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In real estate, the old adage says there are three key factors that determine a property's value: location, location, location. This remains true when renting out your home or apartment. Where your rental is situated impacts everything from demand and pricing power to the overall guest experience. Virtual staging gives you the power to enhance your property"s location appeal.
While you can"t physically move your rental to a new neighborhood, virtual staging allows you to spotlight the best features of your existing location. For urban rentals near lively city centers, use staging to accentuate amenities like views of the skyline, proximity to restaurants and nightlife, and ease of public transit access. Suburban or rural rentals can highlight serene natural surroundings, abundant outdoor recreational activities, and a peaceful retreat from bustling metro hubs.
Staging also enables you to neutralize any drawbacks of your location. For instance, an apartment situated on a busy street could visually minimize unwanted noise and traffic with cozy window dressings and arrangements that point focus inward. Rentals further from excitement and conveniences can staged to feel like an oasis rather than isolated. Even properties in underwhelming locations can spotlight little "pocket" neighborhoods with their own charm.
Proximity is critical when renting near colleges and universities. Students crave rentals within walking distance or a quick bus ride to campus. Staging college rentals to feel homey and lived-in enhances their appeal as comfortable crash pads. For other specialized location needs like traveling nurses, highlight proximity to major hospitals and a space optimized for those with hectic schedules.
A cluttered rental feels small, confined, and lived-in. Yet potential tenants want to envision how they could make your space their own. Decluttering and depersonalizing opens up your rental so new residents can mentally move right in.
Remove personal memorabilia and family photos so guests don"t feel like intruders in someone else"s home. Pack up obscure decor that reveals your hobbies and interests. Store bulky antique furniture that crowds rooms. Clean out clutter from closets, drawers, and pantries to demonstrate ample storage space. The less evidence of your life, the more blank canvas for tenants to mentally decorate.
Minimal furnishings also help renters picture where their belongings could fit. Too much furniture chops up floor space, making rooms feel smaller. Consolidate pieces into flexible arrangements that serve multiple functions. For instance, a single sleek console beneath your wall mounted TV can also serve as a desk. Multifunctional furniture maximizes perceived spaciousness.
When virtually staging, resist overfilling rooms with furnishings and decor. Leave ample walking space between pieces to avoid a cluttered look. Maintain clear sight lines across rooms so open flow is still apparent. Add just enough coordinating accessories to show each area"s possibilities without overwhelming the eye.
Deposit boxes make an affordable and space-efficient alternative to bulky furniture. Martin, a landlord renting out his 2-bed condo needed to declutter his space but had nowhere to store excess furnishings. He invested in deposit box storage for 6 months, then took photos showing his depersonalized, spacious condo. "It looked so much bigger with the clean backdrop," said Martin. "I uploaded the photos and immediately got more inquiries than before. Now I always declutter before photographing."
Lighting plays a starring role in showcasing your rental"s best features while minimizing flaws. Strategic lighting transforms dark, unappealing spaces into bright, airy showpieces. Yet lighting remains one of the most commonly overlooked staging elements. Enhance your rental with lighting strategies lifted straight from the silver screen.
First, amp up the wattage. Most rentals use low watt lightbulbs to save on energy costs. But dim lighting makes rooms feel gloomy and confined. Swap out those puny bulbs for 100-150 watt equivalents. The brighter luminosity highlights architectural details that get lost in the shadows with weaker bulbs. Well-lit rooms feel more open.
Next, layer your lighting. Relying solely on overhead fixtures creates a flat, boring aesthetic. Build dimension with ambient, task and accent lighting. Ambient lighting forms the soft overall glow, from light fixtures as well as lamps. Task lighting illuminates specific functional areas like kitchen counters. Accent lighting spotlights architectural or decorative features.
Wall sconces make excellent accent lighting. Position them to graze and highlight crown molding, window trim, brick walls or textured tile. Accent lighting adds depth, draws the eye to compelling details, and makes rooms pop.
Finally, manipulate natural light. Adjust window treatments to let daylight pour into darker corners of your space. Sheer curtains diffuse the light for a soft effect. For maximum luminosity, draw drapes wide open. Natural light makes rooms feel bright and airy. Or consider reflective surfaces like mirrors to bounce and amplify natural light.
When showing your rental, maximize lighting. Turn on all interior lights, even in unphotographed rooms, so brightness spills into adjoining spaces. Keep lamps and overhead fixtures on during showings. Open all window coverings. If needed, bring in additional off-camera lighting just for photography sessions. Videographers often use three-point lighting techniques with back, key and fill lighting. Mimic this setup with lamps.
In staging, focal points artistically guide the viewer"s eye to a property"s most appealing architectural and decorative features. Just as skillful cinematography focuses attention on key characters and plot points, strong focal points direct focus towards a rental"s shine.
Focal points leverage the interior design concept of visual weight, drawing attention to visually "heavier" elements. This weight stems from factors like size, color, detailing, and positioning. A vibrant accent wall or vivid piece of art carries more visual weight than a nondescript white wall or plain flooring. The eye gravitates almost magnetically to these elements of emphasis.
