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Rethinking “storage”

I empathize with sellers. Advice to take advantage of “this time” to get their house ready for market sounds like nagging. Sellers already know about the life changing magic of getting rid of stuff – we all do.

Still – if you are selling your house, a clean, uncluttered design means more money for you on closing day. In 2020, buyers are falling in love with houses via 3D tours and cool videos, and in that world, spare, neutral interiors always win. If buyers see “collectibles” and big, dark furniture, they scroll away from your house, and from multiple offers.

That’s a lot of pressure. Not many people say “I cannot wait to contemplate and categorize the elusive meaning and importance everything I own.” How do we get MLS sex appeal without losing our grip?

Simple. Rethink “storage.” Let’s use my t-shirt system as an example.

Storage and my t-shirts

The photo above shows me with tier-two t-shirts. It does not show tier-one shirts, which go on hangers, in the closet, grouped by color. Tier-ones are for every day. I wear them under blazers, with denim, in every weather. They are largely “graphic tees,” expensively distressed, USA made, ironic shirts from Madeworn, Re-Done and Lauren Moshi. Because I have alerts on Shopbop, Revolve and The RealReal, there is little danger of me running out of new ironic t-shirts.

Eventually tier-one shirts migrate to the bureau drawer, where they become tier-two. Stored tier-two shirts include:

  • Dead shirts
  • Fun run shirts (i.e. Bay to Breakers)
  • Yoga studio shirts
  • Joke shirts
  • Political shirts
  • Demoted tier-one shirts

Reasons for tier-two status include:

  • Itchy/tight collars
  • Coffee/chocolate stains
  • Blue/pink tinges (see also: laundry errors)
  • Endangerment/fear of shredding
  • Insufferable messaging

Reasons for keeping/storing tier-one shirts include:

  • Someday I might wear them.
  • Someday I might learn to sew and make a quilt with them.
  • Someday my daughter might want them.
  • I paid too much for them.

For me, “someday” has never come. Marie Kondo argues in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up that storing our possessions is akin to letting them “rot in darkness” (p. 137). My poor shirts are “rotting” because I worry I might lose a part of myself if I let them go. I preserve them in a messy drawer I never open and no one will ever see and “someday” never comes

When you are getting your house ready for the market, you might be like me with my t-shirts. Confronting your tier-two stuff – furniture, tools, china, yearbooks, CDs, souvenirs, kitchen gadgets, winter coats or posters – you might ask yourself why you would store them in “darkness.” If you are waiting for someday, envision the tranquility of empty spaces in your beautiful house and make the first move toward letting go.