I Live in My Home Like I'm Staging It for Sale—Here's Why You Should, Too

Lauren Sieben

Two years ago, my husband and I were gearing up to put our first home on the market, which meant our house was due for a deep cleaning and an organizational overhaul.

After we got the house sparkling clean and staged for sale, we started to fall in love with it all over again. We looked around at our newly organized pantry and immaculate closets and wondered, Why haven’t we always lived like this?

Now in our new house, I’ve taken lessons from the home-staging process to maintain a relatively clean, uncluttered space. Of course, maintaining a pristine home 24/7 isn’t realistic—I’d drive myself nuts if I snapped every time laundry piled up or a crumb hit the counter.

But if you’re looking for a little inspiration to keep your space tidy, try it out: Imagine you’re staging it for sale. It’s not about aiming for a picture-perfect home, and you don’t need to repaint all the walls in neutral colors or buy trendy decor. For me, simply pretending that I need to spiff up my home for a prospective buyer is motivation to keep organized—and ultimately, I’m the one who benefits from it.

Here are a few reasons this method works so well.

1. You're forced to confront the closets and corners you've been ignoring

Right before we listed our house, our real estate agent sent a professional stager to assess the space. The stager made a beeline to our messy laundry area in the basement and suggested buying a few inexpensive baskets to consolidate all of the items strewed atop the washer and dryer.

It seemed so obvious—why hadn’t I thought of this?!—but her simple tip made a serious difference.

One Target trip later, my detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets were neatly concealed in a basket on top of the dryer that was both cute and functional.

Giving myself permission to splurge on wicker baskets also gave me an incentive to declutter closets and bathrooms. I’m not an interior decorator by any stretch of the imagination, but reframing organization as an opportunity to decorate and beautify has made it feel like less of a chore.

2. Less bedroom clutter = less stress

At our first house, our bedroom had become a magnet for miscellaneous items. Little did I know that crumpled clothing on the floor and cluttered nightstands aren’t just an eyesore—all that extra junk can also increase stress levels.

When the stager spotted our dressers and nightstands covered in tchotchkes, her instructions were simple: Clear away the clutter if you want to appeal to prospective buyers.

I dutifully followed her orders, and I quickly found that a tidy bedroom appealed more to me, too. After decluttering, I took away a new perspective on what my bedroom could be: an organized oasis for relaxation instead of just a crash pad.

As a final touch, the stager also gave us extra throw pillows for the bed to make the room cozier and more inviting. I’ve taken a page from her playbook in our new house, incorporating a fluffy accent pillow on the bed to add a warm touch that makes the room feel more Zen and less like a zoo.

3. Clearing out the kitchen can be life-changing

If there’s one thing I learned from working with a professional stager, it’s that I have a habit of covering every open surface with stuff, including (and especially) the kitchen counters. At first, my husband and I balked when she told us to hide the coffee maker, toaster, and steak knives during every showing and open house.

We used those items all the time! Where else would they go?

But after we found a new home for the appliances, we came to embrace her suggestion. The coffee maker didn’t really need a permanent residence next to the sink, and with all the counter space we freed up, it felt like a new (and much larger) kitchen.

The newfound space for food prep was a bonus for my husband and me—not just a ploy to appeal to prospective buyers.

4. You'll always be ready for surprise guests

Preparing for overnight guests used to be an ordeal. Now, when my family shows up for a last-minute visit, I don’t need to panic. The “live in your home like you’re staging it for sale” mantra is a lifesaver when it comes time to entertaining.

By maintaining a solid baseline for cleanliness and organization, I can prepare for guests with just a quick breeze through the house to pick up stray items and wipe down counters and bathroom surfaces.

5. Eventually, organizing becomes automatic instead of traumatic

The early days of decluttering a space or staging a house can be fairly intense. For the first time in months (or maybe years), you’re coming face to face with the messy corners and overflowing closets that have become catchall storage spaces.

But once you get through the initial work, keeping your space clean doesn’t require as much thought or effort. Over time, you’ll fall into a rhythm that’s sustainable. It’s way easier to maintain an organized house than it is to organize a disastrous space from scratch.

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