How to Pack Fragile Items: A Professional Mover’s Secrets

How to Pack Fragile Items- A Professional Mover’s Secrets

You don’t want Great-Aunt Mildred’s heirloom china or the champagne flutes that you and your sweetie toasted with on your wedding day to end up in shards, do you? Bubble wrap alone won’t protect your breakables; you need to pack like a professional if you want your fragile lamps, glassware and tchotchkes to make it from point A to B.

Stock for Success
Here’s a tip from Derek Williams of Adam’s Moving & Delivery Service in Seattle: Don’t overpack each box and hope that applying extra packing tape will keep it covered. Bulging boxes make it much harder for your movers to pack the moving van.

“It’s so much better to get more boxes than you think you’ll need than to try to overstuff them,” Williams says.

He adds that cardboard boxes have a shelf life — they can become flimsy over the years — so don’t count on old ones that have been in your basement forever to keep your stuff safe.

Mix It Up
You might think it’s best to buy boxes that are all uniform in size. But for your movers (or you, if you’re the one loading the van), fitting all your boxes in is a lot like Tetris. To conquer the puzzle, a variety of sizes works best.

Purchase boxes ranging from shoebox small to ottoman large, keeping in mind you likely can’t securely carry anything larger than 2-feet square. Then, pack heavier items in the shallower boxes, and fill the big ones with lighter stuff. You can also place heavy items at the bottom of deeper boxes and add lighter items on top — never the other way around.

Pillow-Top Packing
For odd-shaped items, be generous with the boxes. Particularly fragile, irreplaceable heirlooms deserve a box to themselves. Williams recommends this technique: Place a blanket on the bottom, then the (carefully wrapped) item, and then place a pillow on top. Seal up the box and label it FRAGILE “on the top, sides, bottom — everywhere. Overcommunicate!” Williams stresses. And, of course, label each box with its contents.

No Jiggling!
For glasses, cups and mugs, you don’t necessarily need box inserts (sometimes called cellular inserts) to keep the items separated. It’s more important to wrap each item up completely, with two layers of packing paper for extra-fragile things such as wineglasses. And make sure everything’s packed snugly, to prevent jiggling. For hollow items such as goblets and vases, stuff them with crumpled packing paper, then wrap individually with more paper before setting them inside a box lined with paper or bubble wrap. For flat items like plates and picture frames, wrap each item in packing paper and place them in a box vertically, alternating with a sheet of bubble wrap.

Also, do yourself a favor and use some containers designed for specific items, like partitioned holiday ornament boxes and gift-wrap organizers; these long-term storage options can slide right into your closet and bypass your “unpack” list.

Make Plastic Your Pal
Plastic wrap, that is. Stretch wrap comes in handy for all sorts of packing jobs: bundling shower and curtain rods, keeping rugs rolled tight, securing the tops on plastic storage tubs. You can try this move to spare yourself the work of packing up the contents of dresser drawers: Place a packing blanket around the dresser to protect it; then shrink-wrap the whole shebang.

If you opt for plastic stretch wrap, use a moving vehicle or storage area with climate control if you won’t be immediately heading to your new home, as moisture can build up and potentially damage wood, leather and other materials.

CHECKLIST: Everything You Need to Pack Properly

CHECKLIST- Everything You Need to Pack Properly

Your stuff will never survive the truck ride on shoeboxes and Scotch tape. Here’s a list of all the supplies you need to properly pack your entire home.

Purchase clean, dry cardboard boxes in a variety of sizes if your moving company doesn’t already provide them.

Special Containers
Order wardrobe boxes, partitioned “dish pack” boxes and other containers designed for specific items.

Bubble Wrap
Buy a large roll, and cut sheets for padding boxes and wrapping breakable items.

Plastic Storage Bags
Use gallon-size bags for grouping small items, and snack-size bags for rounding up screws and fasteners.

Packing Paper or Plain Newsprint
Avoid using newspaper for stuffing and wrapping fragile items; the ink may stain some materials (and your hands).

