Setting a Clean, New Stage at Home

0:00 By Nicole Ball and Amie Pisano Cleaning out and starting anew are worthwhile endeavors, no matter the season, because the state of our homes […]

Published April 7, 2022 2:33 PM
3 min read


By Nicole Ball and Amie Pisano

Cleaning out and starting anew are worthwhile endeavors, no matter the season, because the state of our homes has a great deal of influence on our wellbeing. Mounds of clutter and to-do piles, along with haphazardly placed furniture, can adversely affect our mood and energy level. Because of this, hiring a residential or commercial cleaning service is advisable. Contact companies like Birch Specialty Cleaners to help with major cleaning projects or schedule regular cleaning tasks. Have a look at the current Chicago home cleaning rates here.

For advice on how to create an inviting homescape, whether you are staying or selling, we sat down with home staging consultant Meltem Marshal.

The first thing on her to-do list is: Purge, purge, purge. “This not only frees up physical space but allows for new things to flow into your home and life.”

    The easiest place to start is in clothes’ closets. Set aside any items that no longer fit that: you haven’t worn for at least a year; aren’t comfortable or fashionable; and are in poor condition. Cut up the worn items and use as rags. Box the clothes in good condition and donate to charities, such as Vietnam Veterans of America which has regular pickups in our area, or Dress for Success, whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and life.

When putting back the clothing you are keeping, make sure you use the same color and type of hangers. The slim, non-slip velvet ones are great space savers.  

Next, head to the medicine cabinet and discard prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs that have outlived their expiration date.

Same thing with the food pantry.

Corral items in drawers and cabinets. A bevy of containers, dividers, and bins can be found at The Container Store, Target, Costco, and Home Goods. “When shopping for organizational items, think outside the box,” says Marshal. “Just because you find a container/bin in the pantry section, it doesn’t mean you have to use it in the pantry. If the container fits, use it.”  

Garages rarely have room for cars, because we store — or toss — too many other things in there, notes Marshal. She urges bringing items that are broken or damaged curbside in time for the town’s next bulk item pickup day. If you have team sports equipment in good condition but you no longer use, find out if a local high school team wants it, otherwise donate it. Aside from decluttering your garage, make sure as well to inspect your great garage doors as well as your garage door springs if these need repairs or replacement.

Marshal encourages homeowners to take stock of every room with a critical eye. “Most people are so used to living with the way the furniture was originally placed that they don’t realize a different layout would create much better flow and open up a space,” she offered.  

Is the scale of the furniture right for a room? If not, how about swapping pieces or looking for furniture for your bedroom? Try a few different ways to place the furniture and see what works and feels better. Moving around furniture and creating better flow will improve the overall energy of a space.

Into each house, a little freshening up by P&J Cleaners can’t hurt. Bring in new decorative pillows, throws, bedding. Inexpensive and handsome options can be found at Home Goods, Pier 1, and Target, or online at Overstock and Wayfair.

(Local animal shelters and veterinarians’ offices can always use your old towels.)

Have too many decorative items on display? Put away what no longer speaks to you and replace with a few “of-the-moment” decorative items, suggests Marshal, who mixes heights and textures and intermingles books, photographs, and collectables on shelves.

“Trust your instincts,” says Marshal, “and enjoy the process of purging and renewing. You are doing something necessary to make your home a more beautiful, warm, and welcoming place.” If you need help cleaning out most of these spaces in your home, you may seek professional residential cleaning or commercial janitorial services.

  <Meltem Marshal is a home staging and organization consultant. Nicole Ball and Amie Pisano are real estate agents with Compass in Rye.>

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