Ready To Show – Again!

52 days on the market, 4 open houses, 3 scheduled showings

I think it’s obvious by now that counting is my coping mechanism. Putting a number on the last few weeks has actually cheered me up. I mean, just writing “52 days on the market” presupposes a final day, right? Whether that’s day 53 or day 153 – there will be a final day, right?

As you can imagine, I’ve soured a little on the whole staging thing. My house just looks sterile to me now. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – in my mind, sterile is a positive in a house you’re about to move into with your family – but not for one you’re actually living in with your family. And, I can’t help but notice how EVERY house I’ve seen on the market lately has had the life staged right out of it. More on that later.

First, let’s get to the business of this post – how I’m keeping my house ready to “show.” I’ve picked up a few little tricks in the past two months.

Meet my micro fibre cloth and lint free tea towel:

Yes, this is a love story. That micro fiber cloth and I are taming the black granite one square foot at a time. I’ve tried many other things, but hot water on that cloth followed by a dry tea towel is THE answer.  Wax on, wax off!

Moving along to my other nemesis – the glass shower stall.

Notice how you can see the reflection in the glass. The spray bottle is a solution of 3/4 water and 1/4 vinegar. After a thorough first clean (see below), I now spray and squeegee the glass after every shower to maintain it. I especially like the professional squeegee move I learned on youtube, though I suppose most professionals aren’t doing it in the nude wearing a towel turban. Mercy!

I try not to use commercial cleaning products when I don’t have to, but I needed some serious help with the tubs and shower stalls on the first go round, so I turned to Scrubbing Bubbles and this:

I can’t believe this wheel brush has been hiding in the garage all my life. It’s genius for cleaning shower walls and tub floors. The pitcher is for thoroughly rinsing the tub and shower and for storing the dripping brush when you’re done.

My final tip  is to hide the “show” towels. I don’t know about you, but piles of clean towels last about 24 hours in my house before they all turn up in a damp pile – whether or not anyone has actually bathed. Here’s the stack I’ve squirrelled away for showings to prevent last minute laundry.

Now, 52 days is a long time to be practicing showmanship. And yes, I’ve grown weary of artfully draping the throws, karate chopping the pillows and planting high brow magazines in not too obvious places. I can’t help but thinking of a comment a reader from Italy made on my last post about home staging.

Apparently, staging is not practiced routinely in Italy. Perhaps the Italians are too busy having a life to obsess over making a living like we do here in North America. I’m generalizing of course, but the goal of home staging is to squeeze every last penny from your abode. And it looks like just about everyone in Vancouver got the memo.

If you browse the real estate listings, one would suspect that no one is actually living in any of the houses for sale in my neighbourhood. We’ve literally staged the life out of them. And, with the number of houses on the market these days, that’s a lot of people forgoing finger painting and fried fish in the name of commerce.

But not so in Italy – these people are clearly off having an espresso unconcerned with their dishes or their parakeet.

And, I think they just might have the right idea. An espresso would taste pretty great right now.

Just for fun: What would turn you off, if it turned up on the counter at an open house?


Guidelines for House Swapping With A Minimalist

I don’t mean to be inhospitable but there are a few things you should know about house swapping with a minimalist:

1) What’s mine is yours. And, since I have next to nothing, please feel free to use all of it.

2) Make sure you bring whatever you think you might want because if you don’t actually need it, I don’t have it.

3) They’re floor pillows!

4) 1 bowl, 1 spoon = better get takeout.

5) If you can’t find it, I don’t have one. Do you really need one?

6) White and black are colours!

7) What arrives with you, must leave with you – except, of course, for wine and chocolate in recyclable packaging.

7) Many happy meals were made in that blender.

9) You won’t break a thing if you dance in the living room (or the kitchen, bedroom, pantry, powder room and hall).

10) What do you mean you’re accustomed to conventional furniture?

11) I like you too much to burden you with unnecessary crap.

12) Yes, I threw it out on purpose.

