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Home and Family

Declutter — and add value to your home

We outline ten things that will make your house more appealing to buyers

Do you want to add value to your home this Easter, but have no budget? The answer is to declutter — the free way to make your home seem larger and more light-filled. You may also be able to raise some cash by selling unwanted clothes and furniture. Decluttering is one of the best ways to prepare your home for a sale. Removing your belongings from cupboards, drawers and surfaces allows potential buyers to better imagine how they could live with their belongings in the property. Follow these top ten tips.

1 “Focus on one room at a time,” says Romaine Lowery, the director of the Clutter Clinic, a professional organising service, and the Organised Home, which recommends and sells storage products. “Within that room focus on groups of items. If you’re sorting out the living room, for example, concentrate on the books or ornaments; it’s a good way of breaking it down and feeling like you’re achieving something.”

2 Do you have too much furniture in a room? Remove items that are unused and unlovely. If you have cleared space on bookshelves, use this to display the remaining books with style: smart-looking shelves can help to sell your home.

3 If you are focusing on the kitchen, clear the surfaces of little-used appliances. If cupboard space is short, consider hanging pots and pans from a wall rack, turning them into decor focal points. A Hahn Metro hanging ceiling pot rack costs £79 at John Lewis.

4 Put sentimentality aside and decide which items you genuinely use or love. “Make piles of ‘dump’, ‘donate’ and ‘sell’ as you work through each room,” Lowery says. The most popular sites for selling unwanted goods are eBay and Gumtree. Another option is stuffusell.co.uk, a company that will collect your goods, sell them for you, and send you a cheque (minus a commission).

5 Feeling overwhelmed by piles of paper? File them (bank and credit card statements, tax documents or invoices), or frame them (your children’s paintings, for example). Shred the rest.


Plenty of storage preserves the clean lines of this kitchen

6 Once you’ve decided what’s staying and going, it’s important to store like with like, “so that everyone in the house can find things easily and it means you don’t buy duplicates”. Lowery recommends the same strategy when organising your wardrobe.

7 Do not think about storage until you have finished decluttering. “You have to figure out what you’ve got left and then decide what you need to contain it,” says Lowery, who suggests finding storage items that complement the interiors. “Look at the colour scheme in a room and think about what will go with it.” The Organised Home has a range of chic, contemporary containers, for instance, and sites such as aplaceforeverything.co.uk are good for wicker baskets and boxes.


A calm space with few chairs

8 The cost of professional storage is an incentive to be ruthless. The first month’s rent on a 15 sq ft unit may be reduced, but subsequently you may be paying £20 a week. It is cheaper to join the sharing economy and rent out the spare room, garage or loft in someone else’s home via storemates.co.uk, but the cost of half a garage in southwest London (100 sq ft) can still be £30 a week.

9 Unable to get started? You can hire a professional through the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers. Expect to pay an average of £30 an hour, or £60 an hour via the Clutter Clinic, but this will easily be covered if you achieve a better price for your home. In America it is routine to call in a home staging company to beautify your house before a sale, and the practice is catching on here. Search for UK companies at homestagingnetwork.co.uk. Home Stylers, for instance, charges £195 a day.

10 Still can’t find a place to start? Plunge into the world of decluttering literature. The key work is Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Published in 2011, the guide sold more than five million copies in 20 countries. Kondo, who runs a consultancy, recommends ridding yourself of anything that does not “spark joy”, although it is OK to keep stuff that is necessary. See right for more about the Kondo creed.


The author Rachel Hoffman

Three stages of minimalism
By Jessie Hewitson

Mild
Unf*** Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman (Bluebird, £8.99)
This book, published in January, was written by Rachel Hoffman, a spa manager who lives in Rhode Island on the east coast of America. It was born out of a funny and bossy blog, with Hoffman telling readers that “doing the dishes is often tedious, and sometimes overwhelming, but it’s not hard. Suck it up and do it”. She wrote the book as a reaction to Marie Kondo and the cult of perfection. “It is geared towards people who don’t have a good foundation in keeping their homes clean,” she says. Her proposal is the 20/10 theory; instead of going for the “marathon clean” that lasts for hours, she suggests cleaning for 20 minutes then taking a break for 10 minutes.

Moderate
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying
by Marie Kondo (Vermilion, £10.99)
This was Kondo’s follow-up to Life-Changing Magic and was published last year. It has sold more than six million copies. Her now-famous method is about going through everything you own, one category at a time and asking yourself the all-important question: does it spark joy? Anything that doesn’t gets the heave-ho. Folding is discussed a lot. Kondo is a folding virtuoso, who has devised her own method of vertical folding, so you can stack jumpers and see them all in the drawer, rather than the horizontal method where you can only see the ones on the top. Her YouTube video demonstrating the correct way to fold socks and underwear has been watched 4.4 million times.

Extreme
Goodbye Things: On Minimalist Living
by Fumio Sasaki (Penguin, £9.99)
Fumio Sasaki used to suffer from the thing he’s trying to cure — hoarding. “I went from messy maximalism to life as a minimalist,” he says in the book.

Over a year he threw out almost all his belongings, which he charts in the book. His flat now contains a few magazines, books, basic kitchen implements, a folder of receipts for the tax man, an army knife, computer, phone, Kindle, speakers and a Dyson.

He advises people to break down the fear of losing belongings by concentrating on what they will gain rather than what is lost. He is at his most persuasive by pointing out that less stuff means less vacuuming.

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