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The third season of Netflix’s award-winning Queer Eye revival came out in March. *Insert all the feels.* We’ll admit that we binged every episode for totally selfish reasons (who doesn’t need a little self-empowerment and acceptance in their life?) so, guilty as charged.
But between ugly-cries and rearranging our sock drawer like Bobby would, it hit us hard here at HomeLight: this show has so many insights to offer, especially to people tackling the difficult challenge of selling their home. We just couldn’t leave all this inspiration bottled up!
Not to mention that selling a house is an emotional and logistical juggling act that can leave you feeling defeated, not unlike the ordinary “heroes” (the show’s makeover subjects) who the Fab Five set out to transform with unwavering optimism and practical lessons in the power of organization.
Keep reading, henny, for the hope and hip tips you need to get through an event as stressful as a home sale and, most importantly, give yourself some love along the way.
Welcome to KCMO: The Fab Five take us to the ‘City of Fountains’
It’s Season 3 and we’re taken to Kansas City, Missouri, known for its incredible barbecue, Country Club Plaza that is every shopaholic’s dream, and buzz-worthy Power & Light entertainment district. What better place to get a new lease on life than the city with 48 publicly-operated fountains? (Oh and ICYMI, we have a whole guide dedicated to selling your house fast in Kansas City).
The Fab Five Team arrive with gusto: You’ve got Bobby Berk (home design expert—we’ll talk about him a lot because of, you know, the real estate connection), Karamo Brown (culture coach), Tan France (fashion expert), Antoni Porowski (food expert), and Jonathan Van Ness (grooming guru), ready to work their magic on eight average citizens who are about to learn how to live their best life.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the episode-by-episode stroll down Queer Eye memory lane, taking pit stops to explore the relevant advice you should incorporate into your home sale.
Episode 1: ‘From Hunter to Huntee’
In the Season 3 premiere, we meet Jody Castellucci, a female prison guard. Favorite color? Camo. Hobbies? Hunting. Self-esteem? Could be higher.
Her husband nominated Jody for a Queer Eye revamp when he realized that she wasn’t feeling her best emotionally. As a full-time working mom and wife, Jody allocated all of her time to other people and never knew “self-care” was a thing.
Jody’s home reflects the corners of her mind. Curtains drawn, living room cluttered, Jody and her husband live on efficiency, convenience, and frozen squirrels. She reveals that though this “masculine” lifestyle is a part of her, she wants to feel “feminine” again.
The Fab Five set out to find that perfect balance for Jody’s look and her home. They help her realize that she doesn’t need to completely change who she is or shed her personality like a shell. Instead they help her bring out the best qualities of who she is, so that she feels confident and comfortable in her own skin.
Lesson for sellers: Keep it gender neutral and don’t go too far with any single theme
Lots of us can relate to the stress of burnout and how it starts to manifest in every aspect of our lives. In addition, we’ve all gone overboard with a “theme” we’re into in one way or another, whether it’s our kids love for Mickey Mouse or entire rooms dedicated to a single sports team.
In Jody’s case, Bobby was careful to breathe more life into her home without compromising who Jody is. The design guru used lots of white paint to transform the gloomy rooms and wood panels that lined every wall of the house and added some modern and light-colored furniture for a more relaxed space. But his decor touches like plants and a toned-down taxidermy arrangement stayed true to Jody’s passions and hobbies.
“I like that it’s not too masculine or feminine,” says Tan.
“She’s gender neutral!” replies Jonathan.
When it comes to selling your home, you do have to be careful that your personal tastes don’t overpower visitors’ initial impression. In fact, you’ll need to take your own sense of flair out of your home to a greater extent than Jody did (she wasn’t trying to sell her house, just find more happiness in it). The last thing you want to do is polarize your pool of potential buyers with a highly customized design aesthetic.
Unless you’re selling a hunting cabin in the middle of the woods, redecorate the home in a fashion that’s palatable to anyone. Generally you’ll want to paint over any loud walls with a subtle beige, white, or gray, which are first-choice paint colors of top real estate agents, and take down family photo collections and personal artifacts to depersonalize the house overall.
The objective of gender-neutral staging is to appeal to everyone and help buyers realize that they can build a life in a house that was once someone else’s. You want any buyer to think, “I can work with this!” or “This room is perfect for my family.”
