How to Declutter Your Home
Let me be the first to say decluttering is no easy task. It's not that the physical requirement is so difficult, its simply because going about making "your home" look like "anyone's home" involves much more than putting some picture frames in a drawer. More often than not, you've put years and memories into your home and have a hard time parting with a lot of those pieces. Sometimes, its not parting with all the odds and ends that's the issue, it's how to get rid of them properly. Either way, its a process.
Still, decluttering your home is one of the best things you can do to increase its sale potential. So, before you dive in and start emptying your attic, here are a few hints and simple solutions to aid in your endeavor...
Simple Rules for Cleaning Out
There are a lot of reasons to keep one item over another, and sometimes digging up old memories brings back endless reasons why you CANNOT get rid of this, or you NEED that - even though you completely forgot it existed for the past 7 years. A good rule of thumb is if you haven't had reason to look at or use the item in over a year (read: forgot about it entirely), its probably okay to get rid of. You may think you'll miss it, but chances are if you kept it, it'd just end up collecting dust for another 7 years.
Home Storage Solutions
There will also be items you want to keep but still need to be kept out of sight, or even in storage. Winter clothes, appliance and house accessories, holiday decor, family heirlooms; even everyday items that just need to be organized. There really are so many resources for home storage, but a few good places to start are:
- The Container Store - closet, small storage, even garage organization ideas and products. Can be a bit pricey, but tend to have a lot of different solutions. For an hourly charge, their service "Contained Home" sends a professional organizer to your home to design, organize, and even maintain any space.
- IKEA - for inspiration on a reasonable budget. They have daily and secondary storage, as well as features and videos in their "Idea" section, like this cute video on Toy Storage. One thing to note, though they are normally less expensive, that is due to modular construction and usually involves a large assembly process. You can pay to have this done on delivery, but that will also increase your cost.
- Custom Closet - There are custom closet options available for any budget range. On the higher end, HenryBuilt (based in Seattle) offers beautiful solutions. The Container Store's Elfa System and California Closets are solid middle grade systems, while both and IKEA PAX and Rubbermaid are great budget friendly choices.
- Lowe's Home Improvement has metal shelving and large bin storage, ideal for garage and attic organization.
Inevitably you will end up with a few bags (or more) of clothing and accessories. There might be dishes, statues, an old record player - who knows what treasures lurk. Instead of throwing all of this in the trash, most items will be accepted by your local Goodwill. The similar Salvation Army will even come pick your items up for free. For shoes and clothing specifically, many towns have drop boxes at frequented parking lots and shopping centers. A simple search will bring up your nearest location.
**BONUS** Donating to a charitable organization is a tax write-off. Be sure to collect a receipt for your donation for the "fair market value" of your items. You can determine this by assessing what price the item would sell for in its current condition.
Items that cannot be donated, such as electronics that no longer work, can be recycled. Most states have a program to aid in making the recycling process as easy as possible. E-Cycle Washington is a free service from the Department of Ecology in partnership with charitable organizations and several retailers to safely and conveniently recycle your electronics. Best Buy has a useful recycling service you can use to trade in old electronics for merchandise credit. You can drop off in store, or have them come pick up larger items for a small fee.
For larger jobs - perhaps remodeling or cleaning out a relative's home, most cities will have a salvage yard. Some of these places will even come and pick up old desks and cabinets, tables, chairs, rusty antiques. For instance, in the Seattle area there is Second Use where you can donate your materials for them to sell and the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity.
When you've done your best to clear out clothes and other items you don't wear or use, there may be a handful that are more than donation worthy. They might even still have tags! Fortunately, there are a lot of online options for buying and selling second hand clothing. ThredUP, Swap, Tradesy, and Recycle Your Fashions are just a few of many online marketplaces for your gently used clothing and accessories. There are options for men, women and children, even movies and books.
Check locally as there are usually one or two brick and mortar consignment shops within reasonable driving distance. Why give your clothes away when you might be able to get some money back for them? You can use them towards all your home improvements. Or maybe just a new pair of shoes.
When attacking your declutter, its really best to just dive in. Once you've sorted through your worldly posessions, there are professional services that can help "stage" your home during the selling process. Staging comapies will work with either your existing furniture, or curate a design with rented pieces to set a simple living suggestion in each room. They know the right balance to highlight whats possible without making it seem like the only way, opening your home's potential to all types of buyers.