Home Staging Tips: Preparing Your Home for Professional Photos

When it comes to selling your home or booking guests for your rental space, professional, well-staged photos are key.

As a real estate photographer, one of the most common questions I get from clients is “How do I stage my home for photos?”

Staging is more than just cleaning and putting out a bouquet of flowers (although that’s a good place to start!), it’s about arranging furniture and accessories in a way that looks inviting in photos. In the end, your choices will depend on your space, your budget, and the feeling you’re going for with your space.

A well-staged three season room in a lakeside Airbnb.

Here are some basic home staging tips to help you get your space photo-ready:

1. Clean and Declutter

Clear the Clutter

Say goodbye to personal items and excess decorations. Open, inviting spaces help people imagine themselves living there. Use storage bins to hide away unnecessary (or unphotogenic) stuff. When deciding which accessories or decor to include, err on the side of more “generic” touches.

Deep Clean Every Room

A spotless home is a must. Clean windows, floors, and surfaces thoroughly. Don’t forget the little details like light fixtures and baseboards. Make sure bathrooms and kitchens, especially, are pristine. Consider hiring a professional cleaner to bring a fresh set of eyes and professional vigor to the job.

Enhance the Space

Optimize Furniture Arrangement

Arrange your furniture to highlight each room’s best features. Ensure there’s enough space to move around easily. Mirrors can make rooms feel bigger and brighter.

Interestingly, the best furniture arrangement for showing off the best features of the space is not always what would make the most sense if you lived in the space every day. This is another task where bringing in a fresh set of eyes can go a long way. You will want to identify the best features of every room, and then brainstorm how to arrange your furniture to highlight it.

Use Neutral Colors

Neutral tones are best for appealing to a broad audience. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself and your space to a sad, beige wasteland. Add pops of color with cushions and throws to keep things interesting. Just avoid bold or overly personalized decor.

Lighting is Key

Maximize Natural Light

Natural light is your best friend. Open curtains and blinds to let it in. Schedule photos during the brightest part of the day. Clear anything blocking the light.

Natural light pours through the windows of the dining room of a historic farmhouse Airbnb.

Supplement and Add Charm with Artificial Lighting

Soft, warm lighting creates a cozy atmosphere. Use lamps to brighten dark corners. Avoid harsh lighting that casts unflattering shadows. Your professional real estate photographer will know which lights to turn off and on for the best results.

Focus on Key Areas

Highlight the Living Room

Make the living room inviting with comfy seating. Add a stylish centerpiece to the coffee table. The room should look both functional and attractive.

Showcase the Kitchen

Clear and clean countertops. Add a bowl of fresh fruit or flowers. Ensure appliances are spotless to highlight the kitchen’s potential. For rental listings, highlight the specific amenities in the kitchen, like coffee makers, dishwashers, etc.

An Airbnb kitchen photo showing off the kitchen amenities.

Create a Cozy Bedroom

Use fresh, neutral bedding. Add pillows and throws for a touch of luxury. Keep bedside tables tidy and lamps working. The bedroom should feel like a serene retreat.

For rental listings (Airbnb, Vrbo, Furnished Finder) in particular, an accurate and welcoming look at the bedroom(s) is a must. Guests want to know what to expect and be able to picture themselves comfortable in the space. Stage the bedroom to look inviting and as spacious as possible. Avoid overfilling bedrooms with furniture.

Outdoor Spaces Matter

An inviting photo of the exterior yard and garden of a vintage airstream trailer.

Tidy Up the Garden or Yard

An inviting outdoor space boosts your property’s appeal. Mow the lawn, trim plants, and add potted flowers. Ensure outdoor furniture is clean and well-arranged.

Highlight Special Features

If you have a pool, patio, or balcony, make sure it’s photo-ready. Add cushions and accessories to make it inviting. Clean and stage any unique features.

Staging your home or Airbnb for photos is more than just a nice touch—it’s a game-changer.

By decluttering, optimizing furniture arrangement, and focusing on lighting, you can create inviting and captivating images. These photos are your first impression, the key to attracting more interest, higher offers, and more bookings. Remember, great staging highlights your property’s potential, making it easier for buyers or guests to envision themselves in the space.

Bonus Tip

Take a wander through Pinterest, housekeeping magazines, or your favorite high-end home goods store for staging ideas. Pay attention to the way beds are made, plants and lamps are placed, the styling of coffee tables, and the arrangement of kitchen counters. You’ll start to notice some trends, and gather some great ideas you can implement in your space with things you already have.