Rethinking room use in new spaces

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Over the past century plus, the traditional American home floor plan with its dedicated rooms for specific purposes has reigned supreme. But in the past decade or so, it’s faced stiff competition in the home design popularity contest from open concept floor plans. Both have their virtues.

Traditional layouts started with the classic foursquare floor plan, four rooms laid out in a square on one floor, possibly with another room or two on a second floor. In older homes, there were doors on some of the rooms, giving homeowners the opportunity to use heat more efficiently by not heating non-essential rooms. In time, the footprint for traditional homes expanded, but the concept remained the same. Separate rooms for separate functions.

A downside to traditional layouts is that some rooms wind up underutilized. The dining room in particular might not see much use (or it might be co-opted for another purpose like spare craft room or laundry folding room).

On the other side of the space delineation equation, open floor plans have wide open spaces usually called great rooms—part kitchen, part dining room, part family room. Great rooms are gathering spots. They’re rooms that are always in use; rooms that become the center of the home.

Moving to a more compact living space can be daunting if you’ve lived all your life with a traditional floor plan. You’re used to watching TV in the family room and eating in the kitchen or dining room and using your computer in the study. It might feel like you are losing a lot of space by giving up your individual rooms.

But stop for a minute think about it: how many of the rooms in your house do you actively live in and use?  Half the rooms? All of the rooms? The extra space is nice to have when you need it, but how often do you actually need it?

If the answer is you have a few rooms you use a lot and a lot of rooms you rarely use, it might not be as hard as you think to adapt to a smaller space in your new apartment. You might be able to reconfigure and do as much in a smaller footprint. Try rethinking your floor plan. Instead of thinking of your new space from the perspective of  your traditional home, try thinking of your new space as an open concept great room. You’ve always had a dedicated space for entertaining, TV watching and using your computer—but couldn’t all those things also happen in the main living area?

It might be that making that kind of shift also means thinking of your furniture differently as well. Many people feel the need to bring a large couch with them because they’ve always had one. But in a new great room space where the dining table and chairs are there to provide additional seating when needed, a love seat or a pair of nice comfortable armchairs are more functional and versatile choices.

Sometimes it takes new furniture to make the new space work. You may not need end tables if you can find decorative two drawer file cabinets to store all your documents (if you have that many documents!). A big TV stand might be replaced by something with more function if you mount your TV on the wall. A little creative thinking can go a long way towards making your smaller new nest even more functional than your current space.

It’s easy to expand into larger spaces, but challenging to shift into smaller spaces. Rethinking your rooms might make you realize that you don’t actually need as much space as you imagine you do. You may realize that for your new apartment, less really can be more.

For more open floor plan inspiration, check out these floor plan ideas for smaller spaces from MyDomaine and this Design*Sponge article,

 

 

What do you do with Old Pusses?

decorating with vintage photos

During a sorting session with a client, we were reviewing their art and marking what was going with them and what was going away. She had a few of large oil paintings of fore bearers, dating back to the early 1800s. Our client looked at them with a smile and a tiny sigh, and said, “I guess we’ll keep the Old Pusses.”

And I’m glad they did. They were lovely paintings and they had space for them in their future home. But not everyone has the room. And not everyone has the desire to display paintings and photographs of previous generations. All of which raises the question: what do you do with Old Pusses?

The first thing you do is eliminate guilt from the decision making. Whom and what you display in your house is up to you. You are under zero obligation to hang a large wedding photograph of your great grandparents. The room you have in your heart for love of family history is infinite. The wall space you have for hanging art in your home is not. You should to surround yourself art that makes you happy. And it might not be that wedding photo.

decorating with vintage portraits

The second thing you do is document the people is in the portrait. Take a photo of it, add notes for future generations. You may not want the photo or painting, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to preserve that part of your family story.

The third thing you do is check with other family members to see if anyone else wants old portraits or photos. I received a box of old family photos from my last remaining auntie years after my mother had passed away, and there were photos in there I had never seen. I am so happy to have those.