Bright Tissue Paper
Use it to wrap small items that are easily lost or may be mistaken for trash.

White Tissue Paper
Use it for stuffing and wrapping lampshades; packing paper is too stiff.

Packing Tape
Buy multiple rolls, and at least one dispenser for each person who will help you pack.

Mark each box with its contents (except for valuables) and the room where it belongs.

Permanent Markers
Choose thick-tipped markers for strong, clear labeling.

Small Colored Stickers
Use them for labeling electronics cords, color-coding boxes and more.

Trash Bags
Corral throw pillows and stuffed animals inside bags, and label them like boxes so they’re not mistaken for trash.

Box Cutters
Half-empty boxes don’t stack properly; trim boxes to fit their contents.

You’ll need an assortment of screwdrivers, wrenches and fasteners for disassembling and reassembling furniture.

Plastic Stretch Wrap
Wrap it around furniture to secure drawers, or use it to bundle curtain rods and other awkwardly shaped items.

Mattress Bags
Purchase ones sized to fit your mattress; they’re easiest to carry.

Drop Cloths or Old Sheets
Drape them over furniture for protection.

Quilted Pads
Wrap large furniture to protect it inside the truck.

Measuring Tape
Measure odd-shaped items to find a box that fits.

Notepad & Pen
Jot down directions, measurements and notes.

Lighten Up: What to Digitize Before You Move

Spare yourself the stress (and the weight!) of moving your CDs, movies and more. Go digital to get organized and literally feel a weight lifted from your shoulders.

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How many pounds of cookbooks and foodie magazines do you have? If it feels like your collection weighs as much as your fridge, go digital. Scan and upload recipes to Evernote or Google Docs (or apps like Dropbox and Paprika), and then tag each by category (snack, dessert) and cuisine (Asian, low-carb). While you’re at it, tidy your email by uploading all of the recipes you’re hoarding in your inbox.

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All those bulky DVDs are a burden, and storing the files on your laptop makes your computer sluggish (making unauthorizied digital copies is also illegal). Try a program like Vudu, which converts your movie collection to digital files stored in the cloud and accessible on any device.

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Music CDs

You officially have permission to recycle all of your CDs (though you should never toss them into your recycle bin; consult the CD Recycling Center of America to find a collection center). But before you do, save the CDs digitally using your computer’s music-storage software. Or preserve everything with a collection program like MediaMonkey, which converts music files to different formats while adding track information and album artwork.

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Old Cards and Letters

If you’re hanging on to boxes brimming with handwritten notes, start scanning. Future generations may consider those notes priceless; don’t run the risk of letting them get damaged or lost! The TurboScan app is handy; it saves documents in easily shareable PDF or JPEG formats.

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Preserve your precious snaps, once and for all. Scan your nondigital photos (and while you’re at it, remove the red-eye effect). Just be sure to have a reliable physical or cloud backup system — or, better yet, both. Using an external hard drive and a cloud-based program such as Dropbox is smart. You can also easily share digitized photos with relatives and friends.

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Photo Negatives

Don’t toss old-school photo negatives; preserve them, then toss them. It’s a DIY job if you’re using a professional-grade scanner; otherwise, mail-order scanning services such as DigMyPics and ScanCafe can convert your negatives, fixing scratches and correcting exposure in the process.

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If you’re still shoving receipts into shoeboxes — gas receipts in the stillettos box, food receipts in the loafers box! — simplify your stash. Apps like Expensify (intended for business expenses, but great for organizing household ones, too) instantly rid your wallet of receipts before they start piling up. Upload a smartphone photo of each receipt and the program will automatically categorize it. Remember, if you’re tapped for an IRS audit, you’ll need many records going back 7 years; keep physical copies of your W2s and other sensitive documents until risk of an audit has passed.

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Vinyl LPs

Audiophiles may scoff at the thought of digitizing vinyl, because the sound quality is diminished — but it is a space-saver. With a USB connection and a program like Audacity, you can digitize your records; it’s not a lightning-fast process (you may burn through a turntable needle), but start early enough and you’ll spare your moving crew a few boxes.

