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De-cluttering Do’s and Don’ts   

While most homes do not qualify for an episode on Hoarders©, it sure can feel like an overwhelming amount of items to de-clutter when you are moving. It begins as a small, but quick realization that over the years you have just accumulated a lot of “stuff” and you don’t even know how it happened.

Recently we outlined the process for packing and how to begin to tackle that aspect, this week we will cover what to put in the boxes when it comes to knick knacks and other items.

De-cluttering can take on many different viewpoints. Some may think that picking up clothes off the floor and putting away papers is enough. Others implement “all out war” on every item in their home leaving nothing on the shelves at all. Both approaches do not accomplish a true de-cluttering goal.

When de-cluttering to prepare for a real estate listing, here are key things to keep in mind.

  • Once your purge of the property has taken place and donation items and pieces for the dump are taken care of, you can now assess what you will be packing and also leaving out to do the Staging of your home. Stagers need items to work with if you are not going to be renting accessories or furniture from them, so it’s important to make sure that the items you leave out are good for staging and not too personal. We offer monthly rentals for items that you need.
  • Remove all items with your names on it. (ex: diplomas, utility bills, awards, hockey jerseys etc)
  • Take down and pack all collections (ex: dolls, themes, spoons, etc )
  • Remove all ethnic or cultural and religious items
  • Remove all evidence of hunting (ex: stuffed game, animal horns, guns, clothing etc)
  • Take all extra pieces of furniture out of the rooms. Keep room uses set up for what they were originally intended to be. (ex: don’t have an office in the dining room)
  • Remove all dead plant material including dried flower arrangements. These are dusty and usually brittle, broken and old. They don’t scream “buy me!”
  • Remove all broken items (this should have been done in the first purge)
  • Pull back all window coverings and remove all items off the ledges of every window
  • Clear all closet floor space, leaving only the absolute must have’s for living there while you are selling
  • Extra pieces of carpets, torn area rugs and extra boot racks should be pulled out
  • Remove all old paint, chemicals and other hazardous waste from the property
  • Remove all miscellaneous renovation materials that are no longer relevant to the existing upgrades currently seen in the home.
  • Take off dated window coverings, and valances
  • Remove all family pictures
  • Take out any extra items from the back or front porches
  • Keep all stairwells and halls empty of items
  • Remove all items off the tops of cabinets and the fridge
  • Remove all magnets off the fridge- tape calendar and other important paper to the inside of a cabinet door (example prescription refills)
  • Remove all stickers off children’s bedroom doors and walls
  • Remove all offensive sexual material (including from the garage!)
  • If you have extra appliances such as a fridge or freezer that can be removed and it’s not being sold with the house, then take it off the property.


  • Shelves should be used for display not for cramming
  • Keep items limited to a few books, similar Knick knacks and some small greenery
  • Put away all computer/ office related binders and books
  • Keep all work related items out of sight so you are not telling the buyers what you do for a living
  • Pack all cords, manuals, cd’s, phone books and computer program boxes
  • Neutral photos can be used to display
  • All DVD’s should be packed or put away so they do not distract a buyer
  • Shelves should also be cleaned, repaired and painted if required

Under Cabinets

Bathroom and kitchen cabinets are areas buyers look in, because they are buying them! So keeping them very clean, and organized is the first priority.


  • Remove all old shampoo bottles, and half used soaps or other products.
  • Vacuum out the cabinets, and make sure all evidence of hair, pets, or people is gone.
  • Use baskets to keep under control the items that you still need
  • Place garbage cans under the cabinets, this will control smells in the room and keep your garbage out of sight
  • Remove all extra pieces of dishware, pots or pans that are not required to be there while you are selling.
  • This is a good time to purge the Tupperware® cabinet, as it seems to multiply all by itself over the years!
  • Reduce cleaning products to a bare minimum
  • Clean out the pantry off all extra cookware, and misc. items that are not required
  • Condense food into one box or one canister for “like” items. Make as much room as you can in that pantry so it appears as large as possible.
  • Go through drawers and only leave enough utensils to use. Pack all the extras.
  • Keep knives off the counters and place under a cabinet, for safety reasons.
  • Laundry shelves also need to be cleaned and de-cluttered

The overall first impression of your home should be spacious, clean and inviting. Too much stuff on shelves and in every closet creates a feeling of being closed in, cramped or not enough room.

No one likes other people’s clutter, so be tough with yourself and keep in mind that every box packed is hundreds of dollars on your bottom line. That being said, it is also important to leave things out like throw pillows, greenery and plants, nice bedding and pillows, artwork and area rugs in good condition. Knick knacks on shelves and books are acceptable in reasonable amounts and when displayed properly.

You do not want to send the message that you have to “vacate in a hurry” so keep this in mind when de-cluttering. Less is not more in this case as it will look like you are under distress in your sale and have to make a move fast. It will also create an empty unappealing look if there isn’t a sense of “home” still with the rooms still set up.

The goal in de-cluttering is removing all the unnecessary things that would distract or overwhelm a buyer, thus taking their focus off your home. It is imperative that their focus be on the space, flooring, upgrades you have done, fresh paint, fireplaces, yards and views…not piles of your stuff. There is no faster way to lose a buyer than to show them all your piles of distracting stuff.

Decide what you are selling….and then sell it. In this case you want to sell your home, so show it off and remove the clutter!

For more information on Preparation for Staging and Selling see or call us at 780.452.4527