I think TLC’s Trading Spaces was the first show I ever saw that brutally told somebody that they needed to put their personal preferences aside when decorating room for the sake of good taste. Even though I saw this around ten years ago, I still find it appalling how brutally honest the designer was with the homeowners. Appalling as it may be, sometimes it is the cold, hard truth of things and it needs to be said.
That concept of putting aside personal preference and memories comes into play when you are trying to sell your home while you’re still living it. If you watch nearly any HGTV show where they help people sell a home (and there are a LOT of these), the host will emphasize the importance of staging a home. Staging means making a home look like an attractive, clean looking space that anybody could see themselves moving into and living there. Think of staging as redecorating your house like it is going to be hotel–hotels have uniform, generic decorations that are designed for people of all tastes to stay in. As hard as that might be to do to your home, staging is often a key part of the selling process. Using a storage unit can greatly help you during the staging process.
Most people accumulate a lot of things, do a lot of decorating, and really settle into a home while they live there making the place feel warm and cozy. One person’s “warm and cozy” is another person’s “crowded and small.” You need to put away most of your decorations, personal items, and probably some of your furniture. I recommend putting all of these items into a climate-controlled storage unit.
The first thing you need to pack away to put into storage are personal items. All pictures, name plates on walls, sports posters, and various things like height charts need to be packed away. As hard as it might be to live in a home without your items displayed, it will better help a person to visualize living in your home which will help you sell it. If you have your son’s room full of pictures of him and have the walls covered in his posters and handmade artwork, a person might have a hard time picturing that room as anything more than a kid’s room. You want them to be able to see it as an office, home gym, guest bedroom, or whatever they need. The same goes for rooms like your dining room. Your collage of family vacation photographs might be beautiful, but it won’t help somebody else picture themselves eating holiday meals in that room. I suggest you carefully pack away all of these items and put them into storage for safe keeping. DO NOT put boxes of personal items into some room in the house. It will make things look cluttered. Carefully tuck these treasured items into a storage unit instead.
Next, neutralize your home’s decorations beyond just your personal items. This might require you to swap out your decorative curtains and custom paint job for beige walls
and cheap, simple curtains. The best example I can think of is a friend of mine had a home where the entire office had great 90s colors and animal prints all over it. It was great in the early 90s and her mom very much so still loved it, but the cheetah print window seat needed to go and the lime green curtains needed to be toned down. So put your decorations into storage until you get to your new home and can put them up again.
Lastly, you will want to make your home look as big as possible which often means putting some items into storage or even on extreme cases renting different furniture all together. Many people put an extra sofa or extra comfortable chairs into their family rooms for more seating, but this often makes rooms look cramped. You’ll want to edit out furniture until you have just one sofa or just one chair in a room to make the area look bigger. Also, kitchen and dining room tables often need to be swapped out. I know I’ve in places where my table has been way too big for a space, but the big table was needed for seating. You’ll want to rent a smaller table if possible to keep from making a kitchen or dining room look smaller than it is. I think this step is the hardest because it takes the most work. However, this is a very important step and will usually be worth the effort! Seriously, watch any of the moving shows on HGTV and you’ll see they agree with me.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with the staging process, ask your real estate agent. They should be able to give you many ideas and help you to decide what should stay and what should go. If you take the time to put away your personal items and extra furniture into storage, your valuables will be ready to go when you find your new dream home so you can put the pieces back in their rightful spots in your home.