Finding treasure in hidden nooks
I used to work for an interior designer who staged people’s homes. We’d send the homeowner off for the day, then empty the designated room and refurnish it from scratch. We rarely purchased anything new–in fact, the business was called “It’s Your Stuff.“
We “shopped” the client’s home for what we needed. You’d be amazed what we’d find in closets, the basement, guest rooms. We usually had more than enough furniture, lighting, art and tchotchkes to finish a room beautifully. Admittedly, there were times we had to resort to hanging something more as a place-holder for shape and size, until the homeowner could find something to replace it.
At the end of the day, the client would walk in and inevitably exclaim, “Oh My God!” Seriously. It’s not just a television cliché–they couldn’t help themselves. Then they would look around and point out an item here–“That belonged to my grandmother!”–or another one, and say “I forgot I had that!” My boss would respond, “It’s your stuff.”
Sometimes a fresh eye sees existing furnishings in a new way–no outside shopping required. The key to “It’s Your Stuff” was the complete empty-out of the room. The thing is, “stuff” builds up in our houses over time. Like dental plaque, it happens so gradually, we hardly notice. When you put it back, don’t put it all back. It might seem empty at first, but you’ll get used to it.
What to do with the stuff that’s left over? Make three piles: Goodwill, Sell (Craigslist, garage sale, eBay) and Give Away. That last category? Either give it to a non-profit resale shop or, if it’s really special or sentimental, give it away as a present. Just another form of shopping at home. Think of it this way: It’s not your stuff.