home staging

Tips from an HGTV stylist on staging your home for a virtual tour

With open houses on pause province-wide, digital tools have never been so important for selling homes

Red Barrinuevo is the property stylist on HGTV Canada’s Hot Market and is the principal designer at Redesign4More. He is an award-winning interior stylist who was also named one of the most influential people in real estate home staging this year by RESA Global.


With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, open houses have been put on pause province-wide to ensure the safety of Ontarians. Of course, that doesn’t mean people are not listing their homes for sale. Sellers are just relying more on digital tools such as virtual tours and photos to get potential buyers interested. For home sellers and listing agents, this means staging is more valuable than ever for great listing photos. Here are my top tips to get the shot so you can make the sale!

Clear the clutter

Bright and spacious is a recurring theme among homebuyers, so give them what they want. Thankfully, this comes at minimal cost and effort. Start by clearing the clutter, which is the top perpetrator of bad impressions. Clutter creates the illusion that the home is small and poorly organized, and not worth the asking price. Pack up all the tchotchkes, and while you’re at it, ask yourself if these items are worth bringing into your new home. For items you’re not ready to part with, consider renting a storage locker. You’ll be surprised at the amount of visual space this will free up. When your space is free and clear, add a few thoughtful accessories and pops of colour, which anchor the eye, both in person and in photos.

Let there be light

The brightness of your home — or lack thereof — is an equally easy fix. Open blinds and replace heavy curtains with sheers. If privacy isn’t a concern, consider removing window coverings entirely, to enhance your home’s natural light and highlight the views. When you’re having your photos and videos taken, for virtual tours or in-person showings, turn on all the lights, even during the daytime. A bright space naturally appears larger, so this step is not one to skip.

All in the angle

Use a professional photographer. Your listing photos are the first thing buyers will see of your home, so it’s worth the extra effort and cost. Most listing agents will have one on speed dial. A professional photographer has a keen eye for details and pleasing angles when shooting your home, as well as the right camera and lighting to show it in the best possible light. Schedule your photos during the daytime, to capture as much natural light as possible.

Don’t deceive

While you may be tempted to stage your listing into something spectacular, stay true to your home. A fish-eye lens or rented micro furnishings might create the illusion of space, but the result will be disappointment — on the buyer’s part when they eventually see the real home, and on yours when the buyer walks away without making an offer. If your listing photos and videos offer a true view of the space, and they bring buyers in for a closer look, then you’re half-way there to making the sale.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO