It’s been exactly 3 weeks since the last day of House Beautiful, and I’m still reclaiming the useful spaces in my home. Having a spot to leave dirty dishes (that would be in the sink) just makes me breathe easier. And being able to leave keys, sunglasses, loose change, sun block, scraps of paper, hair elastics, safety pins, glitter glue, and subway tokens in a jumble on top of the buffet is absolutely delicious.
Another example… little cubbyholes tucked in behind the fridge. For holding bottles of water, or … ?? Which would you choose?
Seven days of showings, one day of bids and it’s all over.
Now life can get back to normal! With a vague attempt to keep things tidy, since the Boss is rather enamoured of the look of our magazine home…
p.s. Back to sleeping in the master bedroom! Embarrassing admission: We have been sleeping in her kiddie bed for the past week because I could not bring myself to reconstruct the big bed every day to look like this –
Life is just too short to have to make this bed every day!
The deal with staging your house is not simply to make it look a) nice, b) clean, c) spacious. I am slowly coming to the realization that the goal is to give the general impression that Organization and Efficiency are an intrinsic part of the property, that they are hardwired into the actual DNA of the house.
“Wha?” you say? It’s true – I want to make the potential buyer feel, on a subconscious level, even a molecular level, that living in this house will make them more organized. As if the way the walls are put together can make his/her crazy life simpler, more ordered, more logical.
It’s all an illusion of course, since the real source of organization magic lies in my newest secret weapon…
If I just collect enough bins my life will be Perfect!
Okay, now that the house is all staged and phony, and so clean you can eat off the floor – in the furnace room! – it’s time to vacate and let the people come to marvel at the Glory that is My House.
I thought this would be the easy part. Easier than packing boxes, hauling stuff to the dump, cleaning, organizing, etc. Sure, now we just have to wander the city homeless for 10 hours a day! And the Boss is only in school for 2 of those hours! And it’s a long weekend! How do we entertain ourselves? There are only so many trips to Ikea a body can stand!!
After the house was all staged and photos for the listing had been taken, my realtor uttered the dread word “maintenance”. Meaning I’ve got to keep the place looking like this. Every day, for as long as it takes to sell. Argh.
Nothing taps into my inner obsessive-compulsive like having to hide used towels every day. All table lamps on, dehumidifier rolled out of sight, deck furniture and mats placed just so, flowers watered, floors and front walk swept, shoes placed picturesquely by the door (only the good-looking shoes), no dirty dishes, no crumbs, bed made, clothing hidden, all signs of life erased.
And nothing dampens the allure of living in a magazine home like not being allowed to live in the magazine home. (Don’t sit on the couch! I’ll just have to plump the pillows again!)
Too bad. My laundry room looks so nice I’d like to host a cocktail party down there…
When all else fails, when something doesn’t disappear from the curb and then gets rained on, and it’s WAY too big to go in the garbage bin, you know you’ve got to make a trip to the dump.
I’ve seen a few charming dumps in my day, for example the one in Atlin B.C., which is so full of treasures it’s known as the Atlin Mall. (But keep a sharp lookout for bears.) Yes I’ve visited a few picturesque dumps, and the Ingram Transfer Station in Toronto is definitely not one of them.
First of all, it’s indoors, just to make the odour more compelling. I did like the procedure though – weigh your car before and after to determine how much you dumped. To dispose of a waterlogged couch, soggy piles of old carpet, and a few smelly bags of garbage I paid only $12.
Here I must pause and sing a hymn of praise to my most esteemed and handsome automobile, whom I have not yet introduced here: my gorgeous and not-at-all-hearse-like black 1992 Volvo 240 wagon.
This is the auto that you can fit a six-foot couch into… and then shut the door on it! And pile even more stuff in on top of that. I ♥ my car.
Wet couch and carpets. In a black car on a hot day. Significantly worse than wet dog smell.
For those of you who have never staged a home to be sold, this involves slowly, carefully and meticulously stripping your home of every last molecule of personality.
You’ve also got to remove furniture and possessions until every room seems ridiculously spacious.
A stack of stuff to wave my wand over and make disappear.
The illusion we want to create is that the inhabitants of this house just have so much room they don’t have a clue what to do with it all! They’re probably moving to a smaller place, to escape the sheer oppressive Vastness of this House.
We’ve got so much space we keep all our furniture two feet away from the wall.
Our home is now so spare that it echoes, and there is nothing useful at hand. We’ve gone from 4 couches to just 2, so there is a lot less lounging going on. We do have quite a number of hard benches to perch on though, birdlike…
And the place has become a basket-fetishist’s dream…
How to Annihilate Useful Storage Space: Teeny Baskets!
Stylistically, our house’s fashion makeover was like going from –
… to Twiggy
Now be honest. Who would you rather party with??
Eddie and Patsy
“Clean it up”, “brighten it up”, “freshen it up”, “open it up” all mean the same thing. As my 6-year-old keeps saying, in a despairing voice, “White white white white WHITE!!!” We’re painting so many rooms white around here that the pale pale pale powder blue in the bathroom feels like a vibrant splash of colour.
The master bedroom used to be a warm golden colour. Now it’s a soul-scouring white.
I know what you’re going to say, that there are a thousand shades of white. Bone, cream, snow, ice, ivory, mist, fog, wet cement, what-have-you. I’ve seen the paint chips, I know. I even had a friend with better eyes than mine come in here and exclaim of one room, “That’s a really nice white!”
That’s all fine and good, but it just looks like “White white white white WHITE!!!” to us.
I’ve taken to randomly placing party balloons around the place just to make sure the rods and cones in my eyes are still working…
balloons to prevent snow blindness
We went for rather minimal “upgrades”, but they still involved being without laundry for 2 weeks, without a kitchen for 2 weeks, and having various rooms offline for unexpected periods of time. It’s been going on for a month now and I’m about ready to pull out my hair.
You don’t realize how dependent you are on routine and having everything you need ready-to-hand until it’s all taken away from you. To the outside eye, my house has always had a demented, cluttered look to it, but in reality, every item we need as we dash through our days is exactly where it needs to be.
Now I don’t know where anything is, and the only thing that is keeping us sane is eating out a lot.
The best part is that every week I get to shell out hundreds/thousands of dollars to the very people committing this outrage! Ay carumba!
Because to sell a house you must first stage it, which means making it look warm and inviting, and yet totally uninhabited. And like it has never, ever been inhabited. At least not by real people who watch tv and need lots of storage and have tchotchkes and put nails into walls and scuff the paint and eat and go to the bathroom.
So, to make your possessions disappear, you must… (proceed to step 17)