While staging homes for sale, day in and day out, our accredited staging pros practice and preach this general rule of thumb: Count every item in each room, including furniture, books, vases, cards, etc. Then eliminate 50% of them. That’s right — 50%. It may sound excessive, but you’ll be amazed at what a difference clearing off a few countertops will make. In the second part of our Sell It Now series, we’ll share room-by-room advice for decluttering like a pro to make your home look cleaner, bigger and more open — and like the home of your ideal buyer’s dream.
When it comes to home buying, the kitchen is easily the most scrutinized room of a home. It can make or break a sale. That’s why it is absolutely essential that every corner of your kitchen is cleaned and staged from the very first day your home hits the market. This is especially true if your kitchen needs some updating. You want potential buyers to envision themselves slicing and dicing while entertaining guests, not envisioning how they can create more counter space. Remove all magnets and papers from the fridge. Every. Single. One.
- Keep the area around your sink completely clear. Store all accessories and cleaning supplies (dish soap, sponges, drying rack, etc.) under the sink (bonus points if you arrange these in a nice little basket)
- The dish towels hanging on the stove? Fold them up and store them, unless they truly add to your kitchen’s style.
- Remove countertop appliances. Your toaster, coffee pot, blender and countertop oven might be essential daily tools for you, but in the eyes of home shoppers, they all translate to one thing: less counter space. Same goes for paper towel and napkin holders too.
- Clear your countertops completely (and we mean completely!), except for one to two decorative touches, such as a bowl of fresh fruit, vase of fresh flowers or a wooden cutting board or cookbook propped up against one wall.
- Don’t ignore the inside of your cabinets! We guarantee that buyers WILL open them — and an avalanche of unused kitchen appliances might not make the kind of impression you’re hoping for. Now is the time to organize your pantry, purge those excess coffee mugs, discard one-off dining pieces and find a home for unused appliances.
As you prepare each bathroom for a showing, think like a hotel guest. What do you want to see? Perfectly fluffed and arranged towels and toiletries arranged in decorative baskets or clusters, right?
- Clear the top of your vanity completely. Put away toothbrushes, toothpaste and all over toiletries away and store them (neatly) in the medicine cabinet or under the vanity. A small vase of flowers along with a decorative hand soap dispenser is OK.
- Inside the shower, keep only what is necessary and put away the rest. Neatly arrange shampoos, razors, soaps, etc. into small clusters.
- Remove extra towels.
- Organize the area under the vanity using baskets to reduce the sight of clutter.
- Organize your medicine cabinet, discarding expired medications and storing away any sensitive medications you’d rather someone else didn’t see.
When we go about decluttering the common areas of a home, we have two goals: Make the home look more spacious and depersonalize. Here’s how we do it:
- Remove excess furniture. Your favorite recliner—the one guests need to shimmy behind to get the bathroom — might need to find a new home until you’re in your new home. Less furniture makes the property feel more spacious. Rent a storage locker to store extra supplies and furniture if necessary.
- Examine your bookshelves and media center. Then, reduce the visible number of books, CDs, DVDs, etc.
- Keep these areas free of any “personal” touches, such as family photos, diplomas, trophies, etc. Not only will this help declutter, it also helps buyers visualize their own items in these spaces.
- Remove houseplants or display them together.
Storage space is a huge part of what home buyers are looking for. If your closets are overflowing and poorly organized, your buyers might think there isn’t enough room for their items. Now is the time to tackle that closet organization project you’ve been postponing!
- Purge and pack each closet as much as possible before you list your home.
- Store away seasonal clothes to make more room and clear a few shelves.
- Leave a few empty hangers in place.
- Clear closet floors.
- For linen and miscellaneous closets, use bins and baskets to organize items and minimize clutter.
From the master bedroom to the kids’ bedroom, the trick is to make these look as inviting and spacious as possible.
- Clear desks, dressers and night tables off completely, except for decorative accents, such as fresh flowers or neutral décor.
- Remove appliances, such as humidifiers, baby monitors and sound machines.
- Clear kids’ beds of excess stuffed animals.
Now, what to do with all of the items you’ve purged? Once you discard the obvious, invite family and friends to choose what they’d like, hold a garage sale or make a few trips to a local charity to drop off donations. Be sure to read Part 1 in our Sell it Now Series and check out our blog posts on organizing the laundry room, another area of the home buyers are sure to examine closely.