloves cleaning a window frame with a sponge

This is nearly identical to the advice on cleaning for photos.  Make sure surfaces are cleaned, wiped, and free from dirt or dust.  Vacuum all floors and carpets, and if you have pets, try to eliminate traces of pet hair.  Make sure all trash is taken out, and none is lying around.  It also can’t hurt for your house to smell clean too (just not in an overwhelming way!).  As silly and old-fashioned as it may sound, it’s always a good idea to invest in some potpourri; the realtor we consulted with swears by it, as it’s usually a gentle enough scent that it doesn’t aggravate sensitive noses while also leaving your home smelling nice.


man tripping over toys scattered over kitchen floor
‍This is not a good look for an open house.

The important thing to remember for an open house is that people will be walking through your home.  You want it to be easy for them to move around, so that means possibly moving furniture and other items to make wide-enough walkways and eliminate “dead space” where people may get stuck or congregate.  Obviously don’t worry too much about moving huge pieces of furniture like beds, TV cabinets, or bookshelves, but consider moving chairs, coffee tables, etc. that you can manage.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list on what to do. If you’ve hired a realtor, then they’ll probably have some good suggestions on what to do to make your home look its absolute best.  They may also have a personal photographer to take the pictures, but it’s always good to have an idea of how to set these things up yourself!

September 5, 2018
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