Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Don't Pack Up The Personality

The first rule of preparing a home for sale is to DECLUTTER! I've said it here about a million times and I'm pretty confident that you've heard it elsewhere too. That's because along with deep cleaning, the best thing you can do to get your home ready to sell is to clear out the clutter. Unfortunately, some of you don't know when to stop.

When I tell you we deal in extremes, I am not kidding. Clients don't often ask for our help with neat, functional, and well-styled homes. When we get a call, it's usually to help cull a home owner who has gone too far; either by creating a hoarder's haven or decluttering themselves into total starkness.

Last week we helped out with a home that was full of extremes. For starters, the furniture was huge and the home wasn't. Although we don't typically label furniture as "clutter," the scale was such that it simply swallowed the space. Rooms appeared cluttered even though they were not. So we had to "declutter" the furniture to show off the true size of the rooms.

The biggest challenge we faced though, was that the home had been over-decluttered. In preparation for our arrival, the family had removed EVERYTHING except the furniture. They stored all pictures, art, accessories, and bedding -- all the things that make a home feel like a home. In an effort to declutter, they actually packed up the personality and the result was disastrous.

Living Room - BEFORE
Here you can see the living room as it was when we arrived. The furniture overwhelmed the space, hid the interesting shape and architecture of the room, and created a traffic flow nightmare. You cannot tell from the photo, but just behind the sofa is a wall and part of the kitchen counter. There was hardly any room to walk between the sofa and the wall/counter.

The other problem was that the room had no accessories or art of any kind to charm buyers. It was dull, unimpressive and B-O-R-I-N-G.  But look at it now; so much more spacious and inviting. To get this result, we merely removed one of the bulky end tables and that gargantuan entertainment unit. Then we moved the couch away from the wall and counter and shifted the chair to the other side of the room. But what brought the room to life was the addition of a few simple accessories.

Living Room - AFTER
Here's another angle. . . .
Living Room - BEFORE
And after . . .

Living Room - AFTER

In the dining room we faced the same dilemma: enormous furniture and zero pizazz. When we walked in we saw a great big table sucking up all the space and nothing else. Actually, that isn't even a dining table. It is a 4-seat work station from Pottery Barn. It is a fabulous item, but not in a dining room. 

Dining Room - BEFORE
We removed the gigantic desk and brought in something much more suitable for the dining area. Then we added accessories and art. Here's how it turned out . . .

Dining Room - AFTER
It's hard to believe how significantly poor furniture scale can affect the spaciousness of a room, but the pictures don't lie. We replaced one great big table/desk with a table, four chairs, a slim china cabinet, a buffet, accessories, and art; yet the room appears larger.  Here's another angle . . .

Dining Room - AFTER
In the bonus room, we thankfully didn't have to deal with removing huge pieces of furniture. Instead we found a long, empty, lackluster room. Once again, the personality had been packed away.

Bonus Room - BEFORE
Fortunately, we had some extra furniture on hand. Remember that mammoth workstation from the dining room? It worked so much better separated into two units in the bonus room. With a few pieces of art, a television, and a rug, buyers can now envision the room as real bonus.

Bonus Room - AFTER

Even injecting a little personality into often forgotten spaces like a powder room can offer big rewards. See how Plain Jane the powder room looked when we arrived . . .
Powder Room - BEFORE
Just adding two simple framed pictures, removing cleaning items, and closing the toilet lid made a substantial impact on the appeal of this bath.
Powder Room - AFTER
Bottom line: Decluttering is imperative to preparing your home for the real estate market. Just be sure that you don't declutter so much that you sacrifice your home's personality and appeal. Buyers need to be wooed. They have to fall in love with a home before they make an offer. Art, accessories, proper furniture scale and placement are the keys to getting a buyer say "I do."
We pumped up this home's personality with art and accessories and put the furniture on a diet. And by doing so, within two days the agent had received two full-price offers.

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