Decluttering is one of the most important steps in preparing your home for sale, but where exactly do you start? Follow these easy decluttering tips that will help put your home's best face forward.If you’ve ever read any home staging tips, they likely have included the word “declutter” at least once. That’s because it is one of the most important steps to staging a home for sale.

Decluttering your home will make it seem larger and more appealing to home buyers. It’s a simple step that will have a major impact on how your house shows. A clean, decluttered house will give buyers the confidence that it has been well-maintained and make it look and feel better overall.

Even the cleanest, most well-organized homes can usually benefit from some extra decluttering. When you’re selling a home, how your home should be presented to others is different than when you’re living in it. It needs to be depersonalized and the décor needs to be minimal.

Here are some decluttering tips for home staging to make sure your home is in great shape for the competitive real estate market.

Decluttering Tips for Home Staging

Clean out your closets.

Most people don’t think about cleaning out their closets before putting their home on the market. In fact, many homeowners will “hide” more stuff in their closets while selling to declutter the rest of the home.

The problem with this is home buyers will look inside your closets. Storage is a big factor when buying a new home, so people want to see what is available to them in terms of closet space. If your closets are jam-packed full of stuff and not neatly organized, they will appear to be much smaller than they actually are. This is a huge turn-off for buyers and one that’s easy to avoid. Thin them out to the bare necessities and store the rest at a friend or family member’s home or in a storage unit until you sell the house. It will be worth it when buyers rave about all the great storage space.

(For more tips on making your closets as appealing as possible to home buyers, check out our Home Staging Tips for Closets.)

Thin out your shelves.

Décor on your bookshelves helps make the house feel more like a home, but too much of it can be distracting to home buyers. What would look fine for normal living can have a “cluttered” effect in a house on the market. We always thin out bookshelves as much as possible so the space looks more visually clean and open.

If you have books lining every shelf, for example, we recommend boxing up most of them and storing them in a storage unit or at a trusted friend or family member’s home until you move. This will clear up a lot of visual space on your shelves. Ideally, try to keep 50-75% of each shelf empty for the best results.

Clear off your countertops.

There should be only a few things on your kitchen and bathroom countertops while it’s on the market. Put away all countertop appliances, such as coffeemakers and toasters, in a closed cabinet.

If you have décor above your kitchen cabinets, we recommend putting that away for the next home. While it may look beautiful up there, it will help make the kitchen look much cleaner and less cluttered if they are empty.

Only minimal decorative items should be left on the kitchen countertops, such as a pretty flower or plant, apothecary jars filled with accents like beans or noodles, an open cookbook on a stand and simple place settings on the island or bar if you have bar stools.

Keep in mind that home staging is different from regular decorating. Some simple accents will make the home feel warmer and more inviting, but shouldn’t distract buyers from focusing on the house itself.

Visually “declutter” your décor.

Besides actual decluttering (as in removing items from your home), it’s important that you also do some visual decluttering in terms of pattern, color and furniture scale.

Busy patterns and lots of color can be very distracting for home buyers. One of our top home staging tips is always to neutralize your home’s color palette. This not only allows buyers to see past personal tastes, but it also helps them stay focused on the home’s positive attributes rather than getting caught up in the décor. For most buyers, it is hard to see past personalized home décor. If it isn’t their taste, it can turn them off from the home completely because they would prefer something “move-in ready.”

Start by neutralizing the palette with beige or gray walls, neutral furniture, and only some colorful accents. (Click here to see where we suggest using color in home staging.) Then, make sure the furniture is well-scaled for the room. For example: in a small space, you’ll want to stay away from bulky furniture and stick to pieces that are visually lighter to make the space seem larger. Also, if anything is blocking the traffic flow, move it, replace it with something smaller, or get rid of it completely.

Follow these decluttering tips and your home is sure to impress even some of the pickiest home buyers. Want more home staging tips to set your home apart from the rest? Watch our free Home Staging Webinar!