Moving is chaos!” So says Katy Winter of Katy’s Organized Home – and millions of homeowners who have experienced a move. Moving to a new home brings both excitement and challenges. Some of Westchester’s best professional organizers offer advice to limit the stress and enjoy your new home sooner rather than later.
Winter sees the opportunity in a move. “It’s a great way to refresh and be more mindful about what you own,” she says. “When you move to a new home, you have a dream for a [more] perfect life. Bring the joy, not the clutter.” Realtors and home organizers agree: Get rid of anything you are not going to use in your new home. Decluttering is key.
Winter emphasizes the importance of getting started months in advance. “It’s no use trying to clean out the junk drawer the day before the movers arrive.” She suggests, “If you know you are going to put your house on the market, that’s the time to start organizing and clearing.” True organizing means you don’t just stuff it in a closet (remember, potential buyers look in those too).
Nancy Strong, a licensed real estate salesperson at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Armonk, explains how organizing your home can help with selling it. “An organized home lets buyers focus on the property, rather than the clutter in it.” Buyers want to imagine living in a home they are considering and, even if they are not neat and organized, almost everyone wishes they were.
Strong urges sellers to get rid of anything they are not going to use in the new home. Unwanted items can be donated, sold in a tag sale or online, given to specific people, or thrown away. Acknowledging that this task can be daunting for some, she suggests hiring an organizer to assist.
Personal concierge, Judie Kaplan, empathizes with the challenge of a move. “People get frustrated and overwhelmed ... and pack everything.” A professional organizer can help you decide what you want your system to be in your new home. Are you simplifying? Downsizing? Don’t be the person who takes out a storage unit to hold the stuff they will never see until the next move. Unopened boxes in the attic or basement are no different, taking up valuable real estate with no purpose. An organizer may end up saving you money.
Professional organizers often find that they can help by listening, people often need to process before they can let go. Kaplan explains, “We talk about it, and then they’re able to get rid of it.” A friend who’s willing to hear the stories behind your stuff can also be a help.
Kaplan specializes in helping older adults through the downsizing process. Planning a move for your senior parent(s)? Empathy is critical. More than anyone, older adults may need support to process change. They need help understanding that others can appreciate their belongings.
Kaplan recommends using removable color-coding labels and asking siblings to put a little dot on everything they want. “This takes it off the senior to decide what to do with it all,” says Kaplan. It’s a burden with which many elders struggle.
Purging does not necessarily mean doing without. Moving costs are lower with fewer boxes, but the savings extend well beyond. An organized home also saves its resident time looking for lost items and money in re-purchasing items that were lost or unnecessary goods. More importantly, a clear home helps to keep a clear head.
If you’re not sure what to do with all your stuff, you can call a company like Junkluggers (junkl
To do-it-yourself, call the Big Brothers Big Sisters or Vietnam Veterans of America, who happily come to your door to pick up any unwanted clothing or household goods.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is not planning through the furniture and where it’s all going to go,” according to Stephanie Golden, owner of Homestead Organizing and Staging. Sit down with a floor plan and figure out where your furniture is going to fit and how much closet space you have.
Once you are ready to pack, keep track of belongings by labeling boxes and color-coding by room. For the eco-conscious mover, reusable plastic moving bins are available. Cheaper than cardboard and more crush proof, the bins can be labeled and stacked. Companies like EZ Bins (ezbin
Be present for the move, or assign someone to do so. A professional organizer can monitor progress, making sure all the boxes are marked correctly. This is critical if you can’t be home for the move, but good for moral support even if you can. Before seeing the movers off, make sure all the boxes and furniture have been delivered to the correct rooms.
Nobody ever said moving was easy, but if you’re organized, it need not be painful. With less stuff to move, you have less to unpack – and limit both cost and stress. Golden reassures, “If you plan it out well, the move will be easier and your new house will feel like home faster.”
Elisa Bremner, RDN, is a freelance writer
who has experienced many moves, both
domestic and international, before settling in Armonk, N.Y. She remains inspired by the professional organizers she spoke to for this article.
•Purge before you pack. Only take what you need in your new home.
•Ditch the disposables. Use up or get rid of food, household cleaners and other disposable items.
•Enlist help. Family members, friends or a professional organizer can help you declutter, sort and pack.
•Pack a suitcase. Keep a bag with essential items you need right away (clothing, linens, etc.).
•Label clearly. Note the destination (room) and contents.
•Everything in its place. Plan out furniture placement ahead of time, and place every belonging in the appropriate spot.
•Communicate with mover. Be present (or hire an organizer) for the move and make sure things are placed appropriately.
• Katy Winter
Katy’s Organized Home
• Stephanie Golden
Homestead Organizing & Staging
• Judie Kaplan Personal Concierge, Inc.
Douglas Elliman Real Estate