If you decide to let those portraits go, the last thing you do is decide how you want to dispose of them. Paintings and photographs that may have been done by a noted artist may have resale value. More common photographs and paintings have decorative value and might be desirable to artists and designers. Those may have resale or donation value. Common photographs that are not of great age or great interest or are only one of multiple copies can often be disposed of.

People are often uncomfortable at the idea of a painting of their grandmother hanging someone else’s house or a restaurant.  But how often do you look at a portrait of someone you don’t know and find yourself charmed by their smile or be intrigued by their clothing? Giving up art of your predecessors so they can be appreciated by others is not a bad thing. What you do with your Old Pusses is up to you; do what you can feel good about at the end of the day.

Wondering how people decorate with vintage portraits or looking for inspiration on new way to showcase your family photos? Here’s some places to start:

Vintage Unscripted has a blog post of ideas for decorating with relatives, real or imagined.

decorating with vintage photos

Design Sponge gathered together 14 rooms where vintage portraits shine.

decorating with vintage photos

And Chairish captured interior designer Michelle Gage’s hints for decorating with vintage portraits.

23 ways going to college and moving to a community are alike

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On the surface, going away to college and making a move to an independent or assisted living community appear to be polar opposites. You go to college late in your teens. You move to a community as an older adult. What could they possibly have in common?

More than you would imagine. Right from the start, there are a lot of commonalities. We made a list of 23 things you might think about and/or do that are the same for both big life transitions. Our list starts right at the beginning of the journey…

1 You spend a lot of time making the the decision to leave the place you have been living for a long time to go somewhere different. And while you feel positive about moving ahead, you are probably also apprehensive.

2 You sift through a lot of options and make a list of places you actually want to look at.

3 You think about where you want to be geographically. Do you want to stay close to where you are or go somewhere two hours away or a plane flight away?

4 You think about whether you want a campus that’s large or one that’s smaller.

5 You schedule many appointments for campus tours.

6 You bring along someone whose opinion you respect to help you notice things beyond what you will see on the tour because…

7 The campus rep will show you all the best things about their institution.

8 After you’ve visited a number of campuses, you evaluate offerings and options to see which ones might meet your needs. This is like comparing apples and oranges and tomatoes and pickles.

9 You take a careful look at your finances.

10 You take a careful look at the institution’s finances.

11 You fill out lots of forms and put together an application packet.

12 You take a test to see if you a candidate for admission. Different kinds of tests, but tests nonetheless.

13 You are accepted and you greet that news with both excitement and trepidation.

14 You tell your friends about your plan; some are excited for you, some will say things that make you doubt your decision.

15 You worry about moving to a living space smaller than where you live now, but you probably aren’t thinking about all the common areas you will gain.

16 You begin thinking about what to bring with you, and you realize you have a lot of stuff you don’t need anymore.

17 You visit the community again. Campus residents will all reassure you that joining their team is great decision.

18 You spend some nights awake staring at the ceiling. You worry that everyone there knows each other and you don’t know them. What if you can’t find a group of people you like? What if the food is horrible? What if you get there and you don’t like it? What if you have chosen badly and the whole thing is going to go off the rails?

19 You prepare for move day. (If you are moving to a community and are working with a move manager, you will be very well prepared. If you are moving to college, oh heck, roll with it.)

20 You meet lots of new people; you remember some of their names but they all remember yours. Once the newness wears off, you will filter through the many people you’ve met to find the few that will become true friends.

21 You start to find new routines. You build new habits.

22 You figure out if this campus is truly the right fit for you. If it’s not, you make a change. If it is, you settle in, stop worrying and enjoy being where you are.

And this last one, which is perhaps the most important:

23 No one tells you this, but in making this transition, you did a brave thing. Anytime you take a leap from what you know to what you don’t, you are showing a quiet kind of courage. This is true even if you were worried or afraid at times (and everyone is). Mark Twain said this: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”

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Are you surprised how much going to college and moving to a community overlap emotionally, intellectually and practically? Although it might feel overwhelming, once you start moving forward, the pieces fall into place. Look for someone who has already made the leap. They were once standing where you are now, and they can tell you for sure– “Don’t worry, you’re going to be just fine.”

