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Simply Remove Clutter

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Clearing clutter out of spaces will always enhance appeal. In some cases it will even make all the difference in succeeding or failing to sell.

Table of Contents

“Thank you for the column ‘How To Prepare A Home For Sale’. We are planning to sell our home soon, but don’t have the time or energy to do many preparations. Do you have a simple list we can use as guidelines?”

— A long-time Palisades homeowner

The Bottom Line

A California Association of Realtors study found that many potential buyers eliminate homes previewed on the Internet because they looked cluttered, making them feel too small or unattractive.

I think you will find that the following room-byroom suggestions are quite simple to do, and these certainly will be well worth doing. Experience shows that a home sells sooner and for more money if these actions are taken. An earlier column included several aspects of home preparation. This one focuses just on a single aspect in greater detail.

Things You Can Do to Improve the Exterior of a Home

  • Do you have bushes or other plants around the house that have not been pruned for many years?
  • Are there areas where weeds have taken over?
  • Are there tree limbs on your property that block some view or obscure much of the front of the house?
  • Are there any near-dead plants you have been nursing in pots?
  • Are there extraneous things taking up space on the front porch? Are there cobwebs near the front door or windows?
  • Do you have maintenance tools or children’s toys in or near walking areas?

Things You Can Do to Improve the Interior of a Home

First impressions often make the greatest difference in buyers judging whether or not a house would be suitable for their next home. Therefore, it is quite important that the first impression a prospective buyer receives from your home is favorable.

Front Entry

  • Do you have a place where keys, mail, loose change, etc. tend to accumulate?
  • Are coats, extra shoes, or other items visible?
  • The first impression of an open entry is a positive way to begin the home tour.

Living, Family, Den and Dining Rooms

  • Do you have a lot of family photos on shelves, mantels, or walls?
  • Are there groupings of mementos on display in different areas?
  • Have you accumulated a lot of furniture pieces, or perhaps kept some that are quite large for the house?
  • Are there stacks of magazines, old newspapers, or piles of books on shelves?
  • Do you have numerous colorclashing
    pillows, covers, etc.?
  • All of these are major opportunities for substantial “neutralizing” or “depersonalizing” of key interior spaces.


  • Do you have many small appliances, extra containers, books, utensils, or other foodpreparation items taking up space on the counters?
  • Are the kitchen desk area surfaces clean and tidy or are they full of numerous items?
  • Is there a cluttered bulletin board?
  • Does your pantry appear mostly full, and can you toss some of the items out?
  • Does your refrigerator have things on the door or sides that make it feel “busy”?
  • Bathrooms: Do you have a great deal of cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and home-care items out on the counters?
  • If so, these and other such items would be much better placed in drawers or cabinets.


  • Do you have a lot of things on nightstands or bureaus?
  • Are there stacks of books or other reading materials?
  • Do your closets feel spacious, or do they feel full?
  • Are there items taking up space that have not been worn for over 5 years?

Laundry Room

  • Do you keep detergents and other supplies out on top of the washer and dryer?
  • It would look much better with these in cabinets.

Other Areas

  • Do you have an accumulation of items in the garage or other areas?
  • Any area will appear much larger when things are removed from them.

Some people find just thinking about all of this is almost overwhelming. A suggestion that many have found helpful is to start ahead, one shelf or one box at a time, and make progress each day. Doing this also one room at a time, can give the feeling of steady success and a much more enjoyable process.

You also may gain a nice bonus by doing this clutter removal, because of the new energy the process can release simply by doing it! So I encourage you to get started today in clearing clutter out of your home, off your porch and desk, and out of your daily life.

Please let me know if I can help weigh the costs and benefits of other home
preparation actions.

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