If you’ve ever been through selling a home you know one of the first pieces of advice you’ll get from your real estate agent is ‘declutter.’ Before you take pictures, ‘declutter.’ Before you list, ‘declutter.’ Before you have a showing, ‘declutter.’ 

As a stager, I can tell you that my version of decluttering is not the same as the average bear. So I thought I’d help you out. Here is some professional advice to help you declutter.

Let’s go room by room, shall we?


  • Remove small appliances from the counter.
  • Towels and potholders shouldn’t be seen. Put them in a drawer.
  • Take down personal items from the front of your fridge.
  • Pot racks only look cool with 100% new dishes when photographed for a magazine. In most kitchens, it just looks like you don’t have enough storage. Take it down.


  • Clean out the linen closet so it looks clean and organized. Don’t jam every old towel you have in there.
  • Remove any prescription drugs/toothbrushes or makeup from your counters.
  • Go through drawers and medicine cabinets and toss out any expired medications or things you don’t use.


  • Pack up out-of-season clothes.
  • Keep only a couple of family photos on display.
  • Remove anything from your nightstand that you don’t need every night (finished books, books you still have to read, mail etc.)
  • Donate any clothes you don’t wear anymore.

Living, Dining and Family Rooms

  • Limit the number of toys you have. Everything should have a place.
  • Edit book and magazine piles. If you haven’t read that issue from 8 months ago, you aren’t going to read it at all.
  • That old charger you are keeping on the desk. It’s still going to be broken in 2 weeks. Toss it! While you are at it, throw out the pens that don’t work.
  • Keep only a few pillows on the couch.

High Traffic Areas

  • Make sure the front closet is cleared out and reorganized.
  • Remove artwork/photos hanging in small hallways. It makes them feel smaller.
  • Things hanging out on open hooks have the same effect.
  • Create a drop zone for purses/keys etc.


  • A Garage is not meant to be the catch-all.
  • Throw out or donate or sell what you don’t use.
  • Clean up shelving and organize by use (kids stuff, gardening, tools)

As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t used anything in 6 months you won’t miss it!

Decluttering will not only make your house feel larger, but it will also create a more zen-like atmosphere (clutter is stressful!). If you have kids, get them involved too! It’s good practice for the little toy hoarders to really determine what they need. Decluttering is also a great way to help others by donating your old stuff or make a little extra cash by selling a few things.

When you are done, walk back through the house one more time. Sometimes a second pass through will yield a few more things you can get rid of.