By: Sebastian Barrett St.Troy,
Market Ready Stylist & Ontologist
Many people just start cleaning and boxing things up, but why not save yourself some steps along the way. Before you begin cleaning up and packing, consider taking a special approach which will ease some of the stress of moving. Now is the time to start determining what things you’re actually going to take with you, what things you should give away or sell, and what things should be thrown out. Our process is simple: Ask yourself the following questions about everything in your home.
If I moved tomorrow and only had 6 hours, what would I choose to take with me? This is an important question, as it helps you determine what is of most value to you and allows you to base the other things upon how they relate to these very important items.
Does it need to be fixed or repaired, and am I willing to do so now? If you are not willing to fix it or repair it immediately (not at some time), these items are the first on the list to be removed.
Is this item something I will need within the next 6 months while the house is on the market?
Do I love it? Is this object something that inspires my passions or positive emotions?
Do I need it? Does it serve a useful purpose in my home?
Does it reflect who I am now in my life? Look around, if there are things that remind you of negative aspects of your life, or things that do not represent the person you have become or who you want to become, then consider removing or storing them.
Does it act as an environmental affirmation for me? Does this object help me feel good about my home?
What positive and/or negative thoughts, memories, or emotions do I associate with it? If it is positive, keep it. If it is negative, remove it. If it is something you keep for memorabilia then consider storing it safely away unless it has positive attachments that affirm who you are today.
By following these simple guidelines you will discover that some items in your home no longer serve a useful purpose or do not represent who you have become as a person. By removing these items from your home you are removing negative energy. We should always keep in mind to surround ourselves with positive energies. Everything is alive and has energy and the thoughts we have about objects apply certain aspects to that object – positive or negative. In the end, you’ll have already started preparing the house for sale and also have begun to fill the new house with positive things.
The Right Stuff?
Everyone talks about this aspect, from Home Stagers to Realtors, usually calling it clutter clearing; however, we’ve met a good number that have a tendency to over-do it a bit. By removing too much stuff, then the house can appear stark, lifeless, and almost empty. On the other hand, too much stuff in the house doesn’t allow for a potential buyer to really see the house and its features, they instead begin to focus on how small spaces feel, what all the stuff is, and who lives there by reading your diplomas, awards, and looking at your family photos. We don’t want the house to feel empty, impersonal, or lifeless, as when a potential buyer walks through the home we want them to see the house as a home with some personal touches and aspects; however, remember, “It’s not your house!” anymore and some of those family photos, awards, diplomas will have to be packed up as you prepare for your move. Not all of them though!
After you’ve determined what items in the house should be removed; then it is time to start preparing for your move as you also organize and clean the house. Go through the house, if there are things that you have not used in over 6 months; then it might be time to either pack it up or remove it. There are some exceptions to that rule, such as tools, formal clothing (If they still fit.) and items kept for investment purposes such as antiques; however, you’ll have to determine if it is something you really should keep, but always ask yourself why you want to keep it.
Now get started and go room by room. Start with those things that are broken, then those things that you don’t want to take with you when you move, and finally into those things that have negative associations. You’ll be amazed at how much you get rid of. Keep all of these things in mind throughout the rest of the processes to come, as you may have to return to some areas and remove some more, especially if you have a lot of stuff and furniture. If you have too much furniture, then consider obtaining a container from anyone of the many portable moving and storage companies. Using such a service makes it easier for you in the long term; as you’re not renting a storage space and hauling the items to it.
Many people do not think about how some areas of a home affect the view point of a potential buyer, especially what is inside cabinets, closets, garages, and how much stuff is on a shelf or table. Everything about this process of clutter clearing is the first step in setting the stage for a potential buyer.
Religious Symbols: When our homes go on the market, we will want to pay particular attention to what items in the home portray a particular religious viewpoint. In our modern world we never know who might be considering purchasing the home, so by removing obivious religious symbols (Bibles, Prayer Tables, Religious Alters, etc.) from public view will allow any potential buyer to see the home in a relaxed manner without causing questions about religious views to enter their minds.
Cabinets: Put on some old clothes and start opening every cabinet and drawer throughout the house: in the kitchen, in the laundry room, in the garage, in the bathroom, and anywhere else there might be a cabinet or drawer that will be conveying with the house.
1. When you open the cabinet door, what do you see?
2. How much stuff is in it?
3. Is it neatly organized?
4. Do you use all of this stuff; most importantly, will you use it within the next 6 months?
Start packing up anything that you won’t use within the next 6 months. Remove anything that you haven’t used in a long time or that is out-dated and old. After this, take some time to neatly organize everything else in that cabinet so it will present a neat appearance to a potential buyer when they open that cabinet. Do the same thing with drawers, especially those catch-all drawers we all have.
Closets: We hope you’ve gotten a moment to rest, as we’re about to start going through your closets. You should remove anything on the closet doors. Go through everything, as now is the time to get rid of ALL of those clothes that no longer fit. Please don’t keep it in hopes of losing weight, it might not happen, and if it does, then you’ll get a chance to go shopping for new clothes as a reward. Now remove all of the clothes that have something wrong, such as a broken zipper, missing buttons, tears in the seam, etc. If these items of clothing are ones that you really like and actually fit, then either repair it or have someone fix it for you.
Look at the clothes hanging up. Are they just thrown on the hanger or do they look neat and organized? Are all of your shirts together, all of your pants together, all the coats together, etc? Take some time to get the closet organized. Even a neatly arranged closet, like Photo 1, will look great to most people, but does it show space in the closet and where is the eye drawn to? Here, in Photo 2, we played a little trick on the eye by moving all of the pants to the lower rod, T-shirts and short sleeved shorts to the top center, long sleeved shirts and jackets to either side, and we used mostly neutral colored clothing in the center with the more colorful clothes being off to the side and just moved the shoes so they were under the clothes, but still allowed the floor to be seen. Photo 2 is the same closet, but can you see the difference it makes? You’ll not only feel better when you open it, you’ll also be able to find things. The best part is that when a buyer opens and looks inside this closet they will remember, “That closet was big.”
Anything hanging over the shelf will make a buyer feel uncomfortable because it could represent something that could fall on them. So remove anything that doesn’t fit on the shelf properly, and then neatly organize everything else.
This last part is usually hard for many people, as it involves figuring out what to do with large items in the closet. However, this is an extremely important aspect for the closet. There are few exceptions to this aspect, but it is one of those little tricks we play and teach our clients about. Remove everything on the closet floor! Here is the reason we do this. When a buyer is opening the closet door, their hand is on the door knob and their eyes are looking down. As the buyer opens the closet door the first area they will see is the floor. If there is nothing on the closet floor then the first thought a buyer will have is, “Wow, look at the space in here.” That is what we want them to think, that there is space in the closet for their stuff. Determine where you can store anything you need to keep, such as the vacuum cleaner. There might be a closet that doesn’t have many shelves or is otherwise mostly empty. Such a closet can be used to store these larger items on the closet floor, just put it to the back of the closet so most of the floor can be seen.
Garage: Many of us live in a house and use the garage as a storage or catch-all space, and not for actually parking cars. However, when a buyer is viewing a home, they should be able to see the whole garage and walk easily into the garage. They should be able to see how many cars can be parked in it. If there are storage areas within the garage with cabinets or other things, then those should be cleaned up and organized as well. Start with removing anything that you have no reason to keep any longer. This will make your upcoming move easier as well, as you won’t be moving so much stuff. Pack up and box things that you won’t be using over the next 6 months and label the boxes for the move. These boxes can be stored along the far wall away from the door into the garage. Everything else in the garage, such as your bikes and lawn equipment, has to be neatly arranged and stored. Hang your bikes up by installing some large ceiling hooks.
This is a messy garage, it is difficult for buyers to walk around or through it.
The garage has to be neat, clean, and organized, just like the rest of the house. Most people neglect the work needed in the garage when they try to sell a house, but buyers notice the garage.
Kitchen: Previously we covered how to clean up and neatly arrange your cabinets; this should have also been applied to your kitchen cabinets. The difference being that in your kitchen you will want to pay special attention to glass fronted cabinets, the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and the Pantry or food storage areas, and most importantly, what is on the countertops and to show the electrical outlets?
Start with clearing everything off of the refrigerator, and that includes anything stored on top of it. Clean the fridge and freezer and keep everything inside neatly arranged, after all, the refrigerator is probably an appliance that a buyer will be getting when they buy the house and they will want to inspect it, thus, make it easy for them.
Think for a moment about what counter top appliances you use every day and which ones you only use occasionally. Coffeemakers can stay on the counter top, but everything else that you use daily has to find a new home in a lower cabinet (unless you have a very large kitchen and lots of counter top space.). Completely clear out some lower cabinets so you can store various appliances that you still want to use for food preparation, such as the blender, an electric toaster, or the mixer. Remember that a buyer will be opening cabinets if they are interested in the house so please don’t stuff these appliances in with other things, take the time to make a space so these appliances look like they belong there.
Pack up dishes, cookware, or other things stored in the lower cabinets that you do not use every day, as this will assist you in preparing a space for the countertop appliances that will need a new place to stay for a bit.
Look at any glass fronted cabinets for a moment and think about what is inside and how they look while standing in the kitchen. Use these cabinets to store your colorful dishes, glassware, or other things that can create some visual interest, but neatly arrange everything in these cabinets. If these glass fronted cabinets are lighted then limit the number of things in them to only those things that will make the cabinets shine when the lights inside them are turned on.
The pantry or food storage cabinets should have the food and anything else stored in them neatly arranged. Remember to clean the shelves and take time to put things back neatly after you use them in daily cooking. If you have a larger pantry closet then the same rules apply for this space as other closets – nothing on the floor (this is one exception, you can put your kitchen trash can in here.) nothing hanging over the shelves, and everything neatly arranged. Remember, nothing on the pantry door, not even your spice racks, unless they are designed as part of the pantry cabinet door. The Organized Chaos approach allows you to use items daily and put them back on the shelves, even if they are not in perfect order.
Now is the time to start getting rid of those broken pots, dishes, and other things that have been stored in your kitchen cabinets. Don’t completely empty the cabinets! Think about what you’ll be doing over the next 6 months, do you have a family dinner planned, an upcoming holiday, or some other special event coming up? Keep everything that you will use and only begin packing up those things that you really don’t use or get rid of them.
The area under the kitchen sink usually is the catch-all area for cleaning supplies and other things that we use around the house. Remove any items that you haven’t used or that may be considered poisonous. Only keep the cleaning supplies that you’ll use regularly. Consider keeping those cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink in a bucket, tray or other container to help keep the space organized. Buyers will want to see under the kitchen sink to check for any leaks or other issues, so make sure to keep this space clean and organized.
Now back to your countertops. What is on them now? No matter how large your kitchen might be, you’ll want to show as much counter top space as possible and you’ll want to show all of the electrical outlets in the kitchen. I’ve noticed other stagers hide the kitchen outlets, like they are something bad. In my experience of shopping for a house, I want to see if there are plenty of electrical outlets for my kitchen countertop appliances, so please don’t hide them.