Declutter! You'll Be Glad You Did

A very cluttered room with boxes and furniture everywhereDecluttering is a topic we here at Roost think about often (see here, here and here). And it’s no wonder! Whether preparing to be a home seller or gearing up to simplify your space, eliminating extra stuff can be hard. When items feel too valuable to donate, not only is it time consuming to sell them (determining value, taking photos, marketing, etc.), but it can also be emotional. Recently, I decided to take the plunge and liquidate my collection of mid century modern goodies. The first to go was my most prized treasure, a beautiful pair of mid century sofas. It was kind of like losing a family member. That said, they’d been in my garage for months, so it was time to find them a new, loving home.

As listing agents, we take great pride in our work. This work includes (on top of many things) staging, which is just one of the ways we maximize client profit. This process of decluttering opened my eyes to what our clients may feel as we walk through their homes identifying possessions that must go (or get packed up) in order to make buyers swoon. You may ask: Is it really worth it? You bet. It’s just another reason why our listings sell 2% higher than the average listing.

Starting with the sofas was like ripping off a bandage; painful at first, but soon enough it was like it never happened. The end result felt great; less can be more! If you’re preparing to sell your home, here are a few simple ways to declutter, inspired by the folks at

  1. Make it manageable. Give away just one item each day, every day. This will create momentum without overwhelming you away from getting started.
  2. Turn it into a game. See how quickly you can find 10 items to toss, 10 items to donate and 10 items to put back where they should go. Enlist your family members to play!
  3. See your home in a new light. We develop a blindness to our everyday surroundings. Take photos and evaluate your space objectively or invite someone new over to get their two cents. Simply preparing for their visit may spark changes!

Take it from Frank Lloyd Wright

As a Madison Realtor and mid century modern enthusiast, I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring Green estate, Taliesin, prior to last weekend. Not only was the drive beautiful (we took the scenic route to take in the rolling hills and vibrant leaves), but the grounds and building were truly inspiring. We did the two-hour home tour, but shorter and longer tours of the various buildings are available. Although I love history and found the stories about Mr. Wright and his family fascinating, I was truly there for the architecture. I was not disappointed! While we weren’t allowed to take interior photos, I dug up a few online of the rooms and features that struck me.

Sitting area near fireplace at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Arizona

Bedroom at  Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Arizona

Frank Lloyd Wright focused on bringing nature into his design, which translates into lots of large windows, natural wood and locally harvested field stone. I was surprised to see that, at least in this particular home, the wood trim, doors, wall panels and such were of low-grade plywood. I asked our tour guide why Wright didn’t use a “better” wood and her answer was simple. Being an artist, Wright’s home underwent many transformations; therefore, spending top dollar on a high quality hardwood wasn’t practical. Makes sense! I certainly feel a lot better trying things out in my home when I know I didn’t spend a lot on them in the first place.

I would say the biggest treats of the tour were the stone floors, vast fireplaces and wood ceiling beams. Being a Madison Realtor, I can tell you that many of the features we saw, such as the common stacked stone fireplaces, are usually considered dated by home buyers and sellers. I may have agreed in some cases prior to my visit to Taliesin, but seeing how Mr. Wright layered an array of textures, colors and shapes changed my perception. I couldn’t wait to find other examples of how these presumed “outdated” features could evolve into a room’s unique and attractive focal point.

A modern dining room where wood beams are a complimentary feature.

A modern living room where wood beams serve as a complimentary feature.

Dark, outdated features before makeover.

After - with some paint and creativity, dark features become interesting focal point in room.

As with much in life, it’s all about working with what you have and making that sweet lemonade out of those bitter lemons. Could one of your home’s unique lemons turn into an amazing, one-of-a-kind focal point with the right treatment? As homeowners beginning the listing process, consider how to play up your home’s original features. As buyers looking at outdated features as you search for home, be creative! Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison

We get a lot of calls from home buyers who are looking for unique or mid-century modern homes in Madison. And we understand why! We love unique properties -- homes with extra charm, mid-century modern lines, and other special details that make them truly stand out. Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI Homes for Sale

Often, homes like this don't regularly show up in the MLS property search. But we're not deterred! We take matters into our own hands, turning into Madison real estate sleuths, working hard to track down the unique, mid-century modern homes in Madison that meet our buyers' needs.

Part of this involves turning to you. If you, or someone you know, owns a unique, mid-century modern home, and you're contemplating a move, we'd love to talk. We know you need a listing agent who understands your home's uniqueness, and who knows how to market its features properly to secure the best possible offer. That's where we come in. We know the Madison real estate market inside and out -- and our passion for vintage, unique, and mid-century modern homes means we're perfectly suited to help.

Here are a few tips for selling your unique or mid century modern home for the highest dollar possible:

1. 1950s and 60s home decor trends are back in a big way. We can work with you to turn your home’s “dated” features into today's trends that appeal to the buyers who are looking for something unique and vintage. (Here's an example of how to do that with dated bathroom tiles.)

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI homes for sale

2. Leverage your color palette! Let's identify the colors that work best with your home’s original features, then use that color palette to determine complementary wall and accessory colors that buyers will love.

3. For an instant facelift, consider painting your brick or stone fireplace.

4. Wood paneling can date a home and make a space feel heavy and dark. Refresh your space with paint and/or punchy wall art.

5. Vintage wallpaper can be beautiful! But it's very taste-specific. Consider toning it down with the neutral drapes and contemporary accessories.

6. Educate your buyers. If your home is unique, tell them how and why! From the type of materials used, to the history of your home’s design, or the credentials of it’s architect -- don’t leave anything out when selling buyers on your home's charm. 

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI vintage home furnishings

7. Make sure that your Realtor “gets it”, too. Your ideal Realtor will not only appreciate all that your home has to offer, but will be able to articulate its value to potential buyers. While it’s unlikely that every original feature in your home will be a mid-century gem worth saving, your Realtor should have an eye for vintage chic, and be able to help your home for sale reach the appropriate audience.

Just remember -- buyers are craving unique and mid-century modern homes. But not only do you need to know how to market your home to them, you need to show them why your home is special.