Go behind the scenes with Martin and Mel Bennett, the professional
OWN IT – ADVERTORIAL
styling your home
I F Y O U ’ R E W O N D E R I N G W H Y Y O U R H O M E I S TA K I N G A LO N G T I M E T O S E L L ,
M AY B E T H E P H OTO G R A P H S A R E N ’ T D O I N G I T J U ST I C E . T H E T R E N D N O W I S
F O R P R O F E S S I O N A L ST Y L I N G – J A N E T H U G H E S M E T H O M E - STA G E R A N D
P H O T O G R A P H E R T E A M M A R T I N A N D M E L B E N N E T T T O F I N D O U T W H AT T H E Y D O
AVE you ever wondered how even the humblest home looks
so inviting on the pages of a glossy magazine while your family
snaps tend to look like a “before” publicity shot for the TV
programme “How Clean is Your House”?
No wonder so many people hoping to sell their homes start by picking
up a scrubbing brush or trying to find the local Kim Woodburn or
Aggie MacKenzie to do the cleaning for them.
Yet although a spotless kitchen can help, it will not automatically
transform your rural cottage or suburban semi into a homebuyer’s
That takes the experience and talent of people like Cotswold
couple Martin and Mel Bennett who have recently
started working for estate agents Perry Bishop and
Chambers who have offices in Cheltenham,
Cirencester, Tetbury, Nailsworth and
After decades working in commercial
photography, the couple have learned
how to achieve those magazine-style
photographs that have buyers drooling
over properties as they imagine moving
in and living there happily ever after.
Professional home-stager Mel knows
that the magazine properties we hanker
after are far from perfect but are carefully
curated and staged beforehand to present
them in the best possible light. A strategically
placed vase of flowers here, a colourful throw
there, or even a cup of coffee and a magazine on
a table can make all the difference to how inviting a
home looks to the outside world.
Combine the talents of a photographer with decades of experience
in capturing homes in the best possible light and you have all the
ingredients for a fantastic first impression.
Martin has already produced brochure images for multi-millionaires
selling large country estates. Now he can give your home the Hello!style treatment too. And in an age when buyers flick through details
on online portals rather than seeing properties for themselves, images
of your home can determine how long it is on the market and how
much it sells for.
A portfolio of beautiful, lifestyle images can make houses stand out
from the crowd in the estate agent’s window, jump off the pages of
the newspaper’s property section and attract the attention of buyers
38 | gloucestershirelive.co.uk
Martin said: “High end properties have always had people to style the
rooms so they look perfect for the shoots. Now it is becoming more
common in the middle range too. It’s very effective. If the images are
inviting, it piques people’s interest and they will stop and look at the
photographs even if the property is in a different area to where they
are looking or does not have the number of bedrooms they want.
“Very often people will go and look at properties they would not have
considered before and people tell us that it has helped them sell more
quickly or for significantly over the asking price.
How do they do it?
“Lots of little things can add up to a big difference and she has a
real eye for it,” he says of wife Mel. “She goes for what we
call the ‘tidily untidy’ look because although buyers
like clean and airy, they don’t like anything too
pristine or clinical.
“It’s about the human touch. For instance
by placing a book and a pair of glasses
on the sofa you paint a picture which
allows people to imagine sitting there
with their feet up.”
Yet although it sounds simple, you or I
would struggle to achieve the necessary
look, says Martin.
“Although the staging is important, it’s
mainly about lighting and what you can
do to make a room look appealing,” he
“Estate agents make the mistake of standing in
the corner with a camera to get the whole room in the
photograph, which can look awful. We don’t do that. We
give glimpses of the main selling points and get the lighting right so
the images are warmer and more engaging. The right images turn a
property into a home.”
But although he can show your home off at it’s best, light, the couple
avoid making it unrecognisable.
“”If it is too staged it can put people off so it has to be very subtle,” he
said. “We portray the property in the best possible light but we don’t
set out to deceive. Estate agents have a legal duty not to misrepresent
a property so if we are shooting a room and it has a crack in the wall,
we can’t do anything about that. At one time we used props to dress
properties, but now we tend to find it more effective to use what’s
already there. It’s often more in keeping with the home.”
Home-staging is increasingly being considered the norm in America
and Australia and in London where sellers are going a stage further.
“We have been asked to supply models for the London market and
they are often used blurred in the background because it adds that
extra layer, but I don’t think the Cotswolds is ready for that yet,” said
Agents at Perry Bishop and Chambers are convinced that a series
of timeless images that are beautifully lit and saturated with colour,
deliver the desirability factor necessary to turn sales around quickly
and achieve the best possible price. Martin, 52, and Mel, 34, who have
been together for 16 years and have four children, know exactly how
difficult it is for busy families to move and agree it can make all the
“Ten years ago homebuyers would find 10 houses at the right price,
in the right area and with the right number of bedrooms and then go
and look at them,” explained Martin. “Now so many homes are being
photographed and put online it’s a totally different experience.
“I know lots of really beautiful properties that have been on the market
for much longer than they should have been because the photographs
have not done them justice.
“Home-staging produces photographs that catch the buyer’s attention
so they stop and consider your property properly,” said Martin.
F O R M O R E D E TA I L S , C A L L P E R R Y
BISHOP AND CHAMBERS ON
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