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    Home Staging 101: Declutter, Clear Out and Clean Up!

    Home staging is one of the most powerful ways to make buyers want to buy your home. It can be as simple as decluttering and repainting. Or it can require a clean sweep that involves storing belongings off-site; redecorating, and even renting furniture and art to make your place show well. Here are the basics of staging each room in your house, including your outdoor spaces.

    1. Go Outside In, and Inside Out

    A lot of buyers scope out homes before they meet with a Realtor. They do a drive-by, walk around and “see what they can see” before deciding if your home makes the cut. Consider what your home looks like for the passersby. If you drove by your home, would you want to see inside (and be honest with yourself)? Here are a few things to check out and complete before you list your home:

    • Repaint your front door in a focal point color that contrasts and coordinates with the color of your house and other trim. The classic choice: red.
    • If the front door knocker, knob and other hardware are worn, replace.
    • Make sure stairs and handrails are in good repair, with no rough paint or wood.
    • Try to set up a welcoming bench or all-weather chair where visitors can gather to discuss your
    • Use seasonal decorations sparingly — but use them. Your goal is to help buyers envision their lives in your house. Nothing evokes potential memories like classic holiday icons such as lighted trees, pumpkins, and spring wreaths.

    The view from inside the house can frame the best attributes of your yard.

    Here’s what to look for:

    What is the view from key windows in the house? What do you see from the window above the kitchen sink or the biggest window in the living room? If you can, create an outside focal point to draw buyers’ attention to landscaping. For example, plant colorful flowers in the yard where they will naturally draw the eye of someone glancing out from the kitchen window. Try hanging a hummingbird feeder! If a potential buyer is walking through your kitchen and happens to peer out the window over the sink as a hummingbird hovers close by, you will thank the showing Gods!!  A few other things to take notice of are:

    • Make sure sidewalks are free of clutter, debris, toys and yard gear. A messy yard is a turn off and a huge NO, NO!
    • Fix fences and gates.
    • Keep gardens tidy and the lawn mowed.
    • Plant full-size, bright annuals for immediate color. Don’t buy small starter plants; they will look scrawny and won’t bring any color to your landscape. Aim for a robust, full garden that implies there is no work for buyers to do, at least in the short run.


    1. Declutter

    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 pruning anything that dates 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 Start Wars figurines collection has taken over your family room!!


    Here are some tips for decluttering room by room:


    • Clear counters of small appliances.
    • Keep towels and potholders in drawers, not dangling from the oven handle.
    • Corral sponges and cleansers in a shallow bowl under the sink.
    • Pack rarely used appliances (crockpots, fondue pots, roasters), tools and pans (see you later, Bundt pan!)
    • Collect teacups, plates, pitchers, molds or anything else? Pack away all but a few. Leave up a handful of strategically placed accessories to call buyers’ attention to the decorative shelving.
    • Pot racks, utensils hanging on walls and other open kitchen storage can be unsightly and even dangerous, if people are in danger of hitting their heads or brushing up against sharp gear. Take it all down and swap in plain wallboard.
    • Pack away rarely used staples and gear like seasonal cookie cutters, extra aprons, and unusual spices to air out pantries, drawers and cabinets. People need to envision their own stuff in the storage spaces.


    • Corral prescription drugs in a child-safe area or, better yet, secure them in a different location to keep them from harm’s way.
    • Find a different or temporary home for jewlery, perfume, and rarely used toiletries.
    • Pack or toss all but three changes of linens to create an airy look in your closets.
    • Refresh shelf and drawer liners.
    • Remove evidence of mothballs.
    • Corral cleaning gear in a single, child-safe spot.
    • Clean and repair grout.


    • Pack out-of-season clothes and linens and store off-site or in plastic bins in the basement, being mindful not to over pack to make it look “too small” for potential buyer’s belongings.
    • Choose a pretty, light set of linens for each bed, with crisp decorative pillows. Now is the time to wash comforters, duvets and quilts. A spritz of a fabric freshener on the morning of a showing will also help the room smell fresh and clean.
    • Keep only a couple family photos on display, if you must. Pack the rest and secure off-site.

    Living, Dining and Family Rooms

    • Edit your book piles. Clear away all but a few volumes: what you’re currently reading, and perhaps a few for accessorizing. Books can easily be used to add color to a room when organized properly.
    • Clear out stacks of magazines and hobby materials. Stacks, even if neat and straight, add weight and visual clutter to rooms.
    • Is there sufficient lighting for reading and tasks? Rearrange lighting to ensure that the rooms are well lit at any time of day or night.
    • Clean the window treatments and the windows. If your window treatments involve numerous layers, consider leaving only the decorative layer.
    • If your walls are covered with attention-grabbing artwork, shrink your arrangement to a tasteful few.
    • Examine walls and woodwork for dirt and chips. Will cleaning be enough, or do surfaces need to be repainted?
    • Choose only a few pillows for accents. Ditto for tables and shelves holding collections.
    • Reconsider throw rugs. The last thing you want is for a throw rug to throw a potential buyer, figuratively or literally. Either secure them with floor grips, or pack them away.
    • Make sure you have a safe, consistent landing spot for TV and sound system remotes, far from the hands of children.
    • Limit the number of toys kept in any room, and create a place where the remaining toys can quickly be collected, such as a large basket. If you have a baby or toddler, consider laying a large, light blanket on the floor as a temporary play area. When it’s time to tidy for a showing, you can just gather the four corners of the blanket and voila, the toys are collected and can be plopped in a basket or box.


    Check out the following links for How-To’s & some inspiration:


    High Traffic Areas

    Front halls set the first impression. Yours should offer an obvious spot for setting down purses, umbrellas, totes and coats.

    • Remove out of season gear from the hall closet.
    • Make sure the doorbell and entrance systems (locks and security systems) work smoothly and consistently.
    • What is the view from the front door? The more of your house that visitors can see from the front door, the more intrigued they will be—and that will draw them into the house.
    • Remove hooks and hanging things from halls, especially if the halls are used as storage for coats. The hall will seem narrow and even dangerous to visitors who are dodging hooks as they walk through.



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