Decluttering to Sell

Family Room Before Credits: Marisa O'Brien
Brigid Robertshaw and Marisa O'Brien (908) 230-0052
Family Room After Credits: Marisa O'Brien
Cluttered Countertops Credits: Marisa O'Brien
Kitchen Decluttered! Credits: Marisa O'Brien
Bathroom - How we live Credits: Marisa O'Brien
Bathroom - Ready to show Credits: Marisa O'Brien
Bookshelves before
Bookshelves artfully arranged.

Pretend this is the first time you are seeing your house. Review each room with a fresh set of eyes. Is there excess furniture? Keep in mind that when selling your house, potential buyers and agents will come through in groups. You want them to flow through easily and get a sense of space.

As you go through the house, make sure everything has a place near where it is used.  Be honest with yourself… if you haven’t used something in a while, remove it. Use three boxes as you go through each room 1) PACK FOR NEW HOUSE, 2) DONATE, 3) TRASH. We could write a whole other column on how to get rid of stuff, but see the list of resources at the end of this one for some local solutions.

Once you have taken care of the general clutter, it’s time to zero in on the problem zones.  Here are some tips for areas that tend to need more attention.  

Sign Up for E-News

Bookshelves: Shelving will show better if it’s not jam packed.  Arrange books and objects of interest artfully.  If you have collections of knick-knacks, just keep a few of the larger items on display and put away the small stuff.  Things look nice in groups of three.  Color blocking your books creates a nice effect.

Closets: If something is not in season, pack it away. If it doesn’t make you feel good and you don’t wear it… let it go. Divide your closet into zones. It should make sense for you, but think “like kind with like kind” or pants all together in one area, shirts in another. You can organize by color here too. If you have a hodgepodge of hangers, make a small investment in some premium hangers. You will not believe what a world of difference it makes! If space is limited, tiered hangers will help things feel less crowded. Do whatever you can to help the closets not seem stuffed. You don’t want to give the impression that the house is short on storage.

Bedrooms: Small knick-knacks should get packed away. If you have kids and they want their things around, it’s ok, as long as they’re displayed neatly. Framed personal photos should be pared down to a minimum. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in the home. A hamper with a lid in each bedroom will help manage the laundry and keep clothes off the floor.  

Kitchen: While it is convenient to have things on the counter, it makes the kitchen feel cluttered. Counters don’t need to be completely bare. Feel free to leave key items out, like your coffee maker and a few cooking utensils in a nice container near the stove. No need to have the knives out… put them away in a drawer. Lazy susans are great for storing smaller items in cabinets so you can still easily access everything. But if you’re not going to need that waffle maker or margarita mix in the short term, pack it up.  

Bathrooms: The same idea applies to your bathrooms. Less is more. Keep the counters and floor space clear. Reserve a space in your medicine cabinet or vanity where you can quickly stash your personal toiletries once showings begin.

Mudroom: If it’s not in season, remove it from the space. Even if you don’t have an actual mudroom area, you can always create an organized space where people can land their stuff. Think vertically. Is there a wall where you can add some hooks to hang coats, scarves and bags up? Use a bench with baskets underneath to corral small shoes, gloves and hats. If there’s room, add a boot tray.  Voila! You have yourself an organized landing spot.

Of course, we don’t live like this every day. But selling your home is a major life event. Taking the extra time to declutter will pay off and make moving into your next home much easier!

Here are some of our favorite local places to donate/sell/recycle/dispose of things:

Westfield Service League - 114 Elmer Street, Westfield, NJ - They take everything and they support local non-profits. You can consign or donate, depending on the item. Thrift: 908-233-2530  Consignment: 908-232-1223

Unique - 2485 US Highway 22 West, Union, NJ 908-688-6822 - They take almost everything.

Goodwill - 126 Route 22 West Springfield NJ  (973) 912-0156 - They also take almost everything.

The Hope Chest -  26 Prospect Street, Westfield, NJ (908) 233-9973  - They accept new and gently worn clothing for men, women and children, toys, books and household items. They subsidize hospice care for patients in need. Donations are accepted on Tuesdays and Saturdays 10 am - 4:00 pm.

Furniture Assist - 398 Chestnut Street, Union, New Jersey, 973-868-6007 - They are currently moving to a new location and will begin accepting donations shortly.  

Best Buy - will accept electronics for recycling, just bring them to the Customer Service desk.

Paper Shredding - Staples will shred up to 5 lbs. for free.  Also, Union County has mobile paper shredding events throughout the year.

The Sold Sisters are Marisa O'Brien and Brigid Robertshaw, real estate professionals with Keller Williams Realty in Westfield. Contact us today to put our staging and marketing expertise to work for you! Visit us at or on Facebook and Instagram @soldsistersrealty.