13) No, I didn’t forget to stock up on toilet paper.

This is, of course, tongue in cheek. I haven’t moved far enough in the direction of minimalism to make all of the above true. I just started to wonder what my friends might think of my departure from the realm of excess and how it could become more and more confusing for house guests the further down that road I go.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Anything house guests should know about a visit to your place?

Day 99: What I Didn’t Do This Weekend

9,900 things gone, only 100 to go!

Before I tell you what I did this weekend, I should probably tell you what I didn’t do:

– I didn’t complete my project.

– I didn’t clean the whole house.

– I didn’t list my remaining clutter on craigslist.

– I didn’t meditate on simplicity.

–  I didn’t metamorphose my abode with contemporary accessories pulled from the ether.

– And, I didn’t dance interpretively through the open space feting my accomplishment.

Not me, so not Squirrel (image source)

I had planned to do all these things because Squirrel was taking the kids to Whistler for the weekend. (I had to stay home for a couple of social engagements.) Go ahead and get all googly-eyed over Super Dad – I did,  but you should know that he was staying at my parents house and was not without some help of his own.

Sadly, whatever took up residence in my sinuses last week moved into my chest and throat giving me the distinct impression I was drowning and preventing me from sleeping more than 2 hours Friday night.

My girlfriend called to check on me Saturday morning after I left an uncharacteristic 1 hour into her party:

“You should just watch movies all day.”

Ha! Watch movies?! This was my chance to complete my project unfettered by things like meal-making and the rapid fire questions of my four-year old.

By 7pm, I’d cried my way through Bridesmaids and chortled through Horrible Bosses. It loosened my congestion enough to drift off for 45 minutes, but I had only decluttered four things.

Later, I puttered around the kitchen polishing the counters and wiping grimy cupboards while adding three episodes of Sex In The City and Saturday Night Live to my TV tally.

I fared a bit better today uprooting lots of things from the master bathroom while I cleaned it for the first time in I don’t know how long.  I washed several of my jackets to take to my local women’s centre along with some toiletries, books and a couple of children’s toys.

I have to thank my friend for checking on me and planting the movie idea. It definitely kept my spirits up while my weekend plans went down the drain. My project, not unlike my children, has stubbornly refused to follow the path I laid out for it. The upside is that you don’t have to look at an actual photo of me interpretive dancing…yet.

Day 96: There’s Been A Change Of Plans

9,600 things gone, only 400 to go!

“I thought we were gonna buy some fish. – There’s been a change of plans.”

– Mary Poppins

This scene in Mary Poppins affected me profoundly as a child. One minute Mary and the kids are on their way  to the market to buy fish and the next (on the advice of a dog) they’re off to rescue Uncle Albert from the ceiling.

Abandoning the shopping seemed almost mutinous to a child from a very structured upbringing. In fact, I don’t think I was aware there was a “change of plans” option until Mary brought it to my eight year old attention.

I realized last night that it was time for a change around here. You see, doing inventory has been like going to the market to buy fish when I’d much rather be serving tea on the ceiling – or, at least, doing some uncomplicated decluttering.

I’ll quote myself from my project page:

It had to be something I could do in 30 minutes and it had to be something simple enough to do with one eye open on days that I only got 4 hours of sleep because of a sick child in my bed or an evening with friends that – Oh my gosh, look how late it is! – carried on into the morning.

Squirrel and I spent a good part of the week at the pediatrician’s office with our oldest son whose learning style continues to refuse to be categorized. Bless his complexity. Then I expended the rest of my mental energy alternately worrying and brainstorming about his classroom needs.

It was a relief to blitz the bedroom last night with no other goal than to rid it of one hundred more things. With Squirrel’s dresser to raid, it was a piece of cake. I got rid of magazines, photos (doubles), garbage, buttons, socks, and tickets from various sporting events. On my side of the room, I decluttered picture frames, books, boxes, clothing tags, socks, and underwear.

