If you've read or heard anything about home staging, you know that getting rid of clutter is always recommended as a first step.

You've been told that clutter looks messy.

That it's distracting.

That it's too personal.

And all that is true.

But there is one way clutter can be a home seller's ally.

Home staging, especially in an unoccupied home, can result in a sterile and generic property.

But if you incorporate in your home staging some of what the minimalists call clutter, you can jazz up your home, giving it the personality that makes your home the one buyers remember and want to call their own.

All it takes is an open mind while you are decluttering your home for sale.

There's an additional benefit to using for staging what's cluttering up your home, and that is the economic benefit. So, before you load your trunk with what doesn't suit your present lifestyle or taste and take it to your favorite charity store, before you rush off to Home Goods to load a shopping cart with accessories and furnishings, reconsider the treasures you might already own. They might be hidden in your closets, the garage, attic, storage unit, garden shed, under the bed, or wherever you stash things you don't know what to do with!

Let's define clutter

A professional organizer will call all the little stuff  "clutter."

A professional home stager will agree with that definition of clutter. One guideline any experienced home stager goes by is that a home shouldn't display anything smaller than a cantaloupe.

But professional organizers also want you to get rid of anything that doesn't serve a purpose. A common formula for de-junking a home is to ask, "Do I use this item, and does it make me happy?" But for a home stager, the question might be, "Does this item enhance the perceived value of my property?"

Sometimes it's the items that others toss out that are the very items you can use to home stage.
In the name of home staging, we will place props that serve no purpose other than to decorate. Extra pillows on the bed. Shells on the mantle. Flowers in the bathroom.

In other words, if it's pretty, bigger than a cantaloupe and "tells a story" that enhances your home's value, it's not clutter.

This styling photo below shows a Readers Digest Condensed Book (so uncool!) I covered with a DIY white paper book jacket. The center photo shows old Christmas ornaments put to good use in a bowl with other textural items. The third photo shows a teapot that lost its lid that I now use as a vase.

It's a beginning

As soon as you start to de-junk your house, you're on your way to staging. It makes sense to remove ugly, broken, and un-cleanable stuff, objects that have no personality, objects that everybody else owns, before you actually deep clean and before you decide what rooms have what purposes and what furniture is going to go where.

But let's not get too crazy. Use your imagination when you're ready to toss interesting objects that can add some character to a room.

I used this wooden box as a bathroom prop. The bottle holds Epsom salts. The leftover Christmas candleholder holds a silk peony blossom. If any item is small or something I don't want to disappear (like the natural sponge), I am not above adding a drop of hot glue to hold it in place to discourage "open house thievery."

Tips for using junk

There are a few secrets to decorating with what the minimalists call clutter. One is to mix it up with the classy stuff. You can't have a roomful of castoffs and expect it to look like a model home. 

In the top photo from Jenny Wolf Interiors the big, round mirror, a handsome table, and some crazy oversized wooden links give a pass to the less-pedigreed other items -- a few books, a branch, a baseball cap, and eucalyptus leaves.

Look for objects with some age on them. Don't be too quick to toss items made from weathered wood, or rusty objects, or what was once part of something larger. If all you own is new stuff, don't give up. Distressing techniques can often put some age on shiny trinkets.

We've all seen on Pinterest things like chandeliers made from teacups and tomato cages, but with luck, you won't have to DIY your staging props. Ideally, you will find them ready-made on that closet shelf of things you intend to re-gift or take to a thrift store. They might be items you've inherited or couldn't sell at your last garage sale when you stuck them back in the garage.

A color scheme will always help tie together a collection of props. This grouping reminds buyers of the enjoyment they will get entertaining, dining, and relaxing outdoors at their new home.

Look for objects that are unique. One-of-a-kind props and furniture will help your home stand out. It could be an unusual color,  shape or size that makes an item different. Look for interesting textures and colors that coordinate for a pleasing vignette.

If you want to be creative when you stage your home, you need to surround yourself with articles that will inspire your imagination. The difference between a hoarder and a successful artist or happy crafter is often merely organization. The artist knows what's available and how to access it. It helps to have a space where you can keep all of what might be valuable for staging even if that space is not an actual workshop.

It's not just the currently popular farmhouse look, or shabby chic decor, or cottage style that relies on funky things for interior design. Unusual and rescued things can add some specialness to a contemporary home as well. In fact, the more modern and sterile a property looks, the more it needs touches of funky stuff!

Get more homestaging advice in my eBooks on how to stage your home to make it sell fast for a price you like. I've been there, and I can help you stage your own home.