Remove kitchen clutter while selling your first home

Preparing your home for a sale can be an overwhelming process. You might not be sure where to even start, that's why de-cluttering the kitchen is a great place to begin.

So much of life takes place around the kitchen. It's where people come together to cook, share about their day, and make memories. A well-staged kitchen will not only help you attract potential buyers, but it will showcase one of the most frequently used spaces in your home.

clutter free kitchen

Carla Hill of Realty Times suggests, “ Kitchens are integral to entertaining and in today's age of open floor plans, they're a focal piece of many family rooms. It's because of this that kitchens play such an important role in the buying and selling process.” Carla added, “Sometimes a kitchen update can mean doing just a few minor changes. Change the paint color to a warm neutral tone. Get rid of any clutter. Update your appliances, paint your cabinets, change the pulls, or get a high-end looking counter for a fraction of the cost (faux-granite or lower end granite). You might even save a bundle by doing much of the work yourself. The bottom line is a kitchen can sell a home.”

The following 6 tips will help you prepare your home for a quick and successful sale:

Clean Countertops

Walking into a home with bare countertops provides an instantly well-kept first impression. The minimalist counter also highlights extra space in the kitchen that could otherwise be lost under too much clutter. Cambria Bold, the design and lifestyle editor from The Kitchn says it best, “Messy countertops—heck, even countertops that have pretty things, but just too many of them—can make a kitchen feel untidy and claustrophobic, whereas mostly clear countertops are invigorating and inspiring. They also invite you to cook, instead of feeling like your kitchen is unready for you.”

Make-Over the Refrigerator

Quirky magnets, colorful art, and postcards might remind you of special memories, but when it comes to selling your house, less is best. Avoid turning the front of your refrigerator into a gallery wall. This not only takes away from the functionality of the kitchen, but it can be extremely distracting to potential buyers who are trying to envision their life in your home. After you've successfully cleared the front, make sure you give the inside a thorough cleaning. Go through your fridge and toss expired, leaking, or odor causing foods. Try to keep your shelves clear and organized, in order to display the storage capabilities of your main kitchen appliance.

Julie Stevens, a real estate sales representative with Bond New York recommends leaving some items in original containers in order to emphasize close proximity to desirable supermarkets. Ms. Stevens shares, “If a potential buyer is looking through your home and sees a label from one of those stores,” she said, it might prompt them to ask if the store is nearby. And “That could be a huge selling point.”

declutter kitchen

Keep it Kitchen

For most families, the kitchen is typically one the busiest gathering places of the home, which is why organization is key. It's easy for a kitchen countertop to become the dump zone for miscellaneous household items, but if it isn't kitchen related, it must go. Keep a bin on the end of your counter as a catchall for the random things that end up cluttering your space. Then at the end of each day, go through the bin and re-home all the wayward items. This will cut down on the time you have to spend tidying up before each showing. Rather than spend precious time corralling all the bits and pieces, the catchall also makes it easier to store out of sight in a hurry for those last minute showings.

Stage the Pantry

Your pantry might usually look more on the haphazard side of things, but when preparing your home for sale, great staging can cinch the deal. Use your pantry to play up the functionality and storage capacity of your kitchen. Laura Gaskill of Houzz shares, “Pare back the contents of your pantry until you have some open space on each shelf. Organize what's left into a set of matching food storage containers or open baskets. This may mean removing a bunch of food—just remember that a staged kitchen is not necessarily a practical kitchen! As with items from your cupboards, keep extra pantry goods in a box out of sight during showings if you must.”

Eliminate Odors

No one wants to cook up something in a kitchen that already smells questionable. Avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink and purge the refrigerator of old food on a regular basis. Kathleen Squires of Real Simple advises, “ Place a box of baking soda in the freezer and another in the refrigerator to absorb and neutralize smells; replace them every three months. Alternatives: a mound of charcoal; coffee beans in a bowl; or a cotton ball soaked in vanilla extract and kept in the refrigerator until dry.” You can also keep nasty odors at bay, by using odor blocking garbage can liners, and play up that 'freshly baked' smell by using a candle warmer in a welcoming kitchen scent.

Reduce Excess

Potential Buyers want to explore the space in your kitchen, as they imagine what their life might look like within those walls. Go through your cupboards, drawers, and pantry with the objective to only leave items that are frequently used and essential. Professional Organizer Debbie Lillard suggests, “The kitchen is a very practical place, and most people I meet have more stuff than storage. So only keep what you use on a regular basis. If there is something you use only a few times a year (ice bucket, punch bowl, warming tray, etc.) those items can be stored away in a basement or closet.” Streamlining will not only cut down on clutter before showings, it will enhance the important features, so that your kitchen can truly shine.