Summer is upon us, which is a great time for moving or hanging out at the beach, but since I’m not a travel writer, we’ll leave that topic for someone else! The kiddos are almost out of school, and the weather is conducive to moving stuff without worrying about your paper birds of the world collection getting snowed on. Moving is the best time to declutter because a.) who wants to pay movers to move things they don’t need, b.) who wants to try to find space in their new place for the things they didn’t even need in their old place and, c.) who wants to schlep unnecessary stuff themselves?!
With this wacky home buying/selling economy we each need to put our home’s best foot forward (what? Your home doesn’t have feet?…strange), if we want a quick and painless selling experience. A realtor can come in and help stage the place, but most realtors won’t help you organize your pantry so potential buyers can envision their cereal boxes in your home. And, they certainly won’t go through that stuff in the basement crawl space to make sure prospective buyers can see storage potential and not body dump potential (unless you’re looking for those kind of people).
So here are a few tips on getting your home show-ready while at the same time doing away with some unnecessary items.
Start with the most important, and sellable, parts of the home…the kitchen, bathrooms and closets.
o In the Bathroom – Clean out the cabinets of all expired medications. To dispose of medications properly, refer to the National Take-Back Initiative or ask your local pharmacy if they will take them. Donate old, ratty towels to your local animal shelter to line the hard cages, so the cute animals have a warm place to sleep. Donate all those tiny hotel toiletries to a battered women’s shelter.
o In the Kitchen – search the depths of your pantry for expired food and throw it away (yes, that includes the maple syrup with the fur coat layer)! Get all the bills and kids’ homework off the counters and into a filing system (refer to Information Overwhelm for steps on how). Clear counters make kitchens look bigger!
o In the Closets – Go through the clothes! Don’t just look at them and make sure everything is on a hanger. Actually spend a couple of hours trying things on and deciding if a.) they look good on you, b.) they fit properly and , c.) you have more than your fair share of them (5 pairs of black pants, for example). With the weather turning warm, this is a great time to reevaluate the winter clothes that never left the closet and get reacquainted with the summer clothes. The rule of thumb is that if you try something on and it doesn’t look good on you, then it’s time to let it go because it’s not going to look any different then next time. Your local Goodwill is a good spot for clothing donations, as is the Junior League. The exception to this rule is if you fluctuate in weight (a few pounds here and there is normal) than you can hold on to those things that don’t fit at the moment, but you know you will wear again.
Other places to make sure to declutter are storage areas. You can still use them for storage but make sure that prospective clients can see all the available space. Also, if you are storing things just because you can’t use them in your current space, make sure those things will make their way out of the boxes and have a purpose in your new space. If not, then it’s time to let them go. I recently had a client who was preparing to put her house on the market. She was great at getting rid of things and the house itself didn’t have much clutter. However, she was having trouble with the basement which was the only true storage area and housed the washing machine and dryer. Everything that didn’t have a home upstairs was stored downstairs, but she didn’t want to look like, well, a storage area. In just a couple of hours we turned it from exhibit A to exhibit B by consolidating and rearranging, using the storage bins she already had. She even found a surprise door that led to more storage room…who knew?!
Once you are all packed up, the second test will be on the other end, when you’re unpacking. Unpack only what you need in the moment, and see what things remain packed and for how long. Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn did just that when they decided they had too much stuff, and they weren’t even moving! I’m not saying that you should all run out and become minimalists, but moving is a great time to reevaluate what you have!