Episode 2: ‘Lost Boy’
The Fab Five venture to the summer camp grounds of Joey Greene, a program director at Wildwood Outdoor Education Center. A kid at heart, Joey is self-diagnosed with Peter Pan Syndrome, which is why he loves his job as a summer camp coordinator.
However, he’s unable to build a stable home life for himself—Joey believes in utility to an extreme.
When Tan asks him, “What’s wrong with wanting something that you just want, not that you need?” Joey says, “The way I grew up, I got it in the back of my head that, that was selfish.” For him, it’s shameful to own things that aren’t practical.
Now, he’s been promoted from his RV to a cabin on the campgrounds, which Joey’s direct supervisor took as an opportunity to call in the Fab Five and help him learn how to take care of himself without guilt.
Lesson for Sellers: Create the illusion of space
No matter how small or basic the space you’re selling, you should still show buyers how it’s functional and livable with the right furniture arrangements, storage options, and decor.
Bobby, for example, was able to find the right balance of functionality and comfort in Joey’s small cabin. He furnished the cabin to still have the practical elements that Joey wants, while also making it a cozy home for his son to live there without feeling cramped. He added plants and multipurpose furniture, then created a bunk bed by using wall space that included an open closet and storage shelves.
In the kitchen, he knocked down extra cabinets facing the living room space to create a countertop for dining, which gave the illusion that the entire kitchen and living area is bigger than it is.
Sellers could take a page from Bobby’s creativity here. A 2017 study showed that homes with open floor plans appreciate at a 7.4% faster rate than properties with closed-off layouts.
While we don’t recommend you do a major renovation for the purposes of selling, certain staging techniques do help make a space feel larger: add a fresh coat of light-colored paint, hang window treatments higher and use sheer or gauzy drapes that let in natural light, consolidate your furniture to show off more of the floor, or use mirrors and large pieces of art to anchor a room around a single focal point.
Episode 3: ‘Jones Bar-B-Q’
“Full of attitude, and full of a lotta gratitude.”
Deborah “Little” Jones and Mary “Shorty” Jones are two sisters with a passion for barbeque and a big heart for their family. They started the business to help Deborah’s daughter pay for college, and are now recognized as “the only known female pitmasters in Kansas City.”
Both business-educated women learned work ethic and motivation from their father, who was a great inspiration for the creation of their restaurant.
Though successful, both sisters have never taken time for themselves—neither self-care nor physical health. The Fab Five step in to upgrade Jones Bar-B-Q, bottle their famous BBQ sauce, and revamp their lifestyle.
Lesson for Sellers: Integrate organization into every step of your home prep
Even through the computer screen, viewers can feel that the sisters’ BBQ shack was steamy (think sweaty, not sexy), cramped, and cluttered. Though Deb and Mary had a system that they could understand, the restaurant operated as a pressure cooker that Bobby wanted to relieve.
So, he first installed a working AC and then reorganized the entire space. He added small storage bins on shelves and put in larger refrigerators, so that everything has its place in the kitchen. “It doesn’t have to be this disorganized chaos, as it was,” says Antoni.
Bobby also transformed their extra outdoor area into a seating patio for customers to dine and wait in line.
You can adopt Bobby’s method of organization throughout the entire house. He focused on using the space to the fullest, while making sure every item has a purpose and home.
In the closet, get rid of more than 50% of your clothing to make the space appear larger. Add hanging organizers and woven baskets on top of the closet shelves to make it look systematic and modern at the same time.
Then, add a portable island in the kitchen (which can also be used as a table) for added storage and counter space.
If you already have the outdoor space, you can create a patio by adding anything from small coffee tables and chairs to lights and a canopy. Like Jones’ Bar-B-Q, it gives a calming and useful area that can add marketability and value to your house.
Episode 4: ‘When Robert Met Jamie’
We’re introduced to Robert and Jamie, a couple who have been together for six years and together have three children. They’ve decided to get married, but Robert struggles with self confidence and a self-deprecating attitude.
“I keep trying to lay down on the wit and charm real thick to keep her around,” he chuckles. The Fab Five come in to help him reach his goal of feeling his best self for the wedding and the rest of his life with Jamie and the kids.
But the moment they step into the couple’s house, the Fab Five are in shock. Robert and Jamie sleep in the corner on a messy mattress in the basement, where clothes, bags, and toys are strewn all across the floor. “It’s a dungeon. Shiz is everywhere,” says Tan. “It looks like a bachelor pad in the worst way possible.”
Not only do they give Robert the courage he needs to be a husband and help him think about himself in a positive way, but they also reorganize their house to become a home that the entire family feels comfortable in.
Lesson for Sellers: Don’t forget about the kids
Bobby created a modern home for an entire family, advising the couple to have separate rooms for them and then for the kids.
If you’re near a school-district or in a neighborhood with many single-family homes, it’s fine and sometimes even recommended to appeal to families or people looking to start a family (just don’t target any certain group of buyers in your marketing—focus on the property highlights to avoid fair housing violations).
As you prepare the home for showings, it’s OK to have a designated playroom or children’s room, just make sure it looks tidy and don’t let it expand to the rest of the home. Collect the kids’ toys in a specific location and use a single toy chest that blends well with the rest of your decor.
Then, keep the rest of the home neutral and clean. Remove or paint over the Hello Kitty wall decals and deep clean surfaces and crevices stained with juice spills and crayons.
Bobby also added an “indestructible table” for the kids in Robert’s living room. With a marble top, it’s easier to clean and difficult for children to draw on or break.
Episode 5: ‘Black Girl Magic’
The fifth hero that the Fab Five meet is Jess, a young woman who has lived on her own since the age of 16 after her parents disowned her when she came out. Now, she’s 23 and has finally found a house she can call a safe place.
However, Jess has never thought of a living space as a home, as she’s used to drifting from one temporary location to another. She admits that she doesn’t take care of her bedroom, where clothes and knickknacks are sprawled across the floor.
The Fab Five do more than just redecorate her room. They help this hero realize that she isn’t alone—both she and Bobby share a similar journey with coming out and living alone from a young age, while Karamo helped her come to terms with being a queer person of color.
This episode tugs at your heartstrings (grab tissue boxes) and features an emotional transformation from the inside and out.
Lesson for Sellers: Make it feel like home
Bobby’s main lesson for Jess is to find “those little luxuries that make a home feel permanent.” He emphasizes that, from the larger must-haves to the tiniest of details, every item in the house should make you feel happy and like this is your home.
For Jess, a cozy couch, her newly transformed bedroom, and even her favorite silverware helped make her safe space finally feel like a home she can live in for many years to come.
“Design isn’t just about shopping,” says Bobby. “It’s about things that motivate you. The things you surround yourself with can bring joy to you.”
You can apply this same methodology to staging your own house and especially in the bedroom. According to the National Association of Realtors 2019 Home Staging Profile, 42% of buyers regarded the bedroom as an important room to stage, and 78% of sellers staged the master bedroom.
The moment home buyers step into the bedroom, they should feel a sense of ease and that they can call this their home.
To achieve that balance between a cozy vibe and brand-new, switch out bed sheets for simple white covers and add accent pillows for color. This keeps your room modern and lets the rest of the space shine. Open the curtains to let in natural light, and also place a lamp in the corner of the bedroom for another source of light that acts as decoration.
Add smaller pieces, like candles and plants, on the nightstand or dresser to give the room that “lived-in” feel, while still looking clean and new.
This may not be your permanent home anymore, but you want buyers to feel like it could be theirs.
Episode 6: ‘Elrod and Sons’
This episode introduces Rob Elrod, a widowed father of two sons, as the sixth hero in the season. After the birth of their second son, Elrod’s wife Allison died from cancer, but left her husband with an ultimatum: he and the kids must leave their cramped space for a bigger house in a better neighborhood for the boys.
Since then, Rob learned how to cope with her loss and with being a single father, while working toward getting that larger, more suitable house. His second son is starting kindergarten and he finally took the opportunity to buy the home of his and his wife’s dreams.
The Fab Five step in to help Rob deal with the process of moving, which hasn’t been the smoothest, since every room carries memories of Allison. For Rob, leaving this house is like leaving Allison, for good.
So, the team goes through the old home and packs with Rob as a step toward closure. Moving into the new home without a trace of Allison’s memory is painful. But Bobby helps Rob create a home for him and his sons that also honors Allison.
Lesson for sellers: Do the emotional work
Seller’s remorse is real. You can’t ignore the emotions and that sinking feeling of “Am I making a mistake?” when you’re leaving a house that you’ve built a life in.
To stop yourself from backing out due to cold feet, there are a couple ways you can detach from the home and move on to the next stage of your life as taught by the Fab Five.
