Decluttering for the Camera

Today I read an article which stated that home staging has moved away from the greige and sterile towards warmer palettes and eclectic decor. That’s wonderful news for all of us who have been pining to see more color in interiors, but confusing when it comes to preparing our homes for sale.

So what should do? There is so much advice out there that it can become completely overwhelming. To simplify, let’s begin with some basics:

  1. Clean your home.
  2. Make any necessary repairs.
  3. Wash your windows.
  4. Clean or remove old, stained carpeting.
  5. Replace old towels and bedding.
  6. Clean and remove everything from kitchen and bathroom counters.
  7. Determine if your wood floors need to be polished, or polyurethane them. There is no need to completely refinish.
  8. Consider if any rooms need repainting.

Your home should look pretty good by now, but at this point your work is only partially completed, because what looks right to your naked eye, doesn’t necessarily photograph well.

Recently, I was taking pictures of my living room when, with a shock, I realized  the pictures showed a sloppy, unattractive space. I wondered how that could be. The furnishings, carpets, antiques and paintings all looked harmonious to me. I thought somehow the camera angle must be wrong. I tried over and over again but was completely unhappy with the result. I then called an architect friend to intervene. An experienced photographer, and trained at IIT, he immediately began to remove decorative pillows, throws, plants, and flower arrangements, along with any objects that cluttered table surfaces.

In other words, everything that I used to make my home welcoming and homey had to go.

‘But it’s Christofle, or Murano, or Ming Dynasty,’ I protested, to no avail.

In the end, I realized he was right. My living room, a place I adored, looked so much better with a quarter of the contents cleared away. I then picked up my camera and started to photograph the other rooms in my condo. As I looked at the finished photos, I began to adjust the placement and content of objects for a better, cleaner look. The droopy plant in my study is now reviving on the porch. The magazine stand in my bedroom has found a new home in the closet. The unused spice rack and toaster on the kitchen counters are nestled in drawers.

In truth, as our eye becomes accustomed to our surroundings we cease to see the obvious. Knick-knacks, throws, books, plants, photographs, appliances, and accessories may add to our comfort and convenience but detract home buyers from finding our homes attractive. The easiest way to remedy these issues is to use your camera as a visual  tool and make necessary adjustments in your environment. Remove everything that is extraneous, then play around adding elements one by one. Take a few photos and compare. My sofa ended up looking best with one throw pillow as an accent, and the coffee table with a large art book.

I would have never known what to do  had my architect friend not shown me how to stage my home. So before your Realtor schedules a photographer, work on your own pre-shoot. If you don’t feel confident ask your Realtor for advice. They have seen so many homes that they will have a good idea of what works well. Additionally, your Realtor can recommend professional stagers who can either edit your belongings or bring in their own furniture and props. It is more costly, but there is a good chance you will save both time and money in the long run by presenting your home at its best.

In our next  post we will look at decorating trends.

Guest post by Lily Temmer

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