A Picture's Worth a Thousand... Bucks? ||Part 1||

T-Minus 2 days until the Sweet Clover Barn Sale!  Chelsea and I have been wishin' and hoping' and thinkin' and prayin' that we'll get to meet some new faces, sell a few pieces, and not shop too much ourselves over the weekend ;)

So a few of you may remember that back in April, Caleb and I put all our stuff in storage (including my go-to tools, DIY supplies, and staging accessories) and moved into a friend's basement AKA our "summer home."  Wanting to respect the space of our host, I haven't taken on many furniture flips.  But with the sale coming up, I found a few low-impact projects I couldn't resist - like copycatting this stunner of a bench:

Source:  Zin Home

Source: Zin Home


But YIKES that price!  Who would have an extra grand lying around to spend on a bench?  I wanted to make a bench that would look like $1,000 bucks but not one that would actually cost someone that much!  I had scored a set of [free] chrome legs from another bench so that was a step in the right direction by keeping my expenses low.  After curating the perfect faux cowhide fabric I had this:


Not too shabby eh? 

So now I had this epic mid-century modern meets rustic meets eclectic bench to sell [a style mutt of it's own if you ask me] and I started thinking about the kind of customer I hoped it would attract.  In our line of work, pictures often make the sale so it was critical that I get some captivating shots.  The problem was we're living in a basement with butter yellow walls and mostly traditional decor.  It just didn't seem like the best set-up to sell a mid-century/modern/rustic/eclectic bench.  Fortunately, our summer home has a GLORIOUS view so I thought I'd try something I've always wanted to: do a furniture photoshoot al fresco.  Here's my best shot from the shoot:

So after I took this shot I couldn't help but feel like it wasn't really "selling" the bench.  Was it too artsy or the background too busy?  Stumped, I turned to Instagram for some help from the DIY community and got the following feedback:

  • "Needs something... not sure what.. hopefully you'll get some ideas today.."
  • "Really like the idea of outside staging but I think the background is a bit overwhelming."
  • "I love this piece and this shot! What if the bench wasn't facing the side with that house behind it, but rather where the view is a bit deeper and you see the lake in the background. Might be more monochromatic."
  • "Leave it! It lets the piece shine!"
  • "Ok right now I'm staring because the shot is so beautiful. But I think you need more focus on the bench. Maybe move the bench a little more in front of the tree and shoot with your focus on the bench"
  • "Absolutely love the pic, but I almost missed the bench at first glance, maybe if the background was blurred a little?"
  • "Stunning just how it is!"
  • "The bench caught my eye first thing"
  • "Stand along and let it speak for itself!!!"
  • "Stunning with nature's green as a backdrop"

Although it seems like I was getting mixed poll results, it totally helped me realize what was bugging me about this shot.  I realized that what I loved about this picture wasn't the bench, it was the tree.  I wasn't even looking at the bench for that sweeping tree - leaning out over the water like it just wants to go for a refreshing dip.  So I tried blurring the background to help focus on the bench [literally]. 

Better but would that really help a buyer put it in the context of their home?  I decided to try introducing a few of my decor pieces [that weren't in storage] in hopes that it would help:

Here's some of the feedback I got with this new shot:

  • "Wish I had an answer for you! Since I only sell my stuff online, I always have a white background. It is a pretty shot though! Maybe if you just cropped it with less background?"
  • "I love the props together, but personally I think a blank wall backdrop would work better with the look you have going on"
  • "I'll be completely honest with my opinion. Until I read that it was a styled shot I thought it was a behind the scenes of what you did before. I lost the fact that the bench was what I needed to be looking at. I appreciate the picture alone, but for me it didn't work to capture my attention as an ad for the bench."
  • "I think the bench and the books, by themselves against the backdrop would have been really cool!!
  • "Love the book idea..but maybe just one book laying open.... And a small very small tray with a tall glass of lemonade with a tall tall straw and lemon garnish! I would kill for your view! Love being near water...  the bench is marvelous!"
  • "This looks like a magazine ad! Love it"

Again, mixed poll results.  I liked the color scheme but the odds and ends made for a confusing vignette.  I mean who is this photo geared towards?  Someone who spends the day by the lake reading books with their upholstered coffee table bench, a terrarium, and blank canvases?  That's a pretty narrow market.  

I tried blurring the background again in hopes they wouldn't stand out as much.  Maybe it could be mistaken as a magazine ad, but not every buyer has editorial taste.  It was still missing that "$1,000 feeling" so what else could I do to help it sell?  It was at this point I was ready to throw in the towel but the encouraging IG community got me thinking again.  Maybe, with a little imagination and the help of our host's traditional decor, this style mutt could find a way to get the feel I was going for after all...  

I hope you'll come back tomorrow to find out how!

And don't forget!  You're invited to the Sweet Clover Barn Sale this weekend Aug 21-23 from 10am to 5pm at Sweet Clover 4051 Stanford Ct, Frederick, Maryland 21703.