All the searching, negotiating, planning and financing that results in a final signature on those mortgage papers is not the end of the process. “I know it seems like the hard part is over,” shares Paula Devon Raso, one of Seattle’s top space planners and interior designers, “ and that may be why people don’t give due diligence to the four Ps: purging, packing, purchasing and placing.”
PURGING: “Almost every home has at least 25% surplus,” Ms. Raso has observed. That is 25% too many things and 25% too much furniture. “Some people fall into treating their homes like a big-box-store — a place to store all of life’s possibilities. I advise clients to purge the house they are leaving of non-essentials as if their mother-in-law were coming over to do a white-glove test.”
The list of items to throw out, recycle, or give away is as long as your imagination. Magazines, books, clothes, tchotchkes, old makeup, and medicine, glass jars, vases, canned foods, dry goods, plastic containers, paint, tables, chairs, bookcases, folding chaises, barbeque grills, and on, and on. Experts such as Raso advise purging ruthlessly and early, as soon as the move is confirmed. This allows more time and energy for packing what is really important. Plus, it is such a relief. Clients invariably say, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?”
It is human nature to think of “what if”, “What if I need that or want that in the future?” This was the rationale behind saving, boxing, and hauling around 35 pounds of petrified wood, agates, jasper, and thunder eggs my sisters and I found as children, rock hunting through the west. That is also why I saved every paperback novel by Agatha Christie, even as the pages yellowed and the covers bent and tore. Or carved wooden boxes, or, as in the case of one friend, dolls. At one point these physical memories seemed like treasures. Looked at in the cool light of moving, even with a slight tug on the heartstrings, these and similar collections morphed into something expendable.
The Salvation Army, St. Vincent De Paul, Value Village, and many other charitable organizations will take that mountain of paperbacks and other detritus and perhaps make a buck by re-selling it. If you don’t have time to haul everything to the second-hand store, opt for a “Got Junk” truck or another of that ilk. Their strong and fast crews will, for a fee, load up and haul away in minutes junk that has taken you a lifetime to collect or neglect. Due to local regulations, a lot is recycled or repurposed and thus avoids the dump.
PACKING: We can’t all afford to have other people to pack and move our belongings, but regardless, knowing what-is-where will prevent countless moments of frustration at the other end. “When people are moving into a new home, they don’t need access to all their possessions right away,” says Raso, “so why would you pack the things you require urgently with other articles that are less essential?”
Whether packing for the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, office, or living room, she advises marking boxes by room and marking them ST for short-term and LT for the long term. When you arrive at the new house, these designations will enable a step-by-step unpack of boxes that are already in the right place. The ST boxes can be delivered to the appropriate room or space for immediate unpacking. All LT boxes should go in the garage or a spare room. These can be dealt with as you have free time.
PURCHASING: “But wait, didn’t I just buy a new house? What do I need to purchase?” The new space is different than the old one and furniture may need to be reconsidered. Nothing, literally nothing, ruins the look of a room more than furniture that is too big, or too small.
PLACING: Under the theme that more is not better, our design consultant asks the new home buyer to mimic MOMA or Saks in their minimalist approach to artifacts that have been collected over generations, like the silver-framed pictures of the family going back three generations, and the exquisite decorative pieces chosen with love and care. “Put things out seasonally, or periodically,” Raso advises. “The whole collection doesn’t need to fill every shelf and surface. Treat the house to a change every once in a while by holding back some treasures and placing others in such a way that they can easily be seen, both by you and by visitors to your home.”
The rationale behind this is that familiarity breeds, not contempt, but disappearance. Many people literally stop noticing many of their prized possessions simply because each precious one is buried in a sea of other objects. Consider this: A museum showing the work of a famous artist, such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, does not crowd it by hanging a bunch of other pictures all around the masterpiece. No, they create a space in which the lady can be fully appreciated on her own. The message is simple — Create appreciation through selection and rotation.
A new home is a critical milestone in any family’s history. Preparing meticulously, packing judiciously, and placing the things you love carefully can ensure that you home-coming is a peaceful and joyous one.