The Art of Clutter

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I  try to read both the  Sunday New York Times  and the Financial Times for the amazing House and Home section when time allows. I noticed that both have recently published articles about the joy of clutter and accumulation of items.

As an agent I spend a great deal of time helping Sellers get their homes ready for sale. I quite often go home thinking : I have got to get rid of my stuff! I get home, clean and tidy and then throw out some papers and then realize as I dust each one of my collectibles the memory of why I got them or how I got them comes back to me. Most signify something special to me –  of special times, of special people and of the times when I had no money and slowly saved to allow me to get something I really wanted . Each item has a  story that goes with it. Interesting of course possibly to me only but it is part of who I am and who I was.

So usually just throwing out the papers is as far as I get. When I read these articles ( posted separately ) I thought them worth sharing. They are both funny and interesting. We hear so much about purging and staging but not much about the art of accumulating your lifès events and  passages  through what you collect.

This is the New York Times article:

                Let‘s Celebrate the Art of Clutter

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Written by Dominique Browning is the senior director of Moms Clean Air Force.

We are in a collective, and most unfortunate, paroxysm of guilt and anxiety about stuff.

This is a cyclical event, and here we are, back in the eternal return of the same. We are being barraged with orders to pare down, throw away, de-clutter.

Magazine covers advertise formulas for how to get rid of things (most of which involve buying new things for this purpose).

Entire books (books we will soon enough be told to toss) cover the subject. And, even then there is an “art,” a Japanese art, no less, to doing so (and we all know that any Japanese art is the most artful art of all).

Entire companies are being built on the backs of a neurosis that makes us believe that the process of shedding is complicated to the point of paralyzing .

It is all pointless and misguided, and it is time to liberate ourselves from the propaganda of divestment.

I would like to submit an entirely different agenda, one that is built on love, cherishing and timelessness. One that acknowledges that in living, we accumulate. We admire. We desire. We love. We collect. We display.

And over the course of a lifetime, we forage, root and rummage around in our stuff, because that is part of what it means to be human. We treasure.

Why on earth would we get rid of our wonderful things?

It is time to celebrate the gentle art of clutter. We live, and we pick up things along the way: the detritus of adventure; the vessels of mealtimes; the books and music of a life of the mind; the pleasures of our daily romps through the senses.

In accumulating, we honor the art of the potter, sitting at a wheel; we appreciate the art of the writer, sitting at a desk; we cherish the art of the painter, standing in front of an easel. (By this litany ye shall know that I have many books, many paintings, many pots — and many more things I love.)

I can assure you that I know all about moving into less space, and different space. I am also here to tell you that stuff responds to mysterious forces at work in the universe in much the same way as do the moon and the tides.

No matter how much stuff you give your sister, still in her large house, so that you can fit into your cozier shell, within a few years I guarantee you will have new possessions winking happily at you from tabletops and bookshelves. And you will be glad to see them .

And yes, you will have bookshelves. Never enough of them. And more books, to replace all those books you gave away. That, too, is a law of nature.

The stuff we accumulate works the same way our body weight does. Each of us has a set point to which we invariably return. Each of us has been allotted a certain tolerance, if not a need, for stuff; each of us is gaited to carry a certain amount of weight in possessions.

Some of us, rare breeds, tend toward the minimalist; some tip into a disorder of hoarding. Most of us live in the middle range. How marvelous it is to simply accept that, and celebrate it.

These days, having moved several times in several years, I am still mourning the loss of a few things I ought never have given away. I am still overcome by object lust, from time to time. And I still want to fit yet another photograph or painting onto a wall.

Go ahead, call me materialistic. I’ll just wonder what you think you are made of.

I am not done with living. I am not done with my things. I love them, in fact, more and more each year, as I recollect the journey that brought us together. I will cherish them, till death do us part.

And rather than fret about my inability to get rid of things, artfully, graciously, or otherwise, I am not only giving in to the desire to keep getting stuff, but I am also fantasizing about how I am going to pass my things on to my children.

Who, I insist, must take them. Even though they are already, at the tender age of 30 (mere children!), worried about having too many things. They don’t know from stuff.

I want to affix labels underneath things, telling them that what looks like a stained and rickety table is actually a Chinese altarpiece from the Ming dynasty with rolled bamboo marble. And if you run your hand along the top of it, you can feel the gradations that come of hand-cutting and polishing marble.

