Getting Rid of the Other “D” Word

Home Stager

Getting Rid of the Other “D” Word


One of my least favorite words associated with home staging is "declutter." When I work with clients, I use edit instead. The word declutter can be insulting to the client implying that their treasures are clutter!  For me, the word declutter has a negative tone.


There’s another “D” word that I’m not fond of and that is downsizing.  When Larry began using that word around me I quickly put a stop to that. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to find a home that would better fit our needs.



But like “declutter” the word downsize has a negative sound to it... as if I’m about to enter the Shrinkie machine that kids have. And, as they say, it’s not what you say but how you say it.


Years ago when we were considering a 55+ community, many of the designs seemed to just shrink a whole house. Every room was smaller…smaller kitchens and living areas! No imagination or consideration for what those in a certain demographic were interested in. 

I’m in that demographic and still have 40+ for dinners and family gatherings. Some of my friends couldn’t care less if they cook again. 



When you’re speaking to sellers or buyers, consider the words you use. Talk about rightsizing to fit their lifestyle…how they entertain or if they plan on out-of-town guests and family visiting.

Hear what they are saying to you about their needs and lifestyle.  Don’t assume that because they are of a certain age that their whole life will be shrinking. 

Posted by

Kathy Streib
Retired Home Stager
and Interior Redesign

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Comments (41)

Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

I have personal experience with downsizing.  It has not been good for us.  We are trying to rightsize now.  It does have a much better ring to it, doesn't it?

Jul 12, 2022 04:20 PM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

I don’t care for the word but of course it is a necessary evil when someone’s house needs the process to occur Kathy 🙂

Jul 12, 2022 07:58 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

That’s a lot of what I do myself and then I love what you’re doing

Jul 12, 2022 09:39 PM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Kathy, The 55+ communities are perfect for some. And, as you said, those people are ready to stop cooking for so many people among other things. Like you, it isn't for everyone. Just as you went up in size, it will take a few homes as you go down in size.

Jul 13, 2022 05:08 AM
Sam Thomas
Providence Group Realty - Plano, TX
When it's important; hire a professional.

Great post Kathy. 

Word choice is so important! Right sizing!

Jul 13, 2022 05:54 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Kathy,
Our last move had nothing to do with size but was all about finding the right floor plan to meet our needs as we aged.  We actually up-sized but it suited our needs for bringing in a caregiver when necessary. The extra space guest quarters now until it needs to be used for help again. 

All that said, words absolutely DO matter.

Jul 13, 2022 06:20 AM
Erik Hiss
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Worthington, OH
You can trust me for all your real estate needs!

I like the word "rightsizing" but I still use declutter 😊 Sometimes we need to enforce it haha

Jul 13, 2022 07:32 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Declutter is one of my automatic buzz words; I should retrain the brain to use "edit". It has less "sting" when used. Rightsizing is also a better choice of words than downsizing. 

Jul 13, 2022 09:42 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Great post, always important to consider how what we say is going to be received before we say it. I like the work edit, and the right-size as well. We love to entertain and our new home will allow us to do that perfectly.


Jul 13, 2022 11:03 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you so much for your insights and assistance when conveying those thoughts to clients.  I've felt the same way about declutter.   Rightsizing is a term often used in the energy efficiency world to correctly identify what suits each individual in terms of needs-based housing.  Spot on! 

Jul 13, 2022 12:59 PM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I love all the suggestions for alternatives to decluttering. I personally don't mind the word but I never actually considered the word "clutter" within the word and how that may offend some sellers.

Jul 13, 2022 01:13 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Kathy,

As others have said, we can throw out words without thinking about them.  I love using right-sizing, and pre-packing is another great term. 

Jul 13, 2022 06:00 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

You make an excellent point about the impact certain words can have on people, Kathy.

Jul 13, 2022 07:32 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

CONGRATULATIONS Kathy, on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Jul 13, 2022 07:34 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

An excellent point Kathy! We are all individuals and our needs as we age are different.

Jul 14, 2022 04:02 AM
Lynnea Miller
Bend Premier Real Estate - Bend, OR
Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon

I really like this.  "Rightsizing" instead of "downsizing" has such a better tone as does "edit" instead of "declutter".  I have to share these words with our brokerage.  Thanks for the thoughtful blog.

Jul 14, 2022 12:15 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


"Declutter" certainly can have some negative connotations, and I fear I have thrown it out there a few times. But I like "edit" far more.

Your point about being careful of the words we use with clients is right on target - we may be offending unintentionally!

I rather like using rightsizing in lieu of downsizing.


Jul 14, 2022 03:19 PM
faye schubert
Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

I like the word "rightsizing" versus downsizing. 

Jul 15, 2022 05:23 AM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Kathy Streib 
Words do make a difference, don't they? Like that was a really stupid thing to do versus looks like that solution didn't work out for you. Easy to see which one stops the conversation!
Thanks for the reminder - Lynn

Jul 15, 2022 05:50 PM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Hear the term from the buyers and sellers alike daily in emails, calls, texts.  "We want to downsize so we can travel or have less home to care for." When in Rome (or whatever market or online) speak the language your buyers and sellers utter. Better use of space is makes all the difference and you need a home stager like Kathy Streib to get ship shape and dialed in.

Jul 18, 2022 04:41 PM