How to Host the Ultimate Garage Sale

How to Host the Ultimate Garage Sale

Garage sales are a lot of work — there’s no getting around that. But they are still a good way to get rid of stuff you don’t need, and they’ll put some cold, hard cash in your pocket. Blogger Chris Heiska, aka “The Yard Sale Queen,” has been scouring garage sales for years, so we turned to her for pro tips on hosting the most amazing garage sale ever.

1. Time it right.
Many people are paid on the first of the month, so a garage sale in the first or second week of the month may be more profitable than one at the end. You should also limit your time frame: two-day sales are becoming passé, Heiska says. And you’ll get early birds no matter what, so she recommends confining the sale to 7 a.m. to noon on, say, a Saturday only.

2. Create buzz.
To get it all sold, you have to get noticed. Start with prominent, legible signs. (This may not be a job for kiddos, as much as they’d like to help.) If there’s a chance of rain, make sure your signs are waterproof; office supply stores can laminate signs for you. Place signs on community bulletin boards and in high-traffic zones near your home (be sure to follow local sign ordinances). Ask a neighbor to drive by your signs and verify they’re legible and clear; have another pal make the rounds halfway through the sale to make sure the signs are still standing. And go digital: List your sale on community boards, neighborhood blogs, Craigslist, Facebook and Twitter.

3. Offer treats.
Heiska remembers one garage sale that was a big hit because it featured nonalcoholic daiquiris for $1. The colorful drinks grabbed the attention of people driving by, and shoppers stuck around longer than they normally would have. Coffee for early birds and candy at the checkout make friendly treats.

4. Set up shop.
Take time to thoroughly clean, neatly fold and attractively display everything you sell. “Books and CDs should be displayed with the titles all facing the same way, to make them easier to read,” Heiska says. She also recommends one big sign for items that are all priced similarly — “All CDs $1 each; softcover books 50 cents each” — to keep pricing easy. Keep fragile and valuable items close to your checkout area.

5. Attract clothes horses.
Displays of run-down clothing can tell potential shoppers to keep driving; higher-quality clothes hangers (instead of cheap wire ones) will make your sale feel more upscale and will hold shoppers’ interest. To minimize clothing chaos, Heiska recommends a portable clothing rack; prominently display any standout items, such as formal dresses or designer-brand coats, on the rack’s ends to entice buyers. No rack? Get creative and hang a shower rod between two ladders.

6. Price it right.
Don’t start the day with sky-high prices. “Start with a reasonable price you would like to get for something,” Heiska says. “If a customer sees too many high prices, they may leave quickly. It’s good to have a variety of items at a variety of prices.”

7. Stock up on supplies.
To avoid fumbling with cash and change in your pockets, store money in a cash box (don’t leave it unattended!) or a cashier’s belt — and be sure you have plenty of small bills and coins to make change. Have plenty of newspaper, bubble wrap and shopping bags handy for wrapping glassware and other breakables. Roll out (or borrow) a dolly for moving heavy furniture to shoppers’ cars; a skateboard or two can work in a pinch.

8. Handle hagglers.
Stand your ground with bargainers asking for price reductions that are more than you’re comfortable with. If someone seems genuinely intrigued by an item, hold your ground. Chances are, he or she is making the garage-sale rounds and will return in an hour. An exception: Consider letting heavy furniture (and anything that might be tedious to lug to a donation center) sell cheap and early; choose your battles!

CHECKLIST: Your Last Box

CHECKLIST- Your Last Box

Moving day is hectic, to put it mildly, and the last thing you want is for important items — like your wallet, cell phone charger or your kid’s favorite blankie (imagine the tears!) — to be boxed, loaded and driven away in the moving truck. To help you avoid such pitfalls, we’ve devised a list of essentials you’ll need on moving day, plus additional must-haves you’ll want the second you arrive at your new home. Pack them all in your last box (or two!).

For the New Place:

Lightbulbs & Flashlight
To ensure you don’t get stuck moving in the dark.

Garbage Bags
To round up those pesky packing peanuts.

Basic Tools
To reassemble furniture.

Extension Cords & Batteries
To get power where you need it in your new home.

Cleaning Supplies & Paper Towels
To give the bathroom and kitchen a quick cleanup as soon as you arrive.

To cover your bases, pack a roll of each — Scotch, duct, masking, etc.

Scissors or Box Cutters
To open boxes.

Pen & Paper
To jot quick notes.

For You

Toilet Paper
So you don’t get stuck without a roll.

Shower Liner and Rings
So you can clean up and feel human again.

Bath Towels
So you don’t have to dig through boxes in the buff.

So you have everything you need — soap, razor and shampoo — to clean up.

So you don’t have to sleep on a bare, fresh-off-the truck mattress.

Coffee Supplies
So you remain alert. Bring a coffee pot or tea kettle, and be sure to pack instant coffee (or tea), plus single-serving creamers and sugars.

Bottle Opener & Corkscrew
So you can make your first toast in your new home.

So you have enough food to last until you locate the pots-and-pans box.

So you don’t have to unpack and wash dishes, pack plastic or disposable plates, cups and utensils.

First-Aid Kit
So you’re covered in the unlikely case of a moving accident!

For Your Family

Curtain or Makeshift Shade
Don’t let the sun’s first rays wake your exhausted family.

Beloved Toys or Books
Don’t leave a blanky, binky or lovey behind!

Pet Supplies
Pack Fluffy’s bowl, leash, essential toys and at least a day’s worth of food.

Camera & Charger
Start snapping new memories instantly!

PLUS: What Not To Pack
Keep these items off the truck and close to you on moving day:

Important documents (e.g., passports, marriage license, birth certificates, any records containing bank account information or Social Security numbers, and any other legal documents)
Phone and charger
Laptop and charger
A change of clothes (one for each member of your household)
Snacks and water (for kids and pets)
A child’s special toy or blanket (if they can’t bear to pack it)
Tape measure
Credit and ATM cards
Any other valuables, heirlooms or irreplaceable items

CHECKLIST: What to Measure Before You Move

CHECKLIST- What to Measure Before You Move

Measure twice, move once: This is the rule to remember so you don’t get stuck prying out a door frame to get your couch inside, or hiring a crane to swing your foosball table in through a bedroom window. Here’s a list of every measurement you should take to ensure your stuff can actually move in on moving day.

Your Stuff

Bookcases & Armoires
Measure the width, depth, height and diagonal height (see “How to Measure Diagonal Height,” below).

Measure the length, depth, back height and diagonal height (measure each piece of a sectional sofa separately). Determine whether legs can be removed.

Measure the width, depth and height. Determine whether removing drawers shortens the depth.

Measure the width and height.

Tables & Desks
Measure length, width and height. Determine whether legs are removable.

Measure width, depth and height. Determine whether doors are removable.

Measure length, width and height. Assess its bendability.

Measure length, depth and height. Consider hiring a professional piano mover.

Billiards & Gaming Tables
Measure length, width and height. Determine whether legs are removable.

In the New House

Main Door
Measure the height and width of the door opening, as well as the clearance of the entryway: Is there a radiator or step immediately inside? How far can you walk before you hit a wall? Finally, measure the ceiling height inside the entry.

Secondary Doors
Measure the height, width and clearance of the openings of side, patio or deck doors. Sliding glass doors often have bigger openings than traditional doors.

The Biggest Window
Measure the height, width and clearance of the largest window that opens, as well as its height from the ground outside. A window may be the best entry for some items.

Measure the width and ceiling height from the first step (not the ground floor), and take the same measurements of the last step; use the smallest width and height measurements. Measure the length, width, ceiling height and clearance of any landings or turns.

Measure the width and ceiling height of hallways, as well as the clearance of connecting doorways.

Low-Hanging Ceiling Fixtures
Measure the space from the ground up to low ceiling fans and chandeliers that may pose a hazard for moving tall items.

PLUS: How to Measure Diagonal Height
Diagonal height tells you whether an item can tilt around doorway and stairway turns when it can’t slide straight through. For a rectangular item like a bookcase, find the diagonal height by measuring from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. For sofas, draw an imaginary line between the highest point of the couch’s back and the highest point on the couch’s arm; find the midpoint of that line, and measure the distance from the midpoint to the couch’s back leg.

10 Genius Packing Hacks for Moving Tricky Items

10 Genius Packing Hacks for Moving Tricky Items
Sigh! If only everything in your home were featherlight and cube-shaped and easily slipped into a standard box. For the stuff that isn’t and won’t, 10 clever time-saving ways to pack.

1. Knives
Keep safe by storing sharp knives inside oven mitts. These cushiony kitchen gloves offer built-in bubble-wrap-like protection, minus the popping sound.

2. Power Cords
Don’t throw away empty toilet-paper rolls; use them to keep your umpteen power cords organized. Just wind cords around your hand and stuff inside the roll, where they’ll stay neat and untangled.

3. Books
You might not need your roller suitcase for vacation anytime soon, but drag it out of the closet anyway: It’s perfect for moving heavy books without breaking your back.

4. Jewelry
And you thought ice cube trays were good only for chilling your happy-hour cocktail. Instead of filling them with water, load dry, empty trays with earrings, rings and delicate necklaces and then cover tightly with plastic wrap.

5. Flatware
Break out the plastic wrap again — this time, for your forks, knives and spoons. Simply lift your flatware tray with its contents out of its current drawer and wrap tightly with the plastic. When you get to your new home, unwrap, slip the tray into its new spot, and you’re done!

6. Glasses
Make friends with the folks at your local liquor store, and ask them to hold aside a couple of wine boxes for you. These cardboard boxes are designed with a dozen compartments, which make cozy storage units for delicate glasses and cups.

7. Clothes
Instead of folding your entire closet into boxes (yawn), keep clothes on hangers and slip them into 30-gallon drawstring trash bags. Cut a small hole in the middle of each bag’s sealed end, so you can pull the hangers through; use twist ties to bind hangers together. Pull the bag down over the clothes and tie a knot with the drawstring. Congratulations — you’ve mastered a DIY garment bag!

8. Mattresses
To prevent your mattresses from getting dirty on the moving truck, cover the tops and bottoms with old fitted sheets. You’ll sleep better knowing your mattresses aren’t grimy.

9. Dishes
Buy a package of disposable dinner-size foam plates, and place one between each plate in your china and everyday (ceramic, stoneware) sets. Instant cushioning!

10. Screws and Bolts
After dismantling furniture, its hardware can be easily misplaced — and, let’s face it, all screws look pretty much alike. Your best bet is to store and label each set in a plastic sandwich bag, and then affix the bag to the underside of its corresponding furniture with masking tape.

The Empty Nester’s Guide to Moving On and Letting Go

The Empty Nester’s Guide to Moving On and Letting Go

Your kids have moved out for the last time (or so they say), and you’re ready to downsize. But doing so is all about getting rid of what doesn’t matter, holding on to what does — and knowing the difference.

Julie Morse, a resident of Lake Bluff, Illinois, knew from her experience as a Realtor that using space wisely is tantamount to downsizing. But as a mother of six grown children, she sought to strike a balance between tossing everything and saving cherished childhood items.

So when Morse and her husband moved from a 2,000-square-foot house to a 1,200-square-foot townhome, they downsized gradually by renting a storage unit. “I think it’s good to ease in, which is where the storage unit is helpful,” says Morse. “Have things in a keep pile, a maybe pile and a get-rid-of pile. The maybe pile becomes important, because you should think through it. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Deciding what to keep often comes down to determining if the item is useful and personally significant, sentimental but not really useful, or easily replaceable and taking up space. When Cynthia McIntyre and her husband downsized following a move from Indianapolis to Hastings, Minnesota, they donated or sold some of the furnishings and stuff their three adult children had left behind, but saved the furniture that McIntyre’s father-in-law had built for the kids when they were young. She stored additional heirloom items in a curio cabinet, giving them an organized home. “We kept what was most precious,” says McIntyre. “The youngest two don’t have kids yet and they don’t want it now, but maybe they will once they have kids.”

