Tips and strategies for decluttering and downsizing: part 2

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

In my previous post I shared my tips on the best way to sort items when decluttering and downsizing. What I found was that it was relative easy to decide on what to keep (items I loved, needed or used) and what to throw away (broken items, old TV’s, obsolete computers.) . The donate pile was easy too, (old clothes, furniture, extra kitchen utensils and small appliances).

The biggest stumbling block for me, which I assume it might be for others, was deciding what to do with those items that were relegated to the sell pile. We had items like vintage fishing lures that had belonged to my grandfather, antique linens and china that had belonged to my mother’s great aunt and a pottery collection that I had grown tired of. These things were obviously not suited to my local Salvation Army drop off. Luckily time is on our side since we plan to downsize in 3-5 years not next month. I therefor had the time to try out a combination of multiple selling venues. Listed below is what I found to be the pros and cons of each.

Yard Sale:

Pro’s: people came to us and in one day we cleared out some stuff and what didn’t sell we hauled back into the garage to deal with as time allowed.

 Cons: It was a huge amount of work getting ready for it and we made only pennies on the dollar. It also involved giving up a full day on a beautiful weekend in the Spring.

 What I learned: Yard sales are great for things that you know local folks want. Kids toys, garden supplies, picture frames, current best seller books and tools. What didn’t sell were cheap decorative items (made in China), clothes, older sports equipment, old books, and rugs.

Craigslist:

Pros: I was somewhat able to set the selling price (I got more than I would have at the yard sale) and people came and picked up the item.

Cons: Strangers come to your house, and what I found was that people would make an appointment to come and see the item and then 75% of the time they wouldn’t show up, nor would they call and cancel.

What I learned: Similar to yard sales, people shopping on Craigslist are looking for rock bottom prices. After weeks of listing and re-listing we eventually sold an oriental rug that was in mint condition for $300… sadly,we had paid close to $2,000 for it. Out dated dining sets will only sell for a couple hundred dollars and no one wants upholstered pieces unless you are practically giving them away (the bed bug scare maybe)?  What sold best for us on Craigslist were current style, well known brands; Pottery  Barn, West Elm and Crate and Barrel items all received an immediate response.

Ebay:

Pros: The items that sold, fetched WAY more than I had even anticipated. If you are listing as an auction item the listing fee is free. If something doesn’t sell it is easy to re-list. 90% of the items I listed sold the first time around and the second 9% sold the second time around. 1% of the things I listed didn’t get any bids even after several attempts. It’s also fun to watch the price go up as people bid and out bid one another.

Cons: Okay, I’ll be honest, there are a lot of cons to selling on ebay. First of all, it takes a huge amount of time to photograph each item, list it and then once it sells it is your responsibility to package and ship it. It took me a full day to photograph and list 6 items. There is a learning curve for selling on ebay and the listing process is tedious and time consuming. Lastly, since I don’t own a postage scale I lost money on almost every single item because I underestimated the shipping cost.

What I learned: Small and hence easy to ship items are the most manageable to sell on ebay. I sold some pottery and then spent almost an entire day searching for suitable shipping boxes, purchasing bubble wrap and peanuts and then packaging everything up to take to the post office. Antiques do very well on ebay as do any kind of vintage collectibles. An antique doll sold for $184.00, a pair of miniature sterling silver antique scissors sold for over $50.00 and the antique fishing lures all sold for good amounts.

My final post (part three) of my declutering experience will be up next week. I will give both the pros and cons of my final three selling venues;  auction, consignment and a local flea market. Until then, happy decluttering.

What is your favorite way to sell items?

If 2014 is the year you decide to finally love your home, give me a call.

 

Tips and strategies for decluttering and downsizing: Part One

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. Now that it’s January it seems the number one focus on everyone’s mind (based on Pinterest, blogs and magazine covers) is juicing, and decluttering. Both with the ultimate goal of being thin and organized in 2014.

It makes sense that the majority of us are feeling the need to purge after a month of too much food, too much partying, too much clutter, and too much overall excess.

clutter

I have the personality type that functions best if my environment is organized, clean and clutter free.  Having said that, you would assume my house would reflect that but you would be wrong. You see, as a decorator I am by nature a collector. I have way too many throw pillows, dishes, table linens, extra furniture and decorative accessories. My husband is a high tech guy so he is equally at fault with having too many computers, monitors, cords and “high tech” stuff.

About six months ago I decided enough is enough. I had reached my breaking point (again, my personality type) and we have been slowly decluttering. I will be honest, it has not always been easy. Many items have sentimental or monetary value and deciding what to do with those items is where we get tripped up. We are continuing to move forward though so that by this time next year I want to proudly claim that we are clutter free.