 

When move managers meet

next nasmmIf you’re thinking about downsizing and rightfully feeling overwhelmed, you will find it beyond belief that people from across the country would gleefully plunk down airfare, hotel and conference fees to talk and think about nothing but downsizing for four straight days. But you’re not a move manager, and you’ve never been to the annual National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) conference. The NASMM conference is such a magical event that not only do members flock to it, they willingly get up for sessions at 7:30 am and talk late into the night. But that’s what happens when a big group of people who are passionate about what they do get together.

The 400 +/- conference attendees range from Diamond Society members (10+ years in business) to newbies who have barely picked out a name for their company. Because it’s an entrepreneurial industry driven by small independent businesses, there are almost as many business models as there are attendees. Some companies have 30 plus employees, others are solopreneurs. NextStage Associates is somewhere in the middle; we have a team of eight and we are in our eighth year of moving clients forward.

We come home from the conference with ideas, enthusiasm, a rededication to best practices and the happy feeling of having been with “our pack.” Being a move manager has it’s challenging moments, but there’s no way to spend four days with people who love what they do as much as we do and not come back ready for another year of getting stuff done.

Being a part of NASMM is something move managers take seriously. There are requirements for learning, business practices, and most important, a code of ethics that we all subscribe to. It’s a professional trade organization that thrives because members share their knowledge and skill of members in volunteer roles. (I was lucky enough to be asked to be on the committee choosing programs for this year’s conference.)

Being so engaged with so many of our peers invariably leads to introspection: things we do well, things we can do better, things we might consider adding as services.  Although only two of us attended the conference this year, we rally the entire team together to talk, reflect, review and sometimes reinvent when we get back.

The spring selling season is approaching. We know because the phone is ringing. A lot. We’re looking forward to meeting new clients and teaming up with them to get them from where they are to where they want to be. We have a few new tricks up our sleeves to make those moves easier and less stressful. There’s so much more to a transition than boxes and packing paper. The details that make you feel overwhelmed–we love telling our clients not to worry, we’ve got it for them.

And we’re already looking forward to next year’s conference, because we know we’ll come back smarter, energized and as excited as we have for the past five years!

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What’s stuff worth?

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That’s a good question. And one that almost everyone making a downsizing transition asks. Like most things in life, there isn’t a black and white answer. But, really, what is your stuff worth, and how do you find out?

Lots of things have worth or value. That value is almost entirely unrelated to the purchase price. Value is something determined in real time. The value of stuff can change dramatically from year to year, decade to decade. The thing itself hasn’t changed, but it’s value has. How inconvenient! But ahhhh, how true.

There are three kinds of value: financial, sentimental or psychological. And while you have limited control over financial value, you have lots of power to determine the sentimental or psychological value of things. Let’s look at why:

Financial Value

The financial value of an item is what someone is willing to pay for it. Here’s the formula:

Formula for determining financial value of items

It’s a little like alchemy. Things that there are fewer of, that are in good condition and that are in demand are worth more financially than things there are abundant quantities of that aren’t as desired.

Things that are scarce are things that might have been sent to the thrift store or the landfill (oh the horror!) years ago because they weren’t viewed as “valuable.” (Translation: they didn’t cost very much.) Some examples: supermarket china in good condition is often more valuable than fine china, vintage cookbooks and children’s books that are out of print are often more prized than new books, old blue jeans are usually more valuable on a resale market than new ones. Since there are fewer of those items around and there is demand for them, the price is higher if you are selling them.

Things that were costly when you bought them, like dining room tables, hutches and upholstered furniture, are often donations because the market is currently saturated with them. The well-worn basement workbench with a good vintage patina is probably worth more at resale than the dining room table. (Of course, the workbench wouldn’t go back to the cellar, it would more likely become a piece of furniture in a rustic cottage home.) Furniture tastes have changed. 1980s style furniture, for example, is not in high demand. Exceptions are signed design pieces and trend design pieces. It’s hard to stay up on what’s popular—many clients are surprised to find out that Lucite and acrylic pieces from the 1970s and 1960s Italian gesso Florentine pieces are both is having a renaissance and are in demand.

