When Decluttering Goes Wrong

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Crescent City Living LLC Licensed LA RE Commission

Too much of anything is not a good thing.  I just never thought I would put decluttering on that list, but today I am.

You've heard me stress how important decluttering is when preparing your home for sale. Get rid of the old magazines, free up some kitchen counter space, take down the wall of photos documenting every family member's life from birth to high school graduation.  Standard agent advice.

As we toured through this week's selection of open houses, however, I saw decluttering and depersonalization taken to new levels that were so extreme the homes no longer felt welcoming and might as well have been vacant.

Bedrooms with nothing except a bed and night stand.  No artwork.  No pillows.  No flowers.  No nothing to make it feel inviting.

Dining rooms with just a table and chairs.  Bare walls.  No candles.  No decorations.  Just a cold room with a hunk of wood stuck in the middle.

While we certainly advocate clearing the clutter before your home goes on the market, taken to the extreme, the result can be the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Think warm.  Think inviting.  Think what the room will look like in photos.  

If you overdo it, you might be left with something like this:

Does this feel inviting?

It doesn't exactly make you want to whip out your checkbook, does it?

If you need some expert guidance, we can refer you to a local home stager that can help you find that balance between too personal and way too stark.

Give us a call at 504-327-5303 and we'll point you in the right direction.


Originally published at Crescent City Living


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Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good evening Lisa. Great title and very funny. Extremes at any job are no good. Terrific post and the pictures brought it home.

Jun 06, 2012 12:24 PM #19
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Time to bring back more "clutter"... I go through it room and have the sellers make a to do list of what is going and what is going to stay.

Jun 06, 2012 01:00 PM #20
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

Great title. . . you are so right there are extremes for everything we do.  You have to be careful not to go overboard with anything.

Jun 06, 2012 01:02 PM #21
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I recently had a client who had family photos all over her house. I asked her to put them all away. We staged the home and it looked great. I did leave one family photo on the nightstand next to her bed. Removing everything can be as much concern as having a cluttered mess.

Jun 06, 2012 01:28 PM #22
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519
Lisa, I think they went just a little too far due cluttering the place. They look warmer and more inviting when staged correctly.
Jun 06, 2012 01:37 PM #23
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Lisa, definitely doesn't make you want to whip out your checkbook! I had a listing last year where the Seller did just that. She had the whole house painted and didn't put up art work, etc. We ended up hanging art work again and the house came back, but it was rough going for a couple of weeks!


Jun 06, 2012 02:13 PM #24
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional


Proper staging highlights the best aspects of a property, and hopefully. makes them feel warm and inviting.

Jun 06, 2012 02:19 PM #25
Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

This looks like the work of a DIY stager that thinks they don't need to hire a professional stager.  I bet the house has a FSBO sign in front of it too! HA! (jk!!)

Jun 06, 2012 02:22 PM #26
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Like so many other things, the extreme is not a good thing. Not much better than vacant.


Jun 06, 2012 02:35 PM #27
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Hi Lisa,

Declutter is phase one (or two or three) staging comes once there is space for it.  My wife is a stager and I've become a believer after seeing her do a couple little things that made a big difference.  Great post.  

Jun 06, 2012 03:10 PM #28
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Lisa, you made your point loud and clear with the photo.  It made me smile widely!  Strengths taken to the extreme are always a weakness!  This is a good example!

Jun 06, 2012 03:20 PM #29
Marilyn Boudreaux
Marilyn Boudreaux, Century 21 Bono Realty - Lake Charles, LA
Lake Charles LA Century 21 Realtor

a home needs to be warm and inviting when you enter to help you envision living there....unless its new construction then that would be understandable as being bare.

Jun 06, 2012 03:28 PM #30
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Lisa - I had to laugh at Erica's comment.  I also agree with Marilyn that a home needs to be warm and inviting.

Jun 06, 2012 03:42 PM #31
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Lisa,

Maybe they were vacant homes and just a few things had been left behind


Jun 06, 2012 06:21 PM #32
Kathryn Maguire
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

That looks more like a distressed sale than one where people are actually living in the home!

Jun 06, 2012 11:13 PM #33
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

A cave is just that A CAVE....Until you add cave drawings and it then has a significance to it...A History...warmth?

Jun 07, 2012 12:01 AM #34
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

LOL @ Erica Ramus and Jane Peters!  

Thanks for the comments, everyone.  Seems like we are all on the same page here.

Jun 07, 2012 12:57 AM #35
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

definitely too bare! usually bare is okay, but not like this

Jun 07, 2012 01:58 AM #36
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Wow... Lisa...

    Your post has become "cluttered" with spam!!  This is the most spam I've ever seen on a single post.

Jun 07, 2012 02:42 AM #37
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

Get yer spam points right here!

Jun 07, 2012 02:47 AM #38
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Lisa Heindel

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