And that staining happened because all that marvelous Chinese furniture of the upper classes was stashed in damp barns for decades, their legs in puddles of water, hidden from the authorities who considered them the artifacts of decadence and wanted them destroyed. That’s how powerful stuff can be.

“That tchotchke you think you’re going to put out on a tag sale table for $10?” I want to say to my sons. “That’s Nymphenburg. It is worth hundreds of dollars.” I found it at a tag sale for $10, and pounced.

I have started saying things to my sons like: “When I die, just please, rent a warehouse, and put everything away. You are too young to understand the value of what I have bought. Someday you will want these things, and you’ll only have to shop in your warehouse.”

Never mind that their homes may be full of their own things. I want to know, now, that forever after, I will be watching down on them from the walls and the shelves, having somehow transmogrified myself into my stuff.

Because I do believe that happens. We were meant to be together, and the cells from my sweaty palms, or the eye beams from my covetous gaze, will reside in my things forever.

That’s the idea, anyway.

There is a reason we talk about nesting. Next time you are out walking, take a close look at a nest.

Nests are full of twigs, bits of fluff, string, moss and bark. Stuff birds take home, and fit to a shape that accommodates their lives.

Some birds even press their warm bodies against their stuff as they are making their nests, molding them to the shape of their breasts, so that they file like… home

A home that is uniquely theirs and uniquely beloved.

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“all the world’s a stage”- part 5: The Basement and Lighting

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Part 5 of a 5 part series about getting your home ready for sale

‘Staging is preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in”

“Depersonalizing a home has now become essential to creating a welcoming atmosphere for potential buyers’

The internet has changed the way people buy and sell homes and that has made how a home shows more important than ever.

First impressions have always been important and now with U-Tube  videos , internet ads, Facebook , social media   and multiple interior photos on web sites a buyer visits your home  before stepping though the front door. The impression that those photos make are very important and that comes down to what is broadly known as staging.

9. The Basement: Purge, Purge, Purge. Get rid of anything you no longer want or use. Organize the remaining in one area so that the basement walls and floors are visible. Try to have shelving units to organize the items ( they do not have to be fancy – Ikeas /Rona /Home Depot have lots of good items that are very affordable . Make sure that around the electrical, plumbing stack and furnace is easily accessible and visual. Broom clean /vacuum the floor and also highly recommended is to paint the concrete if the area is not finished. Make sure the stairs are solid and easy to access- handrail a must. Get rid of those spider webs from the ceilings and walls of unfinished parts and clean the top of the furnace and hot water tank.  If you have a finished basement remember that if you are /marketing it as a living space then make sure it shows like the rest of the house. The basement is usually the last place a buyer goes and it leaves a lasting impression. Make it a good one._MG_5085images (8)images (7)

10. Lighting:  Take advantage of your windows by having them cleaned and keep the drapes or blinds open. Outdated and broken light fixtures can easily and cheaply be replaced and remaining ones should be dusted and cleaned- including exterior lights. Add lamps and supplementary lighting to dark areas or rooms. Make sure the basement is well lit as well. For showings  have the blinds and drapes open as well as having the lighting on. Kitchen , bathrooms , basement and main hallways should be lit, it makes a big difference. Table lamps  on for the darker spaces. In the summer of course the lights can make the house warm so  air out the house and have the air conditioning  on to keep it fresh .

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You are looking to sell a valuable asset and the time spent on getting your home ”Fit to Sell” is worth it.

Stay tuned for “where’s my stuff “and the Life Box to survive selling your home .

 

All the world’s a Stage part 4- Tip 7 and 8

 ‘Staging is preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in”

“Depersonalizing a home has now become essential to creating a welcoming atmosphere for potential buyers’

The internet has changed the way people buy and sell homes and that has made how a home shows more important than ever.

First impressions have always been important and now with U-Tube  videos , internet ads, Facebook , social media   and multiple interior photos on web sites a buyer visits your home  before stepping though the front door. The impression that those photos make are very important and that comes down to what is broadly known as staging.

From cleaning to styling, from fluffing to decluttering, to moving furniture to renting furniture, staging can come in many different forms and levels. Professional stagers and real estate agents can provide you with a number of varied services and advice.

38FirstAv 008Don’t crowd the Room: Rearrange the furniture. Walk through the house as if you were seeing it for the first time. Can you easily move around the rooms? Can you move from room to room without having to go around furniture? Can you get to and look out windows without furniture blocking the access.  Symmetrical arrangements usually work well in main rooms- create a conversation area and remove oversized furniture from the spaces.

