A Room-by-Room Guide 

Are you selling your home in the upcoming spring market, or even next year? Organizing your living space is the perfect place to start.

Freshening your home adds tremendous value to it for today’s buyers. They want to purchase turnkey properties. Homes that show as move-in-ready achieve the highest sale prices. Painting walls and refurbishing woodwork and flooring are exciting steps that bring about dramatic improvements to your home. Before you can start those projects, though, there are unseen actions that must be completed.

Decluttering and clearing spaces is the first step to freshening your home. If you’re selling your home this season, your time frame to accomplish the decluttering process will be tight. Follow the steps below to accomplish your clearance process most efficiently.

The best guiding principal when clearing is to think of clutter as decisions you have put off making. You are now making those decisions. It’s helpful to picture the size of the spaces in your new residence when clearing to sell your home so you are mindful of how much room you will have to for your belongings. This is especially helpful when clearing kitchens, closets, basements, and attics and is critical for those who are downsizing.

Start with the rooms that sell houses: the kitchen and master bath.

Kitchen

Buyers respond well to clean, organized kitchens. They want to know that their belongings will fit in their new kitchens and they need to be able to visualize themselves working in them. 

Cabinets, pantries, and drawers that are filled to the brim don’t demonstrate how much the kitchen can hold. They give the appearance of a kitchen that doesn’t have sufficient space. Even the smallest kitchens will appear highly functional when they have a place for everything and everything is in its place. 

Clear

Start with cabinets.

  • Take everything out of them.
  • Check the dates on all food items and discard those that have expired.
  • Then take a good look at all of the remaining food products and ask yourself when you last used them. If it’s been more than a year it’s not something that you need to have. Discard it. 
  • Group all remaining food items together and set them aside.
  • Move on to dinnerware and glassware. Repeat the decision making process with your goal being to keep only what you need. If you are holding on to souvenir coffee mugs, for example, ask yourself how many mugs you and your family really use. That number equals the number you need to keep.
  • Sort the excess into two groups: one to donate and one to sell.
  • Cookware comes next. 
  • Consider each pot, pan, casserole dish, dutch oven, etc. using the same process as above. If you haven’t used an item in a couple of years you probably don’t need it. Put it into the donation or sale group.
  • Do you have multiples of certain cookware pieces? If so think through how many of them you need at any one time to make the largest meal you tend to make. For many people that’s a holiday meal for several guests. Keep the best items of the number you need to accomplish your biggest meal and sort the rest into the appropriate groups.
  • You may have mixing bowls, colanders, serving pieces, and holiday-themed dinnerware. Examine them with the same process you’ve used to sort your other items and act accordingly.
    Give your cooking appliances a critical eye. Do you use that crock pot you got as a gift 20 years ago? If the answer is “no” to any of your countertop appliances, put them into the donation or sale groups. 

Move on to drawers and take everything out of them.

  • Examine all of your flatware. If you’ve lived in your current home for a number of years you’re likely to have stray spoons and forks that aren’t needed. Move them into the donation or sale piles.
  • Review your cooking utensils in the same way. It’s easy for unnecessary multiples to take up space in our drawers. How many whisks, spatulas, or vegetable peelers do you ever need to use at the same time? Put the extras into the donation or sale piles. Throw broken items away.
  • Be sure to look over your pot holder and dishtowel collection. Discard those that are worse for wear. Make an honest calculation of how many of the remaining ones you need. Donate or sell the leftovers.
  • Do you have a cookbook collection? Review the books and keep those that you truly use. The others are just taking up space and most anything in them can easily be found online. Move them to the donation or sale piles.
  • Consider scanning recipe cards so you can easily open them in your smart devices, then discard the paper versions.
  • Do you have a trash can sitting out in the open? Specialty cans designed to be concealed in kitchen cabinets are available from cookware stores, home improvement centers, specialty stores and online sellers. Small cabinets next to prep spots, like the sink, are ideal for this use. When you list your house the pictures and showings will look better without a trash can on display. If your budget is tight consider simply placing a covered can into the cabinet without the track assembly.

If your kitchen has a pantry, use the processes above to clear it, too.

If your donation piles are growing, remember that many organizations that accept donations will schedule a pick up of bags, boxes, and even furniture donations. 

Organize

Once you’ve made decisions about the contents of your cabinets, drawers, and pantry, be organized in returning the items you are keeping to them. 

  • Form groups of like items and store them together. For example place your flour, sugar, pasta, and grains on one shelf together. Canned goods can go on another.
  • Spices and oils should be near to the range. Stacking spice risers and shelf risers can do wonders to help you use your cabinet space without making the cabinets appear crowded. If you find yourself with a need for deep drawers, stacking drawers that fit inside of cabinets can do the trick.
  • Put dinnerware and glassware in cabinets near to the sink.
  • Put flatware in drawers near to the dinnerware. Kitchen drawer organizing bins come in many shapes and sizes. Mix and match them to best organize your flatware and cooking utensils.
  • When organizing drawers, sort and group items before you store them. Put all cutting devices (kitchen shears, vegetable scraper, can opener, prep knives, shrimp deveiner, etc.) into one drawer. Put stirring devices into another, and so on. Cooking goes faster when you know where everything is and organized drawers translates into a roomy kitchen.
  • Store pots, pans, and other cooking vessels near to the stove, along with mixing bowls, cooking utensils, and food-prep appliances.
  • Cutting boards and cookie sheets can be stored vertically to optimize your cabinet space and make retrieval easy. If you don’t want to invest in vertical cabinet separators for a home you plan to sell, simply stack these items vertically within smaller cabinets, and nest smaller ones insider of larger ones. This will give your cabinet a clean, spacious look.
  • Make the most of under sink storage with stackable organizers designed to work around pipes.
  • There are lots of options for organizing devices to fit all budgets. Find them at cookware stores, home improvement centers, specialty stores, and from online sellers. Remember that any such items that are not attached to cabinets or walls can make the move to your new kitchen.

If you are still tight on cabinet space:

  • Review the items that you are keeping again and pare them down.
  • Place rarely-used items on the highest shelves, in hard-to-reach cabinets, or in basement storage—but be careful that this move doesn’t simply defer another decision to the time when you clear your basement.

Now focus your attention on your counter tops. Very little, if anything, that is currently on them should stay there. Find spots for appliances, paper towel holders, and other utilitarian items in your cabinets and drawers. When the time comes to stage your home for pictures and showings a few, well-chosen, decorative items placed upon your counter tops will give you the best results. 

Tips to keep your kitchen organized:

  • Live by the “do it now” rule. Put groceries away as soon as you bring them into the house. Wash, dry, and store your dishes after every meal or snack.
  • Purge your cabinets and refrigerator of expired foods either when putting new groceries away or on the night before your garbage pick up.

Master Bathroom

DeClutter your home to sell it fast.

Buyers want luxurious master bathrooms. Even if yours is on the smaller side, or doesn’t come with all of the latest bells and whistles, you can make it feel luxurious by making it clean, clutter free, and well organized. 

The best guiding principle for decluttering the bathroom is to remember that the bathroom is for items used in the bathroom, and only for those things that you really use. As you sort remember to picture the bathroom storage space in your new residence.

Clear

Start with cabinets and drawers.

Remove all items from cabinets and drawers. 

  • Look for all old and expired products and discard them. Make up products and lotions have shelve lives. Old ones, ones you forgot that you had or don’t use but are keeping “for emergencies” should be discarded.
  • If your storage space is limited don’t stock up on duplicates. 
  • Next examine all personal hygiene, make up, nail, and hair tools. Pare duplicates down to the one that you like best. Discard any that are worn out or not working properly, such as used emory boards that you’re hanging onto “just in case”. 
  • Do you have an assortment of make up travel bags or shaving kits? Pick the one or two that you like the best and move the others to the donation or sale piles. 
  • If you have more than one container of the same product in use, combine the contents into one container and discard the empty.
  • Now sort products, tools, supplies and bags into like groups and put them aside. 
  • Do you keep cleaning products in a bathroom cabinet? Consider their usefulness, combine duplicates discard those you don’t use, and use multi-purpose products whenever possible. 
  • If you find expired drugs, or ones that aren’t expired but that you don’t use, dispose of old medications safely. 
  • If you store towels in the bathroom examine them for usefulness. Discard worn ones and keep the number that you really need. Donate the rest.
  • Review grooming appliances such as hair dryers, curling or flat irons, facial steamers, electric razors, etc. Make an honest appraisal of which ones you really use and sort the others into the appropriate piles. Don’t hang onto rarely used or old items because you “might” use them again some day. 

If you have a linen closet in your bathroom remove all of the items from it and use the culling and sorting process described above.

Move to open shelves next.

  • Remove all items from them.
  • Examine them for usefulness.
  • Sort them accordingly, grouping products and towels with others you have found in cabinets, drawers, and bathroom closet storage. Put decorative items into a separate pile.

Next focus your attention on the products and tools in your tub and/or shower.

  • Do you have multiple bars of soap, open shampoos or conditioners, or body wash? 
  • Choose the one of each category that you like the best and place the winners in your sorted groups of like products. 
  • Combine or discard duplicates.

Finally remove all reading materials from your bathroom. Potential buyers see germs when they see such items in bathrooms.

Organize

Now it’s time to return items to drawers, cabinets, closets, shelves, and showers.

Consider 3 things as you begin returning your bathroom belongings to your bathroom storage spaces. Think of the frequency with which you use them, the body part they apply to, and the order in which you use them each day.

  • Put your tools and products near to where you use them. 
  • Hair tools and appliances should go in drawers or bins within cabinets near to the mirror you use when styling your hair.
  • If you find yourself with a need for deeper drawers than your bathroom provides, stacking drawers that fit inside of cabinets can give you the depth that you need. These are especially helpful for hair dryers and curling devices. 
  • Make up, facial products, and associated tools should go near to the mirror you use when applying them. If you have a vanity with a seat keep them in its drawers or cabinets.
  • Shaving tools should go in the storage area closest to the mirror used to shave.
  • Storage organizing bins come in many shapes and sizes. Mix and match them to best organize your personal hygiene products and tools.
  • The same shelf risers used in the kitchen can help create more storage space in your bathroom cabinets, too, without making them appear crowded.
  • Fold the towels you want to keep in your cabinets or linen closet and place them according to type and size. Use shelve risers or stacking drawers where necessary to keep your storage spaces neat and spacious. 
  • If your closets are really tight, out of season clothes can be compacted in vacuum storage bags and placed on your highest shelves. 
  • Keep vanity tops clear of products and tools. Remember, you want your spaces photograph- and show- ready. When the that time comes, a few well-chosen decorative items with a spa-like feel may adorn them.
  • Showers and tubs should be clear of any products other than the ones you use each day. Place them in a product niche or on a product shelf and keep them clean and well-organized.
  • There are lots of options for organizing devices to fit all budgets. Find them at cookware stores, home improvement centers, specialty stores, and online. Remember that any such items that are not attached to cabinets or walls can make the move to your new master bathroom.

Keep your bathroom well-organized and clutter free.

  • Follow the “do it now” rule and put your products and tools away as soon as you are done using them.
  • Don’t bring new products into the bathroom until the ones you’re currently using are empty and ready to be discarded.

Once you’ve finished decluttering your kitchen and master bathroom they will look spacious and appealing, and your clutter-free living space will increase your productivity and make cleaning easier.

Watch my blog for “DeCluttering to Sell Your Home Fast, Part II” coming soon!