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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cole Hardware

Hats off to Cole Hardware in San Francisco for creating and maintaining one of the best recycling resources pages I've ever seen! If you want to know how to properly dispose of just about everything, check out Cole's page first. (Just click on the title of this entry.)

How do I get rid of my stuff?

Q: I am moving into a much smaller apartment and I need to get rid of most of my furniture and knickknacks. What can I do to get rid of my stuff?

A: As I have said before, getting rid of stuff is not an easy task these days. There are very few charities who will come and pick up for free and take all your things. Time is your best friend or worst enemy for getting rid of things. Here's my advice:

1. If you even think you will be moving anytime in the near future, start searching for homes for your things NOW. Query your family and friends to determine who will want what and then get them to come and get it.

2. Search out local charity groups or families in your neighborhood who might need a dresser or a sofa and plan a drop off day. Many neighborhood gardeners or housekeepers will take and/or distribute your things.

3. is an internet resource for giving things away. However, you will not know who is coming by your house to pick these things up.

4. Garage Sales are always a great way to let the neighbors haul away your stuff. Do not haggle over prices - if they are willing to take that 5 ton table, let them!

5. Be realistic about the condition of your items. If your sofa is 25 years old and the cat has used it as a scratching post, no one wants it! That dresser that just needs a new knob, a sanding, a painting, a new a candidate for dumping.

6. Be prepared to pay dump fees - however, many of the dumping companies are hooked up with local charities and will recycle as much of what you have as they can.

7. Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul's still pick up in most areas - but they will probably not take everything you put out, so be prepared.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bookcase displays

Q: I have a built in bookcase in my open combination living room and dining room. I want it to look like the magazine photos and display my favorite collections of old books and tea sets, but it just never seems to come together for me. What should I do?

A: I suggest that you only display items that are worthy of this prime real estate and fit the time period you are recreating. Your primary focus is creating a period piece using antique items and setting a scene or mood of a cozy English cottage. So keep the pieces that best go with that theme. This bookcase is not for storage - it's the major focal point in your house, so it's got to be fun and interesting to look at.

Let's build this bookcase from the bottom up, since there is no need to put small delicate items on the bottom, we'll use books and larger pieces here. We'll do a reverse mirror effect on the next level, still using books and larger display items. Try to vary the heights of objects on each shelf.

Now that we are at viewing height, we can bring in your delicate tea sets, giving the best pieces their own shelf. Then you can do a mix of books, tea pots, plates and other favorite objects. Finally, we'll weed out the baskets at the top and mix them with your glass cake stands and pitchers.

While this project is still evolving, you've got the framework of your new bookcase, displaying your favorite items in an interesting and pleasing way.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My own downsizing project

Last year I decided that I wanted to embark on my own downsizing project. I moved into this condo 4 years ago and since then a lot of stuff has "crept" in. Now, granted when I say a lot of stuff I don't mean tons and tons, but enough that I have been frustrated trying to keep it all clean and orderly. Even though I really like everything I have, I know that it's getting out of hand for my level of comfort.

So, after the first of the year I began my project. I started in my bedroom - taking everything out, cleaning every inch of it, examining what I owned and putting only the things I really love and need back. The rest is going to a garage sale this summer.

My long wall to wall closet had become my "catch all" area. This photo is only the center section of the closet area.

Taking everything out yielded all these boxes of stuff...

I cleaned the space before I returned any items...

I then returned about 75% of what had originally lived in this closet. How much is leaving from the room? Half the books, half the candles, half the silk flowers, all of my throw pillow covers, half the table runners, one night stand - in total, 8 carry boxes of stuff.

And, yes, I am keeping both cats...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More staging 101

You've asked to see more staging photos and here they are...

BEFORE: This is the "extra" room, which the homeowner used as a library, exercise and office area.

AFTER: We moved the sofa away from the entry door and to the back of the room. We de-cluttered the bookcase and made this room much more inviting.

BEFORE: This master bedroom needed to be neutralized and "deflowered"...

AFTER: We removed the large and busy area rug from under the bed and added a plain white bedspread. We also chose other art work and de-cluttered the nightstands and dresser.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Mother's Garden

On Sunday, April 5th, MSMBC will be showing My Mother's Garden, a film about a family dealing with their mother's hoarding issues. (Check your listing for times.)

One of the most interesting aspects of this condition is shown near the end of the film when their mother returns to her cleared out home - instead of being happy to have the mess gone, she is in fact devastated that the house is empty. I have experienced this with my own clients and it goes to how serious an issue hoarding is and why the hoarder must go into therapy.
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