Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #72 How To Sell A House 7: Living & Dining Room ~ Family Room



Suit Yourself™ International Magazine #72



HOW TO SELL A HOUSE 7: Living & Dining Room ~ Family Room


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 I hope this is enjoyable and useful to you!

Debra Spencer



This issue continues the series of articles to help you sell your house for the best price in the least amount of time. 
Yes, I know, there are a lot of "sell your house" books and articles out there, but none quite like this. Really.

Many people feel overwhelmed when they first decide to sell a home.  In these issues, I introduce the basic selling concepts organized into a reasonable system,
so you can ready each part of your home without feeling overwhelmed by the task. 

Recall the the key points from the introduction to this series:
Minimize Clutter 
and then, Open House!

Remember: think like a buyer and have a critical eye.

Thanks for reading and I hope this series is helpful to you!



Some parts of your home will be more challenging  than others; which parts are challenging will depend on the type of dwelling you have, and how you've used it. Homes with unusual configurations, or in challenging locations, or selling out of season, or substantially remodelled, may need extra attention to detail to compete.

This is why I provide each part of your home with a specialized checklist for it,  in detail in each of the upcoming issues, and each checklist applies these same five important points to package each part of your house for sale. 

Even if you can't get to every detail, the checklists will help you to keep the basics in mind and to stay organized. When you're ready to begin work, print out and use each of the checklists, adding your own "To Do" lists to each one.  

If you can remember only one "take-away" rule from this entire series, it's REDUCE CLUTTER. One person's "Pride And Joy" is just clutter to someone else. There is no accounting for taste. Clutter blocks people from visualizing themselves living in your home. Think "hotel room" and "theatre", and pack and store away all non- essentials and anything personal. Your buyers are considering buying your home from the front row of an intimate theatre, not from the rear of the cinema or behind a Rock n'Roll concert crowd. Once your home is for sale, think of your home as a hotel where you're staying until the home sells; in your mind, you've already moved out. 

Remember, to compete successfully and sell, your house must stand out from the competition as memorable in some way other than price. No matter how fine the neighborhood, that cannot offset a dilapidated ill-kept dwelling in poor repair.

At the same time, your home has to encourage buyers to picture themselves living within it.

Advertising and publicity can't do this for you; they just announce your house is for sale. 



People bond while sharing food and drinks.

Formal and informal living rooms, dens, sitting rooms, and formal and casual dining areas

lend deep ritual significance to our lives.

We lightly refer to this profound act as "entertaining".



There are living rooms,

and then there are family activity rooms more commonly referred to as "dens". These serve entirely different purposes and are used for entirely different social events. 

The living room is a clearly designated area used for receiving visitors formally.

By this I mean that the formal living room hosts events when there is a specific purpose to the visit and usually a fixed time frame for them as well. 

The family room or "den" is an informal area where anyone in the household can gather for no specific reason or occasion, and for no specific length of time.

The word "den" also refers to the area where hibernating animals sleep over the winter.

 In the family room or "den", there is usually some form of entertainment arrayed for use in this informal setting,

such as a library with books,

a piano or audio equipment,

and some sort of visual entertainment (a live bird in a cage, a computer, a television, an aquarium, a large window overlooking a garden, etc.). There are comfortable places to sit, usually easily rearranged,

and usually accommodating to pets.

A den, also sometimes referred to as a 'rumpus room" may or may not be set off from the rest of the house. It is also frequently located on a lower level or downstairs, and sometimes outside.

This is the area of the house where family members and friends meet for recreation

and to practice their hobbies.


A formal living room, on the other hand, is dominated by fixed furniture arrangements,

upholstery in expensive pale fabric coordinating to the draperies and pillows,

elaborate arrangements of conversation starter objects,

and surfaces which cannot be used without an intervening coaster. 


Dining rooms likewise range on a style continuum from severely formal 

to very casual,


and in size range, from enormous

to tiny. 

The more formal the setting, the more ritualized, focused, and time consuming is the meal. 

And the more informal the setting, the less ritualistic and less orderly is the eating.

In formal settings, food is brought by servers to each individual sitting at the table.

In informal settings, food is often self-served from platters passed around the table from person to person,

or arrayed and self-served from a separate area (a.k.a."smorgasbord")

and then carried by the eater to the table on a plate. 

A formal dining room is usually dominated by a large table and chairs,

surrounded by cabinets holding tableware.

It resembles a theatre stage waiting to put on a performance of a play.

Formal dining room settings serve food in fixed formats, in a fixed sequence, using a fixed order of utensils, a fixed menu, and with the guests seated at fixed places. There's no "musical chairs" allowed during a formal dinner.

The hosts put a great deal of thought into their seating arrangements. One usually can only politely converse primarily with those seated to either side or directly across. No shouting at someone seated down the table. No playing with your food. No eating or drinking out of order. Mingling is minimized.


In Europe, wine and root cellars are often housed in basements, however Americans prefer to house their informal gathering living rooms and dens in basements or extra garages, often pairing them with a "bar".  

Counter "bars" in homes and in restaurants are usually high counters with linearly arranged equally high chairs. Everyone who is seated sits facing away from everyone else.

The old fashioned drug store soda "fountains" are one example.

These are officially informal places; you can order, or eat, as much or as little as you like, a beverage or a full meal, and you can eat dessert first if you want, before you eat your main meal. Usually condiments are provided on the counter, and shared by all. Food and drinks are served with little formality and even less conversation. When people want to talk, they tend to move to tables, or sofas. People also sit at counters in public areas when they want to be "discovered", as any Hollywood talent scout can tell you. 

Dining, and eating, both formal and informal, are intricately involved with the serving of condiments, particularly salt.

Condiments have a ritual and symbolic purpose

extending far beyond their ability to alter the taste of food.  

For example, one interesting archaic European custom evolved around salt when it was still scarce, namely the custom and meaning of being seated above or below the salt.  The phrase was first seen in print around 1597 in Europe.  At a formal dinner, the host sat at the head of the table, and guests were seated around the host, and around the table, in descending order of relation, importance, allegiance, alliance, and trust.At the approximate center of the table was placed a shared bowl of salt, with a spoon, known as a "salt cellar". This salt cellar acted as a mark of demarcation; it divided the guests into two distinct status areas. Anyone seated at the table had sworn some degree of fealty to those sitting at the head of it; those seated above the salt were more important. The arrangement served to keep people in their place, puns intended.

Later, when salt became more plentiful,

everyone invited to a formal dinner received their own individual salt cellar with condiment spoon,

offering them the immediate visual assurance that their hosts had sufficient means to feed them, and that they were important enough to be invited at all.

It's still customary at formal America dinners to see two sets of salt and pepper condiments on the formal dining table, although it's questionable whether the guests sitting below the second set will recognize they're being subtly snubbed.

With modern American counter dining, everyone has an equalized social status; everyone shares the condiments placed on the counter, nobody is seated facing anyone, and nobody is placed "above or below the salt". 

Salt has held ritual symbolic significance since the dawn of humankind. It is mentioned in the Bible, and one example is Lot's wife turning to a pillar of salt upon looking back at the doomed city of Sodom, from whence she had just come. Salt is sodium chloride, a white crystal found in sea water that can be used for preserving and seasoning food. Salt is also symbolic of life. It is a constituent in blood and thus in human saliva and perspiration (spit and sweat). There are cultures in this world which seal an agreement by spitting into the palm of one hand, and then extending it to shake hands with another.

These older rituals persist to this day in Western dining. Formal diners often find individual salt and pepper servers at each place setting, alongside an array of dinnerware, knapkins, utensils, and glasses.

Informal diners at an informal table setting may find a holder containing condiments, or a single salt seller with a condiment spoon, or a salt "shaker" alongside a pepper grinder, which is passed around the table as needed.

Informal diners not eating at tables, such as in "take out" situations, often have access to small sealed packets of pre-measured condiments, such as salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, sugar, salad dressing, and creme.Some informal dining situations even offer packets containing tiny wet paper knapkins.

Needless to say, it is worth nothing that the custom of serving condiments with food and to accompany meals persists regardless of the level of formality or informality of the setting.


  Living & Dining Room ~ Family Room

Minimize Clutter

Coffee and end tables: remove papers, etc.
Furniture: rearrange for openness, remove and store as needed.
Bookshelves and office areas: straighten, pack, and store.
Plants: remove extra, unruly, or unhealthy plants.



Carpet: spot clean, and consider a professional service.
Lighting fixtures: clean and polish to a sparkle. Wipe surfaces.
Furniture and woodwork: polish.
Hardwood floors: wash and shine.


Wall and ceiling cracks: repair and paint.


Walls: use a neutral paint and wallpaper.
Consider adding neutral colored pillows to the sofa or couch.



In the family room, leave out a project or a game.
Use logs and fireplace accessories.
Set the table. Put linens on the table and the server.
Use real flowers and fresh potpourri.
Drape an elegantly simple fine fabric afghan over a chair or couch. 
Rearrange pictures to highlight special areas.


Thanks for reading and I hope this series is enjoyable and helpful to you!

Best Wishes,

Debra Spencer

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All Content is © Debra Spencer, Suit Yourself™ International. Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part of in whole without express written consent. Thank you.



All Content is © Debra Spencer,Suit Yourself™ International.Technical Library FAQ Index ISSN 2474-820X. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce in part or in whole without express written consent. Thank you.



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