Tackling clutter seems to be a never-ending task. All those shoes in the hallway, junk mail to go through and piles of laundry to put away.
If you are thinking of putting your house on the market, you’ll want it to be well presented in photographs for the estate agent’s brochure and digital marketing. And naturally, you’ll want your property to be remembered by potential buyers, for all the right reasons.
A spotless home is much more attractive to buyers from the moment they step inside. Think about how developers’ show homes are professionally presented to visitors. While few of us could hope to replicate the polish of a show house in our own homes, there’s a lot to be said for keeping things looking neat and tidy. A clean home with sparkling windows letting in plenty of summer sunshine, clear kitchen worktops which show the space available, and bathrooms with all the lotions and potions neatly put away, will allow buyers to appreciate the potential of what could be their future home.
Amy Thompson of Chirp Home in Horsham offers some useful advice for anyone wanting to declutter, whether you’re about to sell your home or just want to refresh your home as we emerge from lockdown.
Amy has a degree in Architecture and a master’s degree in Interior Design where she focussed on colour psychology. After eight years working in interior design, Amy now provides wellbeing coaching and home decluttering advice. She’s a member of the not-for-profit Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) which now has over 270 verified experts across the UK.
“I would always recommend you start with the easy wins,” says Amy, encouragingly. “Put to one side anything which is definitely unwanted. You might have clothes that the children have outgrown, equipment for sports you no longer play or books which you don’t have any sentimental attachment to.
You can sell them online or give them to charity shops when they re-open. Many charities are accepting postal donations for small items, and you can use online marketplaces to advertise for larger items locally for collection. Animal shelters often welcome old towels and blankets, someone may be keen to up-cycle your old chest of drawers for their shabby chic home, and if you’ve got a 1950s coat inherited years ago, why not ask if your local amateur theatre group might want it? You could even see it appearing in future productions when they begin again.”
After the easy wins, Amy recommends putting all your like-for-like items together. “This will show you whether you’ve got more duplicates than you need. You may have items spread around the house but by collecting them together in one place will give you a more accurate idea of what you have.
Do you know what all those chargers are for? It’s worth labelling leads when you buy something new then you can find it quickly whenever you need it. That’s even more valuable when it comes to moving house. The phone chargers will be needed on the day you move in, even more so if you have teenagers in the house.”
“Moving house is a chance to begin afresh,” says Amy. “Try to visualise your new lifestyle in your next home and use this vision to help you decide which items to declutter. Keeping this image in mind will help you to let go of items which either won’t physically fit into your new home, or won’t be part of your lifestyle after moving.”
If you are downsizing, Amy suggests having a physical representation of the amount of space you will have in your new home. For example, count the number of kitchen cupboards available in your next home and make sure you only bring with you items which will fit neatly into that amount of space. Everything else will have to go, so whittle it down gradually and you’ll find it quicker and easier to unpack in your new home.
“I hugely encourage personalisation of your home but while it’s on the market, too many personal items may be distracting for your viewers,” Amy adds. “Making sure that everything is put away indicates to potential buyers that your home has plenty of storage. Too many items left out could give the impression that there isn’t sufficient storage space. Don’t forget that viewers may want to see inside wardrobes and cupboards to assess the storage, so keeping these tidy will give a better impression.”
If you just hide everything in the cupboards or pile it high in the garage, it could give the feeling that the home simply isn’t large enough. Letting go may be the hardest part but keeping too many broken or useless things “just in case” can be equally problematic in terms of storage as well as being able to find something you’re looking for.
As with any project, make a plan and commit to it. Start with the easy wins and take it a room at a time. Don’t over-stretch yourself and once you’ve decided to let something go, make sure you take the next steps to pass it on.
Amy Thompson often works with people in a more critical state of disorganisation but is happy to offer help and advice on all levels of organisation and decluttering, whether you’re house clearing, downsizing, or about to put your home on the market for a Spring sale.
Contributed by Bridget Cordy