Lessons From Listing Photos: See This Southern Estate Go From Midcentury to Modern Farmhouse

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.

This midcentury estate gets high marks for location—it’s on a private lot in a quiet neighborhood just outside of the heart of Charlotte, NC. But despite being in a great area, the five-bed, 4.5-bath home had much left to be desired. Remnants of the 1960s could be found on much of the home’s interior decor: exposed brick walls, parquet flooring, and even louvered doors. The kitchen looked like it had received some sort of update several decades ago, but overall the home’s interior was stuck in the past.

Thankfully, a buyer purchased the home in 2017 and knew just what the property needed. Two years and a full renovation later, it was sold again—for more than $600,000 above the previous purchase price.

So how did the sellers do it—and how can you accomplish the same thing with your fixer-upper? We went straight to the experts to find out what the sellers did right, and exactly why it was the right move.

Before: Bathroom

The bathroom was previously drab and dated. The bathroom was previously drab and dated.

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After: Bathroom

This is a bathroom we'd look forward to seeing every morning. This is a bathroom we’d look forward to seeing every morning.

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This bathroom went from dark and dreary to bright and relaxing, creating a luxurious space that most homeowners can only dream of.

“The renovation created a cleaner look,” says interior designer Jay Britto of Britto Charette. “By elevating the ceiling and adding light sconces on either side of the mirror, it opens up the room.”

He also says keeping the two sinks was a smart move, because most buyers want a master bathroom that accommodates two people.

Before: Master bedroom

Pink paint couldn't liven up this gloomy bedroom. Pink paint couldn’t liven up this gloomy bedroom.

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After: Master bedroom

Fresh hardwood and a marble fireplace surround modernize the master bedroom. Fresh hardwood and a marble fireplace surround modernize the master bedroom.

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Raising the roof in the master bedroom brings light into the space. Raising the roof in the master bedroom brings light into the space.

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Your master bedroom should be an oasis of relaxation, but the before shot of this one looks like something right out of a 1980s horror flick. Thankfully, the sellers changed things up in a big way. Gone are those unsightly closet doors and the pink wall color that dated the room.

“With the expanded windows, the darker flooring, and the crisp white paint, the room looks very contemporary with a classic modern approach,” Britto says. “The framed marble mantel and the marble inlay of the hearth spilling onto the floor make the room luxurious.”

Raising the roof was a particularly genius move, as it made the room bigger and brought more light into the space.

“The openness, abundance of natural light, and choice to play up the nooks and angles all add to this amazing design. It’s effortlessly beautiful and luxuriously comfortable,” says designer Paul Trudel-Payne.

Before: Kitchen

The kitchen before the overhaul is a sad state. The kitchen before the overhaul is a sad state.

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After: Kitchen

An open kitchen with plenty of space to entertain An open kitchen with plenty of space to entertain

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All-white kitchens, when done right, are a thing of beauty. But the original all-white kitchen was completely wrong—and horribly dated.

“Being a designer whose business is about 75% kitchen-focused, nothing gets me more excited than seeing all the bold design choices they made in this space,” says Trudel-Payne. “First off, that ceiling with all those beautiful angles is about to leave me speechless.”

He also acknowledged the value of the trendy black-tiled backsplash by the cooktop: “Doing black tile throughout the space would be overwhelming, but keeping it contained like this is superchic.”

The previous kitchen felt isolated from the rest of the house. Plus, a galley kitchen isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But by knocking down a wall and adding an island, the sellers made this part of the house a gathering place.

“In the previously enclosed kitchen, cooking was probably a solitary act because it was too crowded. Now the kitchen can function as a place for the owners to entertain and to socialize with family and friends,” says Britto.

Real estate agent Stephanie Nash says this stylish kitchen is exactly what modern buyers are looking for. She notes how the hardwood floors are stained to match the rest of the house, which “creates a uniform look that transitions easily from one room to the next.”

The flow of a home is important, and matching the floors throughout is a great way to achieve it.

Before: Dining room

The dining area used to be a beige eyesore. The dining area used to be a beige eyesore.

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After: Dining room

Now the dining room looks cohesive with the rest of the house. Now the dining room looks cohesive with the rest of the house.

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In the original dining space, the brick walls and parquet floors created a space that was nothing but a drab shade of brown. But with new flooring, a fresh coat of paint, and a few other architectural details, the room has been transformed.

“Painting the brick white brightened and expanded the space,” says Nisha MacNeil, design manager at Kerr Construction and Design. “Keeping the brick also gives the wall texture, which is a key design element in an all-white space.”

Trudel-Payne focused on the color of the wood elements of the room.

“I am a huge fan of how they restored the parquet flooring, by staining it dark to make it more modern,” he says. The dark color enhances the warm undertones in the wooden mantel above the fireplace. “Complementing the wood tone in the floor, instead of matching it, lets the mantel have its own moment in the room.”

Before: Built-in cabinets

The built-in cabinets were a unique part of the architecture, but the wood paneling had to go. The built-in cabinets were a unique part of the architecture, but the wood paneling had to go.

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After: Built-in cabinets

After being refinished, the built-in cabinets blend in seamlessly with the rest of the new decor. After being refinished, the built-in cabinets blend in seamlessly with the rest of the new decor.

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The built-in cabinets that line the dining area are among the few original features that weren’t changed in the renovation. And our experts say keeping this architectural element was exactly the right choice.

“Salvage and restoration are a key trend right now with so much waste being produced in renovations,” says MacNeil. “These built-in cabinets had great bones, and I love the texture that the shuttered doors provide.”

MacNeil did, however, notice one big change that made a world of difference in the flow of the home.

“Opening the wall to the new all-white kitchen really opens up the space,” she says. “Families love this type of great room design where all the family can live in the singular space and enjoy each other’s company.”

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