I’ve been talking lately about very little outside of selling my house, which I have to tell y’all WE DID. IN ONE DAY.
Leading up to this event were weeks (months?) of prep-work. I was afraid—so very afraid—that we would list the house for sale and then endure showing after showing, week after week, and I would surely lose my mind in the process. One does not keep a house show-ready with four kids and stay sane. I needed to sell quickly.
Sit back and grab a cup of coffee, and I will tell you how I did it.
1. Declutter. No, I mean it. Get rid of your stuff! You don’t need it anyway, and nobody wants to look at it. Knick-knacks, doilies, that white ceramic cat statue—they need to go. My rule of thumb when it came to knick-knacks: anything smaller than a basketball got the boot. Some of it I donated, some I trashed, and some I packed up and stored in a rented storage pod. When it comes to styling your bookshelves or coffee table or anything at all, remember LESS IS MORE. You don’t have to fill up every inch of every shelf in your home with tchotchkes. I tried to use groups of 1 or 3 decorative items together, varying the sizes and heights for interest. And when in doubt, get it out.
You’ll need to declutter your furniture, too. Most of us have too much furniture, and if there’s one thing buyers are looking for, it’s SPACE. They’re not looking for your great aunt’s antique vanity. I moved out crazy amounts of furniture—a recliner, my ginormous 4-poster bed, my bedroom dresser, a desk, toy bins, bookshelves, I could go on. It was a lot of stuff, and when it was gone it was like my house could breathe again. It was all stuff we used, but I couldn’t see how cramped and crowded my space felt until it was gone. Without the extra pieces, my home felt airy and spacious.
And then there’s the toys. Trust me, they need to go. You’re wondering, what are my kids going to do without their toys? I wondered that, too, and then I remembered—they’re kids, they’ll figure something out. I kept a large plastic bin for each child, and I allowed them to fill it with their favorite toys, and that was IT. The rest went to storage or into the trash or the donate pile. A tip: do not try to throw away or donate your kids’ toys while they are in the house. They will dig those old Happy Meal toys out of the trash can because those are their FAVORITE TOYS HOW COULD YOU THROW THEM AWAY???
2. Depersonalize. All those adorable family photos? Take ‘em down. Taxidermied animals? Buh-bye. In fact, just do yourself a favor and take everything off your walls so you can get a better idea of what/if you should add back. Add back sparingly, and choose neutral, inoffensive pieces like botanicals or landscapes to hang on your walls. Now is not the time to hang a series of impressionistic nudes. And take down that sports team paraphernalia while you’re at it. I know this might come as a shock, but not everyone is an LSU fan, and your shrine to the Tigers might be just the thing to turn off a buyer.
If you’re a collector of anything at all, your collection needs to get out. That includes your thimble collection and your silver platters. Collections = clutter = buyers no likey. Pack em up, move em out!
And now that you’ve taken all your stuff off the wall, it’s the perfect time to paint! And paint, you must. You must paint all of the things. I chose one color for my entire house, a very neutral grey-beige, and a soft, spa blue for my bathrooms. The new paint instantly freshened up the house and made it feel cleaner and newer. And it smelled great, too. “It smells like a new house in here,” my husband said. And that’s exactly what we want—to make the house smell and appear as though nobody lives there, as model home-like as possible.
I have so much more to share with you, but you’ll have to check back with me next week. In the meantime, I SOLD MY HOUSE IN ONE DAY!!! And now I have to find a place to live…
(Betsy Swenson can be reached at email@example.com.)