I consider myself lucky to be able to go into a variety of homes to give organizing advice, staging advice and de-cluttering advice. I work for a few real estate agents that have me go into a home (before it’s listed), to walk through with the owners. It is during this walk-through that we identify areas that could use a little bit of tweaking – and sometimes there is a LOT of tweaking. Whatever the home situation is when I walk in, after all of the changes have been made, I consistently hear the same comments:
“I can’t believe the change in our home!”
“Now I don’t want to move!”
“Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
I get excited to hear those comments yet at the same time, I feel a bit sad. Sad that it took a potential move to a new home for individuals to fall in love with their home again. As I look at my consultation reports, there are consistent tips that I give to each home owner. Here are my top 5 tips that I consistently seem to give:
- Clear off every flat surface. If you have never heard this before, hear it now! Flat surfaces are the easiest to become cluttered in no time. Take one room in your home and do a ‘flat surface check’. Are there piles of paper laying around? If so, where do they belong? Have your children just thrown, tossed or left behind some of their things? If so, where do they belong? Find where they belong and put them away.
- Kitchens are a key area where potential buyers will spend a lot of time. I have a little rule that I use when staging: for every counter, no more than 1 item (2 smaller items) on the counter. Take a look at your kitchen counters. Do you have a coffee maker AND a toaster on one counter? Do you have a spice rack, a knife block, cooking utensils all on one counter? Although most people leave those items out because they get daily use, if kitchen counters are cluttered, chances are other surfaces in your home (flat surfaces) are cluttered too. Evaluate what you truly use and tuck the rest away (or even better – if you don’t use it then get rid of it).
- Bathrooms are another key area. Almost every homeowner that is looking to sell ends up going through their bathroom cupboards. What do they find? Expired medicines, old lotion, old Christmas gifts, etc. My tip that I give is to use our 4 seasons as a guide to go through bathroom cupboards. At the end, (or beginning) of a season, go through each bathroom cupboard. Toss expired medicine (many pharmacies will take expired prescriptions), get rid of old lotions, give away (donate) unopened bathroom supplies that you have no intention of using. Give the cupboard a good wipe. Finally, use containers to keep ‘like’ items together. By using containers it allows you to easily see what you are running low of and what you already have plenty of.
- Cleaning. Ugh….Yes – I had to bring this up. Pride of ownership goes a long way and is easy to spot immediately. If you keep up with vacuuming, dusting, washing floors, it shows. Homes that are not clean show as a dirty home. Plain and simple. I happen to love a clean house but secretly, I absolutely hate cleaning it. You can do one of two things: do a full clean at one time OR, break down your cleaning into sections. One day, focus on the bathrooms, the next day, focus on dusting and vacuuming. For me personally, I can’t bear to think of cleaning every day, so I focus on one day a week and just go until it all gets done.
- Less Is More – I think I’ve said this at least a thousand times. Less truly is more. When I go in and de-clutter a space, a room, an entire home, the owners can not believe what their home can really look like. Honestly, it’s because all of the ‘stuff’ is no longer there. Imagine walking into a room that was once piled with magazines, kids toys, dirty dishes that no longer looks like that. It now looks like a new home! Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to get rid of everything. What I am saying is to evaluate what you and why you have it. When someone says, “Yes, I know. I have to get rid of all that clutter.” Why is it out in the first place if you know it’s clutter?
By doing just a few small things, you too can fall in love with your home again – and you don’t even have to move!