Estate Sale Before and Afters and Tips For A Great Sale!

Today I wanted to share some before and afters from last month’s estate sale in Mountain View along with some tips on how to organize and set up a sale of your own.  Someone recently asked me if I am moving my business away from organizing and only focusing on estate sales.  I thought the question was strange because I am so busy with both aspects of my business and I explained to them that I feel organizing and estate sales go hand in hand.  Each estate sale project starts with a complete home organization session. My team and I spend time sorting, decluttering, and purging every space in the home.  The only difference between an estate sale and a home organizing session is that when we get to the step of deciding what to keep, we display the items to be sold instead of storing them based on the client’s lifestyle.

When the doors at my estate sales open the shoppers have no idea what the home looked like before we were able to organize it.  We typically have only one or two days to organize and display the contents that can be sold, remove items that need to be recycled or donated, and box up personal items for the family.

This first picture is what the living room looked like at my Mountain View sale last month before we started the estate sale setup.  It was the first room that shoppers walked into so I wanted the layout to encourage shoppers to spend some time.  Also, I always have the cashier near the sale entrance so they can keep an eye on everyone who comes and goes.  (Tip! The area where the cashier is at will be the heaviest trafficked area so I want my high dollar items in that space to increase the chances of them selling.)  Only in situations where there isn’t enough space for a cashier in the house or if we are holding an outdoor sale do I have the cashier on the front porch or under a tent outside.


Preston 1 Before

I like to set up my tables first and rearrange all of the furniture so the room has a nice flow and  looks inviting.  I want to make the room look like a store, not someone’s living room.  (Tip! If it looks like someone is still living there customers will feel like they are intruding).

Once all of the furniture is in place we start to display smaller items on the tables and make the room fresh and bright by rearranging the lighting and opening all of the window treatments.  In the before picture the room looks like a mess and the first thing that catches your eye is the medical equipment in the bottom left corner.  (Tip!  if there is medical equipment available at your sale have it displayed in a bedroom or in the garage.  Try not to have it be a focal point when shoppers walk in the front door, it just reminds them that someone was sick and makes them feel guilty for shopping).  The after picture looks bright and inviting, especially the green shag carpet!  My display tables are in the right corner of the room, you can’t see them in this picture but you get an idea.


Preston 1a After

Bedrooms can often be ignored at an estate sale so it is so important to make them look inviting.  When I say they are ignored I mean that most shoppers will spend their time in the kitchen, living areas, and the garage. I think this is because bedrooms are more personal than the other rooms in the house.

This bedroom was off the kitchen in at the Mountain View estate sale and I had to do a lot of sorting and organizing to get it ready for the sale.  There were personal items mixed with treasures in all of the drawers and under the bed.  I decided to maximize the space and put the mattress up against the wall so buyers would feel welcome to come in and look around.  Also, I wanted the antique dressers to be the focal point because of their value. (Tip! Linens on a bed send the message to buyers that someone is still living there.  Always remove the linens and just display the bare mattress so that buyers can see the condition.)


Preston Bedroom 2 Before 2

After I organized the space and rearranged the furniture the room looked drastically different.  The mattress is up against the wall, I put the dressers together so that buyers would know that they were a matching set, and displayed the smaller items nicely on the furniture.


Preston Bedroom 2a After

This next set of before and afters is from another bedroom at the Mountain View estate sale.  It was full of electronics, small antique items, vintage clothes, and furniture.  Just like the room above I spent time organizing the contents, I rearranged the furniture, and stripped the bed.  (Tip!  You want the valuable items to stand out so make sure to eliminate all of the clutter from the room.)


Preston Bed 1 Before

Everything in this room sold the first day of the sale which was exciting.  I always love to empty out a room and close the door!  (Tip!  As your sale progresses and items start to sell, begin to bring items from the bedrooms into the more trafficked areas like the living room and kitchen to give them more visibility).


Preston Bed 1a After

This next set of before and afters is from the estate sale that I am having today and tomorrow in Monte Sereno.  In this situation my client’s mother passed away 14 years ago and his father passed away last year.  All of the contents for the sale were in boxes on the porch and in the guest house so when we came to set up most of our time was spent unpacking and sorting everything into categories as we displayed and set up the sale.  I had an idea of what was in the boxes based on what my client told me, but I didn’t realize the volume until it was all unpacked.  We set up the sale in 5 hours and it looks great!  Normally I only take on estate sale project when I can hold the sale inside of the home but in this case my client moved into the house and we didn’t want him to be disturbed. In this situation the property is so gorgeous that I don’t shoppers will mind enjoying the outdoor spaces.



This is just a small corner of the sale setup, you should stop by today or tomorrow to see the rest!  There are 4 more tables filled with small collectibles and tons of great antiques displayed in the yard and in a second outdoor patio space.  (Tip! the key for an outdoor setup is to make it feel like it is inside!  I still use nice black table clothes and try my best to keep any clutter out of the sale that might make buyers feel like they are at a garage sale.)


MS After

I hope you enjoyed an inside look into the estate process and find my tips helpful!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and if you have a chance please stop by 15701 Oak Knoll Drive in Monte Sereno to shop today and tomorrow between 9am and 2pm!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on stumbleupon
Share on google

0 Responses

  1. Great post. I am getting ready to host a sale for a family friend. What do you do with all the clutter to prevent it from looking like a garage sale? Don’t you want to sell that stuff too?

    1. Hey Lucy! Sometimes I have a lower priced room or section with garage sale prices but in most cases I don’t the clutter so that the quality items can stand out. It is difficult to sell a $150 waterford crystal if it is displayed near 25 cent coffee cups, do you know what I mean?

  2. Amanda, I love it when you do the before/after photos, and all of the hints for estate sales. Also seeing how having stuff all cluttered the items can’t be appreciated for their own beauty. Best to you at this weekends sale.

    1. We always open at 9am but our closing time varies depending on the sale. Please sign up for our email list to keep in touch with all of the shopping opportunities that we have!

  3. Great ideas on presentation and thanks for understanding how shopper’s might feel when entering someone else’s personal domain. I also appreciate plenty of light (as opposed to closed off windows) to view the items and prevent claustrophobia in a room.

  4. Hi Amanda this is AWESOME info..thanks. But my question is what do you CHARGE FOR YOUR SERVICES ON A ESTATE SALE. What are your FEES? Thank u for this service many people need help when there lives have suddenly stopped…

  5. Our upcoming estate sale will be outside AND inside. Wondering if we should have 2 cashiers?? One outside and one inside? And how do the outside workers know that the customers coming out of the house have paid for their item? And if the cashier is inside, do I make people who want garage items come inside to pay? And if I just reduced a price for someone, how does the cashier (wherever they are) know this? I can’t think of a good way to manage this without creating chaos. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. You should never have multiple cashiers, always have one entrance and one exit with someone working the door. Consider an area to hold items and people lined up to pay, ideally near the front door in the opposite direction of shoppers entering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *