Declutter Your Kitchen

How to sell your home and make a faster, more profitable sale

Extremely cluttered kitchenWould you buy this house after seeing this kitchen?!!

Declutter your kitchen before you place your house on the real estate market to keep buyers from walking away. 

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms to consider when buying a house. Buyers may love the rest of your house, but if the kitchen fails to meet their expectations, they may walk away. Some Realtors even say that you are selling your kitchen, not your home!



Buyers are looking for spacious countertops, a good work triangle, updated appliances and plenty of storage space. In addition, people want to entertain while working in their kitchen.

If your kitchen needs more than a little updating, a simple renovation could be the answer. Kitchens and bathrooms are two areas where a renovation can give you a big return on your investment when selling your home. 

If you're worried about a small kitchen and how it will show to buyers, see small kitchen decorating ideas for home staging tips on how to make small rooms appear more spacious.

Unfinished kitchen projects

Unfinished and cluttered kitchenUnfinished kitchen project.

Unfinished construction projects are a real buyer turnoff. It's a rare home buyer that will want to take on somebody's unfinished project. Home staging is all about making your home appeal to the most people possible, not just a select few.

There are a few do-it-yourselfers out there, but most people have the mentality that an unfinished project will never get done.

This kitchen is so close to being done! It just needs matching appliances, window trim, and a new floor. A tile backsplash would send this kitchen over the top.

BEFORE YOU DECLUTTER YOUR KITCHEN:  Collect boxes, totes, garbage bags, bubble wrap, tape and permanent markers. Label your boxes and bags appropriately; donations, move, throwaway or yard sale.

To make the job more palatable, you can divide this chore into two days. Do the upper cabinets the first day, the lower cabinets the second.

Declutter kitchen cabinets and drawers

Cluttered pantry cupboardClean clutter inside cabinets too! Buyers WILL look inside.
  • Declutter your kitchen by organizing the inside of cabinets and drawers. Buyers WILL look inside to see if there’s enough room for their things. 

  • Buyers will think your kitchen lacks storage space if cupboards and drawers are crammed full.
  • Illusion plays a key role in the art of home staging. Leaving spaces around items will give the impression that there is plenty of storage room in your kitchen.
  • This is your chance to get rid of rarely used items. Donate appliances you never use and pack up grandma’s punch bowl that you drag out once a year. 
  • As you declutter your kitchen cabinets, you'll notice things out of place. Put these items aside for the appropriate cabinet later.
  • Organize your cupboards by grouping similar things together; canned items, plastic food containers, pots and pans and so on.

When staging the kitchen, put back only 1/3 to half of the items into the cupboards. Leave spaces between items to give the illusion that there's plenty of room inside.


Kitchen Storage shelvingPhoto by cozylittlehouse.com
  • If you lack storage space, yet have extra floor space in or near your kitchen, consider purchasing a shelving system, like the one featured above. Group like items together, facing toward the front.

  • If you have an excessive amount of plates, glasses, mugs, etc., box most of them up for your new home. Be aware of your work triangle and store the appropriate items close to where you use them; pots and pans near the stove, for example.
  • As you declutter your kitchen, organize the cabinets with similar items, and be sure to “face” each item toward the front. This is an old grocery store trick to keep shelves looking neat and organized.
  • Leave plenty of open spaces in your cabinets to show off all the new storage space. 



Declutter your kitchen with organizing systems

Kitchen cupboard stacking organizer

Organizing systems are a home stager's best friend!

Kitchen organizing systems go a long way to help you declutter your kitchen, make it more efficient and look attractive.

Beautifully organized cabinets, drawers, pantries, closets, etc., will help to create a good impression on home buyers

After seeing your neatly organized kitchen, buyers will think the rest of the home has been well-maintained, as well.

Organizing systems for the inside of pantries, cabinets, and drawers can be found practically everywhere; home improvement stores, Walmart, Kroger's, and of course, Amazon.

Organized utensil drawer

For messy utensil or “junk” drawers, use inexpensive trays and boxes to keep things tidy. 

Buyers are always impressed when they open a neatly organized drawer.

I particularly like the drawer organizer in the picture on the right-- I use it in my own kitchen.

It has rubber feet on the bottom that prevents any sliding when you open the drawer.

You can find this product and others like it at www.madesamart.com.

Staging your pantry

Photo by organizedlifedesign.com

Having a pantry in or near your kitchen is a huge bonus! Buyers simply love them and will get excited no matter how small it is.

If your pantry is overflowing and messy, pull everything out, purge some items, then return only 1/3 to 1/2 as much stuff as before.

Stage your pantry as attractively as possible, using pretty baskets, jars, boxes and canisters.

If you have any outstanding glassware like; cake stands, colored jars, pottery, your finest dishes, etc., put them on the shelf. 

