Organizing Services Can Make Remote Work and School a Breeze

decluttered home office desk organized by a professional

All over the country, families are about to enter a grand experiment. The question: Can we handle working remotely while our children take virtual classes? Unless your family happens to be naturally suited to this setup, it’s probably going to be a bit of a challenge. One of the simplest ways to make it easier: A solid organizational scheme. 

Home organization is about more than simply putting things away. When everything has a place (and everyone knows what that place is) you save time and eliminate chaos. Moreover, you can use your organizational scheme to create psychological barriers between workspaces and living spaces. This will be one of the most valuable tools in your pocket when it comes to keeping everyone sane during the upcoming school year. 

Invest in professional organizing services to ensure your family is well prepared to juggle work and school from home. Here’s a look at a few of the ways that this service can help keep your family productive and happy while you adjust to this new normal: 

Enhancing Professionalism 

If you weren’t working remotely before the pandemic, odds are your home wasn’t set up with this in mind. In the early days, no one thought twice of barking dogs or messy desks in the background of Zoom meetings. Now that we’ve all had some time to adjust, however, you need to be thinking about how to stay professional during remote work. Think about what your webcam shows in your background: An organized office is going to give a much better impression than a messy, cluttered space.

Your kids should have this in mind as well. After all, virtual learning is going to be tough enough for them and their classmates without a ton of distractions. When your home is well organized, you can limit distractions on video calls and keep yourself, your kids, and work (or class) on track. 

A Clear Path’s Ninja Organizers can make sure your space gives the right impression, as well as ensure you have all the tools you need to thrive virtually, including: 

  • A high-quality webcam to join virtual meetings or classes
  • Ergonomic desks and chairs to stay comfortable throughout your workday 
  • Drawers, baskets, cubbies, and other organizational tools to keep you and your kids on track 
  • Fast, reliable internet that can support work, school, and downtime

school work from an organized decluttered space

Facilitating Focus 

Your headspace can make or break remote success. This is as true for you at work as it is for your kids at school. We need defined boundaries between work and life to be able to focus properly. When that’s all happening in one space, we have to create those boundaries for ourselves. Keep this principle in mind when working with your professional organizer, and ask for their insight about how to create these psychological barriers. Here are some ideas to consider: 

  • Specific workrooms: If you have spare rooms in your house, consider turning them into an office for you, or a study space for your child. Depending on your workflow and your child’s school schedule, you could conceivably share a space
  • Visual barriers: When you can’t set up a workspace in a specific room, visual barriers such as room dividers can help create mental barriers. Home inventories are a great way to figure out what should go where and define each area’s function with items you already have. 
  • Avoid blurring lines: Wherever possible, avoid setting up your workspace in an obvious relaxation area such as a living room, den, or bedroom. Not only will this make it harder to focus during work and school, but it can also get in the way of unwinding and getting a good night’s sleep. 

Overcoming Roadblocks

As if this year weren’t complicated enough, many families are bound to face obstacles that make it even harder. For example, you might need to move at some point during this year. On your own, juggling remote work while packing, unpacking, and organizing your new home can be a nightmare. With relocation specialists on your side, however, this process can be a breeze. Not only will you have an easier time with the move itself, but your move manager can also set your home up for virtual success from the get-go. 

a move manager can help re-arrange items to create a clean organized space

Here are a few more roadblocks that are much easier with an organizer on your team: 

  • Starting your own business or expanding a freelance career 
  • Managing a blended schedule, where children transition between in-school and virtual classes
  • Keeping a multi-generational household happy, healthy, and productive. 

Finally, go easy on yourself as you begin this upcoming school year. Your family has a major transition to navigate, and there are sure to be challenges along the way. Professional organization services can set you up for success, and a flexible mindset can keep you sane while you learn how to function in a brand new environment. 

Thanks for reading!

3rd Edition of Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets by Regina F Lark, Ph. D.

You might be interested in a free copy of the Table of Contents and 1st Chapter of my Book

Download a complimentary copy of the 1st Chapter of Regina’s 3rd Edition of her book, Psychic Debris

Dr. Regina Lark

regina@aclearpath.net

 

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3 

6 innovative in-house storage ideas for homeowners

Easy to build shelves can store many different kinds of items

Meeting the storage needs of a growing family or a growing wardrobe can be tricky unless your square footage is growing too. But, where there’s a will, there’s a way! When working with limited space, a little creativity can go a long way when it comes to making your home look cleaner, bigger, and better organized. We have rounded up six genius in-house storage ideas that will help you get rid of clutter and maximize space in your house.

