Yesterday I borrowed a Canon 5D with a wide-angle lens (and briefly considered faking my own death so I’d never have to give it back) and took the MLS photos for our house. It was a sweaty and near-impossible task, trying to keep surfaces clean and child-free for long enough to snap the photo, and I am officially in a state of anticipatory despair over the idea of keeping the house in show-ready condition with two small kids in the house and a husband who apparently believes all cereal bowls and shoes are continually sucked into another dimension by invisible dimension-sucking fairies and a dog who sheds giant haybales of fur every five minutes and the toys and the dirt and the mess, oh god.

Here’s what the pictures look like:

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(I’m not sure about using this photo. On the one hand, I should show more than one bedroom, right? On the other, it’s nearly impossible to photograph well and is so Kid-Decorated which might be a turnoff.)

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If you have any thoughts on house staging, I’d love to hear them. I’ve de-cluttered the closets and cleaned our windows and we’re about to touch up some trim and remove 90% of our family photos, what else should I be thinking of? Oh and also, hey, just how the shit am I going to manage this whole thing without losing my mind?

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jolie
12 years ago

This looks great Linda, you have a seriously gorgeous house, great taste. I didn’t read the other comments but I don’t think Riley’s room looks that “kiddy” at ALL. In fact I thought it was your room and wondered what the heck you had a pirate flag for. HA.

marta
marta
12 years ago

So happy about the ceiling! Your house is great, your ceiling is beyond gorgeous. I suggest scrubbing the concrete deck. We do this once a year with our concrete patio pavers, just a little Soft Scrub and lots of water, and it works great. Also some flowering potted plants on the deck, outdoor candles or lanterns on the deck table. I would de-clutter Riley’s bookshelf some more, but otherwise his room is so cute.

Maggie
12 years ago

Wow – if we were in a position to be buying a place when we move back to Seattle next month I would so buy yours. It’s beautiful and exactly what I want in a house.

Kate
Kate
12 years ago

I think the kids room is great – just maybe take down the skull and cross-bones flag? could be seen as a bad-omen. :)

Lesley
Lesley
12 years ago

If someone hasn’t mentioned it already, apparently realtors suggest the smell of fresh baking emanating throughout the house, or cinammon.

Erin
Erin
12 years ago

Beautiful… I love it. And don’t worry about the kids’ room — shouldn’t be a turnoff. Interior designers almost always stage model homes with kids’ rooms — it’s actually appealing because people can then imagine their families there.

silene
12 years ago

Wow. That is one seriously lovely house. Best of luck with the sale!

Renee
Renee
12 years ago

I would buy your house in a heartbeat!!

Liz
Liz
12 years ago

I actually wouldn’t have guessed immediately that Riley’s room was a kid room–but I was taken aback briefly by the skull smack in the middle of the picture. I wasn’t freaked out or anything but it did give me a moment’s pause. Otherwise the pictures look great. The kitchen and bathroom especially have me salivating.

Christine
12 years ago

I didn’t see the bedroom pictures before. Agree about taking down the skull and crossbones – otherwise Reilly’s room looks huge. I love the sloping ceilings in both bedrooms.

A thought about the picture in the bathroom – could you replace it with a (bigger) mirror? (Without getting yourself in the shot?) I think that would look better and would make the room look even bigger and brighter.

Brenda
12 years ago

I agree with the people that are saying not to do anything to fragrant. I have walked in and out of places without even looking when they have to strong of a scent. It turns my stomach. Do you only have the 1 bathroom? My only other comment is about the master bedroom. Is there another way to position the bed? Maybe on the long wall–then put the dresser on the short wall? To me it looks like the bed doesn’t fit there. I love your house! The light is just beautiful!

Melissa
Melissa
12 years ago

I agree with Deb up above-is it possible to move your bed under the windows and put the dresser where the bed currently is? Or, is there something we can’t see preventing that? Other than that-Good job! Excellent pictures, beautiful home. Good luck!

erin
12 years ago

Your house is beautiful! When we had to sell our house last year I kept my girls’ playroom cleaned up and only let them play with a few toys at a time. It was hard (they were 5 and 3 at the time) but super easy to throw all the toys back in the proper bins if we needed to show. I also vacuumed all the time (we had 2 dogs and 2 cats! I am crazy) so that when someone came to see the house I only had to do a light sweep of the floors. We had tile and hardwood downstairs so it was easy to dry swiffer. The rugs got vacuumed often, at night before bed and definitely in the morning once we got up. And at least once during the day if possible. Baking cookies is a good idea but if you don’t have time, light a nice smelling candle, nothing too strong, and that will do the trick, too. I lit cinnamon candles and my agent always told me the people loved the way the house smelled. Good luck! It’s not a fun time having to keep your house “show ready” but it will be worth it. Hope your house sells quickly!

Nichole
12 years ago

Your house is gorgeous.

Victoria
12 years ago

I say don’t stress too much about making it perfect for a buyer. Now, let it be said that I’ve never bought a house, but I’d think if it were clean(ish) and looked like a place I could live, I’d like it.
The only thing I’ve heard about setting up a house for sale is to take down family photos so that the person moving in feels like this could be their house.
I think your place looks great and somewhere I’d love to worry about buying. ;)
In terms of how you’re going to survive? Well, remember that it’s about the people looking and not about how “perfect” you managed to clean it for them. And keep on exercising and treating yourself to tasty goodies and writing here about how stressed you are if that helps.
And just keep telling yourself it’ll all work out, or some kind of supposedly helpful mantra like that :D

Good luck!

Alyce
Alyce
12 years ago

I’m very spatially challenged and I will barely bother to look at a house unless there is a floorplan. Have your realtor mock one up if they haven’t already. Or maybe you have it from when you remodeled?

The pictures look great. More pictures will be even better. Of bathrooms, of views, of laundry, with details of how the kitchen and table connect/flow. The kinds of things you’d want to see.

Like other posters, we kept a plastic tub by the door and did a last minute sweep on our way out. This kept me from trying to clean dishes and toys and socks and whatever else had accumulated from the last showing and allowed me to say yes to any midday requests.

It looks beautiful.

SeattleSchmitt
SeattleSchmitt
12 years ago

Two thoughts:
1) The gray sofa (2nd photo) needs a rug in front of it, if it’s possible to find one that goes with the room.
2) The patio desperately needs a splash of color. Maybe just a large colorful pot you can take with you when you move? Or a nice vase of inexpensive flowers on the table.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

My friend who is in real estate swears by fresh flowers and tossing something in the oven to bake on the day of a showing. She had one family who kept a Mrs. Smith’s frozen apple pie in the freezer and baked one for each showing – they sold the house after only two :)

Your house is beautiful!

Jennie
Jennie
12 years ago

It looks incredible, really. If it’ll help, I forward the listing to everyone I know in the PacNW once it’s up and ready to be seen.

Also, I’d keep Riley’s room. I don’t think it screams kid at all, actually, and when I first glanced at it in Flickr I actually thought: that’s a very neutral kid’s room so you can really visualize it as something else. For what that’s worth!

Kristen
12 years ago

Beautiful! I would buy it….if I didn’t live on the east coast and plan to stay here for a good long (read: forever) while! Good luck!

kim
kim
12 years ago

People have probably said this already, but the house is gorgeous, very appealing, and you’ve done a fabulous job of decorating and “staging” it. The photo of Riley’s bedroom is fine — it is good to see another bedroom & his is decorated very nicely.

I know baking cookies is suggested, but quite often you will find yourself without the time to do that. Or, as it was for me, without the time to clean up the cookie-making mess. (My imperfect solution was to hide all the dirty Stuff in a cabinet until after the showing). It’s really hard to keep the house showing-ready, I know, and cookies become one more thing to worry about.

But, from my own experience from looking at many, many houses, it’s less important to have the house smell like cookies than it is NOT to have it smell like . . . cooking odors, animals, musty Mystery Things, etc. The single biggest turn-off to me was the houses that had a weird or bad smell. They don’t need to smell like cookies or roses! I do not remember the good-smelling homes, but I can tell you to this day (a few years later) which ones had a funky smell and what that funky smell most closely resembled. I still can’t walk past one house I saw without thinking about the dirty cat litter smell that permeated every room.

So my number one advice: cook no stinky food; wash Dog every week; keep windows open as much as possible to air things out.

Miche
Miche
12 years ago

I baked banana muffins the day of our first showing. Barely had time to clean the mess before people were making their way in. The house smelled YUMMY and was officially referred to at ‘The Muffin House’ by the people that bought it. I highly recommend doing a little baking before having an open house. It totally works. Best of luck!!!

Elizabeth
12 years ago

I want your house.

Maggie
12 years ago

We sold our Seattle townhouse this spring and selling the house was rough, I won’t lie. On the other hand, we got an offer in 11 days. SO. IT CAN BE DONE! I had a 3yo and a 1.5yo and I consolidated all the toys, put a lot in the garage, and bought some baskety bin type things so that if they were playing with anything when someone called, I could dump everything in the bins and leave. I was CONSTANTLY sweeping and wiping down counters and one of the hardest things was trying to conduct House Business on the phone while home alone with the kids. Other than that, I just made sure I always had somewhere to go if someone wanted to see the house, and I made cookie dough, kept it in the freezer and baked before each open house/showing. People seemed to like it! And I’m 99% sure the people who bought our house came to the first open house AND the second one.

Good luck Linda!

kim
kim
12 years ago

Sorry! I wanted to add that I believe that open houses for the general public are really important but make sure the signs are up at for several days in advance so that people can plan for it. My husband and I were only casually looking to buy a new house/downsize from our current one & we went to an Open House that we just happened to stumbled upon. We fell in love on the spot. Within a few days we contacted a realtor to put our house on the market and made an offer on the house we saw.

And it has happened on more than one occasion that a house we never would have bothered with based on its external appearance became a definite candidate after we visited its Open House. So I also suggest having an Open House for buyers, because you just never know.

agirlandaboy
12 years ago

Definitely include the shot of Riley’s room. I bet 90 percent of people looking for a multi-bedroom house have kids, and it’s not like you have a Spongebob mural painted on the ceiling.

Jen_Ann_W
12 years ago

I too LOVE your house. When you get it on the MLS website, will you post the link please? We’re moving west VERY soon – end of August if all goes as planned – and we would seriously consider buying it if we are able to line up jobs around Seattle.
Your veggie gardens are awesome, so I’d add a photo of them to the listing. When you write the details for Craigslist (a must!) or MLS, include some info about the neighborhood too, like where the nearest park or grocery is. I’d also take down the pirate flag and the waterfall photo in the bathroom, and maybe remove the rugs in the master bed & bath to show off the gorgeous floors a little more. Definitely add some flowers to the back patio, or some colorful citronella candles on the table, and put in new mulch if you can. Get a photo from the living room looking into the kitchen, and one of the fireplace too. If you can get another angle on the office and TV rooms, that couldn’t hurt. Nowadays, photos SELL. The more the merrier. You could also set up a page on blogger to link to from Craigslist so you can show all the pictures & go into more detail.
Best of luck!

Kirsty
12 years ago

Being British and living in France, the whole house-selling thing seems to be wildly different, so I can’t give any real advice (though there’s plenty of good stuff it seems to me in the comments).
What I can’t get over is how HUGE homes in the US seem to be… I’m no good at all with metric conversions or what have you, but my 2 daughters, one large cat and I (and their father till he moved out in May) live in 90m² here in the south of France. We have no parking area, no garden (just a small balcony), and the usual rooms (kitchen, bathroom – both considerably smaller and less modern than yours – large main room (but both my ex and I worked from home, so it needed to be big to fit two offices in it), corridor and walk-in (ha! ha!) cupboard). That’s it! I’ve seen lots of “normal people” show pictures of their homes on the web (by “normal” I mean people who have jobs, or not, and who have kids, and who may or may not have money problems and who are most definitely not what you would describe as “rich”) and in the US your homes are just ENORMOUS. I can’t get over it. And I’m more than a tad jealous… Bearing in mind that our flat currently would cost about 200,000 € (for ease, let’s call that 200,000 $ give or take), and our part of the south of France isn’t the chic, Nice or St Tropez part AT ALL…
Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. I would loooove to live in a home that looked like that but, unless I win the lottery (or move to the US, apparently), there isn’t a hope…

Chloe
Chloe
12 years ago

Your house is beautiful. I’m not kidding. I’d buy it, but I bet I couldn’t afford it, and I’d have to leave my job which I also couldn’t really afford.

I agree with baking cookies when you have an open house– it smells good, and makes it seem like you are thinking of the buyers comfort. I know the house we got made fresh coffee for us (there was cookies too), had clean mugs sitting out with sugar and a note that said there was cream in the fridge (that was actually for the house inspection, which was even better because it was just for us). It didn’t sell the house, but it was nice.

Keep. Everything. Clean. Bathroom, especially toilet, shower/tub, and sink are the biggest things. No little hairs sticking around (I know that’s hard with men in the house); people do not want to be in, let alone buy, a dirty nasty house. No dirty dishes visible in the sink, though hidden in the dishwasher is okay. Oh, and I’ve always heard you should put the lid down on all the toilets, it shows nicer.

No advice on the kid stuff, I don’t have them, but even though Riley’s room is a kid’s room, it doesn’t read as, “OMG I’m going to have to come in and clean off this hideous train border/ bright pink walls, etc. I don’t think Riley’s room will look bad to a buyer at all.

It is a beautiful house, I don’t think you’ll have any problem selling it, but hopefully the market will support the price that you want to get.

Karl
Karl
12 years ago

Wowzers. It’s all gorgeous, especially the two key expensive rooms (kitchen and bathroom). Keep the kid-bedroom shot, it’s fine. If you can’t sell this house, there’s no buyers out there.

operation pink herring
12 years ago

GodDAMN your house is gorgeous, woman. The only thing that jumped out at me saying KIDS about the second bedroom is the pirate flag. I think it’s fine to show, I always get suspicious when a bedroom is omitted in the MLS photos.

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

First, your house is amazing, and your pictures are great.

My first impressions agree with some of the above:

The pirate flag in the center of the picture draws attention away from the the rest of the room. I don’t think you have to take out the rest of the kids stuff, though!

The bed does look cramped. It would make me wonder if my king size bed would fit. Can the room be rearranged so the bed is under the window?

I would actually center the couch under the 2 windows on the brown wall.

Is there standing water/recent rain there under the flower/retaining wall? I’d wonder what that is. Also, some colorful flowers on the patio.

Like I said, though, the house is amazing. And I’d be thrilled that the kitchen and bath are up to date. Less for me to do!

Molly
Molly
12 years ago

Cookies and flowers. I ran home and put tollhouse from the tube in the oven for most showings. And it is amazing what a washer & dryer can hide (basically I’d sweep through the house gathering all kid stuff, dishes, you NAME it and throw it all in!). The house is gorgeous – and maybe the feeling is in the air because after seven long months – we got an offer on ours today!!!! I thought I’d feel euphoric but I feel sad & cheated at how low we had to sell it for (but that is NOT in Seattle – like 2000 miles away). Good luck – and you can always try the upsidedown St. Joseph buried in the yard. -Molly

Nancy
Nancy
12 years ago

Beautiful interior! I think your biggest hurdle is to get people in the door — once they see the interior they’ll love it, but the street view is a little plain.

I would powerwash your patio before submitting the backyard photo. It’s a really nice back yard, but the concrete looks kind of blah. As others have suggested, some colorful flowers (half-barrels with impatiens?) would look really nice. The color changes in the fence sections looks a little odd — the stained parts look nicer to me.

Good luck — someone will fall in love with this house!!

Lisa V
12 years ago

Linda, your house is beautiful. Drop the kid’s bedroom picture and garage. I would also redo all your exterior pictures but the last one. We just sold our house (quickly even!) and did a crash course in staging. Take out every piece of furniture you don’t really need. Be brutal. I would also consider hiring a professional photographer to do the shots. I will email you the link to our house- the photographer charged $200 and it was worth every penny. We had a ton of action.

Kathy
Kathy
12 years ago

Beautiful house! Totally non-stager here, but my good friend is and she’s helping me sell my parents home so Im learning. Plus I’m doing a lot of checking out how realtors are representing their homes for sales and so, opportunities that jump out for me from those pictures are:

In the office, move the printer and have only one laptop on the desk, makes it look bigger

Lose the pirate flag in your son’s bedroom, it’s the only thing that jumped out at me as kids room in that
Pic.

Take your backyard pics showing one fence style at a time.

Move the cream colored sofa to the middle of that wall, in between those beautiful windows.

That’s all that jumped out at me.

Best of luck in making your dream happen!

Ashleas
Ashleas
12 years ago

Your home shows beautifully.

Really, my only comment is on Riley’s Room. That’s a beautiful room, it strikes me as the room of a 8-9 year old, not a 4-5 year old. There are no plastic toys ANYWHERE. That alone is a MAJOR plus.

Laura
Laura
12 years ago

You have clearly invested a lot of time and love in that house. As I look around my tiny 1,000 square-foot, run-down shoebox, I can’t help but wonder: why on earth would they EVER want to move?!?

Jenny
Jenny
12 years ago

Such a beautiful house. You gus have done great work on it.

I would show the picture of the kid’s room. I don’t think it looks at all kids like, honestly. All of the pictures are great.

A couple of staging things….

