Trying to keep a tidy home is a tricky situation especially if there are children, pets, or children and pets involved in the situation. Life is so cluttered itself that one is left feeling that there isn’t really time to accomplish all that must be done and declutter the home as well. But if you’re selling a house, you must present it at its best. By removing all the clutter, the potential buyer can imagine their ideas at work in the space. As a seller, that’s exactly what you want them to do. The first step is to define the word “declutter.” A common definition of declutter ( verb) is to “remove or simplify or to get rid of mess, disorder, complications.” However, William Morris, an English textile designer, gave a much more appropriate definition on declutter. “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” The seller must present a home that offers potential to the buyer by emphasizing the home’s potential.
This article is one in a series of articles designed to help you, the seller, prepare your home for a successful sell. This series will begin with the kitchen which is so often called the most important room in the house.
Decluttering the Kitchen
For women, decluttering the kitchen definitely takes will-power. The kitchen holds a lot of memories such as birthdays candles used when the twenty-two year old son was two, Bitzy’s old collar. She passed away seven years ago, but the kids did love her. The recipes Aunt Hannah left you when you first married. All of these have emotional strings to the heart. To declutter, one must develop strong will-power. All is not lost. There is a way to salvage memories and declutter the kitchen too.
Gather cleaning materials. Shelves will need to be cleaned so have a good cleanser ready, lots of warm soapy water, and plenty of wash cloths. Also, find at least four nice big roomy boxes.
Label the boxes:
GARAGE SALE OR GOODWILL
STAY IN THE KITCHEN
BELONGS SOMEWHERE ELSE
KEEP is for those treasured mementos with which you can’t bear to part. Consider scrapbooking!
GARAGE SALE/ GOODWILL is just that. They’re out of here!
STAY IN THE KITCHEN are those items that need to be put back on the shelves.
BELONG SOMEWHERE ELSE are those items that have no business being in the kitchen but somehow migrated there and now need to go back to their rightful place. Shoes do not belong under the kitchen sink or baseballs in the cabinet drawer.
Did you notice that there was not a box for trash? No, do not use a box for trash. Instead use black garbage sacks. Why? If you put them in a box, you will be tempted to take them out. If you put them in a clear garbage sack, you can still see them and will be tempted. No temptation needed – throw away means throw away!
Start with the top of the refrigerator. A little greasy and dusty up there? Well, who looks up there anyway? Who cares? Clean it! How much ‘stuff’’ is on top of the refrigerator? It’s been a good hiding place for a long time – but no more! Relegate anything there to a box. Make it shine and don’t put anything back up there! While you’re standing in front of the refrigerator, remove all of the pictures, calendars, cards that you have taped there. Put the items in the appropriate boxes. Leave the front of the refrigerator nice and bare!
Move over to the cabinets. Start with the highest cabinet. (Be careful if you are standing on a chair.) Watch for falling debris in the form of age- old pudding mixes and plastic cups from the last time you went to the Dallas State Fair. Keep in mind that no one needs all those cute plastic boxes you’ve collected along with all of those margarine tubs. Are the boxes in clear view? That’s where every thing goes. Wash. Move to the next shelf.
Keep going one shelf at a time. When your boxes are full, label another and continue. Finally the boxes are full and the shelves are empty. Now it is time to make some important decisions.
There is a sensible way to make the decision on what to keep and what not to keep. Some things, like the margarine tubs, you know to throw away, but there are other items that need a little thought. Attack the KEEP box first. These are those loving mementos. How loving and cherished are they? Hold them in your hand. How well do candles keep? Do you remember why that item was so special? Put the “must keeps” in a suitable sized box, tape tightly, and store.
GARAGE SALE/STAY IN KITCHEN is worrisome. Here’s the special machine that cooks all of your meal at one time – the meat on top, potatoes on bottom, add salad later. It was a gift from your mother-in-law. Have you ever used it? Will you ever use it? Well, yes, you did use it once – right after she gave it to you. Goodness, that was three years ago. Place in GOODWILL. Do not feel guilty! If you have an item that you have only used once in the last year, you don’t need it. The only exception is Christmas items and canning jars – good canning jars – not left over pickle jars. If you actively can, wash the jars and put them back. Donate everything else. Someone else might enjoy and need them.
KEEP IN THE KITCHEN - Here’s a melon baller and a cookie scoop. Did you use them last month….this month…..or will you use them next month? If so, keep; if not, throw away. You’re working your way through the clutter, and things are already looking better.
Now, here’s your favorite paring knife, your knife sharpener, your ladle for soup, salad, and beans. Got to keep those! They’re used nearly every day! Wash them, find them the perfect home, and move on. Keep those items you use daily. Consider your dishes. How many sets do you have? How many sets do you need? Wouldn’t someone else enjoy using them? How many sets aren’t complete? Why are you keeping them? You already have enough feed dishes for the dogs and cats. Keep only those items you know you use almost everyday. Let the rest go.
Become detail oriented as you put back the keepers. Put knives and cooking utensils near the sink and the dishwasher. Keep everyday dishes handy, and pot and pans in an easily accessible area. Be sure that the labels of canned foods face outward and are neatly stacked. Place spices on spice racks. Spices can be messy. Be sure that they are in air tight containers that won’t spill and are organized according to category. Don’t leave them on the counter. Spices spoil in the light.
When finished with this ritual, you will be surprised at how much space you have gained and how clean your kitchen has become. But there is just one or two more issues that need to be discussed. What should be on the kitchen counter? Not your purse. Think of the last place you put your purse. Now do you think it should be on the counter? Find a place for it. Not the mail. Find a place for it. Not the toaster unless you are addicted to toast and need toast at every meal. Yes, keep the coffee pot there because you probably use it every day. Then compliment the counter with flowers, a decorative bowl of fruit, or a cookbook.
You have successfully decluttered your kitchen.
Next week, the bedroom will be decluttered!