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Your house may be clean, but if it’s cluttered and full of stuff, you may not even notice the sparkling counters or vacuumed room. And if your home is on the real estate market, clutter could drop your perceived home value and may be one of the biggest things standing in your way of a home sale.

“Clutter eats equity — takes up space and makes it feel smaller,” says Barb Schwarz, CEO of StagedHomes.com. “Most sellers have too many things.”

Whether you’re selling your home, or just looking for a way to tackle the stuff accumulating, here are some tips to cut the clutter:

Purge

Take a critical look at your belongings and decide whether you need it on a regular basis. Keep only what you really love, use or wear. If you’re unsure whether you’ll miss a sweater or an old magazine, put it away and see if you still want it after a couple of weeks. Chances are you won’t miss the item.

Assign a Place

Always looking for your keys or the remote or paperwork? Assign a place for that item and keep it there. Buy bins, label them and encourage members of your household to put things away in their proper place. Make sure that the bins are in a place that makes sense— it shouldn’t be harder to find the items when they’re organized.

Save your time on the stairs as you go up and down to return things to their proper place. Place a bin at the bottom of the stairs and put items in there that need to go upstairs, When you head upstairs for something, take the bin along with you and return the things to their proper place.

Turn Clutter into Decor

A tight grouping of items— glass jars holding office supplies for instance— can look like a planned accessory for a room. Woven baskets for blankets, or wooden crates for bathroom cleaners can all stand on their own in a room without making the space seem cluttered.

About the Author

Erika Riggs, the Zillow Digs manager, covers home design and trends.

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