1. Open the drapes before a showing.
2. Remove any cords that you have that would show awkward outlet placement (the place I ended up buying had a TV in the perfect place. Turns out that the person had moved it just for the showing b/c the only cable outlet was in a place where the TV is in a less perfect place)

Joanne
12 years ago

It’s going to be fine. Your house looks fantastic and one thing my friend who has little kids is doing is she and her realtor have a deal where she needs 24 hours notice. It will be FINE. I am putting my house on the market and your house looks like it could kick my house’s ASS.

Michelle
Michelle
12 years ago

We sold our house recently and for the photos and open house we had strategically placed lit candles to make it look more warm and homey, and I set the table with our nice china, table linens, etc and fresh flowers. Thank God our house sold in a couple weeks because it was a nightmare to keep it tidy with 2 kids and a dog and ugh, having flashbacks right now….good luck :)

Michelle
Michelle
12 years ago

oh also I forgot to mention taking down the pirate flag/banner thing in Riley’s room so it looks more neutral, and if you have (or could borrow) fluffy bed pillows for your bed – picture what you see in a bedding catalog…

Meggan
Meggan
12 years ago

I thought you got some good feedback from others. How about dog poop? It’s a pain to pick up but I think that would turn people off in a serious way. You don’t want to be known as the “shit on my shoe house.” I agree I would do some flowers or color on the back deck.

Dianna
12 years ago

I live around you, in Issaquah, and have been browsing homes and I think your photos are far better than many I’ve seen on Windermere. Keep the one of Riley’s room, I’ve seen so many photos of kids’ rooms a mess and his looks nice and tidy. It’s really not all that kid decorated either, I think someone could easily picture that same furniture (minus the skull and crossbones of course)in the room. You did great, good luck with everything that comes next!

Pam
Pam
12 years ago

The Furminator is God’s gift to pet owners. One real good de-fur-ifying session, and then a quick daily swipe with this thing, and you will drive to Chicago to thank me in person, right after your house sells in record time. :-)

Jenny
Jenny
12 years ago

Great house! And we just did this whole thing (sold and bought and kept show-ready for 10 months with 2 small kids). We walked through dozens of homes, some of which were filthy, some of which needed work, many of which had things like clown collections, religious artifacts on every wall, terrible holiday decorations, MANY dolls, and almost all of which had family pictures displayed. (Not all in one house, thank God.) We could ALWAYS see past that kind of thing to whether we’d want to live there. Do not — repeat, do NOT freak out about making the place perfectly dog-hair free at all times. Have a laundry basket ready for toys and shoes and cereal bowls, and shove it in the closet or the back of the car for unexpected showings. Don’t bother with fresh flowers (except for an open house); they die quickly and your house may be on the market a while. Try a big bowl of fresh fruit instead. Equally pretty, lasts longer, and you can all snack on it. Remember that your house is prettier and more move-in ready than most they’ll see that day, but you can’t control the other factors (i.e. they REALLY want to keep chickens and you’re not zoned for that, or whatever.) Breathe.

I wish you all the luck in the world.

SJ
SJ
12 years ago

Your house is absolutely beautiful. Very homey and warm and functional. I think your photos are wonderful as well.

I was going to suggest taking down family photos but you already mentioned that you were planning on doing that. Baking cookies the day of a showing, or before an open house (for your visitors to nosh on while they browse around) is a good idea too. It actually was the magic trick that helped us sell our first home. The house smells good and ‘like home’ and well, they get a nice little, unexpected treat. I’d probably add some colorful flower pots to your patio, to break up all the green (oh my god it’s so green) but really, I think you’ve done an excellent job and I bet you’ll sell in no time. Best of luck!

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

I want to move in now.

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

It looks so good. I just went through the hell of keeping a house show-ready with 2 small kids (ages 1 and 4). It is not fun, I will now lie. But, it’s possible. The hardest part is dealing with getting out the door every morning, when you don’t know if you’ll have a showing that day or not so you have to keep it perfect. Eat out whenever you can. My kids ate a lot of breakfasts in the car from drive-thru places, which is so totally out of character for me but you know what? The stinkin’ house sold. Keep your eyes on the prize. Do not get discouraged by negative feedback. It looks great and it will sell.

Fresh flowers are really nice for showing but are a pain in the ass to keep up with. Dead flowers in a vase are not as nice, it turns out.

Good luck!!

kim
kim
12 years ago

I’m really surprised anyone (let alone how many commented) said to take down Riley’s pirate flag…the ship is on the top of the shelf, it all ties in and is really cute. How can anyone seriously think a pirate flag is a bad omen? :) But I’m not in real estate or needing to sell a home, so what do I know? I think your house is great and I love the pictures.