Depersonalization - Neutralize Your Home

When you are selling a home there are many things to think about. There are the listing photos, the appraisal, packing, cleaning, and more. However, one thing that needs to be taken into account when prepacking and decluttering are underway is depersonalization. This part of the preparation process is one that plays to the psyche of the prospective buyer, helping them to feel more comfortable in your home.

In our homes, we have things that have special meaning to us, we have heirlooms, knickknacks, and even furniture that is unique to our lives. This is fine, however it makes it hard for prospective buyers to feel like they could own the home and are not just visiting it. Essentially, you are going to want to make your home neutral and almost look like a model home or a hotel. There are many tips on how to stage your home, but this article concentrates more on what to look for when you set out to depersonalize your home.

First, it is important to ask yourself this question: is there anything in my home that would offend someone or make someone uncomfortable? This can be furniture, art, or anything else for that matter. The reason that starting out with this is so important is because it will help make the most significant changes to your home's appearance.

Once you have removed anything that could be potentially offensive from your home, it is time to go through and search for anything that is unique to you. There are many things that can fall under this blanket and it can seem a bit hard to swallow at first, but don't worry. Depersonalization can be broken up into these subcategories to make the process a bit more manageable.

Personal Effects

When it comes to personal effects, the things to look out for are trophies, collections, equipment, etc. Now, if something is personal to you but you will needed it between now and the move date, then don't worry about it. This is for everything that isn't relied upon on a regular basis. It is best to pack these things during the decluttering process and storing them until you are into your new home.

Some personal effects that people tend to forget are things like books, excessive amounts of clothing, extras or doubles of anything, toothbrushes and other toiletries, and pets. (Obviously, toiletries need to be kept around so they can be used, but just out of sight; and pets can be just taken offsite and their things hidden if they cannot be relocated for the duration of the selling process).

Personal Paintings, Pictures, or Artwork

This seems to speak for itself. Artwork, paintings, and pictures are often specific to a particular style that we like; a style that prospective buyers may not like. This, though it is a small and seemingly insignificant detail, can actually sway the decision making process in disfavor of your home. Talk with your agent for more help on this, but most people like to just replace their own photos with generic ones of nature - flowers, woods, etc - as they are neutral and can give your home a warmer atmosphere.

The same thing can be said for statues or busts or whatever it may be. They need to be removed and, if necessary, replaced with something more generic like a potted plant.

Paint and Colors

The paint colors of your home can also play a big role in how well it sells. It is best to paint your home with neutral colors and not ones that are unique or extreme. Even light salmon and yellow can be considered personalized. Ask your agent for some help if you are not sure if your walls need to be painted, and make sure that it gets done completely before showings begin.

White is neutral, yes, but it can also be bland. You don't want your home to look bland either. If you have white walls then you may consider painting your home with a different color. If that does not fit into your budget however, then white will do fine.

This can also extend to wallpapers and borders. Preferably, all wallpaper trims should be taken off and painted over if possible; and all wallpaper should be changed out for a more neutral color or pattern.


Furniture can be a tricky one. Since furniture is so large it can be difficult to store. However, any old, tattered, or unique furniture should be taken out if possible. Especially if it is dirty. This can include coffee tables, armchairs, bean bag chairs, futons, beds, etc. The coverings for furniture should also be scrutinized. The sheets on all beds should be neutral, and any doilies or table cloths should be traded out for simpler and widely accepted style

Keepsakes and Heirlooms

This one can be hard. Mainly due to the emotional attachment. However, heirlooms only mean something to you, not strangers. So it is best to take them and store them elsewhere. This is where you need to take extra care as sometimes heirlooms can be fragile. Pack them neatly and keep them in a plastic tote so that no bugs or mice can get into them.


This is one of the most important steps to depersonalization. Smells can be a major deciding factor for a prospective buyer. Do what you can to neutralize the smell of your home (if it isn't already a simple smell) and only use a light air freshener. A strong smelling odor could be distracting for someone who comes through to see the home. Have a friend, or your agent, walk through your home with you to identify problem areas. Having someone else do this with you is crucial because most people are already accustom to the smell of their own home and may not be able to tell if it smells different.

Depersonalization can be an exhausting process both physically and emotionally which can cause it to take longer than anticipated. Start early, that way you will have ample time to get your home show ready.