Frank Lloyd Wright offered up, “Space is the breath of art.”
So clear your closets now, not when you need to downsize in ten years. Do it when the spirit moves you and you’re not feeling sentimental, when the loss is going to be filled with the energy and fresh air coming into your home.
Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” I very much agree!
I was speaking to a woman at an open house yesterday who told me that she was looking forward to selling her home and moving into a smaller one but first she had to clear her present home out. She’s been there nearly 30 years. She carefully clarified that she was not a hoarder, but had the stuff of her three grown kids’ childhoods and the normal detritus of life, in her basement and garage.
After a few questions, it became clear that her “kids” had their own homes on Queen Anne and their own kids’ stuff in the basements. She assured me, “They want their stuff.”
HA! I still remember when I was eight-months pregnant, my dad drove a U-Haul from Seattle to San Francisco filled to bursting with my parent’s formal dining set and sideboard that I had grudgingly agreed to take, plus most of my mom’s kitchen gadgets. To say the ornate Regency pieces didn’t fit in our little duplex was an understatement. It’s a myth that your kids want your old stuff, even the antiques. The places they are renting and the first homes they buy are often too small for your cast-offs, plus millennials don’t want extra items they can’t use or don’t have room for. They’re too practical.
If you call a professional down-sizer, your kids may groan and say, “I would have helped you with that,” and then be quietly relieved that you’ve taken away the option of reliving charged high school memories via old yearbooks and sports memorabilia. My parents moved to a sailboat from my childhood home. Before they sold our house my teen bedroom was largely intact, leaving my mother to deal with all my old junk. Looking at the items my son has in his room now, I realize what a burden it was for her.
Have the conversation with the stakeholders, “By May 1st I’m going to call 1-800-Got-Junk to take these items. That gives you until April 30th of this year to take them.” Then keep your word.
Excuses you make for not making progress: It was a gift. I will wear those items again when I lose weight. I just need (X) file folders, photo boxes, frames, hangers, and I’ll get everything organized.
I’m going to use that exercise equipment in the summer, when my knee heals, when my daughter comes to visit, when I sign up for that half-marathon.
Obstacles to making progress: I don’t know who will take these items, I think these are valuable, but I don’t know. Someone can put these to good use so I don’t want to throw them out.
Ways to declutter: You can pay a professional organizer by the hour, then hang out together saying yes or no, with each item. You can sort things yourself and hire a hauler like Got-Junk or other local sources to dump things. A Nextdoor high schooler will move heavy boxes for you. The Big Blue Truck will take some household items. You can also go with a wraparound resource like Moving Forward.
Services near Queen Anne and Magnolia:
Simple and Just: Donate gently used clothing for resale.
Goodwill: Household items, small furniture, electrics, used clothing.
Elizabeth Lee: Seattle Organizing Works (206) 228-2566
Echos Estate Clean Out & Hauling Services (425) 220-2571
Moving Forward Katie Munoz: (425) 702-8761 http://retirementdownsizing.com/.
Waste Management Household Hazardous Waste: 12550 Stone Ave. N. Toxic chemicals, solvents, batteries, fluorescent bulbs.
The professionals I spoke to recommend getting started. Create space for your art this season!