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7 Expert Tips For Decluttering Your Home

If there is one thing that all homeowners have dealt with at some point, regardless of their home’s size or location, it’s clutter. Depending on how you tackle it, decluttering and organizing can easily become a frustrating and exasperating chore. This is especially true if there is added pressure to ready your home for listing photos in order to sell.

Sometimes the most difficult part of a decluttering project is knowing how to begin. We asked Betsy to share the tips for success that she follows when she’s helping someone stage their house for great listing photos, or just keeping her own home organized and decluttered. Betsy said:

Tip #1: Odd Numbers

“First, I feel like I it’s easier for me to declutter and organize if I go room by room. When I do it that way, it’s not so overwhelming. Secondly, I prefer minimal things on surfaces and follow a rule of odd numbers only when it comes to decor. Whether that be one or three items etc., that’s up to you, but I don’t recommend having groupings of even numbers, even in small amounts like two or four. It’s amazing how one or three items can look polished and curated, when adding one more item can make it look cluttered.”

Take a look at the 2 photos below featuring the same console table. The photo on the left is more harmonious visually with 3 items, than the right side, depicting an even number of 4 items:

Tip #2: Frame Your Home For Success

“I have found that one big thing people struggle with is picture frames. When I go into someone’s house to stage, I lovingly advise them to pare down on picture frames. I recommend that people sort through their frames in order to have them all be a similar style or color frame, and then go through and edit even deeper to find the ones that truly bring joy. The only exception for numerous frames would be if they were done in an artful and deliberate way, such as a gallery wall. I think oftentimes frames can add up quickly in people’s homes because people get them as a gift and hold onto them. It’s understandable how that can happen.”

Tip #3: Teach Organization Early

“I have a space in my basement full of storage bins that is for editing and rotating my children’s toys. I have found that if things are organized, and we teach them that everything has its place, it makes everything easier and even makes their playtime better. For instance, if our plastic fruit is with the other plastic food and play-cooking toys, they pretend-play much better and it is also easier for them to help put things away when they’re finished.”

Tip #4: Cherish Little Treasures, Thoughtfully

“When it comes to things my children create, I have a system for display, as well as storage. We have a framed bulletin board for displaying the kids’ art, in a place where they can be proud of it and see it displayed, but it’s also displayed in a creative and attractive way. Once a new creation goes up on the board, we rotate, and the previous creation goes in their art storage bin. This way they know that if they ever wanted to see it again, it has a place.

I keep a clear plastic bin designated for each of our children in the basement, and if it’s a really special thing that they’ve made, I will save it in there. I also go through that bin and edit items every couple of years, usually when they’re asleep, because by that time there could be multiples of something similar and I will go through them in order to keep only the very special, very best items.”

“I do really like Marie Kondo and her principals about items sparking joy create a mindfulness that I appreciate. I also love a company called The Neat Method. They have branches all over with services that will come in and help you or can help you virtually, or you can purchase their array of products. They are so wonderful.”

We asked Betsy how decluttering for listing photos is different from everyday organization and she has this to say:

“Nowadays, cameras are so incredible that they pick up on everything, especially with wide angle lenses needed to capture entire rooms. It’s so important to declutter prior to listing photos because in today’s world, everyone looks at real estate online. Keeping your surfaces minimal is the key to great listing photos.”

Tip #5: What to Subtract Prior to Photos


“I always hide paper towel rolls, salt and pepper shakers, and small kitchen appliances like coffeemakers from countertops. I also remove anything that is on the refrigerator and any hand-towels- unless it’s a very crisp new towel.”


“I always make sure to remove all soap dispensers, trash cans, hygiene products, or toilet brushes.”


“I remove things hanging on hooks like robes and jackets. I make sure the number of pillows makes sense and that they are properly fluffed. I smooth out all bedding and make sure the closet doors are all fully closed.”

Living Room:

“I edit throw pillows on couches so there aren’t too many and arrange them well.”

Every Room:

It surprises people, but I always remove throw blankets. When you’re touring a home for a showing, a blanket draped on furniture can feel homey, but in listing photos it usually just looks messy and unkempt.”

Tip #6: Should We Add Anything Prior to Photos?

“Plants or fresh flowers, one hundred percent. Also, make sure spaces that need an area rug have a rug in the proper size and that all lighting is warm, versus cool.”

Tip #7: Small Details Make a Big Difference

“Pay attention to first impressions. Make sure your yard is maintained, planters are planted, have a welcome mat, a wreath- you want to create a warm greeting. Inside, look at how curtains are laying and make sure the blinds are open the same amount in every room and all closet doors are fully shut.”

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