Thinking about selling but feel like you need to get prepared? Here are a few low-cost ways to quickly update your whole house:
1. Freshen UP. Look up. Could your ceilings benefit from a fresh coat of paint? Bright white ceilings make a room look brighter, cleaner, fresher, and photograph better. I found THIS BLOG which shows how they painted their popcorn ceilings and what a difference it made (as well as tips and more.)
2. DECLUTTER! Decluttering is different than cleaning. A house can be perfectly clean and still have too much going on. This doesn’t mean anything negative about the homeowner- what is “clutter” to a stranger may be full of sentiment and usefulness to the person inside. The problem with a room filled with stuff is that it hides what you are actually intending to sell. If I am bogged down with all the trinkets and colors and interesting items you have in the room, I can’t possibly focus on the walls, the floor space … the part that I am actually considering purchasing.
My favorite tip for decluttering: Get a few big lidded totes (the storage kind) and start with one of the lesser used rooms in the house. Enter the room, and start with the space immediately to your left. Your goal is to remove 50% of what is in that area. If you are willing to unpack it when you move into your new house, pack it into the tote. If you realize that it will most likely never make it out of storage, stick it in a donate box. (It’s okay to part with stuff that you don’t really love. Let it go to someone who will appreciate it.)
Once you have gotten rid of at least 1/2 of the stuff on that wall, move to the next wall (clockwise.) Your goal is to work one wall at a time, left to right, top to bottom, with items either getting packed in totes or going to be donated. Once you have finished every wall, walk out of the room and in again. What do you notice? Is there still too much? Does it feel much “lighter?” The feeling you are trying to invoke is a guest space. Picture a hotel room- furnished, but not with too much. Minimally decorated to provide a homey feel without being visually overwhelming. You are preparing to leave this space, so it is time to depersonalize it. Use this same technique in each room, making sure to label the bins so you know what is inside.
Once a room is finished, put your totes in a basement or other space that can serve as your storage room. The benefit to decluttering using these totes is that they are heavy duty and easy to stack and store. If you sell your house soon, you are already at least 50% done packing! If you don’t sell right away, or you change your mind and decide to stay put, your belongings are easily organized room by room so unpacking and “re-personalizing” shouldn’t be terribly difficult.
THIS WEBSITE has a bunch of photos of how different a space appears before and after decluttering. Remember, decluttering doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all of your belongings. Don’t be scared of the process. By working one wall at a time, you won’t make a giant mess of the room and then get distracted before being able to finish the job. Go slow and steady and remind yourself that this stuff is just being packed away “for now” and you can always access it again if needed.
3. Invite an (honest) friend over (or maybe your mother-in-law.) You need someone who won’t mince words, because buyers are going to find things to nitpick and your job is to give them less to complain about. Invite your guest into your home for a tour of the space. Tell them to use all their senses to take in each room, and to be nice but find something to criticize in every room. Your goal in this exercise is to figure out what outsiders notice. When we live in a house, we get used the smells, the creaks, the missing outlets or whatever other little quirks are going on in a well loved and well lived-in space. It isn’t until we have company that things those tend to stand out and we realize we never finished the project.
By getting this feedback ahead of time, you can get a head start on whatever little inexpensive projects can be done around the house. It might be something quick and simple such as brightening up a dark room (a fresh neutral coat of paint does wonders for a space.) For the bigger, costlier projects, you know what people are going to notice, so you can start planning for what is going to be worth changing, versus what you think they would care about, but maybe they don’t.
Since the outside is just as important as the inside, make sure you include that on the tour. If you need ideas for inexpensive updates to add curb appeal, here are photos that can serve as inspiration.
I hope these tips provide a good starting point for you!