For those of you who also plan to make de-cluttering or downsizing a goal in 2014 I thought it would be helpful to share tips and strategies that have helped us.

1. De-cluttering is a process. Unless you are the rare bird who can say, “just pull the dumpster up to the back door” and then start heaving stuff into the trash, de-cluttering takes time…lot’s of time. What works best for me is to set the timer on my iphone for a designated amount of time (usually 45 minutes to one hour) and work only for that specific amount of time.

2. Target one area at a time. I started with a single closet in the hallway and only worked on that space until it was done.

3. Divide items into four groups. Group one are items to keep, group two are items to be tossed, group three are items to donate or give away and group four are items to sell. When deciding which group something should go in, this is where you need to be a little ruthless. Try to keep emotion out of your decision. Just because something was given as a gift or cost a lot of money doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever. If it is not adding to the enjoyment of your life, or you are not using it then it is time to let it go.

4. When deciding what goes in the “keep”group ask these three questions.

Do I love it? (furniture, art work, accessories, clothes)

Do I need it? (tax receipts, waffle iron warranty, 20+ scented candles)

Do I use it? (ten year old treadmill, old tools, clothes 2 sizes too small)

Only things that fit into one of these three categories should go in the keep pile when de-cluttering…again, be brutally honest.

 Now that you have items separated into one of four groups what next? 

Check back later in the week as part two will address the best resources I found for dealing with things to donate or sell along with the pros and cons of each resource such as charities, yard sales, Craigslist, Ebay, and a few more.

How about you?  Is decuttering a goal for you in 2014? Do you have tips that worked best for you? I would love to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Design Trends that are Here To Stay (in my humble opinion)

At the start of every New Year, Design magazines and bloggers love to discuss  Design Trends. The one good thing about Design trends is that they have a longer life span (8-10 years) than fashion trends (1-2 years). However, depending on what part of the country you live in will dictate if a particular trend is still “in” or “out”. New York City will most likely have moved on from a trend before say Cleveland (nothing against Cleveland, just saying).

I have read all the reports and to save you some time, here is a partial summary of what’s “hot”…(or not)… for 2012.

Color trends: Brown is out, Gray is in. Bright clean colors have replaced muddy earth tones, and Pantone’s  Tangerine Tango has replaced the 2011 color Honeysuckle Pink (which replaced 2010 Turquoise).

Furniture and Accessory trends : Chevron patterns, Moroccan influence, Ikat, Gourd lamps, Nail head trim, Sunburst mirrors, Geometric prints, Lanterns, Greek Key Motifs, Painted furniture, Repurposed Yard Sale Finds, Maps, Animal prints (esp. Leopard), Coral, Faux bois, Acrylic/lucite, Eco-Friendly design.

 Art trends: Oversized Photography, Horses, Silhouettes, and Gallery Walls.

 

My friend Kristie the Decorologist wrote a great post about Elle Decor’s 2012 Trend Report that you can read here which generated a TON of comments. The thing about trends is that by the time most of us get on board with them they are almost “over”. So what is someone on a limited budget to do? We want our home to look current but don’t want it to look “trendy” or even worse, dated in a few years. My advice is to either buy what you love and forget about trends all together or  invest in a few trendy accessories such as pillows or decorative items and then swap them out in a few years when the “trend” is over.

There are 2 trends though which I believe are here to stay. Both have been building in momentum and I would say it is now a huge movement with no turning back. I don’t have a single friend or client who isn’t on board with this first trend.

 

 LIVING WITH LESS

 

 

In my opinion the allure of the affordable “made in China” home decor is over. We are all decluttering, organizing and talking of downsizing. We are striving to live simpler, happier and healthier lives and it is nearly impossible to do that surrounded by excess decorative “stuff”. Americans are waking up to the power of living with less, buying quality over quantity and buying “American Made”. Sorry Homegoods, Walmart and Pier One but your days might be limited.

 

and the second one is GREEN DESIGN

 

 

I have seen a huge change in attitude even from a few years ago concerning going “green”.  Almost ALL my clients today insist on low or no VOC paint where just 3 years ago they went for price first and environment and air quality second.  I read that Whole Foods had their best year yet and we all know how pricey Whole Foods is. People are concerned now like never before about their health, their families health and the Planets health. Recycled, and re-purposed furniture and accessories continues to grow in popularity year after year. Main stream stores like Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware are all pushing sustainable and recycled items.

 

Dining Table From Restoration Hardware reclaimed wood collection

 

I think the best thing about living with less and Green design is that it seems to have created a renewed interest and energy around decorating and design. Home owners are taking charge of their home, asking the right questions and living in a more authentic and sustainable way. The popularity of D.I.Y. blogs, design TV shows and readily available “designer” items on the internet has opened design to everyone. The old way of  decorating is changing and I believe it is all for the good.

 

What do you think?  Do you agree with my 2 design trend Predictions or do you think in 2020 we will be tired of living with less and dream of the excess of the past.

 

 

If you would like some help putting your decorating vision together or help choosing the perfect paint color to complete your room, give me a call.

 

 

Low / No Cost Holiday Decor Storage

I know there are two kinds of people when it comes to holiday decorations. Those that love their decorations and keep them displayed through most of the Winter and those that can’t wait to clean up and put everything away. I am one of the latter. By the time Christmas rolls around I am so over the extra clutter of the decorations and the dried out greenery that I have to hold myself back from pulling the decorations down as soon as the last gift is opened.

I am the type of person who likes to start the new year with a clean slate, which for me is a clean house.  So yesterday I spent a good part of the day purging the house of Christmas. I tossed all the greenery and packed away all the decorations (except those on the tree which we traditionally take down on New Years Day).

Over the years I have invested in some great storage boxes for wreaths, wrapping paper and ornaments and I have found these make organization and storage so much easier than the random cardboard boxes and paper bags I used to use.

As great as the store bought boxes are, they can be quite pricey. This year I found some great “use what you have” ideas for Holiday storage so I want to share them with you.

 

I love clear ornament storage boxes and this is  similar to the one I own.

Bed bath and Beyond

 

Here is a cleaver way to make your own using plastic glasses left over from your holiday party.

Pinterest

 

I love this light storage box  from The Container Store.

Here is the “use what you own” version. Just as good don’t you think?

Pinterest

 

Wrapping paper storage is always nice and this box from The Container Store keeps supplies organized and in one place..

However, the back of a closet door keeps supplies just as organized and even more accessible.

 

Tissue paper is usually what I use to protect ornaments and other fragile decorations

but if you own a shredder this is just as good: Shred this years wrapping paper and use instead of store bought tissue paper.

Real Simple

 

 

Here are two other cleaver ideas  from Real Simple magazine.

 

Use egg cartons to store and protect small ornaments.

Pinterest

 

and although I don’t see plastic apple crates in stores near me, they make great ornament protectors if you buy your apples in these.

Real Simple

 

 

I am always curious as to when others “undecorate” from the holidays?  Are you like me and want it gone before New Years? or like my friend who keeps the holiday decor all through the Winter?

 

 

Is 2012 the year to “love your home”?  If so, give me a call for a decorating or color consult. I will help you see your home in a whole new light so that you will have a home you love spending time in.

 

 

Collecting and Displaying Books..How Many Are Too Many?

One of my (many) passions is books. I have been collecting them since High School and I feel the same way about books as I do art; I couldn’t be truly happy living without either. I think the easiest way to make a house a home is to surround yourself with books that you love. This past week I have been thinking about books more than usual. You see, my oldest son is moving back to Boston after graduating college and then spending the past year in San Francisco. He is selling most of his  belongings on Craigslist but all of  his books are being shipped back to us. Every day the mail man delivers more and more boxes of books. He finally asked me yesterday if I had bought out a library.  My son warned me he had “a lot” of books but I had no idea what “a lot” meant until this week. Here is what we have received so far.

…more boxes are evidently coming….a lot more….seriously??

 

 

I guess I only have myself to blame for my son’s book obsession.  He grew up surrounded by books.  We have books in bookcases, books on tables, and books stacked next to the bed. I even use some of of my decorating books as a side table.

 

I consider Design Magazines, “soft” books, so I collect those as well. I have recently decided it is time to get rid of the really old ones (pre-2006) so I have been purging them…painful but not as painful as if I had to get rid of my books.  Here are 2 of the 4 sets of floating shelves under the eves in our master bedroom. All the shelves are neatly stacked with magazines.

 

There are so many creative ways to display books. The most common way obviously is in a bookcase. I think it  looks best to have some books standing up and some laying down, intermixed with other objects and art work. Bookcases are such a beautiful focal point when done right, like this one with a beautiful green painted back.

Molly Luetkmeyer of M. Design Interiors

 

If you are going for that whole library look then just line them up and fill the shelves.

 

Pinterest

 

If your front door brings you directly into the living room, using an open bookcase as a room divider is a great idea.

 

 

Unusually shapes bookcases can do double duty as both art and storage, like this wall of  diagonal shelves done by Kelly Wearstler for the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica.

 

or this creative one of a kind bookcase.

 

A fellow blogger, The Decorologist even used her fireplace as a unique place to display her books.

 

 

As far as how many books are too many?  I would say somewhere around this many.

 

 

Well have to run…..Boarders Book Stores liquidation sale begins today…my son just called and told me.

 

If you would like some help displaying your books, give me a call.

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