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!
March 25, 2013 § 4 Comments
I’ll be blunt. The first thing a prospective buyer will notice upon entering your home is … (drumroll please)… the smell. If any peculiar odor is detected, it can kill a deal in the first minute. Or at least knock thousands off the price. So if you have carpets and plan to keep them and if you have pets, here’s my Number 1 tip:
Hire a professional carpet and floor cleaner. It will make a huge difference. Not only will it rid your house of much of the odor, it will make one of the biggest selling features (your floors) look ready for buyers. Some other important tips:
Don’t burn fragrant candles or use air fresheners. A dead giveaway that you’re trying to mask some mysterious odors in the house. The best way to combat the smell is to clean from top to bottom and inside out, freshen the rooms with paint, and remove old carpets if possible.
Dehumidify your basement. Unless you have a completely dry basement with windows and doors that walk out into the yard, your basement will smell musty. Even if you’re not featuring a Man Cave, the basement needs to show itself to best advantage. Make sure it smells neutral.
Find a pet sitter for your animals. Whether it’s a litter box or a giant dog crate, the animal equipment detracts from the selling features of the house. And some people are actually allergic to cats. (Pet owners will not like this tip — but I’m just telling it like it is.) Move the animals to a friend’s house while you’re on the market — or at least for the Open House and the week following it.
Get rid of the dirty old furniture. This is a tough one for realtors as homeowners can take offense. But listen. Would you buy a house with a living room full of ragged recliners and tray tables? No. Remove the old furniture and let a home stager set up your living room to attract the most number of buyers. Your house will sell quicker if you stage it properly.
Tough love means a quick sale. You heard it here.