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Pragmatic tips to wrangle the little ones while keeping things extra clean.


Getting your home ready for sale is notably more difficult with little kids running afoot. It’s hard enough to keep the place tidy when you’re not trying to impress potential buyers!

But staging your home and keeping it spotless for showings is essential, especially if you want your home to sell quickly. Clutter, disorder, and uncleanliness will distract your buyers and prevent them from seeing all the great things your home has to offer. And let’s be honest, some of us really LIVE in our homes.

Fortunately, some strategic planning can help you stay on top of the mess, no matter how busy you are. Successfully staging and selling your home with kids can be done!

Invest in professional cleanings

kids room staged to sell“A messy home will turn buyers away,” says professional stager Shawn Varwig with Judson Roy Home. “They will wonder what is lurking behind the mess that they may not be able to see, or they might even believe that you didn’t care well for the home and they don’t want to buy your problems.”

If you can’t find the time to stay on top of cleaning, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. A weekly or bi-weekly cleaning will take a lot of the pressure off while your home is on the market so that you can focus on other important tasks like decluttering, depersonalizing, and making impactful upgrades. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a home cleaning service in Portland is around $116 to $256. Think of this as just another expense involved in the home-selling process!

Side note: You should also neutralize pet odors, says Varwig. “We become accustomed to our own smells, and often do not realize when our pets have left their scent behind. If you don’t smell any pet scents in your home, ask a friend or neighbor to come in and see if they can smell Fido.” The same is true for diaper pails and the like.

Store excess clutter

kids room staged to sell“One of the most helpful things we did was to start by packing away the unnecessary stuff,” recall Danny and Melissa Howell, clients who have moved twice with their children, ages four and two. Decluttering is one of the easiest ways to make your home appear bigger, brighter, and more inviting to your buyers. (Plus, wiping down counters, dusting shelves, and vacuuming floors will take much less time when there is nothing in your way.)

Clear out any clutter that is crowding your home, including tabletop décor and excess furniture. If you don’t have time to sort through stuff and get rid of unwanted items, just throw everything in a storage unit (it costs an average of $87 per month nationally to rent a unit).

An alternative? The Howells boxed up excess toys, clothes, and items from their linen closet and stored those boxes along a wall in the garage, stacked nicely. “I think people expect to see some boxes when someone is moving, so having some in the garage off to the side seems like a good option.”

Keep your closets organized—your buyers are bound to peek inside! Boston Globe suggests leaving your closets half empty to show that your home has plenty of storage space. You won’t believe how big of a difference this makes in photos. Keep in mind that pattern can read as clutter.

And don’t be afraid to call in the troops for extra manpower. “Whether that be family, babysitters…having people to help with the kids while you clean and declutter was a HUGE help,” says Danny Howell. “My mom helped pack extra items from the kitchen and linen closet while my dad helped watch the kids so we could focus on the task at hand. It takes an army sometimes.”

Paint the walls neutral

kids room staged to sell

As a busy parent, you may not have a lot of time to make home renovations before putting your house on the market. Painting, however, is a relatively quick and affordable way to add value to your home and impress potential buyers.

Opt for neutral paint colors that will appeal to everyone. Sharper Impressions Painting recommends gray, beige, or a mix of the two called greige. Neutral colors are especially important in children’s rooms, as bright pink or neon green walls can quickly scare away buyers!

Learn some staging tricks

Staging your home will help it sell faster, so you can move into your new place and get your life back to normal as soon as possible. If you’re pressed for time, focus on the most impactful staging tricks. 

For example, you can quickly turn your bathroom into a spa-like environment by removing clutter from the counter, filling clear jars with cotton balls and bath salts, and hanging fluffy, white towels.

When it comes to staging your children’s rooms, you may want to invest in some nice toy chests and lidded baskets to stow away clutter and keep the space looking organized. “We have lots of bins that look nice and help the toys disappear,” suggests Danny Howell. “Think fabric storage bins that are all consistent in size and color so they have a uniform look.” Tuck items like diaper pails and hampers away inside closets.

kids playroom staged to sell

Remove personal items

kids room staged to sell

Depersonalizing your home is an important staging element. Buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living in the house, which can be difficult if it’s decorated with family photos and children’s artwork.

Fortunately, it won’t take you long to remove all those personal items from your home. Remove family photos, degrees, certificates, hobby items, and personal memorabilia. Remember, this is only temporary! Box everything up and move it into storage until you can unpack it again in your new home.

Find ways to involve your kids in the process

Whether they are toddlers or teenagers, include your children in the conversations about the transition happening in your household. Getting them excited about a new house and a new room will help them be more invested in the effort. The Howells suggest making cleaning a game: “See who can clean the fastest or pick up the most toys in one minute.” 

kids room staged to sell

If you have young kids, the idea of selling your home may seem completely overwhelming. Keep things simple! Move your clutter into storage, give the walls a fresh coat of paint, and employ just a few easy staging tricks in each room. And remember, you can always hire the help of professional cleaners if you need some weight taken off your shoulders. You’ll be able to relax in your new home before you know it!


By our current count, members of The Drew Coleman Team represent twenty-one kids that we have plenty of experience cleaning up after. CLICK HERE for more of our insight on buying or selling a home.

Showstopping design for comfort and harmony


entry and living roomLooking to pick up on design and decor trends that work well and photograph great? This dreamy listing of ours encapsulates several. While homeowner Shannon Churchill doesn’t have any formal design training (“Just a penchant for Pinterest”), she knows one key secret: Every element is chosen for how it reads into the whole. We are loving how she pulled off a style that’s boho meets mid-century (with a little farmhouse in the kitchen).

(Entry rug from Urban Outfitters)

Let’s see how this homeowner does it right, and where she gets the goods…

living room

Sophisticated lines in the living room

(Leather couch from West Elm)

dining room

Pull up a (mismatched) chair in the dining room

(Sideboard – IKEA hack with butcher block top)

A kitchen where everyone wants to gather

(Barstools – similar from Target)

kitchen with island


family room

An inviting family room

(Rug from Overstock; leather chairs – similar from Anthropologie)

A main bedroom that sings

(Ottoman from Anthropologie)



Does it come as any surprise that this beautifully designed home went pending after just four days on the market? Clearly, a few techniques and key purchases can go a long way toward creating a home that feels harmonious and put together.

Looking for more great listings from The Drew Coleman Team? We’ve always got ’em!

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