Part 3:
Collections, Memorabilia, and Tchotchkes … UGH!

Home Staging

Remember in “Part 2:  Bewitching’ the Kitchen“, I told you that you would need to give yourself permission to “let go”.  Well, the time has come for you to put your psyche to the test.

Collections, memorabilia, tchotchkes … all separate and distinct entities, often become so much a part of our life that we don’t even realize that they’ve actually taken over.  The Hummel collection that you started when you were 9 has grown over the years and now takes up four bookcase shelves, part of the curio, and a shelf in the china cabinet.  The memorabilia for “your team” lines every wall of the basement, including the half bath and the hallway.  Maybe you’re just a person who likes lots of décor … there’s not a candlestick you didn’t fall in love with or a vase that didn’t come home with you and you placed them on every table top, fireplace mantle, and shelf with a flat surface.  There’s nothing wrong with any of this … it’s who we are.  But sadly, when it comes to selling your home, these items become deterrents instead of enhancements.


Let’s start with collections, particularly figurines and statues.  If they are valuable, you might as well pack them all up.  There’s no reason to leave  temptation out for an unsavory visitor.  Realtors are very savvy at screening clients for house showings, but why take the chance?  If the collection is mostly just valuable to you, pick three (yes, only three) of your favorites and pack the rest.  If they are smaller than a cantaloupe, create a vignette with them on a bookcase shelf.  If they are large, you might want to spread them out, but they will have more importance if they stay within the same proximity of each other.  Your Home Stager will be able to help you with this.

Another collection that often takes over is plates.  A few displayed in a china hutch or breakfront is fine.  A wall covered with them is usually a red flag.  If you’re still unsure, your Home Stager will give you an honest assessment of what can stay and what should be packed.

Memorabilia.  This one is tricky.  Let’s take “your team” memorabilia as an example.  If you happen to live in a place where team rivalries are as vehement as the Hatfields and McCoys, imagine a buyer entering your home whose passion is the rival team.  They walk into the room boasting the Hall of Fame and are instantly annoyed.  They like the house, but can’t imagine the room as anything but rivalry.  This buyer may move on to the next house.  When you stage your home, you are trying to appeal to as many buyers as possible … not just those who also might love “your team”.  Remove as much actual team memorabilia as possible.  The colors are less of an issue and you don’t have to completely sanitize the space just to appease the rivalry.  If your memorabilia are less egregious, then don’t worry about it as long as it is in a bedroom (NOT the Master Bedroom) or basement and not in one of the primary living spaces.  The exception to this rule is in a child’s or teen’s room.  These rooms are often “themed” and will receive less scrutiny.

Before we move on, could we talk about taxidermy?  Hunters have been proud of a successful hunt and kept trophies since cavemen were clubbing their prey.  But when you’re selling your home, these “trophies” will send some buyers running for the door.  When only 10% of home buyers can look past a seller’s décor, you can bet that looking past a deer head that is looking back at them isn’t going to happen.  Pack these up and store them.

Last but not least, tchotchkes.  Bric-a-brac, knickknacks, whatever you like to call them, somehow manage to take on a life of their own.  If you’ve lived in your home for many years, you’ve probably collected more than your fair share and now is the time for that discerning eye to ruthlessly thin the herd.  There’s absolutely no reason that you can’t keep every last piece, but when selling your home, you will only want to display those pieces that are current, on-trend, or timeless.

So how do you decide?  Pick up each piece and ask yourself:

  • Do I love it?
  • Does it have sentimental value?

If neither is true, consider selling or donating the piece.  Why drag something you don’t love to your next home?

If both are true, ask yourself:

  • Is it less than 3 years old?
  • Is it timeless?

Age is easy to assess; whether it is truly timeless is much harder.  If it’s an antique, pack it away.  There is no sense in taking a chance that it could be broken.  Sometimes, the timelessness of a piece is in the eye of the beholder.  So let’s ask one more question:  Is it smaller than a cantaloupe?

If it is, your Home Stager will probably tell you to pack it.  Again, smaller items tend to look like clutter in photographs and keeping the piece on display will defeat our purpose.  Home Stagers are masters at incorporating smaller pieces into large vignettes, so don’t lose hope that you can leave some of these pieces on display.  Larger, contemporary pieces can remain, but older, dated pieces should be packed, donated, or sold.  Not sure if it’s contemporary or not?  Get on the Internet and go to a variety of decorating sites and stores.  You will find that most sites will show you lists of “what’s trending” or “favorites”.  This will tell you what people are buying and help you determine what’s on-trend.

We haven’t talked about this yet, but now is a good time.  Books.  Oh, all the books we have!  Apply the same principles as you did with your décor.  Do you love it?  Does it have sentimental value?  And the biggest one … is it paperback?  Pack all paperbacks.  Period.  Only hardback books should remain and pare this down to a very few to use in bookcases or offer to your Home Stager to use in vignettes.  Do you have some great coffee table books?  Your Home Stager will thank you, but leave only those books that you won’t worry about.  Keepsake books should be packed.

Packing and discarding things that are dear to us can be emotionally draining, but there is a little bit of silver lining.  It is easier to keep shelves and table tops free of dust when you have very little to dust around and all those items that you packed will be waiting for you in your new home.

The next chunk of decluttering that we take on will be less emotional, but equally as time-consuming.  Watch for our next episode “Behind Closed Doors – What’s in YOUR Closet?”.

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