We finally decided to go ahead with a viewing of our house to some prospective purchasers. I had cleaned the house till it gleamed. What started out as a dust and tidy turned into a manic re-organisational spree.
The pictures that have been on the floor for months (make that years) have been hung. Shelves have been de-cluttered, cushions arranged and candles lit. The entire house may not quite have had a feng shui makeover but there is an air of calm and (relative) sophistication.
The bedrooms are unrecognisable. We have discovered that my teenage daughters bedrooms actually have a floor! I found newspapers in my office that are there since the Tiger years. Splashes of colour have been introduced by a visit to the local florist. An accent wall has been painted. Candles have been lit.
So now it was in the hands of the Gods.
And the Gods were not with us. There is a saying about the best laid plans. I’m not quite sure how it goes, but I do know that it doesn’t have a happy ending. That just about sums up our first viewing. As the viewing was about to commence the sky turned black. I mean really black. It is Summer and the middle of the afternoon, and suddenly every light in the house has to be turned on. What was supposed to be a light filled, bright and airy home, suddenly looked dark, cold and miserable. This was not what I imagined. When the rain came, it was torrential. The cushions and candles in my outdoor “room” now looked nothing short of silly.
Terrace (one hour before the deluge!)
Our viewers came and went, quickly. They didn’t want to put in an offer (who could blame them). The pigeon house went “Sale Agreed”. We put it down to experience and revelled in a de-cluttered and tidy house which remained no time at all…but it felt good while it lasted.
We all know that by staging our homes to sell we make the place look as appealing as possible. I often wonder why it is that we neglect to do this until we are ready to move. Is it because we value ourselves less than we value any prospective viewer? Is it because we can’t bear to have someone looking around our home and seeing it in a mess but apart from that we are quite happy to wallow in piles of clutter. (a bit like dressing up your kids in their “good” outfit to go out when we are quite happy to have them dishevelled the rest of the time). I think it’s because we become blind to the way our houses actually are. In our minds eye we see them as complete. It’s only when we try to imagine what it might look like to somebody else that we notice what it’s really like.
You may be reading this and thinking this article is not for you. You are living in your “forever” home and have no intention of ever moving house. Think again. My advice is to take a tour around your own home. Maybe even bring a friend with you.
Or take some photos…
And a notebook. As you walk around, look at your home with a critical eye. You may see things screaming at you to be done. The objects left in place “until you get to them”. The pile of clothes that has been in situ since, oh you can’t remember when. The mirror that you meant to put up there. The pile of pictures that is begging to be put up.
Make a list, check it twice. Decide what can be done with a bit of effort yourself and what needs a tradesman. Tackle the de-cluttering first, then the other tasks. Set yourself a deadline or a date. (otherwise it may never get done). Stick to it.
When the date comes, invite your friends over for a house warming in your brand new, same old house. You see, staying is the new moving.