Knowing that moving was probably in our 2013, I committed to getting the house ready to sell in January. We hired an inspector to do a pre-listing inspection on our house so we’d know what needed to be fixed before we listed. We have always fixed things as they came up, so the inspection went beautifully and our house was in great shape. That meant that I could focus my efforts on touching up paint and decorating for mass appeal rather than our family. My mom and I tackled the breakfast nook in January and repainted the powder room a more neutral color, but everything else was just a list of what needed to be done to stage our house when we listed.
I knew that based on our home’s square footage, we needed to appeal to the type of people we were when we bought the house – young professionals with no kids – or someone with one or two older kids. Which meant that the Fisher Price garage, the Learning Home and all the “We have babies and toddlers!” gear needed to be put away. When we found out we were under contract on our future house, we had a fast 24 hours to get our house looking a little bit less like two kids dictate the decor at our house.
The playroom transitioned back into an office, just like it was when we first moved in. All the toys (train table, art table and other play things) went to storage:
All the toys and books in the main living area got relocated to a small designated play space in our basement, or neatly put away in the kids’ rooms.
The golden rule of staging is to depersonalize your home so that people can picture themselves living there. I kind of bah-humbuged this rule for a long time, and then I realized it’s really a safety concern. Not like my kids’ pictures aren’t all over the internet, but complete strangers were going to be coming into our home. I took down our gallery wall and relocated the beach prints to over the console table. We relocated our family photo albums and jewelry to various secure locations for this whole period of time, and we left very little identifying information visible in our home.
In the kitchen, we took just about everything off the counters, and scrubbed things until they shined. I washed all of the hardwood floors throughout the entire house with vinegar and water.
Upstairs, I moved all of our winter clothes out of the closets, and left only our bed and bedside tables and dresser in the master bedroom.
Our Master Bathroom was always the one room that never saw a paint brush or any decor. And so I just did a thorough cleaning in here.
The kids’ rooms and guest bath just got thoroughly cleaned and things were straightened up and put away.
In the garage, we took most things to storage. No one needs to see our stroller collection. I purchased a power washer to clean up the garage floor and back patio. We set the basement up into zones – a TV zone, a workout zone and a small kids play zone (knowing that regardless of the fact that we were selling our house, we couldn’t move all of the toys out).
I loved this process. It’s really helped me realize what’s important. A million decorative vignettes? Nope, just clutter. The train table and kids art table? Essential to our daily sanity and I cannot wait to have them back in the center of our home, in all of their cluttered glory, in our new house. This process opened my eyes to what’s important. I see SO MANY pins on Pinterest about how to fake a clean home for your blog. And shouldn’t we really be embracing the life that happens and telling people it’s okay to not live in a catalog. I’ve loved living in our catalog these last three weeks – it’s beautiful – but I cannot wait to have our “we are a family, this is our life” reality back in June.
Another thing I realized in this process? Because we were casually looking for a new house before listing and found it, we had to turn around to get our house in showing condition quickly. I was hosting a monthly college friends’ night at our house the night we went on the market. And my girlfriends showed up ready to clean, took Nell, who’s in an only mom or dad will do stage, to the grocery store to buy frozen pizzas for dinner, and were absolutely amazing helping us get our house ready. I knew what a wonderful group of friends I had, but this drove it home even more.
And most importantly to the listing our house for selling success process, once everything was cleaned up and all the clutter put away, we got out of the house. Casco moved in with my mom and dad for the weekend. My brother was in town with his girls the weekend we listed, so we spent a lot of time at my mom and dad’s visiting with them. If he hadn’t been in town, we probably would have headed to my aunt’s place in the mountains for the weekend. B’s mom extended an open invitation for any portion of our family to invade her home at any time. We left our house on Saturday morning, were negotiating an offer that afternoon, and still had showings lined up for back-ups through the weekend.
So that was our “staging” or cleaning up to sell process. With neutral basics it wasn’t a tough process, just took a little time and the ability to be ruthless with what should stay and what should go.