Diary of a Downsize Plus Tips for First Time Homeowners

Diary of a Downsize Plus Tips for First Time Homeowners

We had been talking about it for a year.  Six months ago we put our house up for sale and it sold this week.  For a while, I had mixed emotions since this house has held nothing but happy memories for Chuck and me.  But as the years progressed and we became busier and busier, the fun of gardening in three gardens (deck , backyard and frontyard) became harder and harder on both of us.  In fear of becoming something similar to Big Edie and Little Edie's Grey Gardens, we did our best to keep up.  But, as old houses get older, this presents a whole new set of problems we had no desire to deal with, gardening being the least of them.

I've been packing for months and it's been bittersweet going through photos and memories.  And goodness knows I have a few!  But what I've come to realize is how absolutely liberating it is to get rid of the old (except for your treasures) and begin anew.  I found out I'd saved so many things I didn't really need, like one tiny yellow flipper that my mother had saved when I learned to swim.  I also realized that no one will want my baby shoes (although Chuck is giving me a hard time about throwing them away).  Once I started tossing, it was hard to stop.  The first time Chuck met the woman who raised me and who was like a mother to me, Mary Johnson, she gave him a Mister Ed talking puppet.  The joy on her face as she pulled the cord to make it talk was priceless but I figured it was just another tchotchke I could get rid of.  When I was cleaning Chuck's closet and saw that he had squirreled it away in his sock drawer it made me cry so it will definitely be moving to our new home.  (God, I love that man.)

I once read an article about only children (of which I am one) and had to laugh when it said they are savers and borderline hoarders.  Sadly, this description fit me to a tee but I'm determined to find and create a jewel box filled with only the things we love and couldn't live without.  I also have some tips for first time buyers:  china cabinets are a definite no-no.  First of all, you never use the stuff you always think you will one day and most of it doesn't go in the dishwasher anyway so who needs it?!  My days of formal entertaining are long gone....friends are lucky to get chips and dip lately around my house so I have no qualms about giving away all of our crystal.  And if you receive crystal as a wedding gift, which I know you will, run don't walk to return it otherwise you'll dust it for twenty years and then give it away.  Another thing to remember when you buy your first home is to buy the best you can afford as far as home furnishings and decor.  Everything else will wind up in the junk heap when you move.  So all of those Ikea purchases, although thrifty, wouldn't be my first choice.  I also suggest buying from auction houses.  These are great spots to find the unique and one-of-a-kind at great prices.  It's not so good for sellers but for buyers, it's nirvana. 

 There was a great article in the Tribune Magazine recently by Cindy Dampier titled "Lighten your Load".  I was riveted reading it.  Her opening line read, "If you want to really see your stuff, move out of a place you've lived in for more than 10 years.  Live in any one place north of a decade and the days in which it's easier to pretend you don't see the 15 cheap floral shop vases on the closet shelf will start to outnumber you."

 Today, I felt liberated to give things away to friends of ours who have always loved our style.  These were pieces bought just to fill spaces.  Don't get me wrong, they were the perfect objects for these particular spots but probably wouldn't be right for a new place.  The smiles and gratitude on our friends' faces were worth way more than what we paid for these items.

 I'm happy to know that the people who bought our house are planning on raising a family here.  As a matter of fact, they are pregnant for the first time.  This is definitely a home that will be perfect for children.   The backyard is completely enclosed with no alley so no fear of intruders and no worries for mom and dad when the kids want to play in the backyard.   Another happy thought is the fact that I know they love this house as much as we loved it when we first bought it.  Change is good, scary but good, and Chuck and I are very much looking forward to our next chapter!  Albeit one with less maintenance.

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