I have been busy spring cleaning and hauling “out with the old” while not allowing “in with any new”. I will never be a minimalist, that’s for sure, but with a new little one in our home, I am amazed at the way stuff has piled up. I’ve had time to think about the personal possessions that I see over and over when I show houses that really need to go (I am guilty of holding onto them too).
Less is more when you are staging your house so whether you are preparing to put your Sunday River area home on the market or are simply preparing for a less-cluttered summer, these are the things that you can do without. I started with the least sentimental and got progressively harsher (in this post as well as in my personal purge):
- The linens at the bottom of the pile (no matter how many thread count). These are the spare set of sheets that you never use. If you are a super-efficient laundry wizard, you may survive with only one pair of sheets per bed: you manage to wash, dry and dress each bed within the time that you wake up and strip the bed to the time you lay down at night. In my past life, I was able to do this… now I have a baby and efficient laundry washing no longer happens at our house. We have two sets of sheets for each bed. There were 4 pairs for our master bed, and three for our guest bed prior to this weekend. Cathy at the District Exchange was happy to receive the extras and add them to a pile bound for a victim of a house fire within our community who would be picking them up from a center in Rumford.
- The Tupperware without it’s match. This is a liberating purge and will make getting out of the house in the morning much faster if you know that every piece has it’s lid. We have 6 pieces of Tupperware now and we store them dried and snapped together. I used our embarrassing amount of mate-less Tupperware to serve as vessels for our smaller items (see number 8) which we took to the free section of the dump.
- Cleaning Products. When we moved into our Bethel farmhouse, it came with a leftover batch of cleaning products. Most were half consumed, the labels were peeling and the sprayers didn’t work. There are some that I’ll never get through (I wish I was the kind of girl that would use anti-static spray but for that to happen, I would have to wear a material sensitive to static, then notice the issue, then care to fix the issue – not going to happen in this life). I spent about 25 minutes of my baby’s valuable nap-time purging these products while Anna was out of the room. I dumped the non-toxic liquids down the drain and separated the bottles into recyclable / non – recyclable. (Riverside Recycling in Portland will dispose of hazardous waste safely for all Maine residents). I’m trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible while we are in de-clutter mode but I decided here to waste the remaining products and make sure the bottles were recycled rather than added to landfill.
- Clothes. I’m going to rip the band-aid right off, if they haven’t fit in the past 12 months (and you haven’t just birthed a human), they should go. If you end up slimming down or bulking up significantly enough to change your dress size, let a new outfit in the appropriate size be your reward. Similarly, if they have been too ugly, frumpy, outdated, bulky, unflattering or out-of-style to wear in the past year, they aren’t going to change. No one needs four pairs of gardening clothes… one will do. This has been a big one for me. Prior to birthing my little human, I was happy to rock clothes from high school (and I prided myself on the value that I got from that purchase). Once I purged all of these I felt better, but once I purged the overpriced teal wool coat that I spent too much money on, wore once and hung on too for 6 years, 5 houses and thousands of miles of moving, I felt a million times better. Don’t let clothes wear you down (get it?!) they are only temporary.
- Lawn Décor. LESS IS MORE. That’s all I’m going to say about your garden trolls and bird baths.
- Cosmetics. This is one I see all the times in properties that I list. Why do we feel the need to cling to our bottles of CK1? I am guilty of this too. The mass amount of outdated / expired cosmetics we collect is embarrassing. I once showed a home where the owner was using a row of wicker trash bins to store her makeup. They were lined along the wall of the bathroom and made the whole room seem smaller than it was and made the buyer question the amount of storage space in the entire home. We don’t need that much make up. I had to be honest with myself: when am I ever going to wear blush? It’s not in the cards for me: the de-cluttering rule of thumb here is that if you haven’t wore it in the last 6 months, it goes. (If it must stay, please designate it to a Tupperware rather than a waste basket).
- China and serve-ware. Unless you use everything in your kitchen at least once a year it should go. The gravy boat can stick around and collect dust until Thanksgiving, mine will be doing the same thing (and, since it was a wedding gift, I feel the need to keep it dust free and on display). It’s confirmation that I’m an adult… I own a gravy boat! In all seriousness, I felt liberated by donating the inherited vases that I’ll never use. I believe the checkered crystal glass is attractive to some, and hopefully will turn a good profit at the local Rotary Auction where it was donated. I don’t believe that the Grandmother that I inherited the vase from would mind much that I got rid of it. She was sensible so I think she’d rather see it being used than taking up space in my hutch. Besides; I’d rather remember her for her voice, her love, and her gigantic sunglasses than her unfortunate taste in glass pieces. Same goes for serveware: who needs to serve three sizes of the same sized casserole? Also old tablecloths that you might need someday. And extra trivets. And old doilies. And the orphan forks that you stole from the office. Oh, the utensil drawer…..
- Jewelry. You can see, I’m closing in on the sentimental stuff. I completely understand there are family heirloom pieces, I have them, I’ve heard about lots of them, I get it. The jewelry that I’m talking about is the statement piece that you bought for one outfit, one decade ago. Bedrooms and bathrooms always show better without piles of distracting jewelry hanging around. The other biggie is the jewelry display that comes with the 62 necklaces. I’ve seen Trees, Picture Frames, Clothes Hangers – you name it and I’ve seen jewelry hanging from it. If you haven’t worn it in the past 2 years and it’s not an heirloom, ask yourself if you really need it or if you could survive without it. Remember that less stuff will provide you with more free time as you will no longer have to sort, clean, organize or care for all the person property. Your space will feel larger and clearer- an easier way to live and function. Plus, buyers feel innately better about buying from a seller that appears organized, and understandably so.
- Books. These are declared more sentimental than jewelry, I believe it to be because of the way books can make you feel the first time you read them. Believe me, I just about moved to Utah after the first time I read Desert Solitaire and was pretty sure that I too would like to live for A Year In Provence. People get attached to the characters they meet and the stories they hear. I can relate to this. Also, I understand that there is nothing better than the smell and feel of a real book in your hands. After a day of working on the computer, a Kindle screen is the last thing I care to stare at; I’m much more likely to read at all if it’s in the form of an actual book.
- Trinkets. Oh snap. But I LOVED the way the palm trees looked in Florida so I had to bring them home in the form of a key chain. I did this for each destination that I visited as a little girl and even had ones from as nearby as New Hampshire. Why 18 keychains? Because they reminded me of my travels. Well… photos do the same thing. These keychains are at the free section of the dump if anyone has any interest in tracing my geographic exploration. You get the point; the plastic pair of Minnie Mouse Ears are cute for your toddler to wear around the house but there comes a time to pass them on.
- Calm down. Photos. Ok, ok, keep the photo… it’s the frame I’m after anyway. I see TONS of stacked frames with photos in them that have been replaced on the bookshelf or wall. If you are super patient, you could take the time to scan in the photo and save it digitally because we all know you will need that photo someday. If you are a little less patient, you could but one giant photo album and call it something like “Award Winners” or “Family Favorites” – start filling this with all of the photos that were once so wonderful that they were printed and displayed but have since been replaced. One photo album looks waaaaay better than a huge box of old frames. I considered photos to be the most sentimental item, sellers often act like I’m The Giver trying to alter their memories. I’m just suggesting that all of the small, crookedly hung frames with old photos be properly stored in albums. Be selective with your wall art and it’s usually best to be sure that the subjects of each photo are properly clothed… the opposite will make for an uncomfortable showing.