One of the words that I keep on trying to find a good euphemism for the word “clutter.” I’m probably being too harsh. In my book, clutter is when you have everything that you really do need but you don’t know how to organize it. Then there is “too much stuff” which is just that—many things that you might love but are distracting to the eye and attention when a buyer is quickly walking through a home. The issue of true clutter keeps cropping up whenever I, (or any Realtor) I am willing to wager, is asked for advice about selling luxury market homes.
The clutter factor might not seem to be so overpoweringly important. After all, a housekeeping crew can scour and shine most homes in a day or two–and that would seem to outrank the clutter component by a mile. So why all the fuss about clutter? I believe the reasons are many. Of course, selling any luxury market, like Greenwich, home requires it to be at least freshly cleaned, but everyone accepts that without a second thought. Clutter is another matter.
After a home has been prepared in every other way, de-cluttering action means ruthlessly removing just about everything that tends to attract attention, fill the space, or otherwise distract the eye of the beholder.
In the family room, that means gathering up all the books and newspapers and removing them from the scene. It means putting away (for now) the lovely accessories from Hoaglands, Creel & Gow, GDV, Hermes, Back 40 Mercantile, Bergdorfs, and 1stdibs. It means losing the magazine rack by the fireplace and culling the number of pillows that usually grace the main sofa or sectional. It means dispensing with unnecessary throw rugs and any art in the hall that makes narrow hallways more claustrophobic. Importantly, it means removing all the photos and memorabilia that make your house a home—because they make it your home when you want it to become their home.
The same goes for the kitchen, where it means gathering up all the paraphernalia that’s needed to fix a breakfast or throw lunch together. Vita mixer, Kitchenmaid mixer, Nespresso machine and the slow cooker all have to go (off the counter). Does this make the kitchen appear less of a functioning kitchen? Yes. And that’s why the de-cluttering needs to be emphasized: the kitchen will be more appealing to most cooks if it looks open, nearly unused—in other words, awaiting their arrival to make it their own.
Now, it is also true that you may well return an object or two to the living room or kitchen just to offset a totally deserted feeling—my top notch stager and master at creating inviting spaces, Julia Grayson of Grayson De Vere, uses accessories— but (like Goldilocks) just the right amount. Trust me, check out the best upscale listing photos (like 628 Lake Ave) and you will see expanses of unoccupied space and barren walls and surfaces.
If you haven’t simplified and de-cluttered in a while, I suggest you clear your schedule for a day and plunge in. No better time than the start of a new year.