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How to Depersonalize Your Home for Sale

August 9, 2013

in Tips When Selling a Home | Tagged ,

Depersonalizing and staging a home are important steps in the home selling processMaking the decision to sell your home begins a journey of a thousand steps. From hiring a real estate agent to getting the home ready for the market, there is a lot to do.

Luckily, homeowners have a tool belt full of items that make the job easier. The most powerful tool of them all is decorating – better known as staging. Done right, staging your home will help it sell faster and for more money.

Before you hire a decorator, or decide to do it yourself, you’ll need an appropriate backdrop – a clean, uncluttered space. Otherwise, staging the home is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Why Declutter?

There are several reasons homeowners should clear their homes of the clutter accumulated from daily living. First, clutter makes people anxious.

The results of a nine-year long UCLA study show that there is “real psychological stress associated with clutter.”

The last thing you want a potential buyer to feel is stress or anxiety when touring your home.

Since most clutter in a home is a collection of personal items, depersonalizing the home goes hand-in-hand with clearing clutter. Sure, all those personal items are what makes your house a home, but too many of them may hinder its sale.

Buyers need to be able to imagine what it would be like living in your home, surrounded by their belongings. Your stuff detracts from their ability to do that.

Depersonalizing: What’s Involved?

Depersonalizing is the act of removing most items of a personal nature. Family photographs, souvenirs, collections, DVD and CD collections and framed diplomas, degrees and awards are a few examples of items to pack up and store.

Getting Started

Since you’ll need boxes for the move, buying them now saves work later on. Buy several boxes for each room in the house, and don’t forget newspaper or other packing material to protect breakables.

The best way to go about depersonalizing the home is to do it one room at a time.

Living Room and Family Room

Since this is where families spend most of their time, these rooms will most likely take the longest. Items to remove include:

  • Toy bins or boxes.
  • Toys (including pet toys).
  • Family photos.
  • DVDs, video games and CDs.
  • Excess magazines and catalogs.
  • Newspapers.
  • Craft items.
  • Clothing.


Now we move from the most challenging room to the easiest room to depersonalize – the kitchen. The biggest clutter catcher in this room is the refrigerator. Remove the magnets, sticky note reminders, kids’ artwork and personal photographs. In fact, remove everything from the front, sides and top of the refrigerator. Unless it’s decorative, pack it all up.

Many families use the kitchen counter as a mail drop. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but mail is highly personal and needs to be put away, out of sight.


Since bedrooms are the most personal of all the spaces in a home, they can be challenging to depersonalize. Remove family photos, of course, but you may need to go beyond that. Imagine a posh hotel room and remove anything from the bedrooms that you wouldn’t find in one.


Bathrooms tend to become cluttered with personal products. While it isn’t necessary to pack these items up, it is crucial that they be put out of sight in cupboards and drawers.

Don’t forget the shower stall or bathtub. Buyers will pull back the shower curtain. Would you want to be greeted by pumice stones, shampoo bottles or kids’ water toys? Again, think of a posh hotel bathroom and try to imitate that look.

Home Office

The home office is typically one of the most cluttered rooms in the home and also a hot selling feature, so it’s important to create a vignette that appeals to the target market for the home.

Attack the walls first, taking down awards, diplomas and degrees, and photos.

Clear the desk of mail, work papers and professional journals and magazines.

As you work on depersonalizing each room in the home, don’t just throw the items in the boxes. Wrap and pack for the move and then take the boxes to a storage facility.

Don’t forget to organize what’s left in the room – it puts you one step closer to staging the home.

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