Keller Williams Realty - A New Generation of Positive,Professional & Tech Savvy Realtors. Keller Williams Realty is located at 188 Elm Street in Westfield and serves the communities along the train lines including Westfield, Cranford, Fanwood, Scotch Plains, Mountainside, New Providence, Berkeley Heights and the surrounding communities. Call us today at 908-233-8502

Are you considering selling your home? Take advantage of our home sales expertise and marketing experience to ensure your home is sold in reasonable time and for top dollar. Get a FREE in-depth home Value Report, and find out more about a detailed marketing plan and how it can help sell your home faster, and for top dollar.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


County of Union to Fly Rainbow Flag for the First Time on June 4

May 23, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ — A rainbow flag will fly for the first time at the Union County Courthouse in recognition of June as LGBTQ Pride Month.

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced they are holding a public Pride Flag Raising Ceremony for Monday, June 4 at 1 p.m. on the steps of the historic Union County Courthouse on Broad Street in Elizabeth.

“Raising the rainbow ...

Open Letter to Dr. Dolan & Westfield High School Administration About Graduation

May 23, 2018

Editor's note: The following is a response to a letter sent to parents from Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson telling parents that, due to the potential of Kehler Field being re-turfed, this year’s graduation will be held on the back field behind Westfield High School, with the inclement weather location the varsity gymnasium. The letter tells parents ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, May 26, 9:00 AM

Miller-Cory House Museum, Westfield

Aunt Carrie's Attic Sale



Sat, May 26, 12:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...



Mon, May 28, 9:00 AM


Memorial Day Parade

Westfield Police Blotter: Package Stolen from Porch, Shoplifting & More

May 23, 2018

May 15, 2018 11:40 a.m.

A resident of Vernon Terrace reported the theft of a package from their front porch on May 12, 2018 between 11:40 a.m. and 5 p.m.


May 19, 2018 1:16 p.m.

Rhonda Boston, age 32, of Newark, NJ was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Westfield Municipal Court in the amount of $580. Subject was picked up at New Jersey State ...


Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more

Union County 4-H Teens Pitch in for Geology Open House

May 25, 2018

Members of the Union County 4-H Teen Service Club volunteered as docents at the Rutgers Geology Museum last Saturday for a National Science Foundation program called In Search of Earth’s Secrets: A Pop-Up Science Encounter.

The students helped visitors navigate the interactive exhibits, as part of a collaborative project including the Rutgers University Department of Marine & Coastal ...

Westfield's Wilson School Receives Surprise Visit from Governor Murphy

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took a few moments out of a busy schedule to drop in on a 5th grade class at Wilson School in Westfield on Thursday, May 24.

“Fifth grade is one of the coolest grades,” said the governor as he greeted the students.  “What are you studying today?”

A brief discussion of the formulas for surface area and volume needed to build an ...

There are Really 3 Reason Buyers Choose the Homes They Buy

Susan Massa Broker Associate CRS SRES ABR 

Keller Williams Premier Properties 188 Elm St Westfield NJ 07090

488 Springfield Ave, Summit, NJ 07901

908-400-0778 cell

Dedicated to Excellence, Dedicated to You “Your Home Your Realtor”

download my smart phone app ...

Ask Maria: How can I help my son? 

Q: My son's best friend's mom just passed away. I am concerned for my son and don't know what to do for him. He is distraught. How can I help my son? 


Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the death of a loved one. No two people grieve the same, even in the family. I am certain that your son’s friend and mom are like family to your son. Losing his ...

Dog Missing from Fanwood Home

UPDATE: Reunited with owner!

ORIGINAL POST: Lexi was seen north side of Fanwood Thursday. She's 25 lbs., tall and looks like a fox.

Lexi is friendly and was wearing a collar with a tag. Call 732-259-5570 if you spot her.

IRS Grants Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Reduction of Maximum Deductible HSA Contributions

The IRS recently announced relief for taxpayers with family coverage under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) who contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA).


For 2018, taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP may treat $6,900 as the maximum deductible HSA contribution.


The annual amount had been reduced to $6,850 for 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

‘Chambers USA 2018’ Recognizes John Schmidt Among List of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper is pleased to announce that John H. Schmidt has once again been recognized by “Chambers USA” in their annual list of leading lawyers for business. Chambers and Partners, which produces “Chambers USA,” is a client referral organization that researches and subjectively ranks attorneys and law firm practice groups nationwide ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

Capitalist or Communist?

Karl Marx may have been the pioneer, but many other Jews were also involved in the struggle for communism, particularly in the early days of the Russian revolution. Personally, I don’t think that we have any apologies to make for this phenomenon. Having suffered unbearably under successive oppressive regimes, many of those political activists genuinely thought communism would be better ...

Stocks Can Rise in a Rising Interest Rate Environment

Investors remain concerned about the potential impact of higher interest rates on stocks. In their most recently released minutes, the Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee indicated the US economy is on solid footing and the economic conditions warrant continued gradual increasing of interest rates. This set off a sale in the stock and bond markets as investors began pricing in a fourth ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!


Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that ...