If you do your own canning, neat rows of canned beets, carrots, and tomatoes always look pretty on display.

Be sure to space objects wide apart as shown in the picture, to create the impression of spaciousness.

Don't forget to line items up precisely and face labels toward the front.

Kitchen cabinet solutions

If you plan on renovating, be sure to avoid "taste specific" paint color schemes like purple or neon lime green. Stay away from trendy styles and embellishments, like stenciling or glazing. Browse through home decor magazines or go online to view custom kitchen cabinets for ideas.

Refacing kitchen cabinets

Dingy kitchen cabinets can be spruced up with a good cleaning, a coat of paint, or simply refacing the doors. 

If your kitchen cabinet doors are in bad shape or outdated, consider replacing the door panels. It's easier and less expensive than replacing the entire cabinets.

With refacing, the boxes and frames of your existing cabinets are kept intact. You can buy doors already finished or refinish your own. DON'T reface kitchen cabinets if the frames are in bad shape.

There are a number of places that offer kitchen cabinet refacing. See kitchenreface.com for more information. Kitchen cabinet door suppliers; Ikea, homedepot.com and cabinetstogo.com

Painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets and walls a light neutral color can create the illusion of more space in a small kitchen.

A fresh coat of paint is often the remedy for reviving a tired and dingy kitchen. You must remove all the cabinet doors and hardware, sand, prime, dust, paint, sand again then paint your final coat.

Below is a great video showing you how to paint your kitchen cabinets the right way. Video by Jennifer Stagg.

Kitchen cabinet hardware

Adding new cabinet and drawer hardware is a quick and affordable way to update a boring kitchen. You may need to fill the old hardware holes before you paint if they don't correspond with the new ones. To avoid this problem, take the old hardware to the store with you and select new ones with matching holes.

When choosing knobs and pulls for your cabinets, stick to neutrals like polished nickel, satin and brushed finishes. Avoid brassy tones or "taste specific" hardware that may appeal only to a few.

Watch the video below by alchemyfineliving to learn how to fill hardware holes.

Kitchen countertops

After you declutter you kitchen, it's time to think about your countertops. Home buyers have become very demanding in their kitchen countertop preferences these days, preferring granite, marble, or quartz over less expensive options.

If your kitchen countertops are in dire need of replacement, consider a precut slab of granite, Silestone or CaesarStone. These products are available at much lower cost at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other home improvement stores.

Most home improvement stores provide installation services or instructions on how to do-it-yourself, as well.

For a high-end look without the maintenance of marble, try engineered quartz countertops. They look beautiful and the surface is nonporous and durable.

Kitchen backsplash

Kitchen interior design picturesA pretty backsplash is like jewelry for the kitchen.

I always think a kitchen looks incomplete without a backsplash, in the same way that a woman's outfit needs accessories to complete it. Adding a backsplash will add color, texture, and sparkle to a kitchen and make clean up easier.

A kitchen backsplash doesn't have to be fancy. Affordable and classic subway tile will enhance any kitchen decor. 

Kitchen appliances

MATCHING kitchen appliances will bring a higher return for sellers, so get rid of old ones that make your kitchen look dated and tired. They don't have to be expensive, just clean and functional. If you don't do anything else in your kitchen, get matching appliances! Many a buyer has walked away from a home with mismatched appliances.

If you can't afford to replace outdated kitchen appliances, try re-facing the fronts with an affordable sheet of stainless-steel film. EZ Instant Makeover offers a high quality vinyl film that will stick to the surface of any smooth-faced appliance you wish to update. 

In addition to kitchen appliances, you can also use this stainless-steel film on any flat surface, like counter tops, backsplashes and shelves. This product is scratch and heat resistant and easy to clean.

The kitchen sink

For instructions on cleaning stubborn stains and making your type of kitchen sink look great, see cleaning your kitchen sink.

If you have a smelly garbage disposal, throw a couple lemon halves in to freshen it. If that doesn't work, go to removing bad odors for more ideas.

Cleaning and repairing kitchen tile grout

See cleaning grout for tips that will refresh the look of your kitchen tiles. Sparkling kitchen tiles will help sell your house faster and keep home buyers from negotiating the price down.

If kitchen grout is in need of replacing, watch the instructive video below for help in removing and replacing grout. Video by essortment.

Clean and stage the refrigerator

Declutter your kitchen by cleaning out the fridge. People WILL look inside the fridge to check out the space, so it’s vital that it looks spacious and clean. 

When you've finished decluttering and cleaning your kitchen, it's time to move on to the FUN part of the home staging process. See staging the kitchen for home staging tips. 

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Cleaning kitchen cabinets

Cleaning grout

Cleaning & staging the refrigerator

Getting rid of mold

Removing bad odors

Removing wallpaper