First, walk through every room with family members or friends, so that you can talk through memories out loud. Rob took Bobby through each space in the old home and described pictures on the walls, belongings that he loved, and memories of Allison. Though it was heartbreaking for him, this process made Rob realize how much he and his sons needed a new home.
In addition, focus on what’s important for your future and why you are moving in the first place. Don’t lose sight of the next stage of your life—for Rob, it’s providing the best for his sons.
Bobby also helped Rob honor Allison with a memory chest in a small corner dedicated to her. In it are letters that she wrote for each of her sons’ birthdays and large events in the future, and other belongings that represent who she was (readers if you’re thinking about watching this episode, this moment comes at the time stamp 33:56. Get ready for the waterworks).
If you want to keep those memories from the previous home of loved ones, pets, or just the old house itself, prepare a space in your new home with photographs or display certain items as a small homage.
Episode 7: ‘Sloth to Slay’
We meet Thomas, a 21 year-old student who works part-time as an IT specialist and also identifies the sloth as his spirit animal.
After his mother’s death years before, he started to build up walls around him. He escapes reality through video games and has a hard time meeting new people. His sister, the complete opposite of him, wants him to break out of his shell instead of gaming for hours.
With help from the Fab Five, he breaks down the walls around him (quite literally with Karamo in a confidence-building exercise) to find the courage to make friends and have fun with other people and gamers that share the same interests.
In an effort to make sure Thomas continues to go outside and meet people instead of staying behind his computer monitor, Bobby creates a hangout spot in the backyard.
Lesson for Sellers: Bring the party to the open house
If the house you’re selling has the open space like Thomas and his sister have at their home, use this opportunity to show off how this house is perfect for entertaining guests.
With basic landscaping and adding a couple of outdoor furniture pieces, you create a fun hangout spot that home buyers can imagine hosting friends and family.
Bobby groomed the yard, hung a hammock, placed a simple couch on the porch with a small coffee table, and added a ping-pong table that doubles as a dining spot.
You don’t need to buy all the items that Bobby included, but taking the time to mow the lawn and add comfy seating won’t hurt. In fact, lawn care and outdoor staging can rake in huge return on investment for your home sale.
Episode 8: ‘Baby on Board’
The last episode introduces us to Tony Blanco and his wife Bri, who are expecting a baby girl. Though they’ve known for months, Tony still isn’t physically prepared or in the right mindset for the new addition to the family.
Since Bri has been pregnant, Tony has neglected house chores and cleaning that he blames on procrastination… and it shows.
A tower of dirty plates in the murky, gray water in the sink, piles on piles of dirty clothes in the bedroom—“I’m feeling norovirus, I’m feeling food poisoning, I’m feeling that baby is going to have a very strong immune system,” says Jonathan.
The mess of the house is also reflected in Tony’s attitude as a serial procrastinator. But the Fab Five prepare him and help him realize that he needs to take on these responsibilities as an expecting father and husband to Bri.
“Most people think ‘My house doesn’t affect my mental health,’” says Bobby. “It does.” He helps create an organized system for the home and deep clean the whole place, so that the couple can raise a baby in a clean environment.
Lesson for Sellers: Deep clean for a healthy house and mind
According to NAR, 89% of real estate agents recommend their sellers to clean the entire home, and 95% of agents recommend decluttering.
Tan Marie Kondo-ed Tony’s wardrobe in the bedroom, and Bobby deep-cleaned the entire home and kitchen until every surface was spotless. They even created a space for a nursery, which Tony couldn’t prepare for with the amount of clutter in their bedroom.
Create a healthy and welcoming home for buyers with this cleaning checklist and tackle the house room by room to make the process less daunting.
With a clean and organized home, Tony and Bri can lead a healthier life for their new baby. “I didn’t feel this good about my house when I bought it,” says Tony. He recognized how neglecting his responsibilities led to the house get out of control in the first place.
Time to give your house (and life) a Queer Eye makeover
The Fab Five transformed the lives of their subjects with their actionable tips and fashion advice, but their main objective throughout this season was to instill self-love and self-worth. We watched the heroes discover the better versions of themselves and learn to unapologetically appreciate who they are.
After binging the show, you see a part of yourself in each episode and find how you can improve your own life from their lessons. Take the Fab Five’s tips on style and positivity to make the home selling process less stressful. With each brush of paint and room decluttering, you’re one step closer to making buyers say, “Yaaas!”
Article Image Source: (Nicolas Maderna/ Shutterstock)