Part 4:
Behind Closed Doors – What’s in YOUR Closet?

Home Staging

In our last segment, we tugged at our heart strings, packing and discarding the very essence of our souls.  Hopefully, our closets will be less brutal, but no slacking off … we still need to be ruthless.

By the very nature of a closet, we tend to put things in there that we don’t have another place for.  Isn’t that why they have doors?  And wouldn’t it be nice if we could just tell buyers “don’t look in here”?  Sadly, that is not an option if you actually want to sell your house, so we need to get to work.

So … what’s in YOUR closet?  Oh the things that I’ve seen in closets!  Hockey sticks, baseball bats, lamps, artwork, “mystery boxes” … you name it, we’ve probably put it in a closet.  The time has come to unmask the chaos and get that closet into tip-top shape.

Do you have a closet in your entryway or nearby?  Typically, this is used for a coat closet and seasonal apparel.  What season is it?  What season will it be in 6 months?  The only thing that should remain in this closet are the coats and jackets that you will be using over the next 6 months.  If you’re selling in the winter time, place gloves, hats, scarves in baskets or boxes on the closet shelf.  If this is where you also store boots, line them up neatly on the floor of the closet, preferably on a boot mat.  These should be the ONLY items on the floor of the closet with the exception of umbrellas.  Umbrellas should be wrapped tight, but may stand upright in the closet or if they are display worthy, in an umbrella stand in the entryway.


Let’s head to the closet in the master bedroom.  This one might take some time if you’re a clothes horse, a shoe collector, or never met a handbag that you couldn’t sport.  Again, start with the season.  Only keep clothes that you will be wearing within the next 6 months and pack everything else.  If it needs mending, do it now.  If you haven’t worn it since your youngest started kindergarten a few years back, you might want to donate it.  If you think it will be back in style, it never fit right, or you look terrible in that color … seriously … just get rid of it.

Once you have mercilessly scrubbed your wardrobe, you can start reorganizing the closet.  Think retail store.  When you walk into a department store, everything that is hanging is on matching hangers or folded perfectly.  Treat yourself to matching hangers.  Even matching plastic hangers are better than mismatched.  Everything will look neater hanging evenly with the same space between the clothes and the hanging rod.  Neatly fold anything that doesn’t hang and place on shelves or in dresser/chest drawers.  At a minimum, shoes should at least be in a shoe rack, getting them up off the floor.  While displaying shoes is all the rage, remember that you will have to dust off each pair before you wear them.  Is it really worth it?  Consider clear boxes for shoes to be stacked on upper shelves.  Try to keep the closet to our standard of only 75% full (50% is even better) and keep the floor space as clear as possible.  Do you keep a laundry basket in the master bedroom or bath?  Opt for a stylish hamper instead.  You don’t need to invest in lots of fancy closet organizers, but if you have them use them.  If not, save your money for organization pieces for the closet in your NEW home.

How about that linen closet?  If you’re fortunate enough to have multiple places to store linens, pare each down to hold only one set of sheets per bed and one set of towels per bathroom (your other set will be on the bed or in the bathroom for a total of two sets).  If you can’t seem to fold sheets neatly, do the best that you can and slip them inside the matching pillow case.  They will look much neater on the shelf.  Fold towels to fit the shelves or roll them and stack them either in the closet or in baskets in the bathrooms.  Remember these are towels and sheets that you are actually using.  Your “show towels” should never be washed and be ready to display when the house is being shown.

While we’re in the bathrooms, let’s make sure that we’ve cleaned out underneath each sink.  Place a basket for each person under their sink to hold personal items, so that each day, personal items get stowed under the sink and not left on counter tops.  Just like in the kitchen, counter tops should be free of personal items (yes, including toothbrushes) and only host display towels and décor.  Being “show ready” is essential when you are selling your home.  Get everyone in the habit of hiding their basket daily so there isn’t a last minute scramble to tidy up bathrooms before a showing.

The remaining closets in the house will most likely be in children’s/ teenager’s rooms.  Children’s closets need to be reviewed, pared down, and straightened, but there is usually less scrutiny in these areas.  Consider using under-the-bed storage for extra toys, clothing, and other items that your children use.  Delegate the task to your teenagers so they are active participants in getting ready to move and won’t feel like you’ve invaded their space.  Moving can be an emotional time.  Insist on “neat and tidy”, but you know how to pick your battles and sometimes it’s just not worth the hoopla to have it all perfect.

For every other closet in the house, just make sure that it is at least partially empty and has been reviewed for items that need to be removed.  This goes for storage areas as well.  Since there aren’t doors to hide the clutter, open storage needs to be twice as neat.  Remember, you’re selling “space”.  If the storage areas are packed to the ceiling, this will be perceived as insufficient storage space.  Always, always, always leave some SPACE.

If you’ve made it this far, you have conquered a major hurdle in decluttering your home for sale.  Finish all the packing and watch for the next edition of our decluttering series … “Furniture & Art … Just Like Peas & Carrots”.

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