1 Stair storage
Your staircase can serve more than one purpose. The first in-house storage hack on our list is converting your staircase into storage units while keeping their primary purpose. You can transform the original staircase by converting the side of the stairs into a cupboard or a series of drawers that will help you declutter your living space. This project requires some skill, so you might want to consider hiring a professional. This storage solution isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s definitely an investment that pays off. You can also use the wall alongside the staircase to create more storage space with additional shelving.

2 Pegboards

Pegboards are a great alternative to individual shelves that often look cluttered and messy. When it comes to wall-mounted storage, pegboards are probably the most versatile option. They have

small holes that allow for adding hooks, crates, shelves, and other attachments. Pegboards come in all sizes and colors, so they can fit any space and design. This in-house storage idea provides an abundance of adjustable storage space and allows for easy re-arranging whenever you get bored with one look. Plus, you can always see where everything is.

With this inexpensive addition, your purses, hats, and scarves won’t be cluttering up your coat rack or end up on the floor. You can hang a pegboard above your desk and use it to store office supplies. You can also use it to store plants, mirrors, vases, and other decorative items. To declutter your kitchen, you can add hooks to hang cooking utensils on the pegboard. In the bathroom, you can add attachments to store your toiletries. Finally, you can install a pegboard wall in your basement, storage room or garage to hang your tools, skis, bicycles, etc. and save some precious space.

3 Iron grids
Iron grids (or frames) are similar to pegboards but they have wider holes, typically square-shaped. They are also functional additions that provide much-needed storage space you can attach to the wall. You can use them to declutter and organize any room in your house. Their wide holes make iron grids perfect for displaying large earrings and other chunky jewelry. You can also display family photos, store keys and other small items by attaching hooks. If you don’t like the aesthetic of an iron grid, if it looks too rough and industrial, you can decorate it to make it more appealing. For example, you can wrap some string lights around your frame to enhance the beauty of your display.

4 Raised platform

A raised platform is a genius way to squeeze even more space out of your room. If your ceiling is high enough, you can add a raised platform to a room or part of a room and turn that space into something useful. A raised floor with hidden storage space can be used to store linens, suitcases, winter clothes, or even larger items like a spare mattress. You could even hide an entire slide out bed underneath.

Alternatively, you can invest in a raised platform bed. If you’re looking for simpler in-house storage ideas with a similar result, attach higher legs to your existing bed frame to make room for organizing products such as drawers or boxes underneath.

Raised platforms 1 of 6 innovative in-house storage ideas for homeowners

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5 PVC racks

PVC racks are one of the best in-house storage ideas for storing smaller items. It is a simple, inexpensive DIY project that will keep your belongings neatly organized and make it easy to locate what you are looking for. For example, if you have lots of shoes lying on the floor and it takes ages to find the pair you want to wear, PVS racks can help you clear out your shoe clutter.

Here’s how you can make your own PVC rack.

  • Get large PVC pipes at your local hardware store.

  • Cut the PVC into pieces of matching length. You can have the PVC cut in the hardware store or do it yourself at home using a table saw.

  • Sand down any rough edges.

  • If you don’t like the standard color, paint your PVC.

  • Glue the pieces together with PVC glue. First, glue several pieces together a base. Then, start stacking the pipes to create any shape you want.

  • Once the glue dries, mount the racks wherever you see fit.

6 Above-door in-house storage ideas

If you think you don’t have enough storage space in your house, maybe you forgot to look up. There must be at least one doorway with unused space above it. In most homes, the space between the door and the ceiling is completely overlooked. Add some storage shelves or cabinets to this part of your room and use them to store towels, books, and other less frequently used items, or even grow an above-door-garden. The shelf can be as wide as the door frame, but it can also go from wall to wall. Above-door storage is barely noticeable, which can be a pro or a con, depending on what you use it for. If there is a vent above the door frame, make sure the shelf is narrow enough to allow for airflow and ventilation.

3rd Edition of Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets by Regina F Lark, Ph. D.

You might be interested in a free copy of the Table of Contents and 1st Chapter of my Book

Download a complimentary copy of the 1st Chapter of Regina’s 3rd Edition of her book, Psychic Debris

Dr. Regina Lark

regina@aclearpath.net

 

Baby Boomers Are Downsizing: What This Means For The Real Estate Industry

Baby boomers are currently the wealthiest generation across the nation. Aged between 54 to 73, they have years of hard work and the savings to prove it under their belt. Most baby boomers are beginning to be grandparents, as the baby fever spark is re-ignited among their millennial children. This places most boomers at a stage in their lives where they are seeking both comfort and peace. Often, this means downsizing.

Downsizing your home after retirement isn’t only a way to save money it also prevents the strangeness of living in an empty house. It isn’t uncommon for parents to depress a little once they have become empty nesters; the constant reminder of absence is present every time they walk past certain rooms. If your children have left your home and you’re wondering whether you should move to a modern little flat or a smaller townhouse, you are not alone. Baby boomers downsizing is a global trend. Here’s what this means for the real estate industry.

Boomers Are Putting Their Homes Up For Sale

There are plenty of reasons to put your home for sale, but money is often the most significant motivation. Boomers are aging, and this usually means more bills. Boomers across the country have average savings of $152,000; however, 45% of baby boomers have none at all. This can be alarming, as medical expenses and children’s tuition begin to pile up for most adults around retirement age. For baby boomers, pensions and other retirement income often pale in comparison to the wages they have just relinquished.

Once boomers reach the average US retirement age of 62, they’ve likely paid off their mortgage. However, their home itself might have become their biggest bill.

With plumbing and roofing having limited lifespans, it isn’t uncommon for boomers to face challenging remodeling expenses early in their retirement. This can be highly disparaging, considering they have probably spent years paying off their homes. What better way to reward yourself for years of disciplined spending, budgeting, and scheduled bank payments, than cashing out on your most expensive bill? Boomers downsizing allows them to reap the fruits of years of financial responsibility while shifting the burden of remodeling projects to new buyers. A Clear Path A+ Accredited from the National Association for Senior Move Managers

Boomers Are Going Back To Renting

Renting is, to many, the lesser appealing alternative to a home purchase. However, for baby boomers, rent is often the logical option, because it doesn’t require the long-term contract mortgages entail. Rent also does not take a huge chunk from their savings all at once; if anything, it seems sensible, particularly when renting out their own homes provides them with a stable monthly income.

With the urbanization of towns across the country, condos and townhouses are being erected everywhere. This availability of choice makes downsizing for boomers appealing, especially when their rental provides added services, such as 24/7 security and/or elevators.

A Solution For The Housing Supply Shortage

While smaller dwellings are being built everywhere, there is a shortage of detached homes around the country. It has become increasingly difficult for many millennials to find a home fit to witness the growth of a family, because boomers are encouraged to stay in their homes as long as possible and only sell once it has peaked in value.

This approach isn’t exactly beneficial to the real estate industry; not only does it minimize commission earnings, but it also makes the American Suburb Model less appealing. Suburbs were once the symbol of the American dream; the white picket fence would witness a child’s first step, or their first time on a bike. However, suburb populations are getting older, which can be a deterrent to younger prospective home buyers.

A Finishing Word

Boomers are the most financially powerful demographic in the country. Therefore, many markets, including the housing industry, are dependent on their spending. Encouraging boomers’ downsizing is welcoming an increase in the housing supply, which may benefit American welfare as a whole. By moving into smaller homes, baby boomers are passing the mantle to the younger generations who are as avid as they were to find the space to create new family memories.

If you’re a baby boomer looking to downsize by selling your home, you can be certain that this is one of the most financially exciting times for you to do so.

Baby Boomers Are Downsizing: How to Cope with the Crisis

Baby Boomers are slowly downsizing, but a new crisis is arising in the housing industry since few Millennials want their homes, particularly big and outdated ones. According to a recent report, the housing demand from younger generations is inadequate to fill the void left by the crowd of departing older owners. Overall, seniors are projected to exit more than 21 million homes over the next two decades. As they exit their huge homes and downsize, there is going to be massive investment implications across the country. So, what can you do to cope with the challenges of baby boomer downsizing?

Aging in Place vs. Downsizing

Many baby boomers wish to retire by the age of 60 and settle closer to their children or grandchildren, but finding affordable houses to downsize to is a huge challenge. As a result, there is always a tug of war between staying put or downsizing. So, which is the better option?

According to a 2018 Survey of Home and Community Preferences, AARP revealed that 76 percent of Americans aged 50 and above prefer to remain in their current homes, and 77 percent would wish to live in their current neighborhood for as long as possible. On the contrary, just 59 percent of older Americans envision the possibility of staying in their community, either in a smaller home within the area (13 percent) or in their current home (46 percent).

Baby boomer downsizing is faced with several challenges as many boomers enter their golden years with substantial mortgage debt. Much of the mortgage borrowing is carried by households with no pension and below-median incomes and assets. This is perhaps the reason why many baby boomers opt to remain in their current homes. Other factors, such as living in familiar territories, retaining home equity, or a lack of affordable housing options, may also drive the decision to stay put.

Aging in place, on the other hand, can be harder to achieve if the home isn’t equipped to meet the future needs of the boomers. There is a close linkage between housing and health care, and making your house accessible for in-home health care is of paramount importance. However, this can be a big challenge in lower-density areas with limited transportation and accessibility to medical practitioners.Organizing and packing for a downsizing boomer

The Solution!

As a baby boomer stuck in this dilemma, there are multiple options you could explore to cope. They include:

1- Tapping Equity to Stay Put

Mobility and health issues are the biggest retardants for seniors looking to stay in their current homes. You may need amenities such as bathroom grip bars, wheelchair ramps, walk-in showers, and wider doorways and hallways. However, such home improvements can be costly. Fortunately, if you own your home outright or have adequate equity, you can borrow some cash against your home’s equity to help pay for the modifications. Some of the best options to consider include home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOC), VA financing, and reverse mortgage.

2- Tapping Equity to Stay in your Community

The increasing shortage of affordable housing coupled with skyrocketing mortgage rates creates a significant barrier to baby boomer downsizing. However, higher rates create a huge mobility barrier to all cadres of the society, including the millennials. If you have significant equity in your current home, you have an upper hand in competing for smaller, less expensive houses, thanks to the inflated appreciation.

Instead of trying to relocate to more expensive neighborhoods to be closer to family, you can look for a smaller home within your community and tap into your current home’s equity to raise funding.

3- Thinking Outside the Conventional Housing Box

In many communities, the limited housing options complicates everything for baby boomer downsizing. Surprisingly, some older folks are devising more creative solutions that buck tradition. According to an AARP survey, adults aged 50 and above are today open to new housing alternatives. To be precise, 32 percent prefer home sharing, 31 percent are open to building an accessory dwelling unit, while 56 percent prefer living in villages that provide services that support aging.

Whether your aim is to gain companionship or attain economic viability, you can think outside the box and opt for unconventional housing solutions. The “Golden Girls” system of roommates is one example of shared-housing arrangements that are gaining steam. As the affordable housing crisis continues to brew, unconventional solutions are increasingly becoming less taboo and more accepted.

Another alternative is to build an accessory dwelling unit that suits your senior needs. An accessory dwelling unit is simply a smaller, secondary building that attaches to your primary home or situated on the same lot. Think of it as a mother-in-law suite or granny flat that offers a livable solution for seniors. It’s a great option if you wish to age in place while generating extra rental income from your main house. However, check with your local zoning or building authorities if it’s possible to get approval for an accessory dwelling unit in your region.

Final Thoughts

Whether your plan is to downsize or stay put, housing expenses will undoubtedly play a critical role in your overall retirement plan. It’s important to craft a financial plan for retirement. Talk with a financial advisor or a mortgage lender to figure out what options will help you live comfortably without jeopardizing your retirement income. Other than affordability and having a comfortable place to call home, baby boomer downsizing should be informed by accessibility to family, doctors, hospitals, transportation, and social amenities.

Is Virtual Staging the Solution to Your Home Sale?

staging is an important task for preparing a home for sale

Image via Unsplash

Whether you’re looking for a safer way to sell your home during the coronavirus pandemic, selling property from out of state, or selling a vacant home, virtual staging can help you show off your home’s best side. Not only that, but virtual staging can be much more affordable than traditional home staging. Want to learn more? Read on to learn all about virtually staging your home to sell.

How Virtual Staging Works

Virtual staging eliminates the need for expensive rental furniture by using digital applications to insert furniture, artwork, and other staging elements into real estate photographs. Virtual staging apps let agents choose from a gallery of furniture and décor options in order to decorate a home to appeal to a specific set of buyers.

While virtual staging is simpler and cheaper than traditional home staging, it’s not a DIY solution. Designing a space that appeals to buyers takes skill. That’s why agents use apps and software that let them upload photos and receive professionally staged rooms in return. Luckily, the costs are much lower than traditional home staging: Even the most high-end staging apps are only around $120 per photo.

Virtual Staging and Your Selling Strategy

Staging is just one part of your home-selling strategy. If you’re opting for virtual staging due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, you also need to consider how you’ll show your home safely.

Live video chat tours have exploded in popularity during COVID-19. With a live agent leading a virtual tour, buyers get all the benefits of an in-person walkthrough minus any health risk.

Video tours are beneficial outside the current climate as well. Out-of-state buyers in particular may opt for a live video tour rather than traveling to view a property in person. 3D walkthroughs are also popular with both local and out-of-state buyers. By including a 3D walkthrough on their listing, sellers ensure only serious buyers schedule tours. In some cases, a 3D tour can eliminate the need for an open house.

Whether sellers opt for a 3D walkthrough or not, they shouldn’t skimp on real estate photos. Professional photography is the curb appeal of modern home buying, and without it, you’ll have trouble getting buyers to take a closer look at your listing.

Preparing Your Home for Virtual Staging

Virtual staging works best on vacant homes. With rooms already bare, it’s easy for staging professionals to add furniture and décor.

That doesn’t mean you can’t virtually stage your home while living in it, however. It’s possible to virtually stage furnished homes by first editing out furniture, clutter, and cosmetic flaws. Keep in mind, however, that this adds to the cost of virtual staging. Sellers who occupy their home while selling still need to spend time preparing the property in order to avoid overpaying for virtual staging.

Take these steps to prepare for virtual home staging:

1. Declutter

The less in your home, the better. Sellers should eliminate any and all clutter as well as move bulky furniture into storage. While storing items in closets and cupboards can work for virtual staging, keep in mind that buyers will see inside these areas during a home tour.

2. Depersonalize

Don’t forget family photos, unique artwork, and other personal decor when decluttering your home for virtual staging. If you plan on offering in-person home tours, be sure to secure personal items, too.

3. Repaint

Virtual staging is all about creating a clean look. However, that’s hard to do when a home’s interior is painted in unusual colors. Create a neutral backdrop by repainting rooms with shades of white, beige, or another popular paint color.

4. Rethink window treatments

Dirty or dated window treatments can also get in the way of virtual staging. If your window treatments have seen better days, consider removing them for your real estate photography session.

5. Make repairs

Don’t think you can hide problems through virtual staging. Whether they’re viewing virtually staged photos or taking a 3D walkthrough, buyers notice little problems like missing outlet covers, water stains, and cabinets that don’t close. Take care of minor repairs like these before investing in staging.

6. Deep clean

Finally, ensure your home is spotlessly clean before virtual staging. Many buyers opt to hire a professional cleaning crew to handle this step rather than deep clean themselves. If you do opt to DIY a deep clean, use a checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything important.

Virtual staging is an easy and cost-effective way to get your home market-ready. However, it’s not a free pass for sellers. Even with virtual staging, home sellers should expect to spend time and money getting their house ready to sell. By transforming their homes into a blank slate, sellers can get the best results possible from their virtual staging experience.

Thanks for reading!

3rd Edition of Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets by Regina F Lark, Ph. D.

You might be interested in a free copy of the Table of Contents and 1st Chapter of my Book

Download a complimentary copy of the 1st Chapter of Regina’s 3rd Edition of her book, Psychic Debris

Dr. Regina Lark

regina@aclearpath.net

Smart Organizational Tips for Downsizing to an Apartment

Smart Organizational Tips for Downsizing to an Apartment

Downsizing to a smaller apartment can be overwhelming. But, if you plan ahead and take it one step at a time, you’ll find the entire experience not only enjoyable, but also cathartic as you begin the organizational process to simplify your life.  

Renting a smaller apartment comes with plenty of benefits, from lower utility bills and rent to less space to clean and keep organized. A smaller space can even be a simpler way of living, while also allowing you more time and money for yourself. 

But, before you get started, check out the tips below that will relieve some of the stress associated with downsizing and keep you on track for a smooth transition. 

Preparing Your Belongings

Downsizing is always about boxes, packing them and then unpacking them. Pack by room is the best.Start preparing for your move in advance, perhaps even months ahead of time. If you know you want to downsize, begin working on the following now. Doing so will help you tremendously when the time comes to start packing.

  • Keep Track of How Often You Use Things

You probably notice these things every day, but don’t give them much thought. When you’re deciding what to wear, what plate to eat on, what glasses to drink from, and other small decisions like these, you always lean toward certain things. So, start keeping track of the items you use every day and those that you only use once a week, once a month or not at all. Then, track these habits on a piece of paper to visualize the usefulness of your items. This will make it easier to discard some of them when it’s time to pack for a new place. 

  • Find a Use for it

Sometimes, you keep things just because. Although it’s important to have personal trinkets and items you treasure — even if they’re not particularly useful — be careful about becoming an emotional hoarder. That means being unable to get rid of things with which you are emotionally connected. In time, they’ll pile up and you’ll have boxes upon boxes of memories that you just can’t give up. If you have a hard time letting go, ask for help from professionals and check out our guides for coping with hoarding.

So, while it might be tough, try to find the purpose in all of your things. Does that picture make you feel something or is it filled with emotion? If so, then it’s probably something you want to keep. On the other hand, if it’s just something you’ve had forever that doesn’t really speak to you, then it’s probably time to let go

  • Discard Unused Items Regularly

Sometimes, we buy stuff we think we’ll use, but then we never do. These items often include kitchen tools that are too complicated or a hassle, or spur-of-the-moment purchases for that new hobby that we never actually begin. If it’s something you’re keeping just in case you’ll want to pick it up some day, you should probably discard it.

Preparing for the New Apartment

Now that you have a basis for your organization, you can start to prepare for your move.

  • Measure the Space 

Once you’ve decided on the apartment you want to rent, go for a visit before you begin packing. Check everything out, measure the space and write down the dimensions of all of your rooms. As you wander around the apartment, visualize your things in each room and how you will interact with them. You might even want to write down the main items you want in each room. At the very least, have a mental image before you start bringing in boxes. That way, you’ll know what to put where and unpacking will be much easier.

  • Pack by Room, not Item Type

Making lists for downsizing is highly recommended, particularly for boomers.Group your items by room, not by type. For instance, if you’ve visualized a small library in your living room, but you also have some books you like to keep close to your bed, then don’t be afraid to separate those. The same goes for everything else — from pillows to artwork. 

Note that you don’t have to keep the design from your previous home. This is crucial if you downsize. With fewer rooms in your new apartment, an exact transition might be difficult. So, when you pack, think of the new apartment, not of the old one. Having the list from the previous section will make the transition simpler. Additionally, remember to label your boxes and drop them off in the appropriate room.

  • Adapt for Your Lifestyle

Finally, know that there’s no such thing as the perfect recipe for downsizing. It all depends on your lifestyle and choices. Although guidance is sometimes necessary and welcome, no one can tell you exactly what to throw away, what to donate or what to sell, because you’re the only one who knows that. Try to detach for a bit and imagine your life with or without certain things. Then, see how that affects the way you live every day. It’s a process you have to be ready for, so make sure to prepare mentally, as well. 

Downsizing is not a burden. It’s a purge and a path to liberation. Embrace this change and remember that it’s not permanent. The choice will always be yours.

About the author: Mihaela Buzec is a passionate reader and writer with an affinity for language and linguistics, as well as the latest technological developments. She discovered her passion for real estate at RENTCafé, and you can read more of her articles on their blog.

Thanks for reading!

3rd Edition of Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets by Regina F Lark, Ph. D.

You might be interested in a free copy of the Table of Contents and 1st Chapter of my Book

Download a complimentary copy of the 1st Chapter of Regina’s 3rd Edition of her book, Psychic Debris

Dr. Regina Lark

regina@aclearpath.net

Time for ‘spring clearing’? Call a pro

The first clue you might need help is that you have a junk drawer. It might be in the kitchen, or maybe it’s in the laundry room.

“Everyone who calls has a junk drawer, maybe two or three,” says Regina Lark, a de-clutter expert and professional organizer and speaker — she spoke on “Spring Clearing” at the Ebell of Los Angeles last month via Zoom.

She is also an author —“Psychic Debris: Crowded Closets: The Relationship Between the Stuff in Your Head and What’s Under Your Bed” is in its third edition — and she is a productivity coach.

She was helping a client move when COVID-19 stopped us all in our tracks in mid-March.

While moving is an “essential business,” and her business specializes in residential, estate and corporate moves, the virtual organizing side of her business has risen exponentially.
Read more…

Should This Stay, or Should This Go?

Should it Stay, or Should it Go?

Professional Fiduciaries are first responders. They are often first to advocate for the welfare and well-being of a new client, and, more often than not, first to step foot in the door of a home overrun with benign neglect, or, basically intact but filled with a huge number of things. 

Responsible for the health, welfare, and fiscal oversight of their clients, Fiduciaries are called upon to make some hard decisions. Sometimes this means finding room for caregivers or divesting a home filled with a trove of old and new treasures. 

Your client lives here

Home is where the heart is. It is also the place of deferred dreams and incomplete projects. It is the place where folks stash their bowling trophies, grandma’s plated silver, and signed first editions. Over years the home becomes the repository for everything life has to offer – clothes, kitchenware, and place-settings. The “average” household often contains the possessions of adult children who had long ago moved from the family home but never quite got around to removing yearbooks and toys,always organized Barbie dolls high school ephemera, and everything else assigned to the category of “memories.” Don’t forget the so-called “collectibles” – from Hummels and Barbie dolls to entire runs of Playboy and National Geographic magazines. 

Why do we own so much stuff? It’s a difficult question to answer. Older adults who lived through America’s “Great Depression” tell us that growing up with nothing means holding on to everything. While that may or may not be true, I wonder how we understand younger generations’ seemingly insatiable consumption, or how we account for the growth of self storage

Fiduciaries will of course come across clients’ self-storage units. Dark and depressing, public storage facilities are frigid cold in the winter, overwhelmingly hot in the summer. With a multitude of enticements to bring in the customer, it takes a lot of time and planning to get out. If you’ve seen A&E’s Storage Wars you know that there’s no guarantee of hidden treasures behind the padlocked door.

Hold tight

We tend to cling to our things for two very broad reasons. First, we don’t want to let go of stuff we may need “someday” (note cards, car wax, vases), or that we may wear again “someday” (golf shirts, skinny jeans). Of course any and all items may have future use but if we’re not already in the habit of writing notes or losing weight, then these “someday” items do not have current value; they just clutter our lives today. At the same time, we hold on to things that have been in our lives forever such as Grandma’s good china, music boxes, report cards – contain therein our “memories,” along with the stories we attach to each and very item. 

With a tight hold on that which we may need someday (the future), and an emotional hold on that which has already happened (the past), our “stuff” tends to hang around. The longer it hangs around, the value of the “stuff” either increases or decreases.  

It’s tricky business determining the value of art and clothing, furniture, first editions, and the array of what is unearthed in clearing the path for what’s next in the life of the client or the life of a trust.  And so I asked a pro. 

collectables can be organized in reduced space or sold as part of decluttering What is it really worth? 

Joe Baratta, the vice president of Business Development & Valuations with Abell Auction Co., is a USPAP-qualified generalist appraiser with over 15 years’ experience helping fiduciaries separate “the wheat from the chaff.” I caught up with Joe at his home in Los Angeles to talk about the value of “stuff” he comes across when he’s called in to appraise the contents of the Fiduciary clients’ home. 

Everyone has “stuff,” some of which is brought home to serve an immediate need (a bed or a dresser) or purchased because of the item’s perceived “someday” value. “Beanie Babies” are a perfect example of this,” Joe surmised. The stuffed toys had a high market value at a particular time but many people held on to their “collection” believing that the value would soar the longer it remained in their possession which hasn’t been the case (although there are exceptions). True collectors follow the appropriate markets for their collections through trade shows and major auction houses. Still, anything that is mass produced will usually not hold its original value nor see an increase in value. 

Joe offers compelling insights about what he sees daily. Fiduciaries may find this information helpful when faced with downsizing a client’s home: 

  • Traditional dark wood furniture (tables, cabinets, couches) – not all dark wood furniture  held its value due to mass production over many decades. Chairs with cushions could be reupholstered especially if the bones of the chair are in good shape (think Eames or similar), and these items are often in high demand. 
  • Technically, an “antique” describes any item produced 100 years ago, or, before the year 1920. Still, not all antiques are desirable in the current market.  
  • The Industrial Revolution of the 1870s led to the mass production of wash basins (before indoor plumbing), armoires (most homes didn’t have closets), and sewing baskets (when people repaired or sewed their own clothes). 
  • Samovars: Every Eastern European family brought one or more to the US as these were important to family ceremonies, and carry a lot of sentiment. While some samovars have value, there is a large supply of them without much demand for today’s market.
  • Supply and demand: By mid-20th century, the marketplace was saturated with formal dining tables, china sets, table linens, silver sets, chafing dishes, ice buckets, and other forms of items designed for their entertainment value. 
  • Front entry, living room and dining room are the areas of the house where families display their most “prized” possessions – from art to furniture to home decor. 
  • Tricks of the trade: when Joe walks into a home, the first thing he notices are the walls – “Money is on the walls… most people want to show off their art. They are proud of what they accomplished.” 
  • Flora Dania Royal Copenhagen is among the most valuable dish sets today. 
  • The politics of “value:” When China closed their borders in the early 20th century, so too did the outflow of Chinese goods. Today, many wealthy Chinese are paying high margins to repatriate items seen as valuable to their upper-class heritage (Chinese silks, scrolls art, porcelain, furniture). Similar to Russia after the fall of the Berlin wall (think religious icons, Faberge, Russian silver – considered very valuable mid-1990s through early 2000). 
  • $10,000 and generational attitudes: Our grandparents may have used the money to buy something to enhance the home (think beautiful oil painting in an expensive frame). Baby Boomers’ purchases may extend to fine dining and travel. The millennial mindset covets watches and handbags. 

A Clear Path can coordinate the valuation and selling of collections as part of their organizing serviceBottom line

People have hard time letting go of items, regardless of perceived or real value. The family members in possession of the “family jewels” are stewards to protect the family legacy. Joe reminds us, “We’re custodians of items and feel obligated to hold on to at least some of it because of our family connection.” 


Creative Ways to Maximize Space in a Small House

Updated on February 19th, 2020

When you have a smaller home, every inch of space counts! If you’re feeling cramped in your tight quarters, don’t worry, making a small space more livable can be easy. To help you get started, we asked organizational experts for their best tips and tricks for maximizing space in a small area. Check them out and you’ll feel like you’re living large in no time.  Read more

De-clutter and Toss, Purge and Plan

Getting Ready for Your Next Move

“I wanted to poke my eyes out…”

…said my new client, Kaye. Before doing anything too drastic, Kaye hired my team of Ninja organizers to finally get her long-awaited move underway. Prior to our arrival, Kaye thought she would de-clutter, toss, and purge all the stuff she didn’t use any longer…but discovered that the process wasn’t easy and was taking a lot longer than she really had time for. 

So she invited friends to help but they did more talking and partying than getting down to any real work. 

While trying to figure out next steps, Kaye started calling around to moving companies. At the end of that day she scheduled 3 appointments with three different companies. At the end of that week, not a single mover showed up for the appointment

Speaking with and helping to organize a move can be overwhelming, but a professional organizer is a solution

The final straw occurred when trying to find the least expensive place to purchase moving supplies.  Kaye realized she had no idea how many boxes she would need and she didn’t have a truck to bring it all home in. 

 

“I wanted to poke my eyes out…” 

 

As anyone who has ever moved knows: relocating from one home to another stands as one of the top 3 stressors in the lives of most people. Planning ahead can make a difference – but as Kaye knows, even good planning can fall short.

 

This week, CBS News announced a new government program, Protect Your Move, created to address what’s become known as “hostage load.”  Out of 36 million moves this year, 1 in 10 movers will file a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that their carriers are looking for more money that initially agreed for hauling their belongings which is different from what they were originally told.  

Trusting your mover has never been more important.

With all the things that can go wrong in a move, I always encourage people tog et references and ask friends, talk with the neighbor most recently moved into your neighborhood, look online for a “moving checklist” – like this one from Real Simple magazine!Trusting a monolithic moving company can be daunting, but you can trust a professional organizer to help with all aspects of the move.

A good Realtor will have a tried and true referral list for moving companies and professional organizers.  Ask for a referral!

For a project as big as any move don’t try to handle everything yourself, instead, surround yourself with people you can trust, take careful notes and , read every contract thoroughly.  

You’ll be glad you did. 

Thanks for reading!

3rd Edition of Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets by Regina F Lark, Ph. D.

You might be interested in a free copy of the Table of Contents and 1st Chapter of my Book

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Dr. Regina Lark 

regina@aclearpath.net


PS: Did you know we fold our fees into escrow?