Decluttering….. just the sound of the word makes most people anxious!! After all, you’re still living in your house, and let’s face it, we love our stuff!! Try NOT to panic. I’m not suggesting you throw everything out or leave your house empty, you are still living there after all. What I mean by declutter is selectively pruning items that date your home, distracts potential buyers from seeing all the potential your home has to offer or makes your home seem “too small” because your beloved Star Wars figurines collection has taken over your family room!! (I’m not pointing fingers, but you know who you are!)
Simple tips for decluttering room by room:
- Clear counters! Only your everyday essentials should be left behind (unless you bake fresh bread every morning, your massive Kitchenaid all-purpose mixer can and should be put away)
- Keep linens in the proper drawer. Don’t hang dingy towels from the oven or fridge, its gross and will make potential buyers think the home is dirty. Pick up fresh kitchen linens or opt for nothing at all.
- Only leave out a handful of strategically placed accessories to add to the rooms je ne sais quoi! This doesn’t have to be complicated folks. Add a small glass vase with a few bunches of basil. It smells amazing and because its the kitchen its both cute and useful or add lemons to a bowl (or a tall clear vase) to add some color. The smell from either the basil or the lemon will add to that clean kitchen vibe we are going for. If your kitchen has ample counter space, use both ideas! You want the space look like you meant for it to look this way. Buyers appreciate little touches and it will set your home apart from others they are seeing.
- Clear out ALL prescription drugs. Put them in a safe place, out of harms way (and away from prying eyes). Potential buyers will be going through your things. They need to see inside closets, vanities and medicine cabinets so tuck away anything you would consider private. You can buy a bin and store it under your bed or in the closet in a neat stack with other bins. Now is also a great time purge items that you don’t use. Look at expiration dates and toss anything that needs to go. Why bother packing garbage?
- Pack up all of the daily bath towels that look like they’ve seen better days and only leave out your guest towels (you know which ones I’m referring to!). Store the rest in a bin and pull from it as you need to. The towels left behind and put out should look like a professional did it for you. Think spa or hotel. ( for inspiration head over to our Pintrest account!)
- Invest in nice under the sink storage and put all the cleaning supplies in there. It looks clean, organized and potential buyers will love it!
- Clean and repair ALL grout. No exceptions! I can’t tell you home many times I was showing a home and my clients took a peek behind the shower curtain only to find grout that had clearly come to life. A dirty bathroom, like a dirty kitchen, will turn off buyers and what does a buyer do in that situation? You guessed it, walk away or one more reason for what……hello low-ball offer.
- Pack up ALL out-of-season clothes and linens and store it away ( plastic bins neatly stacked in the basement are a safe bet. Keep in mind though, if the basement starts to look like the basement of a public school, you may want to consider storing items off-site for the time being. Remember, for every item the potential buyer puts on their list of “problems” you get less money at the negotiation table.
- Choose simple, crisp bed linens and make all the beds daily. Not sure what do do with your bed, check out this video for a how to by West Elm.
- Keep only a couple family photos on display, if you must, but studies show that family photos hurt your bottom line. If the walls are covered it can often make the room appear smaller than it actually is which is the exact opposite effect you want. In the best case, the photos distract your potential buyer from seeing what’s important because they are busy checking out the family- in the worst case, they are inundated with images of strangers making them feel like guests in a stranger’s home. I was recently at a showing where the home felt more like a museum of that family’s lineage than anything else. The walls were covered in pregnant belly’s, baby pictures and family sittings. My clients were so distracted they didn’t even consider that home as an option. It was a perfectly lovely home in a fantastic neighborhood (and it was priced well under their budget) but my clients felt like guests and couldn’t see past baby’s first steps photo shoot. They ended up putting an offer on a home that was listed for $20k more!
Living, Dining and Family Rooms
- Organize your bookshelves. Books can easily be used to add color and depth to a room when styled properly. (click here for inspiration, Pintrest)
- Clear out anything that doesn’t belong. How do you know if it belongs or not? Does the item in question serve an actual purpose? Does it add to the room in a positive way? The answers to those questions should help you make the right decision. If its broken, it goes. Period.
- Make sure the room is well light. You want to make sure the window coverings are drawn at all times to let in as much natural light as possible. If the room is still on the darker side, head to the store and pick up some accent lights that compliment the space. This doesn’t have to be a major expense, head over to TJMAXX, HomeGoods or a similar discount home goods store and pick up something nice and simple.
- Clean the window treatments and the windows. Your windows should sparkle! You want potential buyers to have a clear shot of all the hard work you did getting your outdoors in shape!
- If you have fabric curtains/drapes/panels, refresh them on the day of a showing with a lightly scented fabric spray. The room should smell fresh and clean but not overbearing. Keep in mind, a lot of people have sensitivities to fragrance and/or asthma. Keep the scent clean and crisp without being over powering.
- If your walls are covered with art, keep a select few that are neutral in color and taste as to attract most potential buyers. Shy away from anything potentially insulting (think political, religious, risqué etc.) Your home should be like walking into a perfectly curated hotel, nothing personal and is appealing to the masses. We want every room to evoke feelings of possibility, of a new and exciting chapter starting…… for them (not you)! Again, this is what folks? That’s right, business NOT personal!
- Clean the walls, chair rail, moldings, corners etc. They are dirtier than you think, especially baseboards. Give everything a good dusting and wipe down. Vacuum the heat/ac vents and make sure to dust the ceiling at the corners. Do it now, again, you will get the money back on the other side. Clean out any and all traces of spiders!! This means webs, spider carcass’ or anything that looks like it. This is a huge phobia for many people and unless you want to send potential buyers running, get rid of it.
- If you have area rugs make sure they are well vacuumed and smell fresh. Quick Tip: sprinkle some baking powder and let it sit for 15-20 minutes then vacuum. Its an easy way to refresh the area without using harsh fragrances. Make sure they are secured in place which may mean investing in rug grippers, rug tape or a non-slip rug pad.
- Invest in a simple, small bin to place all tv and sound system remotes. It looks tidy and serves a purpose.
- If you have a little one, keeping a home show ready is hard to do. I suggest purchasing canvas bins or woven baskets in a color that compliments the space (or adds a pop of color) and store all the must have on hand daily toys in there. All other items need to be stored away so they don’t make the space feel small and cluttered. Keep in mind, this part is temporary and the better the staging, the more temporary it will be. Let’s get your home in tip-top shape so it goes under contract in under three weeks. Think of it as a “staycation” and turn your home into a small resort. Make everything look warm, inviting, open and airy. Invite them in and hope they want to stay!
Last but not least….
Design the best first impression
- Clear your foyer/entry way of all clutter. Put away every single pair of shoes, make a small space for keys by adding a nice decorative bowl or a cute key hook. If you have space, add a chair or a bench (but keep it cleared off). If you don’t have room for furniture, no worries. Just make sure this area is spotless because its the first thing potential buyers see when they enter your home.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Stay tuned for Home Staging 101: Part 3 which will focus on functionality and tips for making your home both cozy and inviting which will run on Tuesday, February 6, 2018.
Check out the following links for how to’s & some inspiration: