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staging your home for sale red front door

Staging your home for sale

Selling your home can be an emotional and long process. Professional organiser Zoe Berry of Life / Edit shares her home staging tips in this blog post, to help make the process as stress free as possible.

Selling your house is well known to be one of life’s most stressful experiences, so anything you can do to ease the process must be a good thing. Home staging is something which is a standard part of the home selling process in some places (like north America) but here in the UK we are only just learning what a difference it can make both in terms of the speed of sale and profit you can make from your home. It’s amazing to think that buyers form an opinion in your home in around 10 seconds of walking in the door, so with that in context it’s incredibly important to make the right first impression. I recently staged a home for sale in Dundee and with a few tweaks and a keen eye, the property achieved 10% more than the pre-staging evaluation, and I only spent approx. 1% of the sale price on the changes.

Here are my top tips for getting the most out of your property when you are selling:

Start with your kerb appeal

There’s no point spending ages making the inside of your house look desirable if the outside isn’t up to the same standard.  It’s important to make your home as eye-catching as possible from as soon as potential buyers first see it. So tidy up plants and lawns, give the front door a lick of paint and make sure your door furniture is looking super shiny.

Declutter and depersonalise

The most important thing you can do to showcase your home to its best standard is to declutter, as many people simply cannot see past someone else’s possessions. It is important that buyers can imagine themselves living in your house which is more difficult if your surfaces are full of your family photos and mementos. One or two carefully chosen pictures and ornaments are great – you don’t want it to look stark, of course.  Cast your eye around and check that your surfaces and floorspaces are clear.

Check your flooring

What state are your carpets in? Are they patterned and dated? Or have they worn and need to be replaced? What about your wooden floors? Do they need to be re-varnished? Remember the more jobs people mentally tot up in their heads when looking round a property, the more likely they are to be put off from making an offer.

organised entrance hallway decluttered

Is your décor up to date?

When selling your home it’s best to consider a neutral palate. That crazy feature wallpaper might be your taste, but to appeal to the widest possible cross section of people it’s best to go sophisticated. A subtle background means that people can imagine their belongings in your home more easily. Make sure that curtains and blinds are in good condition and fit properly. Long curtains can make windows feel larger and blinds can be a good option for replacing dated curtains as low cost.

Check each room one at a time

Hall

Buy a new doormat for your porch and clear all the usual shoes, coats and bikes away. A top tip for the hall is to hang a mirror on the wall to bounce light around.

Sitting room

Really look at your furniture placement. Yes, that might be where you have always had that chair but could it be repositioned to show the room off more? Make sure your sofas are in good condition and brighten them up with some new cushions. Clear magazines and books off shelves and from under coffee table and put back only what looks good: a few mags on the table and some carefully chosen pieces on the shelves.

APDO - staging your home for sale decluttering organising kitchen

Dining Room

Consider how your dining table looks with no one seated at it. A runner and a bowl of fruit or some flowers make it look inviting. Make sure you show the room size off as much as possible. If this means playing about with the positioning of furniture then do!

Bathrooms

When decluttering and depersonalising, all the same rules apply to your bathroom as elsewhere in your home . For a bathroom it’s also key to clear away any ‘functional’ items such as cleaning products, toilet brushes, weighing scales and toothpaste and toothbrushes. Update even a tired looking bathroom with fresh new towels, well-chosen toiletries and fix anything that needs updating such as grout/sealant etc. This way you show the buyer the potential of your bathroom without breaking the bank.

Bedrooms

Make sure you bed is in the right position to show buyers the proportions of your bedroom. Declutter and stage the room channelling  ‘nice hotel room’ i.e. make sure the bedding is clean, ironed and the bed made well. Make sure your bedside tables and dressing tables are clear, with just a few photos and carefully chosen possessions on show which compliment the décor.

Kids’ stuff

Children’s toys should be sifted through and, although you can’t disappear all of them, a large amount should be put away for when buyers are viewing.

APDO staging your home for sale organising decluttering playroom

Appeal to all the senses

Make sure you home is warm enough, clean and as bright and cheerful as you can make it. If it’s a dull day and your house is dark, make sure you have replaced lightbulbs. If you have a pet you need to eliminate any associated odours by washing upholstery, cleaning carpets and using air fresheners and giving the house a good airing.

And finally

You are trying to make your home seem uncluttered, have plenty of storage but also loved and lived in. It’s a fine balance and it’s a difficult one to achieve when it is your own home – which is why you might consider employing a professional organiser who specialises in home staging. It will be totally worth it when your house sale goes through. Happy selling!

If Zoe’s post has inspired you to stage your home for sale you can find more information about your local professional organiser here.

San Francisco 18th International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering

Studying in San Francisco: The 18th International Conference on Hoarding & Cluttering

Cherry Rudge (Rainbow Red), Jo Cooke (Hoarding Disorders UK CIC) and Heather Matuozzo (Clouds End CIC) are knowledgeable declutterers. Between them, they have over 20 years’ experience of working with people with extreme cluttering and hoarding problems. They regularly deliver training, coaching and advice to a variety of organisations including housing associations, mental health teams, charities, fire services and social care teams and recently flew transatlantic to further their own professional development and bring their learning back to the UK.

APDO members attend MHASF’s Institute for Compulsive Hoarding and Cluttering Conference 2018

For the three of us, the idea of being able to talk about clutter, hoarding and “stuff” for an entire week was heaven.  Forget about drugs, sex and rock and roll – clutter was the buzz word and we used every opportunity to tell folks what we do and why we were visiting California.

Clinical studies of hoarding disorders began to be published in the USA about 20 years ago, so it was with great excitement that the three of us set out from Heathrow Airport (in the snow) on Monday 19th March 2018 to attend the 18th annual Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) conference on Cluttering and Hoarding – Thinking Outside the Boxes: Innovation in Action.

MHASF is comprised of a diverse team of peers, supporters, advocates, family members, and providers dedicated to taking the peer and recovery to the next level.

The conference was held at the University of California, Berkeley, and was attended by over 100 people from across the USA and Canada, including clinicians, peer group members, social workers, people with hoarding behaviours, housing officials and professional organisers – all as passionate and as keen to expand our knowledge of the subject as we are!

Training day

Wednesday’s fascinating training day was by Dr Michael A. Tompkins (author of “Digging Out” and “The Clinician’s Guide to Severe Hoarding – A Harm Reduction Approach”), and covered the basics of two major topics important to anyone working directly with clients dealing with hoarding challenges: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement.

Interestingly, Dr Tompkins believes that (a) change is a state, not a trait, and (b) it is depression that underlies hoarding behaviours, with loss triggers being secondary to that.

hoarding conference organise declutter

Heather Matuozzo, Dr Michael A. Tompkins (author of “Digging Out”), Cherry Rudge and Jo Cooke,,

Day One

Day one of the conference opened with a wonderful keynote address – “DisordR, The Play”, a solo show brilliantly written and performed by Hilary Kacser, an actor who had travelled from Washington DC. It was very clever to start the discussions using visual creative art-based interpretation, devised by a person with lived experience, who also works in the theatre.

The play introduced us to self-confessed hoarder Pakrat Patty, and used humour to illuminate mental health, and the interactions with people who she met during her journey to recovery.

There followed several breakout sessions which divided the attendees into four groups:

  1. Public Health
  2. Housing
  3. Stigma
  4. Prevention

Over the two days, the aim of each of these workshops was to find three key areas of concern and then spend two further sessions seeking potential solutions for those concerns.

There were various options for the afternoon sessions on Day One:

  1. Resilience and Overcoming Hoarding, by Satwant Singh (Nurse Consultant in CBT and Mental Health, and a Clinical Lead for a primary care psychological service in London).
  2. Building peer supports on the stages of change continuum – David Bain + peers from MHASF.
  3. Listening and learning from participants in the Help for Hoarding Treatment study – Monka Eckfield (Qualitative PCORI Study, San Francisco). Peer-facilitated support groups used the “Buried in Treasures” work-book over 16 weeks, and therapist-lead CBT groups, which included home visits over the same amount of time.

In the afternoon, we attended the Experience Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) for Hoarding session, presented by Chia-Ying Chou (MHA Therapy Group, San Francisco).  She explored what compassion is – i.e. a sensitivity to suffering and a willingness to try and alleviate it or prevent it – and looked at wisdom, strength, commitment and warmth and the need to use self-compassion.

Meanwhile, the selective sessions we sadly missed were:

  1. It takes a village – Nancy Trout, Prairie View, Winston, Kansas. Discussed how she created a multi-agency taskforce, drawing on every aspect of village life.
  2. Journal writing – the techniques, the purpose the benefits – David Bain – how to keep a hoarding action journal
  3. Legal aspects of hoarding – Kellie Morgantini (Legal Services for Seniors, Monterey, CA)

The evening’s social event gave us the perfect opportunity to network and develop strong relationships with delegates from across the US and Canada.  They were most impressed when we explained how the UK’s annual Hoarding Awareness Campaign has helped increase understanding of hoarding behaviours and reduce the stigma associated with them.

18th International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering

Day Two

Day two started with all three of us attending a breakout session by Donald Davioff and Kay Jewels (McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, MA) – “A Neurocognitive Approach to Hoarding Disorder”.

After an insightful video about the MHASF, the final key-note speech on the final day was “New Developments in Hoarding Research: a novel approach using virtual reality” by Hanna McCabe-Bennett from Ryerson University, Toronto.

Through a series of room images, two groups (individuals with hoarding behaviours and then another group without hoarding behaviours) were tested for their levels of discomfort, versus the levels of items in the room.   In another experiment people were invited to choose as many items as they liked from a virtual reality thrift store (charity shop).  These were then restricted to how many can be fitted into a trolley and then how many of those items could they fit into a bag.

They then changed the mood of the people by reading a script to induce anthropomorphism which, it was found, increased the difficulty for the hoarders in discarding even virtual items.

After a couple of days sightseeing, we returned from San Francisco more inspired than ever, and fired up for UK Hoarding Awareness Week (14th – 18th May 2018) and the National Hoarding Conference on 14th May.  Later in the year we are also looking forward to the International Hoarding, Health & Housing Conference in Edinburgh on 4th October, organised by Life Pod CIC. Hope to see you there, or maybe at the MHASF conference next year!

If you need advice on hoarding or want to find out more about APDO, please visit the APDO website for further information or to find your nearest professional organiser.

APDO conference 2018 professional organisers

APDO Conference 2018: A review

It’s been an exciting four weeks for APDO Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers. Not only was there the creation of Spring Clearing Week between 24-30 March (a brand new public awareness week focused on decluttering and streamlining home and life), but that came hot on the heels of the APDO annual conference, held on 15 & 16 March.

The conference was a sell-out and was wholeheartedly enjoyed by the attendees, who included national and international APDO members and professionals from international associations. There was a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers, lively workshops on diverse topics, a Q&A session with experienced professional organisers, networking opportunities and fun socials. In a nutshell, this was two days of learning and sharing with a vibrant community of organising experts, who have endless passion for their jobs.

Kate Galbally (Better Organised) provides this blog based on what she took away from the event and it sums up the ‘feel good factor’ of the event.

Your message needs to be bigger than your fear!

The headline above was the rallying call from visibility strategist Ruby McGuire (Rock Your Fabulous Biz) on day one of the annual conference for the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers in London. What followed was motivation and inspiration with keynote speeches, plenary sessions and workshops delivered by industry-leaders from across the globe.

Perhaps you’re wondering what professional organisers found to talk about for two days? Or maybe you’re thinking about starting up your own decluttering business but haven’t yet taken the leap. I’ve rounded up some of the main takeaways from the event.

The culture of positivity

On arrival at the venue, Resource for London, it was immediately apparent that the people that I’d only ever interacted with online were just as friendly, welcoming and supportive in person. The inclusive and collaborative nature of the members shone through and the place was soon buzzing with introductions and conversations. There is definitely a collective drive and enthusiasm to learn more about how we can enhance the offerings to clients, whilst developing professionally and nurturing our businesses. The positivity was infectious!

How the industry is growing

APDO was formed in 2004 and now has 281 accredited members, but the statistic that really stood out was that the membership has grown by a third in the last year alone. It is so exciting to be part of such a rapidly growing industry – it is particularly reassuring to be sharing the journey with a thriving community of such professional and supportive business owners.

APDO Conference 2018 professional organisers

The breadth and depth of professional skills and services available to clients

Life coaching, counselling, interior design, social work, housing, law, PAs – one theme that struck me was that the organisers I spoke to all seem to have spent their working lives in roles that have primarily been about supporting other people. Now they use their expertise to help clients on a practical and emotional level by assisting them to get better organised.

From empathetic and long-term assistance for people with ADHD or hoarding tendencies, to hands-on help for people who are clearing out a loved one’s belongings after a bereavement, the ways in which organisers help their clients are many and varied. It was so fascinating to hear others’ stories of what has led them into this field of work.

How perfectly the content was tailored to the audience

Leslie Josel (Order Out of Chaos) delivered a powerful keynote speech about demystifying executive functions and ADHD. One key point she made was that understanding how your clients think is the only way to instill change. Well, the voluntary board at APDO had clearly understood the way their members think, as they had identified topics that are at the forefront of their members’ minds. We were spoiled for choice when it came to workshops, with topics including how to film and edit compelling footage on smartphones, the development of business workshops and webinars, supercharging social media content, readiness for GDPR and how to declutter your business ideas to avoid burnout.

What I’ll do next

I’ve already done it! I’ve cleared my diary to make sure that I will be attending next year’s conference.

APDO conference 2019

I love being part of this industry and seeing the growth that my business has achieved already. Working alongside my clients is satisfying and rewarding and as Cassie Tillett (Working Order) the founder of APDO has said, ‘When you know you’ve made a positive difference in someone else’s life, there’s no other feeling like it!’

 

If you’re not an APDO member but are interested in being part of the community, you can find out more here. Also keep an eye on the events page for upcoming campaigns.

Beautiful bouquet of daffodil in a living room. 3d rendering

Clear The Clutter For Spring

spring cleaning week
APDO Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers joins forces with National Spring Cleaning Week for the first time this March.

We recognise this is the perfect opportunity to declutter, clean and organise your spaces in order to create a more functional and uplifting environment.

Katherine Blackler (SortMySpace and APDO head of partnership liaison) explains “We are excited to partner up with Relations Group, the PR company behind National Spring Cleaning Week because we feel there are a lot of synergies with APDO’s work. Springtime has always been a key focus for the public to review and improve their spaces. As the days gradually lengthen and we emerge from those feelings of hibernation, we often look for fresh starts. People like to change the spaces around us to align with that drive for new beginnings. By teaming up with National Spring Cleaning Week it’s a great opportunity for APDO to showcase our members’ expertise when it comes to clearing as well as cleaning and how to get the best long-term results from your spring cleaning efforts.”

Cleaning conept - hand cleaning with cleaning brush. Isolated on white background

So what is spring cleaning and how does our APDO president Ingrid Jansen (Organise Your House) recommend we approach this annual phenomenon?

I remember when I was young, my mum would spring clean our home and my sister and I would be enlisted to help with this activity. She would clean on a regular basis, but she dedicated one week of her holidays each spring to turn our house upside down and we would do all the annual jobs.  The tradition of spring cleaning originated from homes of yesteryear having wood stoves or coal to heat them. When the heating was no longer needed come springtime it was the perfect time to get the soot and dirt out of the house and start opening windows again. Even though we had central heating my mum would honour the tradition of spring cleaning and many of us still continue to.

Now I believe there is a difference between cleaning, spring cleaning, decluttering and organising.

CLEANING

Cleaning are those daily, weekly and even monthly tasks that need to be done all the time. Daily task include doing the dishes, emptying the bins, washing laundry, etc. Weekly tasks include vacuuming and mopping the floors, cleaning the bathroom and toilet, dusting the furniture, doing a grocery shop and meal plan. Monthly tasks could be dusting the skirting boards, washing the car, sweeping the patio, cleaning the picture frames, etc.

SPRING CLEANING

In my opinion spring cleaning is when you thoroughly clean your house from top to bottom, starting on the top floor and working your way down. This is also the most efficient way to clean a room too; start with the ceiling and finish with the floor to make sure all the dirt is collecting as you go. Annual tasks might include using a ceiling mop for cobwebs, cleaning the light fittings, washing the nets and curtains, washing pillow and mattress protectors and vacuuming the mattress and getting the dust out of books. Tip: open the book in half and slam it shut again with reasonable force to shift the dust (ideally next to an open window!). Clean chair legs and vacuum the seat, wipe the bedframe, empty wardrobes and chest of drawers and move them aside to clean behind. Clean inside the drawers and wash the windows inside and out. Last but not least clean the floor (especially under the bed and other places often overlooked the rest of the year).

In the kitchen, empty all the kitchen cupboards to give them a wipe over. In the living room, move the sofa away from the wall and take out the cushions to vacuum the sofa. Clean behind the television which is a magnet for dust, and clean any table and chair legs. Again work from ceiling to floor and don’t forget your curtains and lights.

DECLUTTERING & ORGANISING

Now during spring cleaning you will end up emptying cupboards, wardrobes and chests of drawers to clean inside and behind them. If you can spare the time at this stage, it’s a sound chance to declutter (taking items you no longer want out of circulation) and to organise (putting items back in an orderly, logical way) during your spring clean. Check sell-by dates on food items and decide if you need to put quite all of the 15 black t-shirts you no longer wear back into the drawer. This process undoubtedly does take longer so you may decide to declutter and organise on another occasion.

However you decide to do it, spring cleaning is a great way to clear the cobwebs in both your house and your head to feel more organised! If you need help decluttering and organising while spring cleaning why not get an APDO professional organiser in to help you?  Check our Find An Organiser page for someone near you.

Divorce agreement. Wife and husband can not make settlement

Divorce and Downsizing: 3 Steps to Letting Go of Your Belongings

Sarah Macnaught (Rightsize) specialises in helping clients to rightsize their homes and their possessions as they move through the divorce process. She is available seven days a week to cover all working hours and time-zones. Call 07792 298 595 or email sarah@right-size.co.uk for a free consultation.

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When people are going through a divorce I’m often brought in to help deal with their belongings. There are various scenarios. Sometimes the husband leaves to start a new relationship, taking the bare minimum of possessions. His wife is left feeling overwhelmed and resentful about having to deal with every single thing. So she calls me. On other occasions family lawyers and divorce coaches refer cases to me because their clients are arguing over Every. Single. Thing. As well as the negative moods and toxic atmosphere, couples fighting over joint possessions can lead to higher legal fees and longer settlement periods.

As a professional organiser and belongings coach I get my clients to approach dividing their belongings in various ways. But I encourage them to base each decision on this one value: “Is this fair and reasonable?”

Here are 3 steps to dividing up the home that all separating couples should follow to make the process as smooth as it can be.

Be Practical: Make an Inventory of Everything

Think like a removal company and draw up a home inventory. There are phone apps you can use – Sortly and Encircle are brilliant – and you can produce downloadable documents to share with each other and legal teams. Photograph stuff wherever possible and give each item some sense of size like this:

4 drawers obsolete black & cream computer cables

3 shelves football programmes

3 boxes old cosmetics

8 large boxes wine glasses

1 three-seater sofa

10 metres of DVDs

This will make you both stop and think. No, it isn’t fair for one partner to deal with everything. And the cost of setting up two new homes will be offset if belongings are distributed fairly and reasonably, just as financial assets are.

Be Mindful: Expanding into Two Homes

“If I keep (all) this, is that fair and reasonable?” Especially when children are involved, both homes will be family homes, so an even division of all utensils, furniture, clothing and toys is important. Though there are often things (mother-in-law’s ornate vase anyone?) that both partners will gleefully donate to charity rather than lay claim to. The excess of possessions in UK homes is well documented so there’s practically always enough to go around. One parent doesn’t need the standard British haul of 8 pots and 6 casserole dishes!

Also couples should think about their short term accommodation before making any decisions. One father told me, “I insisted on the 3-seater sofa and oversized armchairs from our 6 bedroom Victorian home. When the removal company arrived at my rented townhouse, absolutely nothing could fit up the narrow stairs to the living room on the first floor.  It’s all still in storage, two years later.”

Be Generous: The True Meaning of Conscious Uncoupling

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin may have made conscious uncoupling a ‘thing’ but it was originally coined by US therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas in 2011. The idea here is that you give generously as you let go of your possessions – re-gifting large furniture you love but have no room for; selling old paintings and donating the proceeds to your favourite charity; setting up a Men’s Shed with all your DIY tools and materials. The bigger the act of generosity on your part, the better you’ll feel about letting go.


This guest blog highlights how versatile APDO members can be regarding the services they provide. If you’d like to find an accredited professional organiser near you, search here. If you feel decluttering and organising could be your dream career, visit the APDO website for details on how to join APDO plus training courses.