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Simplifying your move – and maybe your life!

It has become trendy to live more simply. It may have started years ago with Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but today people of every generation are finding ways to declutter their lives. The Swedes got in on the action with The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, which became a home improvement show. 

As home staging professionals, when we approach the sale of a home, it usually starts with getting rid of a lifetime of accumulated stuff. Preparing to move is a stressful experience; looking at closets full of clothing, collectibles, your kids’ mementos, and your parents’ antiques makes it even more daunting. 

Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff*

Sellers from the baby boom generation are the keepers of three generations of clutter – theirs, their parents, and often their children’s. Having a system for approaching the process helps to alleviate stress and provide goals for getting through it. 

Start with clothing

Woman sorting clothes to move

Create “Keep” “Toss” and “Donate” piles. Try things on. Note items you’re keeping that need repair. If you have nicer items that are never or lightly worn, consider a resale site like Poshmark. Having a tidy closet is important as you prepare for market. The floor should be clear. If you don’t have shoe shelves, invest in shoe organization. And don’t stop with your closet – go through those drawers with the same approach. Most people need to eliminate one to two thirds of what is in their closet. 

If you have keepsake items, fold them into pretty boxes and place on your high shelves so they aren’t taking up precious space. Trade your mismatched hangers for hangers of the same type. We recommend the slim velour covered hangers for space. Hanging your clothing by type (shirts, jackets, pants), and then by color is a great way to really see what’s in your closet and to use what is there. 

Large furniture and art pieces

After clothing, decide what furniture pieces are going with you to your next home and what needs to go. Be ruthless about what will fit the life you’re going to. There is guilt involved in getting rid of pieces we’ve inherited from loved ones or items we spent a great deal of money on. Lives change. Tastes change. Moving things out to make room for pieces you love is the goal. 

Take a hard look at your artwork. Does it reflect your taste now? Consider reframing pieces you really love that feel dated. It will completely change the way a piece feels in your space. 

Important! Do not force things you no longer want on your children. More and more I hear from younger people that they don’t want or need these things but feel guilty saying no. Ask your kids and siblings before unloading family heirlooms, but don’t force the issue. Donation centers are getting more and more choosy about they take for resale, so reach out before showing up with your items. Many are still packed from the pandemic and aren’t accepting larger items. You can try selling items yourself on Facebook Marketplace or Next Door but expect pennies on the dollar. For nicer pieces, we recommend consignment stores. There are several great ones in region. Some will let you email photos of your items for evaluation and will pick up pieces for you.  

The Office/Paperwork

As you begin the process of preparing your home, you will start to find and collect all sorts of documents and papers. Now is the time to focus on your desk, office, file cabinets, and shelves. 

Gather paperwork.  Deeds, manuals, and warranties are all important to your upcoming transactions. Get an expandable folder for manuals and warranties and any notes you have for the new buyers of your home, including great referrals like your landscape and cleaning team. 

Do you need a trip to city hall? You may need to visit the city to get some of the documentation for your home. Check the permits you’ve pulled on your projects. Did you build a fence, a pool or a deck? Were these projects properly finished and closed? We lost an offer on a property we were selling once because we forgot the final electrical inspection on our kitchen remodel. 

Sell your home!

If you have done major improvements on your property, put together the before and after photos, along with the costs so that buyers can see how the property has changed. It can be big things like an outdoor kitchen or remodel, or small improvements like adding solar, new windows, and gutters. It shows great maintenance of your property and is great to share for open house! 


Whether you’re doing your own packing or paying a company, insist on a  labeling convention for your boxes. Remember the Stephen Covey adage, “begin with the end in mind.” Make it easy for yourself at the other end of your move. Imagine the overwhelm of standing in your kitchen just wanting a skillet and a spatula to make some eggs and you have ten boxes all labeled “Kitchen”.  Think about labels like – “Kitchen – silverware and utensils”, “Kitchen – everyday dishes.” 

Take control of your move. Have a system that fits your life and situation. Create a calendar with goals and meet them. Walk into your new home lighter and organized for living your best life. 

Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff

*The best guide I’ve found for this process is Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff: Downsize and Move Forward with Your Life by Matt Paxton. 

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