Sentimental Value

There are no pricing guides for sentimental value, you can’t slap a ruler on it to measure its size and you can’t calculate the ROI for keeping it or letting it go. All you can know is it means a great deal to you. How much does it mean, here’s our formula:

Formula for determining sentimental value of items2

To break it down, the sentimental value lies in the memories an object holds, the history of where it came from and how happy it makes you when you see it. If when you sit at your writing desk, you can see your mom sitting there and she could see her mom sitting there, that piece is dripping in lovely sentimental value. The same is often true for kitchenware and china, clocks, photos and scrapbooks, and art.

Things that mark milestones like diplomas and anniversary plates might have virtually no sentimental value. The event was important, the ephemera associated with it is not. But a kindergarten report card? Hard to replace, highly sentimental.

The next generation may not have high sentimental value for things that you adore. But just like you did when you were younger, they have formed their own sentimental attachments to things that were part of their life.

Psychological Value

Things with high psychological value are not wrapped in memories, nor are they unusually valuable. They are things that make your life better. They may not be as bright and shiny as when you first got them, but they have form and function to get you through the day. Here’s how to analyze that:

Formula for determining psychl value of items-2

 

These are things that are useful, in that they are used regularly. They are familiar—you know how they work and how best to use them. And they provide a level of comfort in their predictability. Things that fit into the category of high psychological value are your favorite coffee cup, your chair and side table, your favorite pots and pans and perhaps your small electronics like your clock or a radio.

When you’re making a move, there are those that might encourage you to replace those things with things that are newer, because they are probably showing their age. But if these are things that make every day better for you, you can almost always find a way to make them a part of your new nest.

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So what are things worth? At the end of the day, you bought things to use them. If they have some resale value now, that is a bonus. You bought them, you used them, you are getting something back. And those things will probably not be the things you are expecting them to be. But the things that have the most worth to you are those with sentimental and psychological value. Those are the things that are too valuable to put a price on.

 

 

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8 things we love for smaller living spaces

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Moving to a new space often means reconfiguring and rethinking how you arrange things or how you store things. Over the past 8 years, we found a few things that have come in darned handy to help our clients moving to smaller spaces make the most of that space.

FLAT PLUG EXTENSION CORDS

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Flat plug extension cord, Amazon.

One of the first jobs on move day is to get an extension cord in any outlet that will be behind a large piece of furniture. We love cords with flat plugs because they allow furniture to be closer to the wall.

NEW SURGE PROTECTORS!

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Surge protector, Lowes.

Okay, we like this for any living space, not just smaller ones. Surge protectors have a lifespan. If you’ve been using yours for more than 5 years, it’s probably time to replace it. Although we can’t endorse any particular brand, the Wirecutter blog can–here’s there list. ‘

SLIDE OUT KITCHEN TRASH BINS

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Slide out trash bin, The Container Store.

Nothing impedes the flow in a compact kitchen than having to dance around a wastebasket every time you cook. A under sink slide-out trash bin solves that problem.

SLIDE OUT PANTRY SHELVES

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Slide out drawer organizer, Wayfair.com

Many apartment kitchens have a deep pantry closet. The generous space is a beautiful thing, but having to go through contortions to get something out the the back is not. Slide out pantry shelves make it easier to get that elusive can of soup hiding behind the other cans, boxes and bottles.

LAZY SUSAN

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Lazy susan organizer, The Container Store.

A lazy susan can be worth it’s weight in cinnamon for organizing your spices, vitamins, teas and anything that comes in bottles and boxes whether tucked in a cabinet or on the counter.

VERTICAL PLATE ORGANIZER

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Vertical plate organizer, Bed, Bath & Beyond.

More compact kitchens may have less cabinet space. Storing your plates vertically uses cabinet space efficiently and makes them easier to grab as a bonus. If you’re one of the people who rotate the dishes you use so the wear on them is even across the set, you’ll really love an organizer like this.

