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How To Declutter Your Home For Sale

Updated: Apr 3

Clutter-free spaces bring a higher sale price!


It’s Spring Home Marketing season, and any real estate professional will tell you that a home needs to be extremely competitive to achieve a high selling price. Think HGTV organized and clean.


They’ll also irritate you by saying you need to remove all personal items, as buyers need the visual and emotional space to imagine themselves in the home, not you.


But you love that macrame art on the wall!  How can you take pictures of your adorable family off the walls?  Do buyers really need to look into all my closets?


Take a deep breath – here’s how to declutter to prepare to sell your home. 


First Pass.  Look at every room in your house and see if there are some obvious things you don’t want to take with you to your new place.  Like, kitchen items you never used, gifts you never opened, clothes you never wear, or outdoor maintenance tools you won’t be needing in a new place.


Bring a Friend.  Get someone not related to you to go through the space and tell you what looks really cluttered.  This can be a trusted friend or your real estate agent.  TRY not to be offended when they tell you a beloved item must go.  They’re looking at the home with the same objective eye a potential buyer will, so please listen to them.


OK, now you’re ready to dig in. Please don’t try and do everything at once, you’ll drive yourself crazy and may end up either in tears or drinking heavily. Here’s what to look at:

Pictures. It’s best to limit the picture on the walls to the bare minimum. Definitely take down anything that shows your family, is related to children, or takes up more than 20% of the wall.


Shelves, Wall Cabinets and Clocks.  Take these down too, they are a big contributor to visual clutter.  You’re aiming for an exceptionally clean and streamlined look, not a space that is convenient for everyday life.


Kitchen Counters. Clear off as much as you can off the countertops.  You can leave a couple of things like a coffee maker or blender (or anything that you just can’t live without) but aim for clearing off 80% of the surface. It’s important to accept that you won’t be doing any major baking or cooking for the time being.

Refrigerator. You really have to take down all those cute refrigerator magnets and assorted magnetic items (pictures, shelves, etc.). You want the front of the frig to shine, not distract from the beauty of the kitchen.


Cluttered cabinets.  Now is a wonderful time to tackle those out-of-control Tupperware containers and get rid of anything that’s orphaned (without a matching top or bottom), stained, or showing wear. Or just chuck everything and buy a new set!


Ask yourself: do I really need all these pots/pans/appliances/utensils/dishes/cups? Be honest – when did you last use them? The ones you use regularly can be in the bottom cabinets, and the others can go on the top ones.


Two prime offenders are water bottles and coffee mugs.  Somehow these magically reproduce themselves until they’ve taken over an entire shelf, or even a cabinet. Or your life!

Sort through and discard anything that doesn’t have a matching top, is chipped or broken, or you got for free at a convention or festival.


In a medium-sized kitchen, you should have no more than one shelf designated for each category. Maximize the space with portable shelves or water bottle holders.


Entryway. This is the first thing buyers see, so you want to present it as a cheery, clean, open, and inviting space. If you have a shoe rack here, it’s time to get rid of it and put everyone’s shoes in their closets (except for muddy boots or sports shoes – put them in the garage, if you have one).


Make sure the entry is clear and un-impeded. People should be able to walk through the front door and keep walking without fear of tripping or getting stabbed by a stray flower branch, so look closely at console tables, art that sticks out too much, or any decorative floor baskets or vases. If you have a console table, keep the objects on it to a minimum – again aim for no more than 20% of the surface to be occupied.


Closets.  Yes, nosy people will look through your closets and judge you on how full or messy they are.  I know it’s rude and unfair, but honestly, they will.


 An overflowing closet gives the impression that there’s not enough storage space in your home, so you don’t want to have potential buyers worrying about fitting in their clothes and belongings. Decluttering is super important here- here are some tips on decluttering your closet and how to figure out what to keep and what to toss.


Too many clothes also make a closet look small, so consider taking out off-season clothes and boxing them up. Underbed organizers are perfect for this! Buyers want to imagine their clothes hanging up, so the fewer personal items there the better. Unless you are lucky enough to have a huge closet – if so, arrange everything neatly like it’s a store display.


Bathrooms.  Bathrooms tend to be clutter magnets, with excess shampoos, lotions, and beauty products. Now is the time to throw out anything that’s:

·       Empty or really old

·       Has any kind of mystery goo on it

·       Is past the expiration date

·       Make-up that’s more than one year old

·       Never actually worked

·       Something you no longer need


Look at duplicates and decide to keep only the newest versions. Now is the time to also look at any travel size toiletries you have – if they’re unused you can take them to the nearest women’s shelter, they’d love to have them!


Protect your privacy - remove any medications you take regularly and secure them in another location.  You may want to do this with all your medicines, to avoid strangers taking something they shouldn’t.


Living rooms.  Be brutal and take out everything that you wouldn’t find in a hotel room.  That includes decorative knick-knacks, vases, bowls, magazine racks, books, toys, and art supplies.  The table surfaces should be clear except for lamps, and maybe one decorative piece.  It’s ok to keep the TV remote, just put it in a nice container or basket.


Underneath Sinks. After you go through everything that’s been stuffed down there, pick out the bare minimum of what you need there.  The chandelier cleaner, silver polish, and anything used for occasional or yearly cleaning can be boxed up and stored somewhere else. 


If you don’t have one already, consider an under-sink organizer to hold all your other essentials.  You want buyers to look under your sink and say, “Oh, there’s lots of room here!” not run screaming into the night.

Storage. If there are things you want to, or must keep, consider containing them in identical bins the same size and brand for visual consistency.  Clutter contained creates the illusion of order, so if there are things you absolutely cannot part with, get yourself some clear containers and label them (makes moving so much easier too)


Garages, Basements and Attics.  People understand that you’ll use these areas for storage. They don’t have to be completely empty (though if you can do that, it’s a plus). So just make them as organized as possible, stacking boxes against one wall, grouping old furniture together, and having holiday décor in one corner.


If you have loose items, consider grouping them together and putting them in large plastic storage bins with labels (so you know what’s inside). This makes moving a lot easier too.


The Nuclear Option.  If there is just too much stuff and you can’t deal with it in time, consider a storage POD. This is a last resort because you’re going to have to sort through these eventually, and don’t want to get into the position of paying monthly to store things you may not want.



Think of this decluttering process as a first step toward packing – indeed, it will make packing much easier. You need to get into the mindset that this is no longer your home and new people will be moving in soon. Packing helps you realize that this move is real and it’s happening.


Once your home is decluttered, you’re ready to do any repairs, updates, painting, or cleaning to make it sparkle and market ready. A clean, clutter-free house is sure to bring you top dollar for your sale!


Wishing You the Best of Luck!

 Just so you know, we may earn a small commission from your savvy shopping adventures here, but your price remains unchanged.





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