Many times I get asked the question, “Christy, what should I do to get my house ready to sell?”  I will cover the first of two topics this week.

1.  Decluttering and 2. Staging your house to sell

This week we will cover decluttering which is the most important in my opinion. When I put my house up for sale in Coppell, Tx many years ago, I had a real estate agent that advised me to put some things away and have less “on display”.  Well, back then I liked things.  Cute things, antique little pretties and porcelain dolls.  Those are not the greatest things to have around when you house is being shown.  So I began packing things away and only keeping out the ones that were most special to me.  I cannot tell you how freeing that was.  It was SO much easier to clean!  I loved that ability to see special things and I could always switch things out every so often.

First, let’s list why you should declutter:

  • Once you get rid of something, you never ever have to touch it, clean it, dust it, move it, look at it, or organize it again.
  • It’s completely free!
  • Any organizing project will be much easier once you are rid of the things you don’t need, use, or love.
  • You can often bless others with the things you don’t use anymore.
  • It is so mentally freeing.

You can find the things you do need, use, and love so much easier with all the clutter out of the way.I believe getting rid of the things you don’t need should be the starting point for any organizing project. When considering whether to toss or keep any item, you should consider these questions:

  • Do I use it regularly?
  • Do I love it?
  • Do I have a specific planned use for it?
  • What would be the worst case scenario if I got rid of it?
  • Do I have the space to store it?

That’s really all you need to ask. If you don’t use it or love it, then it needs to go. This is really just making room for the things that you do use and love. Imagine what it would be like to be surrounded by only the things you truly use and love. So, why is it so difficult? Those questions are fairly common sense, really. Here are the common objections to getting rid of things and what to do about them:

Sentimental Clutter: These are things we are tempted to hang onto because someone special gave them to us, because they us remind of something special, or just because we feel like we should. I’m not opposed to some sentiment, but if we hang onto everything, it loses its value. If someone gave you something that you don’t need, it won’t do them one bit of good for you to keep storing it. Better to appreciate the thought behind the gift, and pass it on to someone who will use it. For items that trigger memories, consider keeping and displaying just a few items, then photographing the rest. A photo takes up less space, but lets you keep the memory. For example, I had a porcelain teacup doll that I loved. I didn’t need it.  Really didn’t have a place to put it.  I decided my elderly neighbor would love and cherish that little doll so I gave it to her. Seeing her face light up when I gave it to her was the greatest feeling. 

Aspirational ClutterThese are things we wish we used on a regular basis, but we don’t. This would be things like scrapbooking materials for the scrapbooks you plan to create “someday” or exercise equipment that you haven’t touched. These are emotionally difficult to part with, because we have to face the fact that we aren’t going to complete those scrapbooks or that we don’t exercise regularly. However, facing these things can be incredibly freeing! I recently got rid of all my rubber stamping supplies. I used to enjoy making cards. I wish I had time to regularly make cards, but I don’t. All my free time and creative energy is spent on the remodeling the house or working in the yard. I packed all the pretty papers and stamps and took them to our youth group at church and they were so thrilled.  I figured they would get better use of them.

Expensive Clutter: It’s hard to get rid of things that cost us a lot of money. However, even if something was expensive, but we’re not using it, then getting rid of it is simply admitting the truth. It was already a bad purchase. Getting rid of it won’t change that. Think of Elsa and “Let it go, let it go!”

I Might Use This Someday Clutter:  There are many items we have that we might possibly use someday. Don’t keep those things! Yes, there could be a situation in 5 years where I would need the 12 three ring binders from my real estate classes, but it’s not worth the cost of storing them all those years. If I really need them, I’ll just purchase new ones. Ninety percent of the time, you will never actually use those things. It’s worth the small cost for the ten percent of things you would have been able to use. Also, if you keep everything you might use someday, you may not be able to find what you need when you need it and be forced to repurchase it anyway.

I know it can be a bit overwhelming so start with baby steps.  Start with one cabinet a weekend.  Then move onto a closet.   You've got this!  I will be back next week to talk about Staging your house to sell.