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Lessons From Listing Photos: This Drab Desert House Blossoms Into a Technicolor Oasis

Lessons in listing photos before and after home

Known for its scenic national park and bohemian charm, Joshua Tree, CA, has attracted travelers for decades. So, the previous owners of this two-bedroom, one-bath fixer-upper likely knew they were sitting on a gem of a property that could be overhauled and used as a desert hideaway for private use—or as a vacation rental.

They snagged the ’80s-era home for just $184,900 in 2018. After putting in the time to renovate and turn it into a colorful getaway, they listed the property in 2021 and sold it for $504,000—nearly triple the price they paid.

A peek at the before and after photos will reveal that eye-catching design changes and clever home staging also played a role in the successful sale of this charming bungalow.

If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, this sale offers plenty of lessons for first-time sellers. From smart design choices to small details full of personality, here’s what made this home appealing from the curb to the backyard.


Changes on the inside won’t matter much if buyers are turned off by a home’s exterior. That’s why the cosmetic upgrades made to the front of the house were well worth the investment.

“Any buyer interested in this showstopper was likely swooning over the colorful charm from the moment they pulled into the driveway, with the inviting pops of pink. You knew exactly what you were in for upon walking in,” says Stephanie Summers-Mayer, a home improvement expert and brand host at HSN based in St. Louis.

She adds that while color is the most apparent change to the home’s exterior, other minor updates like a new garage door and landscaping also help boost the curb appeal.


The bold pops of color aren’t the only impactful additions that the previous owners made to the poorly designed kitchen. With a new design, the space is now conducive for friends and family to gather thanks to the island upgrade, says Summers-Mayer. The island offers a focal point and adds more entertaining and food prep space.

The redesigned kitchen is now functional and inviting.

Reorienting the appliances and removing the outdated cabinets was also a genius move.

“The overall face-lift of the kitchen and arrangement of appliances gives the homeowner a more practical way around the kitchen. With the redesign, the homeowner can feel like they’re part of conversations without having their back turned to guests or the rest of the home,” Summers-Mayer says.

Living room

There’s nothing drab about this living room anymore! The previous owners leaned in to design trends that give the space a glamorous, midcentury modern flair.

“I love that the pink from the front door was carried into the living room, wrapping the walls in a color that evokes happiness,” says Summers-Mayer.

The staging here was also designed to make the space more inviting and spacious. It also puts the focus on the large front window, which brings in plenty of natural sunlight.


A few simple updates in the bedroom—like a fresh coat of paint and strategically placed lighting—help establish a homey vibe that every vacation home should have.

“The bedroom of a home is a very personal space. The key to setting an intimate mood is incorporating various sources of light, and the choice to illuminate the bed certainly brought the drama,” says Summers-Mayer.

The wood upgrades to the flooring and ceiling fan bring value to the home and warmth to the room.

“There are many choices in faux wood laminate these days, which include different wood grains and waterproof surfaces,” Summers-Mayer says. She adds that opting for spill-proof materials is an easy way to appeal to homeowners with kids and pets.


In a home with a single bathroom, the space needs to be practical for daily use and enticing for guests.

“Oftentimes we think bigger is better when it comes to bathroom vanities, but in this case, the large counter in the pre-renovation bathroom swallowed up the room,” explains Summers-Mayer.

She adds that the smaller sink and conveniently placed side table help balance the room and open up the space. Now, the focus is on the design-forward accents like the wallpaper, shower curtain, and brass hardware.


“This backyard oasis is prickly perfection,” says Summers-Mayer. “Desert-native plants such as the cacti need very little attention, so maintaining them is a breeze for the homeowner.”

She adds that many buyers lack vision when it comes to backyard design. The drought-friendly landscaping, cozy fire pit, and relaxing corner spot put entertaining opportunities on display for potential buyers.

“This home brings new meaning to the expression ‘if walls could talk,’” says Summers-Mayer. This home “screams Airbnb or investor rental opportunity. But if it’s used as a full-time residence, this backyard proves that there are entertaining opportunities galore.”

This fire pit is the perfect place to enjoy a desert sunset.

The post Lessons From Listing Photos: This Drab Desert House Blossoms Into a Technicolor Oasis appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

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