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Get organized: Cut clutter for fast sell

DATE: July 17, 2005
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)

EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Homefinder

There's something relaxing and comfortable about walking into a room that's warm and inviting but not cluttered from floor to ceiling. That's also exactly what organizing experts say helps sell a home and makes a move easier to manage.

"When you are going to touch everything you own anyway, it's a good time to go through and get rid of clutter," said Melinda Anderson, owner of Southern Home Organizers, a Dacula-based company that helps folks organize, pack and even unpack.

Another organizing expert, Sue Williams, owner of An Eye for Order, agrees. "When you're getting ready to move, you don't want to have to move your clutter and take it with you." But she has found that it's common to see boxes of possessions that have been hauled from house to house and never unpacked.

Decluttering and organizing before a move saves time and money and leaves you with fewer of those what-goes-where decisions when the movers have unloaded and driven off.

Getting rid of excess stuff also gives a home that minimalist look that can help prospective buyers imagine their own possessions in a new home.

"Everybody has storage needs, and if it looks like the family who currently lives there has plenty of storage space, it helps to sell the house," Anderson said. That's because many people who are moving have outgrown their space.

She suggests first clearing areas that will stay with the house, such as closets and cupboards.

While decluttering is a great idea, it's not always as easy as it sounds. "You need to go through one room at a time, if you have plenty of time, and ask yourself, 'Do I need this or can I live without it?' This allows you time to have a garage sale or to box things up and take them to a favorite charity," she says.

When considering household items, it is easy to start with the items you don't use often or to pare down, for instance, from those five can openers or potato peelers rattling around in the drawers to the one you use the most.

If getting rid of family items sparks conflicting feelings or makes you feel guilty, try going through a collection of 10 things and picking out the best or most treasured.

"I tell clients to keep a trunk or keepsake box with their favorite things that remind them of their family instead of hanging on to a garage full of things that just weigh you down," Williams says.

Or try doing something creative, perhaps framing a family heirloom such as a christening gown or shawl and displaying it on a wall where it takes up less space.

Keeping the big picture in mind can make the sorting and divesting a little easier, too.

"You are not only selling a house, you are selling a lifestyle," Anderson said. "People are more interested in a home when it looks like daily chores are easy to do and the house appears easy to keep organized."

For more information, contact or

If you have a question or topic that you would like to see answered or discussed in A Closer Look, send it to Homefinder, A Closer Look, AJC, Eighth Floor, 72 Marietta St., Atlanta, GA 30303, or send e-mail to


Southern Home Organizers

When preparing to move, it is a good idea to get rid of clutter for two reasons. A home like the one on the right will show better and look more spacious.


Southern Home Organizers

The moving process is streamlined when old and forgotten possessions are either put away or disposed of.

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2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution