The houses on both sides of us are for sale. I was telling someone that the other day and I didn't realize how bad that makes us as neighbors until I noticed the raised eyebrow and the "Uh huh. And this doesn't have anything to do with you?" Innocently I said no but then it occurred to me that not every one loves a working (aka, barking) terrier.
One of the houses is listed online and is typical of all nosy neighbors (come on, be honest, you know that you would too) we looked at the listing and the pictures. The thing that struck me- "Where was all their stuff?" My son who has spent some time there babysitting their children, said "Wow, that looks totally different." The house looked lovely, like a place from HGTV or a glossy decorating magazine but it also looked sterile. Where was the lived-in look, the photos, the kitschy knickknacks from travels abroad, the books and papers? It made me look at our home in a whole different light.
Actually I almost felt sick to my stomach thinking what would happen if we tried to sell our home? We have so many undone projects and things that are particular to this quirky house. There couldn't possibly be anyone out there that would have the same preference as we once did and who would want to pay a nice price for it.
It also struck me that with all the staging and sprucing up, why don't we live like that always? Is it just a fantasy that everyone buys into with the real estate game? Of course, everyone wants to have a linen closet with perfectly stacked sheets and towels with plenty of shelf space so that you actually see the shelf. No one really lives with shelves stuffed beyond capacity so that the linens are actually so packed they can stay wedged in open space between the front wall and the shelf.
I also felt sick to my stomach of gluttony of household items. Do we really need all those plates in the kitchen? Can we get rid of some of our chairs? Can't I put all of my clothes in the closet rather than schlepping the seasonal clothes in and out of neighboring bedroom closets?
What if I only had in my house those things that were useful and beautiful (to misquote William Morris) and only one set or one item? What would it look like if I parred down my belongings? What if I got the house ready to sell but then enjoyed living in it?
I am ready (almost) to try a challenge: Can I systematically go room by room, ruthlessly getting rid of those things that I don't love or don't use. (One of the questions to ask- if I had a fire and this item was burned, would I replace it?) What if I removed the unnecessary items, like I was staging the home for sale? (Even though I do go through our rooms periodically, I never have been really hard core in my decision keep/throw out tree.)
I don't know if I can actually get rid of everything so I might just put in a labeled box in the basement. A tip from professional organizers is to label the box "Give to Goodwill by December 2017" and if you haven't looked in the box by then, you haven't missed it so get rid of it.
If going through a room is too much, try a section of it. I have read that it is a good exercise to clear a shelf or mantel or wall of decoration and just live with the blankness for a while. When you start putting things back, try the William Morris test of usefulness and beauty.
I think there must be a fine line between living in the "staged" house setting and living in a pigsty. I don't want to live in a sterile environment but it would be nice not to feel that I am being suffocated with "stuff".
What about you? Is your house ready to sell? What would your home look like if it was? Would you like living in that setting or would you feel like you were missing something? Would you want to try the house ready challenge?