April 12, 2016 § 5 Comments
Is anybody else overwhelmed by clutter but put off by all the organizing gurus pointing out what a shambles our closets are in? Maybe I’m taking this too personally. After all, nobody has actually seen my closets. Isn’t that what doors are for??
Anyway… with Spring here, I feel compelled to get some order out of chaos. But at the same time, I want to avoid beating myself up that things got out of hand. Here’s how I plan to proceed:
- Start small. I think I’ll make the beds. Although Martha Stewart says it’s a daily must-do, she does have a point. Coming into a room that has a made bed helps us feel in control. And that’s a positive first step.
- Accept that some clutter is okay. Instead of getting rid of all the papers on my desk in one big shredding frenzy, I think I will opt for a quick sort. I’ll put the loose stuff in a plastic bin and put it next to my desk or by the kitchen table with a big note that says “Get coffee. Sort.”
- Hug the “collector” in the family. Acknowledge that, if left to my own devices and dream home, I could be as organized as the pros. But many of us live in families with people who are, quite honestly, messy. And we are not going to change them by bullying them into picking up their socks. So I think it’s a good idea to worry about our own stuff first. My mother always told me, “Set a good example.”
- Invest in large trash bags. Many of the clothes in my closet date back to junior high. Ya think? Time to get honest with myself and try on the clothes if that will help. If the zipper rips, trash. If I don’t like the way it makes me look, give away. If I want that concert T-shirt for nostalgia only, into a labeled bin it goes. The closet may actually heave an audible sigh of relief.
- Bring the camera phone. Sometimes just taking a picture of an object will help set it free. Like the children’s height markers on the kitchen wall. Or the ticket stub from a 1982 Genesis concert. If the actual item is worth keeping, then throw it into a bin labeled, “Great Memories.” At least you’ll know where that kind of stuff is.
- Create a public-friendly lobby. Establishing an area of the house that can be maintained clutter-free, like the entrance and maybe the living room, serves several functions: People can pop in without throwing us into panic mode; we can go to that space and stand there a few minutes soaking in the clutter-free atmosphere; and we can set the tone for the relaxed living space we all crave. I’ll start by picking up the sneakers I keep tripping over.
- Throw open the windows. There’s something about fresh air that stimulates the urge to clean up. Embrace the feeling before it passes, as the urge to sit down and scroll Facebook can be just as strong.
So having procrastinated long enough, it’s time to shut the electronics off for 30 minutes and make a small dent in my clutter. If you’re struggling from stuff overwhelm, know you are not alone. Small victories will turn into big ones. Breathe and let’s get started.
January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
1) Are you planning to put your house on the market anytime soon?
2) Are you a collector?
If you answered YES to both questions, then I’m here to help.
Whether it’s a massive book collection in the living room, a rock collection in the study, or a porcelain collection in the corner curio cabinet, the very first step in preparing your home for the market is to
- Box up your collections.
You may think your treasures are carefully tucked away on high shelves away from onlookers, but collections, plain and simple, represent clutter and add to the perceived age of the house. Collections also draw the eye of the potential buyers away from the architectural features of the house (what you want them to see) and focus the buyer’s attention on your hobbies. What they most likely will remember about your house will be the collections and not the house.
Another even more practical reason to box up your collections is so that nothing will get broken. Potential buyers and their children wander through your house unaccompanied during an Open House, and a toy car collection will stimulate lots of interest, but not the good kind.
You do not have to strip the shelves completely bare. Empty shelves do not sell houses any better than over-stuffed ones. You can keep some books and larger accessories. As a rule of thumb, shelves should be about 2/5ths full. In other words, if you have a bookshelf with 5 shelves, 3 of them should be emptied and the remainder of the items redistributed. If you empty the entire bookshelf, then remove it from the room completely.
Hope that gets you started. Happy Selling!
May 16, 2013 § 2 Comments
- Caulk the cracks. Nothing sticks out more as you’re walking through a de-cluttered house than cracks — in the grout on the floor tile, along the baseboards in the bathrooms, in the corners of a room where the walls meet the ceiling — a prospective buyer will spot all of them. A little caulk, silicone, or other repair will make those ugly black lines disappear and make the paint job and floors look fresher too.
- Up the wattage. I know, I know. Everybody wants to save money by using compact fluorescents or other energy saving sources, but believe me, to sell your house, you are going to need light. And if the house is not flooded with natural light from the windows, the agents will turn all the lights on. Make sure the lights in your house actually light up the house.
- Raise the ceiling. Obviously if your ceilings are over 9 feet high, you can disregard. But if you have low ceilings, like in a one-story traditional ranch home, then either remove your window valances altogether or mount them just below the ceiling so that only the window molding and any raised shade are covered by the valance. This will add more light to the room and make the ceiling appear higher. Same with the window side panels. Mount them about 2 inches from the ceiling and your ceiling will appear higher.
- Roll up the rugs. Small scatter rugs around the house break up the visual “flow” of the rooms and make the floors appear smaller. You can have a rug at the entry but ditch the little scatter rugs in the bathrooms and kitchen.
- Hide the jewels. Once your house goes on the market, strangers will be wandering through. That may seem obvious but you should think about it. Make sure your priceless heirlooms and other treasures have evacuated the premises — that means jewelry, breakable antiques, crystal, precious toys, and anything else that you either a) do not want touched or broken; or b) do not want displayed to the world.
Walk through your house from the front porch as if you were a potential buyer and fix what pops to the eye as you enter each room. Be critical. Believe me — buyers will.
May 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
If you’re preparing your home for the market (or if your home is already on and just sitting), here’s a tip that might get your home ready for its close-up shot and looking good on the big screen (or at least the laptop):
Take photos of your house from the street and then take a shot of every room from the doorway. Then put them on the computer and take a look at what the public is seeing online.
1) Does the photo of the house from the street show that the house is kept up? Is there stuff in the yard? Are there weeds in the garden? Is there peeling paint anywhere? (You can see the to-do list forming, can’t you…)
2) In the photo from the front door, can you see into other parts of the house or is the foyer closed off and dark? Is there old carpeting on the floor or is it tile or hardwood?
3) Inside, are any rooms dark? Do the curtains cover the windows? Is your furniture in sad shape or is there too much of it in a room? (These are the areas to address)
4) And lastly, is there something in the photo that immediately grabs your eye — and not in a good way? It could be a crooked picture or a sloppy bed. That is what the public remembers from that photo.
With to-do list in hand, fix those items that are keeping your house from getting a personal visit from potential buyers. Selling a house is far more than just listing it with an agency and sticking a sign in the front yard. Make sure you value the importance of photos that show your home to its best advantage.