BATHROOM STORAGE

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Wall mounted bathroom cabinet, CostPlus World Market.

The one place most of our clients really feel the space crunch is in the bathroom. Changing the habit of buying in bulk is step one. In an apartment, you have less storage, and that storage space might be better used for for your off season clothes rather than your 36 rolls of toilet tissue, 12 rolls of paper towels and 6 boxes of tissues. But even with paper products pared down, additional storage is usually needed.

Apartments often have storage under the sink and a medicine cabinet, but not much else.  A wall mounted storage cabinet or shelves is enormously helpful. Pinterest is stuffed to the gills with ideas for creative bathroom storage. One particularly clever idea: a shelf over the door for all those rolls of spare toilet tissue.

Wall mounted is usually a better choice than a floor standing storage unit. If you add a toilet seat with handles or a commode, there is a good chance the floor standing unit won’t fit behind it.

DOUBLE HANG CLOSET ROD

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Double hang closet rod, Home Depot.

Many apartments have nice walk-in closets. But with one clothes hanging shelf at a height for longer hanging garments, you give away a lot of space underneath your shorter hanging garments. Adding a second wall mounted shelf with a clothes hanging pole is the best choice, but short of that, and double hang rod that attaches to the top shelf is a quick, inexpensive fix.

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Please note that we don’t have any special affection or allegiance to the products shown. Versions of these products are available multiple places by multiple makers. We love the concepts and have used many versions of them when working with clients. And if you have something to add to the list, we’d love to know about it!

 

3 days to add to your calendar

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There are three days you might want to consider putting on your calendar every month. They aren’t something you have to juggle among other appointments, places you have to go and people you have to see. They are flexible commitments to yourself. We have so many obligations to others, it’s easy to forget to make time to do things that will make you feel a little happier and a little more in charge of your life.

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Day 1: Dangling Ends Day

Everyone has projects and/or tasks that never quite cross the finish line. For some reason, they get postponed or shoved to the back of the task pack. So they hover about like annoying little gray clouds. Declare one day a month Dangling Ends Day—a day to tie up all the loose ends on those projects and chase those clouds away. Believe me, the anticipation of getting those things done is always worse than actually doing them.

Dangling Ends Day requires some self commitment. If you write it on the calendar, you owe it to yourself to do what you’ve asked yourself to do. At the end of the day, you will be pretty darned pleased with yourself.

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Day 2: Phone a Friend Day

We have friends we see a lot, that are a part of our lives now. And we have friends that we don’t see all that often. They’re on our mind, but we just never manage to get together. And time passes; months can go by without talking to one another. That’s why we all need to make time on our schedules for Phone a Friend Day. It’s amazing how good it feels to make a simple phone call.

If you’re not a phone person, a great alternative is Write a Note Day. Texting is fun and fast, but there’s nothing nicer than to get a real letter in your mailbox.

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Day 3: Declutter Donation Day

We all have a few to many things in our lives. Some of us let them accumulate longer than others. Declare a Decluttering Donation Day every month. Whether you take magazines to the library magazine swap pile, clothes that you no longer need to a shelter or tchotchkes to a charity thrift store, make a point of making at least one donation run a month, getting things you no longer need to places that can do good with them.

That’s our short list. What kind of day would you add to your list to make you feel happier and less stressed?

Editing your workshop

A well-stocked workshop is a beautiful thing. Having the right tool, right screw, right dab of paint when you need it makes household repairs end in victory instead of an unplanned trip to the hardware store. But the workshop can also be a catchall full of “that might come in handy someday,” things you bought for one job a decade ago, and other mysterious hardware findings that somehow found their way into your life. If you’re an average human, your workshop has probably built up all kinds of hardware flotsam slowly over time.

Whether you’re staying where you are or in the beginning stages of downsizing, a bit of time editing of your workshop is time well spent. Reducing clutter, reminding yourself of what you actually have and tidying up will make finding whatever you need when you need it easier.