I lay on my bed this afternoon staring at my uncluttered closet from a new angle and feeling nothing but relief. Thank goodness I no longer have to decide between fifteen pairs of pants and twenty two shirts. I need all the mental energy I can to keep up with my family. I’m sure I’ll revisit inventory eventually, but, for the time being, I’ll be keeping it simple, that is, when I’m not coaxing giddy relatives down from the ceiling.

Day 94: The False Security of Categories

9,400 things gone, only 600 to go

I can see why I avoided the china question for so long. It’s easy not to question an item when fits a recognizable category.

You’ll remember early on in the project that I often struggled to recognize things in my own home. There were plastic bits, toy parts, pieces of string, broken chalk, silly putty, nuts and bolts, silly bands and odd-shaped batteries I’d never seen before. I found plastic pieces from the car, McDonald’s toys, bike tires, furniture parts, spiders and fries. Gross!

But when something fits a category like fine china, it pretty much sorts itself. Who cares if there are 80+ plates that I don’t use?

It’s all china and it belongs in the china cupboard, right?

Yikes! That’s the kind of thinking that got me into this mess in the first place. So with all your comments and suggestion I garnered the strength to set aside the 16 pieces I actually want and need.

I’ve listed the other 131 pieces for sale. Gulp! Thanks for holding my hand through this. I’m delighted to have these useful pieces in my rotation.

It’s easy to fall into the keep it because I already have a place for it trap.

It can happen to anyone, even Squirrel.

Ski Base Layers

Ski Socks

It looks like I’ll have my work cut out for me in tomorrow’s inventory. For those of you who are waiting for it, here’s the rest of my kitchen inventory.

kitchen inventory

Better get yourself a coffee.

What I tossed (listed for sale) today: 131 pieces of china

Day 93: Now I’m Cooking!

9,300 things gone, only 700 to go

My kitchen inventory is done! I had a few moments floating about on the ceiling before coming down to deal with the pile of clutter I created.

One hundred more things to go out:

The good news is that the pantry has stayed about the same as Day 14 when I cleaned it out the first time.

Look how much I’ve changed!

And here’s my junk drawer looking a lot less junky!

I won’t post the complete list of what remains in my kitchen tonight. I’m trying to create a spreadsheet that will make the lists less cumbersome.

However, I will leave you with this:

My fridge!

Okay, so I’m metaphorically cooking.

What I tossed today: recipes, glassware, lunch kit, plastic bowl, replacement light bulbs, gum, water bottle, food scale, coffee grinder


Day 90: The Last 1,000 Things – Taking Inventory

9,000 things gone, only 1,000 things to go

I’m so excited about my last 10 days of the project that I’ve got a bit of a roller coaster tummy. Being this close to a goal is unusual and a bit terrifying for me. So, I came up with a plan to calm my anxiety while making sure I make the most of the last 1,000 things.

That’s right, I’m going to bore myself right across the finish line by taking inventory!

Nothing like a tedious job to settle an elevator tummy. Besides, the idea has kind of jolted me out of my recent apathy. The last thing I want is to wake up on Day 101 wishing I’d gotten rid of a few more things.

I shared the plan with Squirrel this morning and he was a little less enthusiastic than me. Perhaps because I asked him to part with a few beer steins we seldom use. He wanted to know:

What difference do a few glasses make?

The difference is that the back of the cupboard, bottom of the drawer, second choice things will always be in the inventory – staring us in the face when the dishwasher is full or we didn’t get a chance to do the laundry or someone ate the last vanilla cookie. I, for one, would prefer to wash a glass, toss in a load or shop more often for the pleasure of always using my favourite things.

Oh well, if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I don’t think it’s necessary that my husband (Squirrel) and I always agree.

I think inventory is a great idea and I will soldier on for the pleasure of arriving at Day 100 with a house full of useful and beautiful things.

Ok, that’s a bit lofty. I’ll settle for things that I recognize and don’t wholeheartedly despise.

Thanks everyone for being such an enormous support. Your comments and commiseration keep me going!