Things for the mem­o­ries

Clut­ter can over­whelm your home — take charge and clean house

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Jenny Lee

SORT­ING through an over­stuffed closet or garage is hard enough, but get­ting the junk out of the house is of­ten the biggest headache of all.

“I think the biggest chal­lenge peo­ple have when I come in is what to do with the stuff,” says pro­fes­sional or­ga­nizer Shelley Davies of De­tails Mod­ern Or­der in Van­cou­ver.

“They are tired. They’ve made some tough de­ci­sions ear­lier in the project: ‘OK, I’m go­ing to get rid of those skis, but what the heck do I do with them?’ ”

Davies makes the en­tire prob­lem go away.

Not only does she sort what should be sold, where, and for how much, she takes ev­ery­thing away, deals with it, and as­suages client guilt by mak­ing sure any give­aways have the best im­pact en­vi­ron­men­tally and so­cially.

“It’s much eas­ier to let things go when you know they won’t be wasted.”

Davies’s client, lawyer Sami Atkin­son, 54, had been aching to or­ga­nize her ac­cu­mu­lated be­long­ings for years. She’d raised a house­ful of kids and been left with the house­hold de­tri­tus when her hus­band moved out.

He got to take the things he wanted and ev­ery­thing else got left be­hind, she said wryly.

Then her mother downsized and all her ex­cess be­long­ings ended up in Atkin­son’s base­ment.

That was the fi­nal straw, Atkin­son said.

“It’s men­tally bur­den­some. You just feel weighed down by all the stuff.”

Turned out Atkin­son’s fa­ther had saved all his uni­ver­sity note­books from the 1940s and hun­dreds of lit­tle round plas­tic snuff boxes. Atkin­son her­self had ac­cu­mu­lated a life­time sup­ply of pasta. She re­ally needed some­one to come in and help her purge.

“There was a lot of con­nect­ing things with peo­ple and feel­ing like get­ting rid of the thing was some­how dis­loyal and that I should keep it be­cause a cer­tain per­son gave it to me,” Atkin­son said.

Davies tack­les this con­cern by re­peat­edly ask­ing clients, “Do you re­ally love that vase? Do you use it? Does it bring you hap­pi­ness?

“You’re not hon­our­ing your grandma by hid­ing ‘the gift’ away in a drawer and let­ting it col­lect dust,” Davies said.

“The only thing I kept of my grandma’s were her glasses and they sit be­side me at my desk. Ev­ery day I see them. It’s about liv­ing and it’s about en­joy­ing the things around you. Ev­ery time I see my grandma’s glasses it makes me smile.”

An­other com­mon chal­lenge is the per­ceived fi­nan­cial value of be­long­ings

“Some­thing you bought five years ago for $200 is not worth that to­day, so all it’s do­ing is tak­ing up prime real es­tate,” Davies said.

“Make a de­ci­sion, sell it, give it away. Just move it out. It’s not go­ing to do you any good no mat­ter how much it cost you. Try and get some in­vest­ment back.”

In ad­di­tion to her reg­u­lar fees, Davies charges a nom­i­nal $50 dump and do­nate fee to take your junk away. The money pays for her gas and her fee at the dump.

Send her a photo of what you need to sell, and she’ll ar­range to have it priced and ad­ver­tised on Craigslist.

She’ll send you a pos­si­ble buyer’s con­tact in­for­ma­tion and takes just 10 per cent of the sale.

“I was di­ag­nosed with can­cer three years ago and had to spend two months in hos­pi­tal and that’s when I re­ally an­a­lyzed what I needed and what made me happy and the re­al­ity is I only needed four pairs of un­der­wear,” Davies said. Of course, purg­ing isn’t al­ways easy. “I’ve had clients say to me, ‘No no, I’m go­ing to give that to my cousin, she has a baby,’ ” Davies said.

“What I say to them is, ‘You have a week. If they’re still here in a week, I’m go­ing to take them. Nine out of 10 times, they are still there and if they are not there, they’ve hid­den them so I can’t find them, which I even­tu­ally do.”

— Canwest News Ser­vice

Above: Pro­fes­sional or­ga­nizer Shelley Davies of De­tails Mod­ern Or­der has her work cut out for her in this Van­cou­ver home.

Left: A condo Davies has or­ga­nized.

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