Wondering how and where to start? Sort things by type, rather than by area. Your hand tools might share a drawer with tape and paintbrushes, but it’s much easier to assess what you have when you gather like things. How else will you realize that some way, some how you have managed to have a bakers dozen of phillips head screw drivers?

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Identify your key hand tools, sort out your extras

Looking at your hand tools, what are your essentials and what are your duplicates and surplus non-essentials? Group all the surplus together, you’ll be surprised at how many screwdrivers and measuring tapes you have. What to do with those no longer needed hand tools? Make up a tool box for someone in your family who is new to living on their own. Make up small kits to donate to furniture banks for families that have lost everything and are starting over. Donate individual tools to a non-profit Habitat for Humanity ReStore or a similar organization.

Review your power tools

Two things to think about with power tools: do you still use them and are they old enough that they’ve been outmoded by newer models have improved safety. Tools that take up space but haven’t been used for years can be donated, sold or passed on UNLESS they are no longer safe to use. Those should be recycled.

Some power tools represented big investments at the time they were purchased. But if you don’t use it, if you don’t need it or if it’s not safe, it has not earned a spot in your life and it’s time for it to move on.

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Sort your nuts and bolts and bit and bobs

A good workbench has a nice assortment of hardware. Hardware is small, doesn’t take up much space and has a magical ability to multiply in stealthy ways over time. Look for screws you bought for one particular project—you needed two, you had to buy a box. And jars of rusty nails. And coffee cans of rusty  nails. And the ever popular little bags of hardware that came with furniture, window treatments etc. You will likely find that you have more brass brads than any one person will ever use in a lifetime. Edit down to what you are likely to use and donate or share the rest with others.

workshop miscellany

Equally able to multiply with stealth are the bits and bobs: outlet covers, adapters, picture hangers, plastic caps, felt furniture pads, lengths of chain, ceiling hooks, mending plates, L-brackets. If you don’t see a use for it in your immediate future, let it go.

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Sort your cans and bottles

The workshop is a chemistry lab. There are solvents, lubricants, cleaners, putties, adhesives, paints, stains and everything in between. Start by sorting into three groups: useful, dried out/hardened, no longer needed.

Review the useful things so you know what you have. Put them back on the shelves, grouping like things together. The dried up things can go into the trash. The no-longer-needed things can be divided again into: things you can offer to others, new or nearly full things you can donate, things you can safely dispose of and things that are hazardous waste.

FYI: Old latex paint can be opened, mixed with cat litter and left somewhere with ventilation to harden. Once it’s hard, it can go in your regular trash. Alkaloid paints that clean up with spirits are.

Sort your project supplies

Sometimes a project requires specific supplies. The things that springs to mind immediately are decorative paint treatments, wall papering and laying tile. If you don’t see those projects happening again in your near future, pass on, donate and/or dispose of those things as is appropriate.

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Take a look at what’s left

There are lots of things in a workshop that we haven’t talked about like tapes, painting supplies, pipe wraps, rolls of screen mesh, extension cords, twines and ropes, doorknobs, latches and more. Sort through the rest of these things with a trash can on one side and a donate box on the other side.

Step away from the rickety stepladder

Look at your collection of stepladders. Some might be best voted off the island for safety reasons. It might have lived a long full life and is a little rickety from age. Or it might be poorly designed and wasn’t particularly safe to use from the start. (Those are the ones without anything to hold on to when you are going up 2 or 3 steps.) And anything held together with duct tape should probably also be asked to leave.

It’s not a bad time to look at a step stools as well. If it has a non-slip top, wide balanced base and no duct tape reinforcements, it’s probably fine. If not, time to go!

And finally…

Now that you’ve sorted and organized, you may find yourself with storage boxes, drawers and bins that you don’t need anymore. Donate or pass them on, don’t leave them to fill up again! And give yourself a pat on the back at a job well done. Somewhere, someone is setting up their first workshop, and the things you no longer need will go on to have a new, useful life with them.