Both Morse and McIntyre were able to create space for the things they (and their kids) valued by installing closet organizing systems and additional storage. Morse carved out space for a closet in a bathroom, while McIntyre added large cabinets to her laundry room. Both women say they felt the effort was worthwhile.

“Downsize with a deliberate sense, but also with a sense of caution that you don’t go too far too fast,” says Morse. “I love living in our condo. It’s sleek, uncluttered and extremely organized. But if I had to get rid of the posterity stuff — things that were the maybes — I think I would have gone too far.”

Let It Go: 10 Things to Ditch Before the Moving Truck Arrives

Let It Go- 10 Things to Ditch Before the Moving Truck Arrives

Everyone has too much stuff, and that becomes super clear when it’s time to start packing for a move. Do you really need 17 frayed bath towels, or a drawerful of expired antibiotics? Take a hard look at your old or [cringe!] still-new-but-never-used belongings and you’ll find plenty of things to sell, donate, recycle or trash — anything but stick in a box headed to your new home! Consider saying “buh-bye” to these items:

1. Old Paint
The colors are dated, the buckets are half full and — admit it — you have no intention of using any of it again. Donate leftover latex paint that’s still in good shape (not lumpy or dry) to a local school or charity, such as Habitat for Humanity; take oil-based paint to an authorized disposal facility in your area.

2. Tired Pots and Pans
Has Aunt Rhoda’s hand-me-down cookware seen better days? If it’s scorched, scratched or dented, recycle it; for nonstick pans, consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for disposal (some coatings can’t be recycled). Either way, cross one heavy box off your list!

3. Toilet Brush
The only place this germy, bacteria-laden cleaning tool belongs is in the garbage. Spring for a new brush in your new bathroom.

4. Expired Medications
Think of them like milk: Once they’re past their freshness date, old meds lose their potency and may become chemically altered. That’s why you need to get rid of them. But you shouldn’t automatically flush them down the toilet, which may compromise the water supply; instead, follow the Food and Drug Administration’s disposal guidelines.

5. Unused Gifts
Maybe it’s owl-emblazoned napkin rings, a bamboo steamer or a neon plaid tablecloth—if you received it for your wedding (or your last housewarming party) and still haven’t opened it, it’s ready for the sell or donate pile.

6. Coffee Mugs and Souvenir Cups
Yes, you are the “World’s Greatest Napper,” and that visit to “Alcatraz, 2006” was certainly memorable, but if too many souvenir mugs or plastic cups are crowding your cabinets, it’s time to edit your collection. Pick six of your favorites, and recycle the rest.

7. Plastic Takeout Containers
No judgment here about your eating habits, but if you’ve got enough containers to start your own restaurant, it’s time to head to the recycle bin with every last one of these beauties.

8. Anything That Doesn’t Fit
Sadly, moving closets won’t magically make that little black dress from college fit again. Don’t bother moving ill-fitting clothes or anything you haven’t worn in the past 6 months; direct them straight to the “donate” box instead.

9. Vases
Lucky you: Every birthday and Valentine’s Day, someone sends you flowers in a vase. If the containers are cheap glass or plastic, march them to the “donate” pile before the next delivery arrives.

10. Linens
Give your worn-out towels and sheets a second life by dropping them off at your local animal shelter, which will use them to care for abandoned dogs and cats. While you’re at it, assess your bed-pillow collection. If any pillow isn’t worthy of your head resting on it at night, it’s not worthy of your overnight guests’, either!

Get It Sold: 10 Tips From a Home Staging Pro

Get It Sold- 10 Tips From a Home Staging Pro
They say you only get one chance at a first impression. So if would-be buyers have already sidestepped your bursting-at-the-seams closet or shuddered at your dreary laundry room, you can’t undo it — but you can do some strategic home staging before the next house-hunter shows up.

