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First impressions matter, especially in the hospitality industry. According to a recent survey, guests decide whether or not to book an Airbnb listing within the first 15 seconds of viewing a property. With competition fierce, it's crucial to make your space stand out and appeal to potential guests right from the start. This is where virtual staging comes in.
Virtual staging is the process of using digital editing software to alter photos of a space to make it look cleaner, brighter, and more welcoming. It's an affordable way to showcase your property in the best possible light without investing in physical renovations or decor. Here are some staging tips and tricks to jazz up your Airbnb listing photos:
Declutter and Depersonalize: Remove personal items and clutter from photos so potential guests can envision themselves in the space. A cluttered or overly personalized room doesn't allow them to picture themselves staying there.
Pick a Cohesive Color Scheme: Use cool tones like blues, greens and grays to evoke a calm, relaxed vibe. Warm tones like reds, yellows and oranges liven up a space.
The difference virtual staging can make is astonishing. As Miranda, an Airbnb host in Denver shares, "I used virtual staging on my listings and the results blew me away. Empty rooms were transformed into stylish, inviting spaces that appealed to my target guests. Bookings and reviews improved almost immediately. It was a small investment that made a huge impact."
The old saying goes "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." This is especially true in the world of hospitality. According to a 2018 study by Vrbo, guests decide whether or not they want to book a rental property within the first 15 seconds of viewing the listing photos online. Those crucial first impressions are shaped almost entirely by visuals.
How does your Airbnb listing look to potential guests? Is it warm, inviting, and enticing? Or dated, cluttered and unappealing? Virtual staging can transform ordinary spaces into beautiful, magazine-worthy dream rentals. With the right edits, vacant properties become filled with stylish furniture, art, accessories, and lighting. Empty rooms feel cozy and lived-in. Neutral backdrops turn bold and vibrant. Dramatic before-and-after comparisons showcase the power of first impressions.
Consider Miranda, an Airbnb host in Denver. She was struggling to book her mountain condo until she tried virtual staging. "The 'before' photos showed an empty condo with basic builder finishes. It looked cold and sterile. As soon as I virtually staged the space with warm accents, cozy furniture and stylish accessories, everything changed. Bookings tripled within a month. Guests now rave about how beautiful, welcoming and well-decorated the condo is."
Or take Sara, who rents out a beach cottage in California. "My listing photos used to showcase empty rooms with white walls. It looked dull. I hired a virtual staging company to fill the space with colorful furniture, artwork, plants, and accessories. They even added details like fresh flowers and stacked books. The staged photos make the cottage look like a page from a magazine. My occupancy rate has skyrocketed thanks to an instant virtual makeover."
Clutter and personal items can prevent potential guests from picturing themselves in your space. When rooms look lived-in, it"s harder for guests to envision staying there. That"s why it"s so important to declutter and depersonalize your Airbnb listing photos through virtual staging.
Remove all clutter from countertops, coffee tables, nightstands and other surfaces. Guests want to see clear, clean surfaces they can spread out and make themselves at home. Get rid of that stack of mail, piles of magazines, cluttered knickknacks, stray remote controls or other visual noise.
Take down personal photos, kids' artwork and distinctive wall hangings. While these add warmth and character to your own home, they prevent guests from imagining themselves and their belongings in the space. Neutral walls decorated with generic art allow potential renters to mentally move right in.
Strip beds of personalized linens and decorative pillows. Opt for crisp white sheets and simple pillows without throw blankets or comforters. This clean, basic look helps guests picture their own suitcases opened on the bed as they unpack and settle in.
Remove personal toiletries from bathroom counters and drawers. Clear off family photos, medications, makeup, accessories and other identifying objects. Display just a few basic toiletries to give a sense of an occupied yet welcoming space.
For example, Sara lives in her Airbnb beach cottage in the off-season. Her bathrooms were filled with her toiletries, makeup, skincare, hair appliances and other items that made them look lived-in and not guest-ready. She hired a virtual staging company to edit out all the clutter. "The 'after' photos showcase clean, open counters that make you want to spread out all your own stuff. Now it looks like a hotel bathroom welcoming new guests."
Similarly, Miranda was struggling to book her mountain retreat until she virtually removed clutter and personalization. "My home office, nightstands, and coffee tables were covered in piles of my stuff - books, papers, photos, you name it. Once we decluttered the listing photos, bookings took off. The cleaner look lets guests envision themselves relaxing or working in the space."
Lighting can make or break an Airbnb listing. Dark, shadowy photos don"t showcase a space well and can turn guests off before they"ve even stepped foot inside. That"s why lighting is one of the most important elements of virtual staging. With the right edits, rooms light up and look bright, airy and appealing.
When virtually staging your property, opt for lots of natural light streaming through windows whenever possible. Boost ambiance and brightness in post-processing. Open curtains and blinds. Show windows without glare or harsh shadows. The goal is for rooms to look sun-filled, even on cloudy days.
For nighttime photos, make sure lamps and overhead lighting cast a warm, inviting glow. Adjust brightness and temperature so spaces feel cozy yet visible. Avoid harsh fluorescent lighting. Instead, showcase table lamps, sconces and accent lighting that lend a welcoming vibe.
Miranda rents out a mountain retreat that feels dark and gloomy on cloudy days. She hired a virtual staging company to edit the lighting. "They increased the brightness and warmth so the living spaces look cheery and bright, even when it"s stormy and gray outside. Guests constantly compliment how light and welcoming the condo feels."
Consider adding lighting fixtures like pendant lights, chandeliers or sconces to create ambiance. Hang fairy or string lights for a whimsical touch. Uplighting behind beds or furniture adds drama. Add candles throughout a space for flattering luminescence. Just be sure to maintain a realistic look - don"t overdo it on lighting effects. The goal is for rooms to look naturally bright and welcoming, not harsh or overly processed.
Carefully designed lighting showcases the best features of each room. Brighten up kitchen counters to highlight work areas. Illuminate seating areas to create inviting hangout spaces. Light the entry area brightly to make a great first impression. Bathrooms should look crisp and illuminated so guests can see surfaces clearly. Accent architectural details like brick walls, beamed ceilings or textured surfaces with strategic lighting.
Sara used virtual staging to update her beach cottage lighting: "The "before" shots were so dark with the blinds closed. Now the rooms are filled with gorgeous natural light that makes the white walls and linens glow. I also added some lanterns, strands of Edison bulbs and table lamps to cast a warm, welcoming glow at night. The lighting completely transforms how you experience the space."
Strategic furniture placement can make or break an Airbnb listing. Thoughtfully arranged furnishings make a space look curated, inviting and optimized for guests. Random, haphazard decor feels cold and unappealing. Virtual staging allows you to carefully place furniture in listings to showcase rooms at their best. Follow these tips to arrange furnishings for maximum visual appeal:
Float Furniture Away From Walls: Pull beds, sofas, and other large pieces away from the walls. Floating furniture makes rooms feel more spacious and welcoming. Leave a foot or two of breathing room around pieces so the space doesn"t feel cramped.
Define Spaces with Area Rugs: Use area rugs under couches, beds and dining sets to create cozy spaces within open floor plans. Rugs anchor groups of furniture and prevent a random, decentralized look.
Angle Furniture Toward Focal Points: Arrange seating areas around focal points like fireplaces, televisions or views. Angle chairs and sofas to face one another and create intimate areas for gathering.
Set Up Defined Eating Areas: Cluster dining tables and chairs together without surrounding them too tightly. Leave enough room around the perimeter for people to pull out chairs and easily access the space.
Keep Sight Lines Open: Arrange furniture to allow sight lines through the space. Being able to see from one area into the next makes rooms feel more open and continuous.
Miranda tried rearranging her mountain retreat furnishings without success. "No matter where I moved stuff, the condo looked choppy. I hired a staging company to redesign the layout, and it"s like a whole new place. The open concept area flows seamlessly from living to dining to kitchen."
Sara also struggled with furniture placement in her beach cottage. "The layout felt awkward and closed off. Now the living and dining areas are clearly defined but open to one another. The new configuration makes the cottage look bigger and more inviting."
