As a Professional Organizer and Home Stager I spend my time educating clients about clutter. I also create systems to allow them to keep a neat and organized environment, and share tips on decorating and transformation. There are 10 Things that you can do to make your home ready for sale, or simply just enjoy it for yourself. These tips are small efforts in creating an overall more aesthetic appearance providing harmony, balance and organization.

1. A fresh coat of Paint- The most effective thing you can do to change the appearance of a room is to use paint. If you have been suffering in a home that has stayed stagnant with the same paint color for 10 years or worse, if you’ve lived with the off-white builders paint since you moved into your home, it is time for a change! When selecting a color ask yourself what colors make you feel calm, alive, happy, vibrant etc. If you are getting ready to sell a home, it is always best to use neutrals like taupe, cappuccino, warm butter yellow, nothing off-the-wall like lime green or bright orange. A nice coat of bright white paint can often add a freshness to a bathroom or other space as it exudes clean in a room that is full of color. It is relatively inexpensive and can be done at anytime. Ask some friends for help and you’ll be done in no time. If you are redoing a room, it is best to pick out your furniture and rugs/carpet/hardwood first, then the paint color. It is far easy to select a color when you are complete, then try to match your furniture up to the walls you just painted.

2. Change your Lighting- If your home has any form of fluorescent lighting, track lighting or an ugly builder’s bedroom lamp it is time to make a small investment. Pot lighting, floor lamps, table lamps and providing for more natural lighting with a skylight are all great options. A must have in any room is a dimmer switch. You can really set a mood with lighting which is why candles are so popular, be sure to add a dimmer so that you can maximize your new lighting and the room. Hang a pretty inexpensive chandelier over the bed or above your dining room table for some elegance. You can find a lot of great pieces at both the Salvation Army as well as garage sales. Maybe you like the lamp base and not the shade, or vice versa. Make the investment in the one piece and replace the other. Symmetry is important too. Always try to look for sets of lamps for side tables in bedrooms and living room areas to keep a sense of balance.

3. Cover your Walls- If your walls are bare and lack any paintings, photos or art pieces, now is the time to add some warmth and personality to the room by adding some pieces. The important thing here is to find items that you personally love. I love black and white shots of my family framed in a plain black frame but use them sparingly as to not make my house look like a museum. Find some interesting mirrors, a world map framed for an office, or pretty floral prints of a single flower. If you have an African mask collection that has been collecting dust, bring it out for display. It is also a great way to add color to a room. There is nothing worse than walking through a home with all white walls, no wall art or photos and boring furniture. Add some personality! You can even make inexpensive window boxes that are frames with a deep box covered with glass to put items on display. I like baby items like a rattle, baby blocks for a child’s room or shells for a bathroom or bedroom. The possibilities are endless. If you have a fireplace I highly urge you to put something above it. A nice mirror can add the appearance of more space in the room as well as an elegant touch.

4. Remove Clutter- This can be a small or huge undertaking depending on how much stuff you have. You can do this on your own in small increments or hire in a professional to do it in a fraction of the time and show you tips and systems along the way. Removing clutter not only gives you more physical space to walk and move but your home will immediately appear larger. This is great news if you are preparing for a move. What is clutter? Trinkets, knick-knacks, mail from 2 months ago, garbage, items you or your kids have outgrown. This will give you a greater sense of peace and less stress. It is hard to work on anything in a cluttered room without feeling distracted or stressed about the extra things that you know need to be done. Please don’t just move items from one room to the next. It will still be there waiting for you later. I always make a point in my own home to constantly get rid of clothes, unneeded items and clutter mail. I know we will move one day and it will make life much easier if I do it in small bits rather than be overwhelmed later.

