Depersonalizing Your Home for a Quicker Sale

Depersonalizing your home is one of the most important steps in the home staging process.

As potential buyers walk through your home, they are trying to imagine their future there. Depersonalizing is all about neutralizing or removing your personal taste from your home décor so that buyers can mentally see themselves moving in.

I know, I know, you’ve spent many years lovingly adding personal touches to your rooms and you finally feel like it’s You. Unfortunately, other people don’t need or want to see “you” all over their home.  And having photograph after photograph of your family on the walls, animal furs, ornate gilded paintings, or a shrine to your child’s achievements can alienate buyers from feeling like your home could become theirs.

So, what should you do?

Take a step back and look at your room with “buyer’s eyes”.  After living in a home for a while many of us have blinders to those half-finished projects, overgrown collections, and cluttered spaces.

Try imagining that you are seeing your home for the first time. What stands out to you? What can you do to make a better first impression?

If you’re having trouble with this step, enlist the help of an honest friend or neighbour and don’t be offended when they mention “maybe that should be packed away…” or “that design choice is really bold!” Remember, they are trying to help and only have your best interest at heart, and that is making your home more appealing, so you can sell your home quicker and for more money!

Here’s a couple ideas to get you started:

Family Photos

Start with all of the family photos on display. Photos of another family can discourage potential buyers from making a personal connection with the home. While you may think seeing your happy memories is helpful, it can actually make it harder for them to envision their own families in the space.

Too many photographs can also make a room feel more cluttered than it actually is. So scale back and swap out some personal photos for a neutral image like a pretty landscape picture or photo of nature.

Sentimental Items

Next up, remove trophies, awards and other personal paraphernalia. I know, I know, you worked hard to earn them and are proud to show them off.

Personal Décor Choices

Eliminate personal taste items. While you may love that real bearskin rug or religious statue, not all buyers will appreciate it and may actually be turned off of the house because of it.  Other items to consider: nude or semi-nude images, anything with a political message, sports team logos, and anything that is likely to be polarizing to a group of people.

Don’t forget to go through your kids and teenagers rooms at this point! Take down posters and pack away toys.

Any remaining art should be neutral enough not to take away from any architectural highlights or beautiful views your home may have. Artwork and accessories should enhance the room, not distract the potential buyers from the room itself.

Outdated Wallpaper

If there is something that is always commented on in showings, it’s outdated wallpaper. Note, I’m not saying all wallpaper, but specifically the old-fashioned stuff that dates a room back to the 60’s-80’s. There are some beautiful wallpapers on the market nowadays that many people find appealing.

Do not try to just paint over it. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt to take down, but the end result is worth it.


Collections can overwhelm a room, and too many pieces can make a room look cluttered. In addition, with so many people going though your home, you’ll feel better packing away any valuable collections.

Personal Items

Ensure to pack up or hide away daily-use items during showings. This includes dirty dishes, toys, soiled laundry, makeup, hair supplies, medications, toothbrushes and ratty bathrobes.

Be diligent about keeping the home clean and ready for a viewing at any time. While inconvenient, it could be the difference between your home selling quickly or sitting on the market for months.


Finally, the touchiest of all subjects, pets.

For most of us, our pets are our family. But that doesn’t mean everyone is a fan of animals, or is able to have one (due to allergies in the family, etc.) If possible, it is best to make sure your cat or dog isn’t present when the house is being viewed. If that’s not possible, try containing them and their belongings in a low-profile room (e.g. guest bedroom).

Remember to store away belongings such as beds, toys, leashes, litter boxes, and food and water bowls while you (and your furbabies) are out of the house during a showing. In addition, deodorizing the room and vacuuming will help put potential buyers’ minds at ease that your pets have not damaged the house in any way. Something as simple as a litter box or a tumbleweed of dog hair can be an instant turn-off for buyers who are not accustomed to animals.

If you have “different” types of pets like snakes, reptiles, insects or rodents, it may be best to find them a temporary home with a trusted friend or family member. Some people are deathly afraid of these type of pets, and may end up leaving the house because of them. Fish are generally ok with most people, just ensure the tank is clean while your house is on the market.

Adding Comforting Touches

After all that depersonalizing, you may find your rooms to feel empty or cold. By adding a few comforting touches, you can appeal to all the senses of potential buyers.

Candles with a pleasant aroma can freshen up a room. Just don’t go overboard as strong scents can be overwhelming. Opt for something simple, like a vanilla or lemon scented candle.

Make sure the thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature. If it’s too hot or too cold, buyers may decide not to linger.

Ensure the TV is off during all viewings as it can be a distraction. Instead, try playing some soft music in the background to keep potential buyers relaxed.

Additional items like fresh flowers or a book and throw blanket on the couch can add a welcoming touch to an otherwise bland room.

If you really want to take your viewing up a notch, bake some fresh cookies before you leave. Not only will the smell be pleasant when they walk in, you can leave a lasting positive image with a delicious treat.

Sprucing up the House and/or Home Staging

Now that you’ve taken the time to depersonalize your home, you may want to look at ideas for sprucing up your home or staging it. Remember that any effort you put into making your home more appealing will pay off big time in terms of how quickly it sells, and how much money you walk away with.

Michael Murphy, Ottawa Realtor

Hi, I'm Michael

Thanks for stopping by! Here, we talk about everything real estate; buying, selling, investing and everything in between. Get the Inside Scoop by joining below, or follow along on your favourite platform for the most up-to-date information on real estate.

The real estate information YOU want, delivered straight to your inbox every month.

Most Popular:

3 Responses

  1. If you depersonalize your home before selling, then there’s a good chance that you’ll attract better offers from the buyers. If a home looks bland, I think people tend to buy these houses more, because they can personalize it in their way.

  2. Yeah, I think buyers love to see a home that they can personalize themselves. If the home is already personalized, it will take quite some effort and time for the buyers to make it fit to the way they want.

Comments are closed.