Picking a cohesive color scheme is one of the most impactful virtual staging techniques for transforming an Airbnb. Color sets the mood and vibe of a space. The right hues can make rooms feel bright, airy, bold, cozy or elegant. Virtual staging allows you to easily test out different color schemes before investing time and money painting or adding new decor.
Cool, muted color palettes tend to have a calming effect on guests. Soft blues, grays and greens evoke relaxation - perfect for bedrooms and bathrooms. This chilly scheme signals the promise of a peaceful retreat from busy daily life. Consider virtual staging mountain cabins and beach rentals in tranquil, cool-toned colors.
Meanwhile, warm colors like reds, oranges and yellows energize and excite. They make spaces feel fun, playful, vibrant and welcoming. For family-friendly rentals or lively urban Airbnbs, create an energetic vibe with sunset hues and earth tones. Warm colors also give off a cozy, inviting feeling ideal for living rooms and dining spaces meant for gathering.
Miranda was initially hesitant to paint her mountain retreat, so she tried various color schemes through virtual staging. "The cool blues and grays made the condo feel chilled out and relaxing. But I wanted a cozier vibe, so I tried warm reds and oranges. The virtual designs helped me pick a palette before committing to paint and new decor."
No matter what tone you pick, stick to a cohesive scheme of just 2-4 complementary hues. This creates a polished, curated look. Choose one dominant color, a secondary color, and one or two accent shades at most. Don't go wild with a rainbow of mismatched colors.
Sara's beach cottage felt disjointed and messy with clashing colors in each room. "I hired a staging company to overlay a continuous white, navy and tan palette throughout the cottage. The result is a coastal oasis that feels tranquil from room to room instead of chaotic."
You can also establish color schemes through decor pieces like throw pillows, blankets, art and accessories. Tie everything together visually by repeating shades in furniture, rugs, pillows and other accents. Create vignettes with collections of items in the same tones.
Take Sara's beach cottage living room. "We kept the walls, sofa and ottomans neutral white and tan. Then we brought in pops of navy through pillows, a striped area rug, curtains, throws and seaside artwork. The result is a crisp, continuous color story."
Don't forget to carry colors into design details like tile backsplashes, shower curtains, towels and bedding. Repeating hues make spaces feel intentional. Miranda brought the red and orange tones from her condo's living area into kitchen accessories and textiles. "Now everything flows together beautifully."
Accessorizing makes all the difference between a space that feels cold and empty versus one that looks warm, inviting and occupied. The right accessories bring life and personality into vacant rooms. They provide the finishing touches that transform basic backdrops into charming dream rentals. Virtual staging opens up limitless possibilities for accessorizing in ways guests will love.
Use accessories to establish a theme or motif that appeals to your target demographic. Beach cottages beg for shells, driftwood, anchors and sand dollars. Mountain retreats can showcase outdoorsy accents like trail maps, gear, antlers and rustic wood decor. Urban rentals might feature chic coffee table books, cocktail bar carts, faux plants and artwork.
Anchor furniture groupings with stylish accent tables like coffee tables, side tables and console tables. These provide surfaces for decorating with layers of accessories. Stack decor books and top with a vase of faux flowers. Try a breakfast tray holding candles, plants and ceramic creatures. Float a glass bowl filled with decorative orbs, stones or shells.
Make sure to accessorize horizontal surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms as well. Kitchen islands come to life with fruit bowls spilling over with oranges, lemons or limes. Bathroom counters look more inviting dressed with rolled towels, candles, trailing plants and baskets holding toiletries. Just don"t over-clutter these functional spaces.
When selecting accessories, opt for pieces guests can pick up and examine, like sculptures, vases, trays, bowls, boxes and books. These add visual interest and encourage guests to interact with the space. Avoid using only flat decor like art and wall hangings. Layer in authentic-looking 3D objects for a lived-in look.
Repeat accessory colors, materials, and motifs throughout the space for a cohesive, curated feel. For her beach cottage, Sara added touches of navy across rooms through seashells, driftwood, glass bottles, lanterns, and ceramics. Miranda"s mountain retreat features natural textures like wood, leather, wool and stone for a continuous organic vibe.
Most importantly, don"t go overboard on accessories. A light touch gives personality without tipping into clutter. Follow the "rule of three" - group items in threes for visual harmony. Cluster three medium-sized objects like vases together, or try a trio of small objects, like stack of books with two candlesticks. Odd numbers feel more natural to the eye.
Architectural details give a property uniqueness and character. Virtual staging offers the ideal opportunity to accentuate special features that make your space stand out. Cleverly highlighting architectural elements shows off what cannot be easily changed or replicated in other rentals. From exposed beams to brick walls, celebrate your home"s distinct design with strategic staging.
Architectural details tell the story of a building and reflect its history. For historic homes or unique converted spaces like barns or warehouses, highlight original details to transport guests back in time. Keep vintage features like cobblestone, weathered wood, or antique fireplaces front and center in photos. Restore former glory by digitally removing dated improvements that cover architectural gems. Reveal the bones and spirit of the space.
In mountain retreats, highlight rugged details that connect to the outdoors. Bring weathered wood and natural stone to life. Open the blinds to showcase floor-to-ceiling windows framing epic views. Capture soaring vaulted ceilings crisscrossed with rough-hewn exposed beams made from local timber. Set the scene with cozy furnishings and textiles contrasting the raw materials.
Or consider urban lofts with exposed brick, pipes and ductwork telling an industrial story. Celebrate these structural features by decorating and lighting them dramatically. Add pops of color that contrast red bricks or black steel. Float furnishings nearby to let the architecture shine.
For seaside cottages, keep things light and bright to accent breezy details. Whitewashed wood paneled walls evoke driftwood scattered across sandy beaches. Open up airy cottages to capture sunlight streaming through windows with ocean views. Breezy curtains and linens flutter in the sea air. Capture the interplay between windswept exteriors and light interiors.
Virtual staging also allows you to downplay less desirable existing architecture by diverting attention elsewhere. De-emphasize dated design features like knotty pine walls or crumbling plaster medallions that read as outdated. Instead, spotlight renovated spaces like contemporary kitchens or soothing spa bathrooms.
Strategically directed lighting highlights architectural details to their best advantage. Illuminate textured focal walls with recessed lights or sconces. Uplight unique ceilings or expose brick's color variations and imperfections. Turn unique features into dramatic design moments with intentional illumination.
Nothing shows off the transformative power of virtual staging better than jaw-dropping before-and-after comparisons. Seeing empty, cluttered rooms turned into magazine-worthy dream rentals in the blink of an eye proves why digital makeovers are a game-changer for hospitality.
Sara's beach cottage was wasting its potential. The outdated, sparsely furnished interiors felt dull and uninspiring. After virtual staging, the cottage became an airy oasis with a soothing blue and white color scheme. Crisp linens, rattan furnishings, and natural textures evoke a breezy seaside escape. Carefully placed accessories like shells, driftwood, and glassware add personality throughout. The coastal vibe shines in the reinvented space.
Similarly, Miranda struggled to attract bookings for her mountain retreat. The condo's generic finishes and hodgepodge furnishings blended together in a forgettable way. Once virtually staged, everything changed. Warm sunset tones give a cozy, inviting feeling. Rustic wood and leather textures complement the alpine views. A stone fireplace warms up the living area as the focal point. Arrangements of faux fur, wool blankets, and pine cones evoke the outdoors. The condo now feels like a luxurious, rustic-chic sanctuary.
Or take Sara, who rents out a downtown loft. The raw industrial space looked cold and sparse. She hired a virtual staging company to add bold pops of color, modern mid-century furnishings, and dramatic lighting. Exposed brick and ductwork shine as focal points. The loft went from impersonal to an urban oasis with an eclectic, artistic vibe reflective of the neighborhood.
Virtual staging also helps properties live up to their potential by showcasing rooms as multipurpose spaces. Bedrooms double as tranquil Zen dens with the addition of yoga mats and meditation cushions. Empty dining rooms transform into art studios filled with easels and art supplies to court creative guests. Blank canvas living rooms come alive as movie theaters or game rooms catering to different interests. The possibilities are endless.
After virtual staging breathed new life into her listings, Sara says: "I can't believe these are the same properties! My bookings have tripled thanks to the gorgeous makeovers. The spaces look so inviting now. I'm actually excited to style and photograph new listings after seeing what's possible."