Monthly Archives: August 2009

Feng Shui works! What I’ve learned getting my home ready to sell…

chinese feng shuiIt may be a down market, but many people have come through my house in the first few days.  Two couples are already preparing offers.

The house, like a standard poodle at Westminster,  shows well. A lot of it has to do with feng shui– I’ve feng shui’d the heck out of the place and visitors feel it immediately. [Feng shui is one of my two professional gigs, so I try to practice what I preach on myself, even though it’s not easy to be detached about your OWN STUFF.]

Even if you don’t plan to sell your house for years, I commend this process to you on your current home. Why do all this work for the NEXT owners just before you sell, when you could do it for yourself TODAY? You can have years of serene living in your own personal paradise.

Eight feng shui tips to make your home a personal paradise.

1. The placement of the home on the land is balanced between wind and water. (The two characters for feng shui mean “wind” and “water”.) This is something you can’t do much about if you weren’t the original builder (well, you can give the illusion of good placement, but that’s not the subject of this post).  Ideally, in feng shui tradition, your home should be “cradled in the belly of the dragon” – as if you were nestled like a baby in the curve of your mother’s arms.

You want to be on a gentle slope above a lake or stream – not so high you’re in the wind, and not so low you’re in the water.  That’s where my house sits – partway down a hill with gardens in front, gardens in back, and a wonderful view of the lake below.

2. The entry is clear, magnetically attractive, and welcoming.  A curved brick path leads you to the front porch, where two antique ceramic elephants act as greeters on either side of the reddish door.  I replaced the very funky front door unit (which I should have done in the original remodel – would have been a lot cheaper…) Just inside the door is a pretty bench where you can sit to take off your boots, and it’s angled to lead you further into the house.

house pix for sale pix 002

3. Color enlivens every room. (No white or beige walls).  The floor plan is open enough that you can see several different rooms at once, each a different color, but all of which work well together. The living room and entry hall are a warm soothing taupe, the kitchen a periwinkle blue with white and black tile backsplash and charcoal counters and floor (the dark floor brings in the water element to balance the fire of kitchen activities). The guest bath is pumpkin orange, the laundry room chartreuse, and the dining room winey-red. White woodwork ties it all together as do many of the multi-colored art pieces. Even the garage is decked out with color (paint left over from the rest of the house) to make the home-owner feel happy and serene when pulling in at the end of a long day.

Workbench after

4. Every window looks out on something lovely. Our homes must relate to the world outside, so I tried to make sure what you see outside the window is attractive. In my case that means well-kept plants, a tidy lawn, a trimmed hedge, something in bloom, a trellis, even a piece of outdoor art. In the case of a couple of windows with unredeemable views, I keep them covered with translucent shades.

MB View

5. I got rid of all clutter. Clear countertops, bookshelves half-empty and reorganized, no tsottchkes (sp.? – those dusty little collections of frogs, roosters, Hummel figures, teacups, etc that plague American homes).  Immediately the house and I felt much more peaceful and focused.

6. I moved the furniture, moved the chi. Almost every piece of furniture in the house was moved, from a simple angle change to a complete re-location in the house. Let me tell you, this really wakes up the chi and even people who’ve never been in the house before feel it.  The biggest shift was my office (Home of Stale Chi): I got rid of two desks, a couple of file cabinets, and a bookcase, then I moved the whole shebang into another (smaller) room, setting it up with a little desk that had been elsewhere. WOW. I actually like it.

7. Everything got cleaned within an inch of its life. I brought in outside help for this – my daughter and a hungry young political worker – and the three of us scrubbed for days. (I’ve been my own house cleaner since I bought the house… need I say more? I’ve been worth every cent I got paid.)  You don’t realize how grubby a cabinet shelf was until it’s been washed…

8. I let go of the house as mine.  This could have been the hardest part, since I LOVE LOVE LOVE the home I’ve created here. But I’m ready for the next adventure, whatever that will be, and needed to sever the cords that tie the house to me and vice versa.  Before the open house on Sunday I walked around each room, soaking in its beauty or functionality, and thanked it for all it had contributed to my great happiness and comfort living here. And then I released it for the happy buyers who would follow me in loving the place.

Yes, I shed some tears. I made a silk purse out of a house that was once a sow’s ear, and may never again live in such a wonderful home. But I’m comforted knowing that it will grace the lives of its next owners.  May it be so.

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Filed under Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Practical feng shui

My house is on the market

The sign is up; it's official.

The sign is up; it's official.

My house went on the market today. My realtor created a virtual tour which gives you a hint at why leaving this home will be so hard, and why staying here as a single woman without the financial resources to hire help makes it imperative to downsize.

The first person to go through was unimpressed — all he cared about was the size of the space for parking his RV.

I say “RV-SchmarV” – this isn’t the kind of place RVers would love anyway. Wrong market.

But everyone since that one has LOVED it.  Two people are coming back with their respective spouses.

And I can sit back a relax for a couple of days. As long as I don’t touch anything.

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Filed under Downsizing, Envisioning a simpler life, Inspiration & encouragement

Open House Deadline = week of insanity

Hearing my pitiful whimpers as OH-Day (Open House Day) rapidly approached, on Friday the Rescue Angels (my dear kids Heather and Ethan) flew in from the Bay Area – Ethan just for the weekend, and Heather for the whole week.

