Perhaps your rooms are just looking tired and you want to know how to perk things up. I’m sure you’ve heard of de-cluttering. Though you love your collectibles and they are what make the house truly yours, when you are going to sell your home, the goal is not to have your stamp on it. The home is going to be theirs, not yours anymore. The same principle that led you to clean and repair your home before putting it on the market, holds true here – buyers have a hard time seeing past your personal possessions and picturing themselves at home. Far from rendering your home a featureless blank slate, tidying up the daily clutter you have gotten so used to actually shows off your home’s dimensions and fixtures, making everything more spacious and showing buyers how their possessions will look there.

If you have accumulated a lot of stuff, be prepared to rent a storage locker or POD, or hold a huge yard sale, or give generously to charity – as my clients clean and tidy, they’ve found it’s easiest to make three piles: keep, maybe, and toss. Here are some of the areas you will want to tidy up:

  • Kitchen counters and cupboards
  • Bathroom counters, shelves and cupboards
  • Closets
  • Surfaces like coffee tables, desks, window ledges, any open shelving

In terms of staging and interior decorating, my clients only seek professional help about 10-20% of the time. That may seem surprising given that the homes I sell tend to look really polished! Believe it or not, that’s just hard work on behalf of sellers who are committed to following my cleaning, fluffing and de-cluttering suggestions. Surveys of Canadian homebuyers suggest that buyers are willing to spend time and money decorating to their tastes once they have moved in, so you don’t have to go all out on expensive décor that the buyers may just eliminate later.

The best times to consider staging and decorating are:

  • When the home is extremely dated, to the point that existing furniture is in terrible shape and detracts from the home.
  • When an investment property has been tenanted and the common areas are poorly maintained (if the tenants consent to having their space changed temporarily of course)
  • When the house, or certain rooms, is vacant. Just as clutter can overwhelm potential buyers, so can total emptiness – it’s hard to get a good idea of room sizes without furniture to show what will fit inside. This is especially true of smaller condo units where furniture can provide a frame of reference, showing what you can do with the space.

To sum up about staging, fluffing and decorating: whatever you do, keep it neutral!