How to Declutter
- Sort the stacks of papers that seem to accumulate everywhere and put them in a “to file” pile or recycling
- Put things on desks and countertops away, assuming they have a spot to be
- View the remaining stuff and decide whether to keep it or toss it
- With the stuff I’m keeping, pile it neatly in a “figure out where this goes” pile, or stick it in a box/closet/otherwise out-of-sight-out-of-mind sort of place
- Call it good enough until it’s time to do it again
(I do actually have a better process that I engage in periodically for deeper decluttering. If you’re looking for decluttering ideas but not staging your house, check out Spring and the Urge to Declutter.)
- Are these in good repair?
- Are they big enough to meet my needs?
Here is the nitty gritty of decluttering for market presentation:
Counters and horizontal surfaces
- These must be completely clean and dry at all times.
- Kitchen counters can have one or two decorative containers, a bowl of fruit or a kettle, and fresh flowers during an open house.
- In your bathrooms completely clear all horizontal surfaces.
Closets and storage spaces
- Closets should be 60-75% full.
- Closet floors should be clear.
- Closet shelves should be very neat, with items preferably stored in boxes or baskets.
- To reduce the stuff in your closets, remove off-season clothing and linens, as well as anything you can live without for the time your home is on the market.
- If you are having trouble paring down, select two weeks of must-have items, then pack up the remainder.
Bookshelves and display shelving
- All items should fit comfortably on shelves.
- Remove personal items and photos.
- Remove any items that seem out of place with the main purpose of your shelving (a sewing kit on a book shelf)
Cupboards and personal storage
- Kitchen and bathroom cabinets should be 60-75% filled. Items should be easy to remove from cupboards. For example, there should be spaces visible between pots and glasses should be lined in rows of like sizes. Do not stack mugs.
- Under sink cabinets should be very sparse, and all plumbing should be fully visible.
- Surfaces should be clean, free of all smudges, dust, and crumbs.
What to do with the overflow
- Do not overcrowd your storage space with the items you have removed from other areas of your house.
- Rent a storage locker, or borrow garage/basement space from a friend if your boxes are crowding your storage space.
- If you keep any packed items at home, use new, moving-company boxes, and stack them neatly away from the walls.
Learn more in our Fundamentals of Staging series:
Fundamentals of Staging part 1: Decluttering (you are here)
Have you read all of the Fundamentals of Staging and still want more? You can check out our staging tag, or Contact Lenore for a personalized staging plan that makes sure you spend your time and effort on the most effective ways to create a story for your target market, and sell your home.