 

New year, new way to fold clothing

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We all have a favorite method for storing clothes in drawers. Some of us fold precisely, some of us roll and some of us are just fine with a random tangle as long as all the things with arms are in one drawer and the things with legs are in another drawer. When we’re on the job with a client, we fold clothes or linens their way. Myself, I alternate between roll and fold. But the new year always makes me itchy to try new things, so I decided to look into the whole Konmari folding thing.

What is Konmari? It’s the name of the organizing methods of international superstar organizing phenomenon, Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011). For her true believers, it’s not a book, it’s the gospel of an organizing religion—ritual decluttering that enhances the quality of their lives. In the interest of learning something new that might help our move management team do our job better, I have tried to read the book. Multiple times. True confession, I have not succeeded. It’s a little strident for me.

At our NASMM conference a couple years ago, one of the presenters demonstrated the Konmari folding technique and while I was not an immediate convert, it stuck in my brain. Particularly the visual image of a t-shirt folded and placed vertically in the center of the table. It was still there, as she placed it, at the end of the hour. It wasn’t hard to find videos and diagrams to refresh my memory on Konmari folding. The internet is full of them.

In a shirt folding video, Marie Kondo lays the shirt flat, caresses it and thanks it for its service before folding it gently into a rectangle. With a cynical sigh, I emptied my shirt drawer and laid the first tee-shirt flat on the bed. As I smoothed it flat and folded it into the neat rectangle and folded it a couple more times until it became a tidy vertical-standing, gravity-defying parcel, I realized that shirt that made me happy every time I wore it because I loved the color and the cut. In spite of myself, eye rolls aside, I had thanked that teal blue raglan sleeve tee. I knew it had earned a spot in my life and my drawer.

I worked my way through the short sleeves, long sleeves, sweaters, sweatshirts, things with legs, things to wear on feet, unmentionables and cozy things to burrow under blankets in. That process of carefully flattening, folding into neat rectangles and lining up in the drawers was peculiarly enjoyable and ultimately liberating. For all the clothes I loved, there were a fair number that I tolerated; garments I kept because I spent money on them and not because they made me happy when I wore them. By fair number, I mean 6 large bags full of clothing that I sent on to either textile recycle because it was ratty and tatty or donation because it was in nearly new condition.

Dropping those 6 bags at their destinations felt marvelous. Fitting all my summer and winter clothing into my drawers and closet so nothing offseason was stored in the attic felt even better. My hope is that this exercise will keep me from purchasing things that are just meh; things I don’t really need and things that won’t add value to my wardrobe.

There are many videos out there, some featuring Marie Kondo and other featuring devotees demonstrating her methods. This book trailer for her second book, Spark Joy (2016) made the folding process super clear for me. And the video of her folding awkward clothing at New York’s 92stY is funny and charming.

While it’s not for everyone, you might be just as surprised as I was to find out that a simple change in how I folded my clothing could make me happy every time I open a drawer and find clothes I am fond of standing at attention, ready to lend me another day of service.

 

On being a matchmaker: finding new homes for no longer needed things

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What was once lost, was found again.

When our downsizing clients have things they no longer need, we put on our matchmaker caps. Our job is to get those things to the places where they will bring the best return if they can be sold, or where they can do the most good if they will be donated.

Some of the vintage pieces we sell online or in our small Northborough vintage shop are purchased by people who are looking for something from their past. It can be for all kinds of reasons…replacing a favorite book or adding pieces to a set of heirloom china. It’s always nice to be able to hear their story and share it with the particular client that item belonged to.

We found a nice story in our inbox today. One item we sold online on behalf of a client in December was a vintage three piece Goebel nativity set. Here’s what the buyer had to say:

“I just wanted to send you a note of thanks. When I was a child, my mom had this  set. When I was in about 3rd grade we were discussing the baby Jesus at school and were asked to bring in something related as a “show & tell.” I promised my mom I would treat the little figure with the utmost care. As the oldest of five kids, she could usually trust me. Of course, you know what happened, I lost Baby Jesus! I was sad and so was my mom. At Christmas this year, I gave the set back to her, including the Baby Jesus! It made her day.”

We can’t wait to tell our client that her Nativity set wound up making a very special Christmas gift for another family.