Strategically highlight focal points during staging. Shelly, an Airbnb host renting out her modern beach cottage, added an oversized canvas above the living room"s white sofa depicting a colorful ocean scene. "It became the focal point anchoring the entire space," she explained. "Guests immediately comment on how cool and beachy the painting makes my rental feel."
Beyond art, architectural elements can also make compelling focal points. Nicole virtually staged the exposed brick wall in her rental"s bedroom by painting it a dark, brooding navy. "It went from forgettable to an instant wow factor," said Nicole. "Now it"s the dramatic focal point you notice as soon as you walk in."
Fireplaces and statement light fixtures also naturally draw the eye. Position furniture to showcase these built-in focal points. Keep competing decorative elements to a minimum so the features can truly star.
When showcasing outdoor amenities, add focal points to highlight curb appeal. For Patricia"s rental with mountain views, an AI virtual staging provider digitally added an eye-catching bench and flower garden in the front yard. "It gave guests a focal point to recognize the home and beckoned them to relax and enjoy the nature views," she said.
Feng shui literally translates to "wind water" in Chinese. This ancient practice artfully arranges living spaces to promote harmony and balance. While feng shui principles originated centuries ago in Asia, the concepts remain highly relevant for optimizing furniture layouts in modern rental properties.
Proper furniture placement enhances positive energy flow, known as chi, throughout your rental. This vital energy meanders much like water currents or gusts of wind. Thoughtful layouts allow chi to circulate unimpeded, uplifting moods and easing stress for tenants. Poor furniture positioning blocks this free-flowing energy, causing discomfort, confusion and even anxiety or irritation in renters.
Central concepts of furniture feng shui include commanding position, balance, and intentional arrangement of pieces to define spaces while maintaining an open flow. The commanding position in any room belongs to the largest, tallest piece like an armoire or sofa. Anchor that commanding furniture piece in a spot that makes sense for the room"s purpose. Face sofas towards views or fireplaces. Position beds to promote relaxation.
Balance furniture on both sides of commanding pieces. Flanking a bed with identical nightstands achieves visual symmetry. Anchoring a living room layout with a central sofa allows balanced distribution of additional seating. Remember to leave ample space between furniture to avoid an overly cluttered appearance.
Carefully demarcate spaces while maintaining an open feel. For instance, place a small dining table and chairs in one area of an open concept living/dining room. Add a rug underneath to define this as the dining zone. Then arrange a sofa and armchairs around a coffee table on the remaining hardwood floors to create the living room. While each space has a unique purpose, removing physical barriers preserves that coveted open flow.
Pay attention to traffic flow between pieces. Allow clear circulation pathways between furniture groupings. Leave enough space between items for guests to comfortably navigate rooms. Eliminate clutter than blocks free movement.
Be intentional about furniture angles. Arranging pieces in circles or diagonally feels dynamic. Linear or perpendicular arrangements exude stability. Diagonal angles allow multiple focal points. Pieces positioned parallel to architecture align with the room"s energy flow.
Accessorizing is one of the quickest, easiest ways to elevate your rental's style while creating an upscale ambiance. Carefully chosen accents demonstrate your design savvy and tie disparate furnishings into a cohesive look. Best of all, small touches pack an outsized visual punch at a fraction of the cost of replacing or reupholstering major furniture pieces.
"I have a mishmash of hand-me-down and thrift store furniture in my rental, which looked mismatched and blah," said Mia, an Airbnb host in Atlanta. "But spending just $50 at my local home goods store for new throw pillows, a blanket ladder and ceramic vases unified everything into a chic boho vibe reflecting my personal style."
Invest first in new throw pillows showcasing color palettes and patterns that inspire you, recommends interior designer Lauren Stewart. Arrange pillows artfully on beds, sofas and chairs to tie spaces together. Pillows cost a fraction of upholstering furniture but make just as dramatic a style statement.
Next, add tossed blankets or textured area rugs to introduce captivating textures. "I layered Turkish sheepskin throws and a shaggy jute rug to add coziness to my previously sterile-feeling rental," said Simone, a landlord in Chicago. "The textural layers made everything feel luxe. Guests constantly comment on how it feels like a boutique hotel."
Spruce up dated counters and fixtures with decorative accents reflecting classic character, like vintage-inspired oil poured canisters or ceramic fruit bowls. "The white kitchen in my condo looked so plain," recalls Delilah, an Airbnb host in Savannah. "I added antique-looking marble canisters and a hammered metal fruit bowl for less than $15 each. Now my kitchen looks farmhouse chic."
Flank beds with matching vintage-style nightstands sporting unique details like tapered legs or distressed finishes. "The ornate nightstands were my splurge at $99 each, but they make my bedroom feel like a boutique hotel," raves Chloe, a landlord in New Orleans. "Guests are stunned when I reveal they came from a discount retailer."
Lighting shows thoughtfulness by setting moods for different functions. Swag pendant lights over entryways and kitchen islands. Mount sconces flanking beds or accenting architectural details. Add table lamps ideal for bedtime reading. Cynthia, who rents her basement apartment on Airbnb, says: "I installed a swing arm sconce by the bed for reading. Guests constantly mention how it makes the space feel so homey and well-designed."
Take time to artfully style new accents. Drape quilts at the foot of beds. Stack books and coasters on side tables. Pair larger statement pieces like urns or busts with greenery for an upscale still life vignette. Place a bowl of decorative balls or shells atop a console. Style mantels and shelving with framed art and sculptural objects. Thoughtful vignettes make your design details shine.
Curb appeal is one of the most pivotal staging elements when showcasing rentals, yet it remains sorely neglected. Make the exterior just as much of a priority as the interior. Remember, first impressions matter enormously. Renters form snap judgments the moment they pull up to your property. A stellar first impression entices them inside, while lackluster curb appeal causes them to drive right on by.
"I used to only focus on staging my rental"s interior," admits Kyle, an Airbnb host in Nashville. "I figured a modern, Instagrammable interior was enough to hook guests. But I noticed booking inquiries dropped whenever it rained or snowed. Guests didn"t even want to get out of the car and come inside."
The culprit? Kyle"s rental had a crumbling concrete front stoop and no overhang sheltering the front door. The outdated exterior didn"t match the interior"s sleek style. Once Kyle added a fresh coat of paint, potted plants and proper lighting outside, bookings remained steady rain or shine.
Michelle, landlord of a beach bungalow along Florida"s Gulf Coast, experienced a similar exterior effect. "No one wanted to stay in my cute little rental during the area"s prime tourism months. I just couldn"t understand why," she recalls. It turned out towering unmaintained hedges obscured the entire front facade and view of the nearby shoreline. Michelle trimmed back the landscaping and highlighted the property"s beach elements with a white rocking chair and sisal doormat. Vacancies vanished.
While micromanaging every inch of the exterior may not be possible, small touches go a long way. Paint or power wash exterior siding. Shampoo dingy carpets and freshen patio furniture cushions. Plant bright flowers or pots of greenery to frame entryways. Remove peeling paint and touch up trim. Replace faded welcome mats. Install updated exterior lighting.
Enlist a virtual staging provider to digitally remove any permanent eyesores you can"t refurbish, like cracked driveways or overgrown plants infringing on the structure. Use virtual staging to spotlight curb appeal elements you want noticed, whether a charming front porch or spectacular water views beyond the backyard.
Rentals near the coast can showcase proximity to the beach with virtual seashell or palm frond pathways leading up to the front door. Mountain rentals can digitally display picturesque peaks visible from the property. Even city rentals can feature animated focal points reflecting location, like a digitally staged taxi cab for an urban apartment.
Finally, capture curb appeal photos from the ideal vantage point. "I used to just take a quick snap standing in the driveway because it was convenient," Kyle admits. "Now I photograph from where potential guests will first view the property." That means crossing the street to capture the full facade. Take wide shots of the entire exterior, then move in closer for appealing details like the entryway.
In real estate, a single hero shot can be worth more than a thousand words. Hero shots are those jaw-dropping, visually stunning photographs that get all the oohs and aahs. These impactful images immediately capture attention and stir emotions. For rentals, an evocative hero shot sells not just a property, but the dream of vacationing there.
"I used to just take basic snapshots of each room in my beach rental. They showed the space accurately but didn"t excite anyone," recalls Delilah, an Airbnb host in Miami. "For my latest listing, I invested in a professional photographer to capture the dream. She delivered incredible hero shots of the beach at golden hour, beautiful aerial pool shots, vivid food photography on the patio at sunset. Bookings tripled overnight."
While professional photographers work magic, DIY property owners can also create compelling hero shots with a bit of planning. Study photographers" portfolios to identify what constitutes a hero shot for your particular property type. Beach rentals benefit from radiant sunrise or sunset views, family frolicking in surf, or drinking tropical cocktails poolside. Urban rentals may feature vivid city skylines, the view from a swanky rooftop lounge, or walking through hip local attractions.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target guest. Says Kyle, an Airbnb host with a modern condo rental in Chicago: "I market mainly to couples seeking a luxury weekend getaway. So I captured romantic hero shots of my couple enjoying room service breakfast in bed with the skyline view, sipping wine on the balcony at sunset, dressed up for a night out."
Hero shots sell emotions and connections over practicalities, so avoid wide shots simply showing furniture arrangements. Instead, embrace close-ups of hands clinking champagne glasses or feet propped poolside. Capture silhouettes admiring stunning vistas. Include people engaged in aspirational activities like grilling sun-kissed steaks al fresco or cozying up by a fireplace.
Lighting is crucial for breathtaking photography. For exteriors, shoot at the magic hours of dawn or dusk when rich golden light saturates scenes. Candlelit interiors exude intimacy and warmth. If shooting during the day, adjust camera angles to avoid harsh shadows. Reflective surfaces like glass or water sparkle when hit by direct sunlight.