5. Arranging Décor Items- One thing you’ll notice in any show home you tour, is that there décor items are of substantial size and well placed. This can be achieved in your own home also with a few easy to follow steps. Firstly, remove all tiny trinkets and knick-knacks. Have a cabinet full of tiny little figurines is not the way to do it. Have a room for these items if you are a collector instead of having a trail throughout your house. For example, use your living room as an example. The side tables might have a large dish with potpourri on one with a small frame of family and a coaster, and the other have two small hard cover books on top of each other for display and a 3 pronged candle holder. Keep it simple! Your bedroom dressers should not be covered with receipts, tealights, keys, a jewelry box, books with book ends and a potpourri dish. Eliminate all tiny items and have 2-3 items max on any piece of furniture unless it is quite large. Another example is a master bathroom. Use one large prominent shell on the counter and have 3 glass apothecary jars with sand and shells or cotton balls etc. Perhaps one small vase with a single bloom and a tissue box and a soap pump. Using larger décor items allows you and others to appreciate the items rather then get lost in a collection of tiny spoons.

6. New Flooring Makes a Big Difference-Whether you realize it or not, floors get walked on an awful lot. If you have carpet, linoleum tiling, or ceramic tiles, it might be time to replace them for a new covering of the same material or a new one altogether. If you live in an older house see if you have hardwood buried under the older carpet you have now. It might take a bit of sanding and a shiny new varnish but hardwood adds a richness that carpet cannot. If you are replacing carpet ensure that you get a new one that wears well and keeps its shape. In addition you’ll want to invest in a nice thickness of under padding. If you are going the tile route there are a lot of options. There are peel and stick ceramic tile look-alikes as well as the real thing and linoleum. Either way, fresh new flooring that looks clean and un-abused is far more appealing. Ensure that you color-match with any furniture, cabinets etc to ensure it all blends for harmony.

7. Crown Molding Provides Richness-Wander around your home right now and look at the baseboards that are currently installed. Chances are you got the builder’s style. If you are happy with it and live in a newer home then do keep it. If you are looking at old baseboards painted over several times it is time to replace them. You’ll want to then match up your baseboards to your new molding. I love the classic white molding against a nice neutral colored wall. However, the options are endless. In some cases you might want leave the molding unpainted altogether or use a slightly lighter shade to avoid the contrast of white on a bright or dark color. This Gives a richness and finished look that you’ll love and home buyers notice and appreciate.

8. Outside Structural Appearance- It’s time to address the outside of your home. Besides, curb appeal is huge and you likely pull up to and away from your home each day, it might as well look great. Take a look at your porch, steps and driveway and if any need repairing or replacing you’ll know. Look for rusting, worn-look, cracked steps or driveway or discoloration. It might be as simple as having the driveway repaved or doing some repair to loose or cracked steps. Next look at the lighting, symmetry of lighting around the garage is great or one light in the centre. Also, no tacky red lit-up street numbers. This is better for you and resale value. Take a look at the garage and front door along with shutters. Is it time for a paint job? If you like the color and it matches with the house just give it a fresh coat. However, if the paint is chipping and faded and you hate the color now is the time to either paint them yourself or have a professional come out. It dramatically changed the appearance. It is best to stick with neutral colors but black, and red are great too. Make your house pop from the street!

9. Loving Your Landscaping-Equally important to the structural appearance of the home is the overall landscaping. Please remember the backyard in this assessment. If there are weeds where there should be grass and grass growing through the interlock in your walkway it is time to get to work. Likewise if you notice that you have dying trees, plants and flowers in your garden then it is time to replace them. Again, use symmetry as a guide to planning your lawn. I think two large urns with small trees or a large amount of flowers is so great. Use them on either side of your entry door or on either side of the garage door. Another tip is to remember multiples. It is a good thing to buy four or five of the same tree then you can experiment with rocks and flowers. Using a nice crushed rock in a deep mahogany or some wood-chips is great too and easier on your lawnmower. Remember after investing in this project to keep the grass nicely trimmed and edged as well as any shrubs or bushes for a nice finished look.

10. The Investment Room- If you are moving and are wondering what room will give you the most bang for your buck, or simply want to improve the look of your home and don’t know where to start I’d start with the kitchen. When most people look at homes their focus is ultimately on the whole home but kitchens and bathroom investments seem to have the most impact in their mind. A gorgeous array of cabinets with marble countertop and top appliances and sink faucets with sink will really wow people. Bathrooms do the same with spa-like tubs, and the feeling of a retreat. In our busy worlds we want easy, fast, relaxing and enjoyable. This would be my recommendation, however if you have an obvious room that needs help like a master bedroom start there and work your way as your budget permits.

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