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 pictures highlight the home’s best assets.
The previous owners of this beach house near Myrtle Beach, SC, knew they’d found a diamond in the rough when they stumbled upon it in 2017 for $295,000. The property featured popcorn ceilings, cheap countertops, and wall-to-wall carpeting—classic attributes of an outdated home. They bought the home, carried out extensive renovations, and relisted it in 2021—and all their hard work paid off. The house was sold for just over $500,000, an impressive profit for anyone in the business of renovating and reselling homes.
So what made this seaside gem worth the upgraded price tag? We’re sure it had something to do with Myrtle Beach being named one of the best beach towns in the U.S.—but that’s not all. The sellers made some top-notch design decisions during the renovation, too.
We went straight to our experts to find out what changes likely made the biggest impact on buyers, and how you can have those some results in your own home. Here’s what they had to say.
A beach house should be casual and comfortable—and this dingy living room was everything but.
“This went from severely dated to crisp, modern, and clean,” says designer Erica Thompson, founder of Organized by Design. “This kind of superclean canvas is exactly what homeowners want. It means they don’t inherit someone else’s taste, but can instead walk into an open house and envision their own style.”
“Removing the old, dark utility carpet and replacing it with modern, light flooring is certainly the most impactful change to this room,” says Annie Elliot, product and design manager for New Again House. “Fresh, white paint and new shiplap walls also helped make the space feel significantly more modern and inviting to potential buyers.”
Moving the laundry closet from the center of the room also went a long way toward making this room feel more inviting. The focus is now on that comfy couch, rather than a washing machine (which is the last thing anyone wants to think about at the beach).
It’s no secret that an updated kitchen is crucial to most buyers. The old kitchen in this home left a lot to be desired.
“The original kitchen was dated enough to put most buyers off,” explains Thompson. “Wood cabinets, white appliances, and that huge fluorescent ceiling light. … Buyers see this kitchen and immediately add on tens of thousands of dollars to their budget just to make it move-in ready.”
But now, the galley kitchen has been completely transformed, notes Denise Kellermann, a real estate agent with Sharp Group Atlanta. “What stands out here are the beautiful new tiles, which really make this kitchen space pop.”
“By switching to white cabinets and countertops, tiled walls, and shiny new appliances, the gorgeous light from the existing window can reflect off every surface, creating a fresh space that feels infinitely bigger,” Elliot says. “And who doesn’t want to envision themselves slapping together sandwiches for the beach in a space that feels so peaceful?”
Talk about a transformation!
“The walk-in shower instantly won me over,” says interior designer Lynn Stone, of Hunter Carson Design. “If you can do anything to avoid having a shower curtain in a bathtub, do it. And adding two sinks versus one is brilliant. It elevates the outdated bathroom to a luxurious en suite.”
Real estate agent Khari Washington, with 1st United Realty & Mortgage, says bigger is always better when it comes to main baths.
“Most people expect the main bathroom to have space, so enlarging it and adding two sinks was a great choice that should stand the test of time,” Washington adds.
There’s no place in the home where comfort is more important than the bedroom, and this reimagined room is a place where buyers could envision laying their heads.
“Like in the living room, the wood floors, updated moldings, and new white paint make this a room any buyer would want,” says Thompson. “It’s crisp, fresh, and most importantly, light.”
And of course, those outdated curtains had to go.
“New window treatments make this room feel brighter and modern,” says real estate agent Ann-Marie Sharp, of Sharp Group Atlanta.
Remember that awkward laundry closet that used to be in the middle of the living room? Well, it had to go somewhere, and the second bathroom is where it ended up.
“Moving the laundry room into the bathroom is a fabulous idea,” says Thompson. “Updating the sink and carrying in the wood-paneled walls and flooring reinforces the concept that this house is not a patchwork of finishes but a cohesive design throughout. This unified look is incredibly appealing to buyers. It gives them a ‘new house’ feeling, even if a house isn’t new.”
Although some people believe the all-white interior trend is played out, Stone says it’s actually a smart design move for a beach house that may or may not be used as a rental property.
“I love the whiteout. White walls, cabinets, and even the mirror. It tricks the eye into believing there is more space in this bathroom/laundry room,” she explains. “The light fixtures are glass, which visually don’t take up a lot of space, and the light is bouncing off the mirror, making the room brighter.”