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I've de-cluttered, depersonalized; but now will it sell?

Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

So we're selling our house. And I pull up some tips on getting it ready to show. First tip: Make it look like nobody lives here.

I'm not sure how to make four people disappear, but I'll give it a shot.

I start with de-cluttering. I quickly pack up everything the husband brought into the marriage, label it “bachelor” and haul it off to a storage unit I will quickly lose the key to. One person gone, three to go.

The children disappear with the reappearance of the dining room that was converted into a playroom. Out goes all the planes, trains and Transformers, leaving me with my beautiful dining room table and 36 AA batteries.

But I still have to depersonalize. They say pack up personal items because buyers can't see past them. Awesome. I can take down the life-size drawing of my son on the refrigerator. I can't see past it either. In the end, there is no evidence of any wedding, or babies, birthdays or trips.

No one lives here.

Next tip: Give the appearance that someone smart and successful lives here.

Oops. I guess one person has to stay. I'll stick around. But I'm going to have to do some creative staging to pull this off.

I clear the bookshelves of anything that has “for dummies” in the title, and replace it with a dictionary, my husband's National Geographic collection, and autobiographies of three past presidents. For that feminine touch, I throw in a copy of “Jane Eyre.” I look smarter already.

They suggest leaving today's paper on the coffee table with your glasses. I was close. I do People magazine with my sunglasses, but I'm willing to upgrade. I try to fill out the crossword, but after an hour, decide it's more important to look successful than smart and therefore, too busy to fool with a puzzle. I stage the financial page next to a tea tray I never use, with tea cups and silver I forgot I had.

Looking for a teabag, I see my pantry is a dead giveaway that the “someone” who lives here is a fake. A smart and successful person wouldn't have Pop Tarts, mac 'n cheese, and Taco Kits. I empty it leaving only gourmet soups, colorful pastas and couscous.

I alphabetize spices, group dishes, match hand towels. I do the suggested large bowls of polished apples and arranged cookbooks. And they say yellow evokes a buying emotion. So I paint the powder room Fried Banana, and go out and get a bunch of grapefruit and butter. And then I plant marigolds and make a pitcher of lemonade.

With some scented soap we never buy, whole rolls of TP we never have, and a toilet seat that's finally down, my home is a showhouse ready for a tour. The house is made over. And so am I. I've gone from a wife and stay-at-home mother of two, to a single, successful, intellectual neat freak with a yellow obsession.

The Realtor says it'll sell fast. Probably in just two weeks. Stay tuned ...

Tracy Curtis: tracyobserver@yahoo.com.

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