How to stage your home for real estate photography

March 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

How can you maximize exposure for your for-sale home? Details. Take care of the details. Make your home attractive to potential buyers.
Here are some staging tips.

START HERE: Narrow your view

An easy way to see better what a potential buyer will see when they view your for-sale home is to photograph each room, and view the images on a computer screen. Pay attention to what items in those images jump out, or draw your eye, and make notes for each room. Note clutter, burnt-out or different colour light bulbs, crooked lamp shades, damaged or dirty walls, items showing above cabinets or below beds. Take one shot from the door of each bedroom, and from two angles of your living room, kitchen and basement.

Main Floor

De-clutter and make space. You may be very comfortable in your space, but if you intend to sell and sell quickly, your goal is to make buyers comfortable in that space. Give potential buyers every opportunity to see themselves and their stuff in that space.

  • Remove personal items - knick-knacks, personal photos, magazines, newspapers, anything you don't use at least on a weekly basis.
  • Hide your TV/stereo remotes in a drawer.
  • Edit your furniture; make your rooms look larger by removing anything that doesn't need to be there.
  • Vacuum/sweep floors, including under rugs and throws.
  • De-clutter your kitchen, and be ruthless about it. Remove anything you don't use every day. Scrub and shine the sink and counter tops, and wipe down cabinets.
  • Hide dishcloths, dish scrubs, dish washing soap; if these items are out, your potential buyer instantly thinks, "needs cleaning." Out of view and your buyer thinks, "Already very clean."
  • Clean off the fridge. There should be nothing on top of or attached to the fridge.
  • Remove items from bulletin boards.
  • Hide the garbage bins - and fire your photographer if they photograph garbage bins inside the house. Nobody wants to buy trash.


  • Make the beds. Make, not pull up the sheets; make them and dress them up a bit. If your box spring is exposed, get a bed skirt. This will instantly make the room look cleaner, and gives you extra under-bed, invisible storage.
  • Remove laundry hampers and hang up/store all clothing; your buyer wants to step into their potential bedroom, not to feel like they're invading your private space.
  • If you're having showings, wash the sheets; you may not be able to smell yourself, but anyone viewing the home will. Clean sheets make a huge difference.
  • Deodorize carpets with baking soda: buy large boxes of baking soda, perforate the box top with a sturdy skewer to make 10 - 15 large-ish holes, and sprinkle the baking soda over your carpets. Let it sit for 30 - 45 minutes, then vacuum.
  • Store extra blankets and bedding.


  • If your basement is finished, treat it as you would your main floor living areas: de-clutter, remove personal items, sweep/vacuum and deodorize. On the point of deodorize, take care with spray scents and incense; those can leave bitter smells, and some people are sensitive to strong odours. Wash anything washable - blankets and throws, and throw pillows if they're washable. Most throws and pillows can spend 10 minutes in a warm dryer, with a dryer sheet, to freshen up.
  • If your basement is unfinished, the more you can contain items in one area, the larger the space will look and the easier it will be for potential buyers to imagine themselves and their stuff there.
  • Use clean sheets to "wall off" your storage area; by hiding your boxes you instantly make the basement clean!


  • Of all the rooms in your home, the bathrooms must be spotless. Clean the floors and super-clean mirrors; spend money on a set of good, white or off-white towels - and only have those up for photos and showings
  • Hang a white shower curtain; remove old bathroom/shower rugs; make sure the area around the sink(s), shower and tub are free of mould and discolouration. Beach if necessary, or remove and replace old caulking/silcone
  • De-clutter your personal care items. Box up everything you don't use daily. Items you use often - every couple days or weekly at least - can be stored in drawers or under the sink. During photography and showings, your shower and bath should be empty of personal care items
  • Remove branded items and clear counters around the sink; these areas should be free of soaps, toothbrushes, hair brushes, and personal items.
  • Some personal items should be removed all together. Although they should not, potential buyers will open cupboards and drawers, so certain personal items should disappear entirely during showings.


  • Curb-appeal also matters: store garden tools, hoses, shovels, toys and lawn/yard-care implements; hide trash bins; cut the lawn, or shovel; make sure all pathways are clear and free from debris and ice. 
  • Spray gate hinges and locks with WD-40 and tighten up any loose gate screws. Make sure your lawn/common areas are free of dog and cat 'dirt.'


After the amount of work you will do to prepare your home for sale, you should expect excellent photography. A gorgeous home can look used and dark when poorly photographed.

  • Insist your realtor use a skilled, professional real estate photographer.
  • Check out potential realtors' listings on to see the quality of their listing photography.
  • More than 95 percent of potential buyers start their search on line.
  • Of that 95 percent, more than 90 percent skip listings with poor photography.

As a point of reference, on average, realtors sell 10 - 15 homes per year. The cost of professional photography for 15 listings is approximately equal to HALF the commission of ONE listing, and that cost is a tax write-off business expense. Professional photography should be part of your realtor's marketing package.

Selling a home is a lot of work, the goal being a quick sale. A staged home will always photograph better and sell more quickly than a comparable lived-in home. If it's all too much, or you don't have time to prepare, there are excellent organisation and staging companies in YYC; definitely worth contacting, if you don't have time, or need assistance preparing your home for sale.

Save Time and Reduce Stress Prior to Moving:
As you edit the furnishings and clutter in your home, begin packing away (in labelled boxes) all non-essential items. Anything you don't use on a regular basis should be boxed and labelled. As a bonus, you'll be able to start your "donate" and "toss" boxes. When it comes time to move, you may find you have 50 percent of the job done - a huge stress reducer prior to a move.

Need some specific help?

Want professional photography?
Email me! [email protected]


No comments posted.
January February March April May June July August (1) September (1) October November (1) December
January February March (1) April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June (1) July August September October November December (1)
January (1) February March (1) April May June July August September October November December (1)
January February March April May June (1) July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November (1) December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December