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 Think Hotel: When sprucing up a bathroom stay with neutral with color and accents – for a pop of color, a piece of artwork and a small vase of fresh flowers works well. Bathrooms should be spotless with lots of fresh white towels. This includes the master bedroom which should be gender neutral in color so that it appeals to everyone and again free of personal items. Crisp Linens, a nice piece of art work and organized linen closet will appeal to everyone.

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All the worlds a stage part 3

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5.Tone it down:

Our personal tastes in décor vary greatly however when photos are taken of a home and you have strong colors on the walls what you see is the colors and not the house or room. Highly recommended is choosing to repaint rooms that are richly or boldly colored (especially main rooms) to a more stylish neutral tone and that is not necessarily white.

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Earthy tones and rich mid tone neutrals create a backdrop that makes the rooms look large and inviting without being stark. Even a deep earthy tone can be lovely as long as there is little else in the room to clash with the colour and a good piece of art work to set off the room.

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 6. Outdoor spaces:

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Whether you have a yard or a small balcony you want to create an atmosphere that invites a buyer to enjoy the spaces. Decks should be cleaned and stained, Flower pots placed as accents on patios and decks, grass cut and gardens weeded (you don’t want it to look like it is high maintenance ). Play up small spaces with a café table and chairs ( even a place setting) so a buyer sees that  it is a lovely place to have a coffee or a glass of wine”

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Many times a garden extends the indoor space – if you are selling in the summer have the door open so it is easy to walk right out into the terrace or garden.

An easy fix to privacy issues or to disguise items that are not as visually appealing the use of potted cedars , grasses or trees works wonderfully with out spending a fortune.

 

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ALL THE WORLDS A STAGE- PART 2

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HOW MUCH FUN IS THIS!!

4.Cleaning: This is something that is so important.  Most people do not think it is that much fun to do. Even though we think our homes are clean using a cleaning company just before you go to market or the photo shoot is worthwhile. Photos and video’s take close-ups of such things as taps and flooring so everything should sparkle. Even if a kitchen or bathroom is dated, if it is clean it makes a huge difference in the eyes of a buyer.

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3.Open those closets and cupboards:  Buyers will look in your closets and pull out built in drawers. Closet space is a big selling point for buyers so show your closets off to full advantage  aim to have around a quarter of the space open for the impression of spaciousness.  Not every one has huge closets or California closets but even a small closet can be made to look spacious and useful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ALL THE WORLDS A STAGE: Part 1

ALL THE WORLDS A STAGE: part 1- a  series of 10  points for getting ready to go to market .

‘Staging is preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in”

“Depersonalizing a home has now become essential to creating a welcoming atmosphere for potential buyers’

128FourthAve 007

The internet has changed the way people buy and sell homes and that has made how a home shows more important than ever.

First impressions have always been important and now with U-Tube  videos , internet ads, Facebook , social media  and multiple interior photos on web sites a buyer visits your home  before stepping though the front door. The impression that those photos make are very important and that comes down to what is broadly known as staging.

From cleaning to styling, from fluffing to decluttering, to moving furniture to renting furniture, staging can come in many different forms and levels. Professional stagers and real estate agents can provide you with a number of varied services and advice.

Sometimes it can overwhelm a homeowner when starting the process but some simple points can help de stress the process.

I am going to mention only  10 points a few at a time that always have remained true with buyers and sellers through the years.

  1. Curb appeal: this is something you always hear but it is amazing how many of us neglect our front entrance. Buyers may do a drive by, you want a good impression. So, paint or stain the front steps, rail, and porches, paint the front door a colour that accents the home, replace old house numbers and mailbox.  A planter of flowers or seasonal decoration is always nice.  A new doormat is nice, It all says “welcome home” to  a buyer and shows pride of ownership.

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2. Clear away Clutter:  “Remember Less is More”:  Counters, tops of furniture, tables, desktops, closets, bookcases should be purged of anything you no longer want and personal items such as family photos and personal collectables should be put away or stored. You can bring all those things back once the house has sold, the idea of space is important in the eyes of a buyer. Furniture can be rearranged to make rooms look larger and pieces removed, or new ones added.

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 Sometimes you may have to rent a storage locker for a while but it is worth it. I know that it is “your taste and style’ however you are trying to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible so a clean palette is important for them to see the house properly with their things.  To be continued….

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