Last minute showing request? They’re in the neighborhood now, looking at the house down the street? Yikes! Here a few quick dos and don’ts for concealing clutter and achieving show-ready condition… fast.

DON’T:

Stuff everything in closets. This may work for last-minute company; but showing your home is a different ball game. Buyers will open them (same goes for cabinets, and any storage area that comes with the house). They’ll want to see that your house has enough storage space – so don’t stop staging at the closet door.

Go crazy with curtains. Tension rods and curtains can be great for concealing chronically messy areas, like shelves full of favorite toys or your cat’s litter box area, but they can also can send the subliminal message that your home lacks permanent, finished solutions.

Overload your coat rack. More than one item per hook can make it look like your house doesn’t have enough closet space.

Stuff kitchen messes in your appliances. Buyers will look. A couple exceptions here, though – if your fruit bowl is looking sad, go ahead and stow it in the fridge; and if you have pans, knives or cutting boards waiting in the sink to be hand-washed, store them in the dishwasher for the showing. You can always pull them out later to properly wash.

DO:

-Stuff everything in covered baskets, pretty gift boxes, or door-front furniture, like an armoire. Since these are personal items, buyers won’t look in them (unless you’re selling your home furnished). Under the bed is most likely a safe bet, too, as long as a bed skirt conceals the area.

Stow items away in vintage suitcases, then slide them under a coffee table – this arrangement can double as a clutter collector and character-rich décor.

Bring the mess with you. Lego project underway? Seasonal wardrobe transition in progress? Grab a plastic bin, if you must, and throw it in your car for the showing. We recommend that sellers do this with dog beds to literally get the smell out of the house; and in a pinch, it can apply to clutter too.

Give your house a 10-minute power clean. There’s picked up, and then there’s clean. Get your house to a decent place on both counts with a quick pre-showing cleaning routine – this video will show you how (note: this is a last-ditch effort for unplanned showings; for those with notice, we still recommend a more thorough routine).

… and if you have time:

Create some clever storage hacks. Check out this blog post for inspiration, including hiding keys behind canvas frames, using old books to create a stealthy catch-all, DIY-ing a charging station, and more. Having these options available will make last-minute pickups much easier.

Do a major pre-list purge. Less stuff in the first place means less to manage before showings. If you’re not sure where to start, print out this checklist of items that you won’t regret donating or recycling; and to clear the mental hurdles, consult this helpful Lifehacker article.

Was this helpful? If so, check out Marie’s other tips in this series, and follow future posts by subscribing below!