Our Family of Companies:
Cathy Lee Style
  • Green Articles

    Clean Out to Stand Out: The Key Tip You Haven't Heard About

    By Cathy Lee, RSVPstyle

    Summer is here, and you may have heard or read somewhere that this is a good time to sell your home. Whether it’s been languishing on the market or you’re getting ready to put it on the market, I have some simple, affordable tips to help your home stand out.

    First and foremost: edit and declutter. I know, I know, if you’ve read any of my articles or seen my video tips, you’ve heard me say this time and time again. I’m saying it one more time—this is always the first step. When potential buyers go into a home, the first thing they’ll notice is the buildup of collectibles, personal items, unused furniture and general clutter all over the house.

    It goes without saying: clean up and get rid of the junk. Well, that’s not enough. To edit and declutter may sound easy, but this critical step goes much deeper than that. We’re talking about much more than throwing out magazines, putting away all the picture frames, and folding your treadmill and putting it under the bed. A home that is minimally furnished and free of clutter will always look better than one that has too much, no matter how nice you think your pieces are.


    Let’s start from the top.

    First, clean, clean, clean! Do everything I said above. And do not forget to clear off the kitchen counters! Everybody has a coffee pot, rice cooker, mini-microwave and countless other things—put them in storage or in hiding and leave out only matching storage canisters and a few other things that add visual interest but not clutter. People do not want to see your collection of appliances!

    Next, remove all of the small, unnecessary personal pieces or tchotchkes. If you love them, pack them into boxes and stack them along one wall in the garage or somewhere else that’s out of sight. If you’re not married to them, put them on the side to get ready to sell. More on this later.

    What I want to focus on is something you might not have heard: get rid of a lot of your big pieces. People tend to think that just because they’ve tidied up and the house is neat and clean, potential buyers will look past the mismatched, overflowing pieces of furniture and exercise equipment and other large clutter. The reality is that a lot of homebuyers out there can’t see past that. That’s why there are professional stagers. And professional stagers don’t abundantly furnish a room because it doesn’t look best that way. A room looks best with a few good pieces to showcase.


    Take inventory of the large pieces you have. Look at your room as a clean slate and pick out the pieces that add to the room and that are in keeping with the style of the home, or the style that you want it to be. Aim for a minimal number of furniture pieces and a few well-chosen accessories and plants so that your room will feel more spacious and sophisticated. Everything else should go.

    The hideaway bed that gets used once a year. The exercise equipment that’s collecting dust. The piano that no one ever plays. Certainly you don’t have to get rid of these pieces. I’m just saying find another place for them.

    So where do they go? Well, if you don’t need something any more, this is a good time for that yard sale. Here’s your solution for your unwanted tchotchkes as well. It doesn’t matter if you get 25 cents on the dollar—something is better than nothing! Better yet, donate it. Get a write-off, give it to charity. If neither of these is an option, find a relative who will hold onto your things for the next few months until you sell your house. Or put them along one neat wall in the garage, if you have an enclosed garage, and park one less car in there.

    Next, paint. This is strictly optional—a very special touch that will enhance your clutter-free space. The clean, contemporary look is very hot right now, and minimal furnishings go a long way toward lending a sense of sophistication. Painting one wall in a warm, rich accent color that complements the room’s color scheme will heighten the drama and sophistication.

    Fire Place

    Finally, think about buying a few bold pieces that could be focal points. If you’ve had that yard sale, how about investing that extra money in a big mirror with a great frame, or a piece of art for your accent wall? A large plant or sculpture? A beautiful new rug? All these can be purchased at discount stores, garage sales or your local department store, and all would make a statement that could enhance the look of your minimally furnished space.

    Many of us who sell our homes have to live through the process of open houses. It’s not easy to live in a perpetually clean, clutter-free, tchotchke-less environment. No one said it would be easy! But it’ll be worth it when your home sells.

    To sum it all up, let people see the potential of your home. Reducing small and large clutter will allow people to see the real size of the space and imagine themselves living in it. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it will cost you in elbow grease!

    For more tips on how you can stage your home for sale, log onto our website at www.rsvpstyle.com.