Deadline pressure for paring down

Life will be easier without the house

Susan Caba
Resale Evangelista

Nothing like a deadline for getting rid of stuff you don’t need

Everybody has an opinion on what stuff I should ditch when I move. Excuse me, opinions on which of my lovely possessions I can part with.

I’ve listed the house for sale. Obviously, that means speeding up my sorting and disposing schedule, both in order to show the house and to move. Maybe that’s why I did it–I work well under deadline.

Gingerbread house goes on the market Looks like a gingerbread house, doesn’t it?

Max has been urging me to purge forever.  Of course, the way he gets rid of some of his things is simply to leave them at my house. (Then again, I have two of my grandmother’s chairs and a pair of teak doors from my in-laws’ house in India stashed in my mother’s garage.)

Max made one concession.  I  could, at my sole discretion, decide which art to keep and which to discard. Except, he added, for the two pieces of artist Mary Sprague’s work that he wants for himself.

An only child, with parents in separate households–and one grandmother for whom he is the only heir–Max is eventually going to be bombarded with too much stuff.  As he says, he’s not the least bit motivated by his surroundings. (So he says now. What about the Mary Sprague paintings?) I’ve never expected him to keep anything in particular of mine. I’ve just told him which things are junk and which are worth selling.

So here’s what he thinks I should keep:

  • In the family room–nothing. I argued for the cherry cabinet with glass doors and the stacked black boxes side table. Also the lime-green goose-necked desk lamp and a big Fifties lamp. He said okay, maybe.
  • In the dining room–the pine armoire. My great-grandmother’s oak table and chairs are going to my brother. I argued for the red lacquer etagere. The decision on that is still up in the air. He’s against it.
  • In the living room–the 1920s Chinese tansu and a leather trunk that serves as a coffee table. Oh, and the black leather and chrome chair.  Ix-nay on a glass and iron side table (I’m keeping it–and its double).
  • In his bedroom–nothing. I agreed.
  • In my bedroom–an armoire. He wants the bed. Fine. I get to keep a little green side table.

So that’s, what? Nine pieces? I can live with that. And anyway, it’s not the furniture–it’s the little stuff that’s a problem.  Lots of little stuff, Chinese tchotkes, an antique typewriter, a collection of green pottery, and … and … and …and …

The Realtor was a little more liberal. She did suggest I move some of the big pieces out before the house goes on the market. “Just to make it look a little more spacious,” she said.

Mary See more of Mary Sprague's work at's work is available at      Angry Chicken, by Mary Sprague

I had to chuckle at that. I’ve already gotten rid of two big, dark rugs, sold a glass-fronted bookcase, took two ratty chairs to Goodwill and made a curbside donation of a mid-Century coffee table (someone plucked it from the curb within an hour).  Crystal glasses are snuggled into empty wine boxes, there are two mirrors under my bed and the collection of green pottery has been “disappeared,” though I can’t remember where, exactly. Thank God she didn’t see the house last year.

Oh, and I’ve employed the “generous hostess” ploy. I gifted the plush, stuffed moose-head I found at Christmas to one of Maryanne’s boys and found the perfect recipient–her other son–for the leather and fur Russkie hat with ear flaps that my father brought me from Leningrad. Trust me, it looks better on Joey. And when the Realtor admired a big bunch of peacock feathers in a vase, I said, “take them, they’re yours.” She was happy, I was thrilled.

Getting rid of stuff may be easier than I thought.

Simplifying life can be messy; just go with the flow–it’s only stuff.

2 thoughts on “Deadline pressure for paring down

  1. Pingback: Ted Talk Thursday ~ Less is More | In Da Campo

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