Next Chapter for a Senior

My client was ready to sell her six-bedroom suburban house and move into a senior-living community.

The problem was how to get from here to there. Every room, including the basement and attic, was full. A widow, she didn’t have any children and her only nephew lived in another state. It wasn’t surprising that she was daunted by the thought of downsizing.  She and her husband had owned a cottage in West Virginia as well as a beach house in Annapolis.  Both properties were sold after her husband’s death, and many of the furnishings ended up in her house.

We met at a church luncheon. A week later, I was at her house, beginning a working relationship that lasted for more than two years. In that time, I helped her to downsize and then get the house ready to be listed for sale. After the move, I unpacked her boxes and made the new place more livable.

What was done: The first step was identifying the furniture to be sold. The list included La-Z Boy recliners, a Queen Anne highboy dresser, a trundle bed, chairs and occasional tables as well as exercise equipment, outdoor furniture and even a loom.  We used Craigslist.

At the same time, we went through the house room by room, closet by closet, paring down.  Each week, I dropped off boxes of clothes, linens, dishes, books and more at various charities.

While the furniture sold well on Craigslist, smaller items did not.  So we listed the nautical items collected by her husband on Ebay while her Waterford crystal was sold through a local auction house. We also had a moving sale at which CS sold yard tools, jewelry and clothing, among other items.  While she didn’t make a lot of money on any of those sales, it did reduce the number of items to be moved.

About eight months into our downsizing, CS learned that the unit she wanted at the retirement community where she was planning to move would soon be available. We went to see the new place in Carroll County, MD. It was a spacious one-level townhome with a great room that served as the living and dining room, plus a den and two bedrooms. I took copious measurements and photos while Carole picked out paint colors and new flooring.

Once CS’s house was on the market, I began packing and created floor plans. The great room was the biggest concern as it had to hold her couch, two armchairs, a coffee table and side tables, four tall glass etageres, a church pew, a piano and a dining room table plus a sideboard and china cabinet. In the end, it worked perfectly with only minor adjustments.

Problem solving: After the move, the challenge was finding a place for everything. The single rods in the clothes closets didn’t provide enough storage for all of her clothing. Similarly, she needed more pantry space and there wasn’t enough room in the built-in bath cabinets for toiletries as well as sheets and  towels. And where to store the skeins and skeins of yarn so that CS – an avid crocheter – would have easy access to them?

Elfa shelving from the Container Store was installed in the closet in the master bedroom, more than doubling the hanging space. As for the yarn, Elfa shelves were added on both ends of her wide front-hall closet, leaving a center section for coats. Storage units were bought for each bath, and plastic storage bins were used under the pantry shelves.

It took a few more months to hang all of CS’s art, decorative plates and family photos in addition to curtains and valances. With that done, CS could fully enjoy her new life.