Lessons From Listing Photos: This Refurbished Minnesota Mansion Leaves ’70s Decor in the Dust

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 self-proclaimed slogan for St. Paul, MN, is “the most livable city in America,” but that doesn’t mean every house in the capital city is one you’d love to live in. This five-bedroom, four-bathroom home may be just miles from downtown, but it had definitely seen better days when it was purchased in 2018.

Thankfully the new owners were ready for a challenge. Out went the 1970s decor stamped in nearly every room, and in came a modern, relaxed style that brought buyers running. Within two years, the house was sold again, for $1,049,000—more than double the previous purchase price of $520,000.

So how did the home sellers make it happen? We tapped top interior design and home staging experts to find out not only what the sellers did exactly right, but also how you can use their advice to achieve the same success when selling your home.


The entryway gives buyers a first impression of the house, and before the renovation, this space probably made more than one potential buyer turn right back around.

Designer and home stager Kim Gordon says the place even looked like it might have had a musty smell.

“The carpet up the stairs is dirty, and the drapes are wilted,” she notes. “Even with so little furniture, the space feels cramped.”

But the update managed to completely change the feel of the space, she says.

“The updated entry has utilized the magic of a white color palette and the contrast of rich woods on both the floors and the banister,” she says. “You’d never realize it’s the same fireplace.”

Gordon also notes that the updated staircase railing—which uses a darker stain on the original rail but new spindles—goes a long way toward modernizing the space. “Such a smart move,” she says.

The new space is now much more welcome to prospective homeowners, especially those looking for a place to entertain.

“To achieve an open floor plan, the back wall was widened and doors removed completely to allow for lots of space and an uninterrupted flow between the rooms in the home,” says Luciana Fragali, owner of high-end interior and architectural design firm Design Solutions.

Dining room

The original dining room could be described as dingy at best.

“Did Lincoln eat here?” asks Gordon. “The gravity of years has drained the room of joy, and it is past the point of charm.”

She was happy to see the changes to this space, saying a white theme with contrasting darker wood tones is the heroine again.

The brighter walls aren’t the biggest change in this room, though.

“A pair

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