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Friday, October 31, 2008

O, You

Last week I had the pleasure of joining 4,000 women (and a handful of brave men) in San Francisco, for a day of expert presentations sponsored by Oprah’s magazine, “O”.

In the morning I listened to organizing guru, Peter Walsh, followed by an hour with interior designer, Nate Berkus. I also went to sessions with TLC’s What Not To Wear, Stacy London, and life coach Martha Beck.

I have met Peter Walsh at our NAPO conferences, but he is so much fun and so inspiring that I just had to see him again. Peter really is committed to getting people to understand that “it’s not about the stuff”! It’s about the unfulfilled promises that the stuff represents.

Interestingly, it was Nate’s session that had the most impact on me. A couple of things he talked about really resonated. Essentially he said that rooms and homes should never be thought of as “done”. Homes are organic eco-living systems of their own, and should be constantly evolving to mirror and service the changes that take place in our own lives.

The other point he made is that a home will never look or feel right without a mix of new and vintage items. I realized that this is what my own home is missing - older, worn pieces with character or pieces that I can put my own stamp on, a older chair with a new piece of fabric that relates to me. I tend to buy only new items. I will now think more kindly of flea markets and garage sales.

So here’s the scoop, Nate is shorter than I thought he would be, Stacy is petite and really very nice, Suze Orman is a tough as she sounds on TV and Gayle King is really beautiful.

At the end of the event the surprise we all hoped for arrived, Oprah came and delivered the closing session. She is an amazing force and it was really special to have the opportunity to see and hear her live. She was gracious and inspiring, exactly as she appears on TV.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Welcome to your new home

Our clients moved from Philly to Marin. While they drove across the country with their dog and cat, the moving van arrived here ahead of them. On moving day, the ATH team met the van and supervised the unload and furniture placements. Then we went about unpacking the entire house and putting everything away.

When the couple arrived a day later, their house was completely unpacked and ready for them, the beds were made, the clothes were organized in the closet, the kitchen was ready to cook a meal in and fresh flowers were on the dining table.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Books, books & more books

Without a doubt one of the most emotional issues in almost all of the homes we work in is: What do we do with all our books? People love their books. They agonize over what to do with their book collections and it is getting harder and harder to find the appropriate venues for even giving books away.

Before you buy your next book, ask yourself - who do I want to give this to when I have finished reading it? Another fun idea, form a neighborhood book club and exchange your latest reads with each other. I do this with my own magazine subcriptions, I share them with a neighbor and we split the cost of the subscription.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The great garage sale

Last Saturday I got talked into participating in a large garage sale event by a group of my neighbors. I am very good at keeping down the amount of stuff in my house so I usually don’t have a lot that needs to be gotten rid of. But I took a tour through my condo and my storage area and came up with a couple of boxes of books and household items I really don’t use that often and felt it was time they made a graceful exit.

At 7am on Saturday morning I loaded the car and off we went a few blocks to the neighbors to set up. In short order I was ready for the hoards who would be fighting over my precious offerings. For my neighbors it was quite a different story.

Out of their garages and basements came a never ending stream of broken down furniture and miscellaneous everythings. 99% of it was just plain junk. And not just their personal junk, but junk they have collected from others - stuff they found on the street, stuff they got when their tenants moved out and left it, stuff they inherited and even stuff they bought at other garage sales! It took them hours to drag all this out and set it up for sale.

By noon 95% of my stuff was gone, I had made my lunch money. When I make the decision that something is leaving my house, I become totally unattached to it and it no longer holds a specific dollar value to me - you want my used set of bath towels, they are yours for a buck or two.

So, by 2pm I was completely done and everything was gone. My neighbors would be hauling 95% of the same junk they brought out back into their garages and basements because they would not sell the old rusty sink for $20 instead of the $35 they had priced it at.

As I prepared to leave one of the neighbors asked if I would be back tomorrow to do it all over again and I was very happy to say I had nothing left to sell. I knew they simply couldn’t imagine how I managed that!
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