Smart Solutions: Decluttering tips from the experts

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Purchase storage containers to keep your items organized and easy to find.

With the change of seasons often comes the urge to purge your stuff. Among the highlights at the Novi Home Show this weekend, Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) members will offer free 15-minute consultations in their booth. Here, a few of them share some tips on paring down your possessions.

Whether you are spring cleaning, getting organized in your new space or preparing your home for sale, at some point we all need to declutter, says Nancy Whyte, owner of WhyteHouse Staging & Re-Design in Howell, who suggests starting small with one drawer, closet or room at a time.

Whyte recommends removing everything from the area and sorting items into groups to keep, give, or throw away. Repeat this process for every drawer, closet, box and room including the basement and garage. Purchase storage containers as needed to keep your items organized.

When Andrea Polley with Tattooed Home Creations in Warren declutters her personal space, she starts to purge. “I plan a day where I have nothing else going on, turn on some music and get focused,” she says.

She begins in the areas where she spends the least amount of time since that’s where her belongings accumulate, like her spare room. “I will physically put my hands on things, and if it doesn’t have a spot or it’s not serving its purpose, I will throw away or donate,” she says. Lastly, as items come in that need to be filed, she takes time to tackle it then, so they don’t sit around and add to the clutter. 

When it comes to real estate showings, Allie Milus, owner of Bloom That Room Home Staging & reDesign in Canton, says homeowners often think buyers can look past their belongings, but that’s not always the case. In fact, she says excess clutter can ruin the opportunity for a seller to get a quick sale at the highest price. This mindset could lead to a price reduction or lower offers. 

Milus says selling a house, the biggest investment for most people, gives the homeowners a chance to create their own personal lottery to significantly increase their equity.

In order to maximize your square footage, you have to be proactive. So, the first thing to be packed away is your emotional connection to your home, says Milus. Instead, consider it a house. The way you live in your home is different from the way it needs to be presented when selling in order to show the next family how they can make it their own.

Depersonalizing your rooms and sticking to a neutral palette will attract a wide range of potential buyers. Items you don’t need to access in the near future can go in a storage unit before your home hits the market. “Proper staging creates a lifestyle that enhances the features and focal points,” Milus says.

“It’s very liberating to live in your home for a while with minimal stuff. Decluttering your thoughts for how to prepare your house to sell will make physically decluttering a much easier and less emotional process, which will greatly increase your chances for a quicker and more profitable sale.”

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Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at