Barb Nazzaro, a professional house stager who runs A Simply Staged Home, in Natick, Massachusetts, insists that it’s essential to stage. “When people walk into a house, they form an opinion almost instantaneously.” There’s a knee-jerk reaction that happens, she says; within seconds, buyers either adore the place or want to flee. And while homes in hot neighborhoods may sell themselves, Nazzaro says any home can benefit from staging to bump up the asking price and help speed a sale.

“People see gorgeous homes on television and want exactly that for themselves,” Nazzaro says. And, she adds, just as you wouldn’t wear sweatpants to a job interview, your home needs to put its best foot forward. Moving represents a fresh start, and if your home isn’t clean and doesn’t evoke a peaceful feeling, potential buyers will bail.

Here’s how to make your house gorgeous for its time in the spotlight:
1. Purge the hallway closet.
Remove at least 70 percent of the coats. “Wooden hangers are great investments,” says Nazzaro. And make sure each coat is facing the same way. Nazzaro also likes to hang just one beautiful red raincoat in the hallway, with rain boots neatly arranged on a doormat, to set a boutiquelike tone.
2. Edit the china cabinet.
A chaotic collection of mismatched teacups and saucers inherited from your great-grandmother looks more Hoarders than home sweet home. “I like to see a nice, clean and organized, elegant, understated china cabinet,” Nazzaro says. “It speaks to how entertaining will go.” Pare down and clean out, and store items you don’t really need right now, using china cases designed for the job.
3. Liven up the laundry room.
It goes without saying that drip-drying your unmentionables during an open house probably won’t get the place sold. But put extra effort into transforming the room where the dullest household chore takes place to show buyers that your laundry room is a place of peace, not punishment. Use apothecary jars to hold wooden clothespins and powdered laundry detergent, clear everything else off the shelves and lay down a small, plush area rug. “Who lives like that?” Nazzaro asks. “Not too many people! But we’re trying to tell a story.”
4. Tidy the kitchen cabinets.
Yes, house-hunters will open and close your kitchen cabinets a half-dozen times during walk-throughs. Clear out the clutter — you’ll have to pack up that fondue set sooner or later! — and make sure pots and pans are sparkling clean and in their place.
5. Scale back on photos and wall hangings.
Remove any family photos (visitors want to envision their family in the home, not yours) and any art that might evoke a strong reaction. “Religious icons and anything that really reflects a personal taste should go,” Nazzaro says, recalling a client whose basement was filled with nude sketches. “They were probably very expensive,” she says, “but I said, ‘These have to go!’”
6. Add a bed skirt.
Nobody wants to inspect your slipper collection or your dust-bunny farm. “A dust ruffle or bed skirt is an absolute MUST.” Nazzaro laughs, “I’ve worked with bachelors who don’t know what they are. But a bed skirt is a finishing touch that completes a room.”
7. …And while you’re at it, change your comforter or duvet.
Nazzaro recommends a solid, neutral-color comforter or duvet, and a tasteful arrangement of throw pillows and blankets. “Make the bed look luxurious.”
8. Round up the kid stuff.
Have a mountain of craft supplies in the dining room, or a giant table for the little one’s train set in the center of the living room? That only tells potential buyers that your home’s too small for a family. Start packing early, and box up the Barbie dolls and board games first.
9. Beautify bedroom closets.
Again, the idea is to make the space feel like there’s ample storage; the closets shouldn’t appear overstuffed. Get rid of lonely wire hangers, neatly fold and stack clothing and clear all but essentials off the tops of shelves. Store most nonhanging clothes and accessories in pretty bins — “Not an old wooden crate,” Nazzaro advises (or — the horror! — old milk crates you used in your dorm). Metal cubes are fine in the kids’ rooms, she adds, but not the master closet, which should feel more upscale.
10. Don’t forget the basement and the attic.
Many potential buyers will want to poke around. Nazzaro has heard of buyers who ask for a ladder so they can climb into the attic — which means that staging your house by stuffing your belongings into the attic or the basement will backfire. It’s better to store your items attractively, or simply get them out of the house.