This is why we have children. Yup.

Heather brought my 5 & 8 year-old grandsons as well, who added to the amusement but weren’t exactly worker bees. At home they have no TV, no VCR. So whenever they got too bored with watching us slave away we shoved a Star Wars movie into the slot.



Elliott's not so sure about this...

Elliott's not so sure about this...

First we did the gross stuff. Gross as in big. Hauling boxes of photo albums, books, notebooks, excess cookware, etc to the storeroom, bagging excess bed linens and clothing for Goodwill, and moving out the bookshelves and cupboards thus emptied.

That left the dirt.
It revealed the cobwebs.
And it left lots of piles of random shit… in what box will that go so I won’t lose it forever???

Heather never stopped. When she wasn’t folding linens or scrubbing out the frig, she was keeping the crew fed with fabulous food. A mix of what I had in the garden, and what needed to be eaten down in the cupboards.

We eat well

We eat well

The more orderly the place got, the more we could see imperfections that had been camouflaged for years.
And yet, miraculously, minutes before the first realtor showed up we finished, and the place looked FABULOUS.

See for yourself here: the virtual tour put together by my realtor. It looks like it’s always been this calm and lovely.

And in a way, it always has been…just hidden by all the STUFF.


Filed under Family issues, Inspiration & encouragement

Youth employment opportunity!

Young helpers

Young helpers

As I prepare my house for selling, there is altogether too much that needs doing which I don’t have time to do.

And let’s be honest, I also don’t want to FIND the time to do these tasks, because who wants to demoss the roof, wash windows, or pressure wash the sidewalks? Not me.

There are scads of companies out there (see Angie’s List, Craigslist, or the Yellow Pages) who do these tasks for a healthy fee. But I’d rather pay an eager unemployed young person with the unsullied energy that accumulates during the long jobless days of summer.

So I found one of Obama’s campaign former campaign organizers who is currently helping out in the local mayoral race part time, but still needs to eat.  It just so happens his parents have a pressure washer and a hedge trimmer, so the equipment is covered. I’ve got the window washing supplies, the rake, and the lawn mower.

For $12 an hour miracles are happening around here and Eric and I are both happy campers. My grandsons idolize him and want to help too.

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Filed under Baby steps, Getting organized, Resources

Piano gone; hole in the living room

How we gonna get this sucker out of here?

How we gonna get this sucker out of here?

One of the several reasons I bought a house too big for one person is that I had two out-sized precious possessions which demanded space.

One is my grandfather’s gorgeous dining room table, which seats 10 comfortably  (and that’s before adding two leaves!) and which my daughter wants as soon as SHE gets a bigger home.

The other is the Steinway baby grand that my mom bought in 1936 with her $1000 college graduation gift ($990 for the piano, $10 for the bench).  In 1996 she gave it to my youngest, who is a gifted pianist.

Of course he went off to college and it didn’t fit in his dorm room. It also didn’t fit in his post-college apartment. And now it certainly doesn’t fit in the backpack he’s been carrying around Europe since May.  So I have it.

Or had it. My realtor hemmed and hawed about it.
“Er, you know, uh, that the living room would look much bigger without a LARGE piano in it…”  So I found a friend who is going to piano-sit until Wylie gets back AND finds a place to live where it will fit.

Unless he plans to sleep under it.

With the piano gone, and the curio cabinet, the living room looks ready for an eager buyer’s eyes. So do a couple of other rooms in the house.


Unfortunately, in making those rooms lean and gorgeous, the detritus had to go somewhere. Oh yeah. One heap o’ crap is on my office floor, and another bigger heap is in the spare room.

I keep telling myself it’s just a process – one step at a time…

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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Furniture

Freecycling – for the leftovers no one wants to pay for

free chairFreecycle is the savior of the downsizer who doesn’t want to haul stuff to the landfill when someone somewhere might just be able to use your mis-matched but perfectly sittable old kitchen chair.

The Yahoo Freecycle group in my community has relieved me of a number of oddball items that aren’t worth listing on Craigslist, even for free because they get lost in the barage of listings.

On Freecycle, you just post an email “Offer: 8×10 white carpet (neighborhood).” In the body of the email you add a sentence describing the item in more detail. About ten people respond and you pick the one to tell where it is and how to get it.

After the item is gone, you post: “Taken: 8×10 white carpet (neighborhood)” and the emails stop.

So far I’ve relieved my house of the carpet, a rectangle of Marmoleum, a legal file cabinet, a postcard photo album from the 1900s, some ceramic plant pots, a wood planter box. And if my neighbor’s yard sale on Saturday doesn’t get rid of another load of crap, I’ll offer what’s left as well.

My garage crap stash is thinning out!  Next week I tackle the kitchen, bathrooms and “hobby” room. Could be ugly.

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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing

The $ound of $ilence

New front door in proce$$

New front door in proce$$ - not yet painted or reshingled

It’s one thing to blog about downsizing; it’s something else to slog through it.

The current plan is to put the house on the market in two weeks.  So my silence is all about the mad da$h to get the place ready to show – in$talling a new front door, repairing some cracked $iding, pre$$ure wa$hing all my $idewalks and patio, cleaning carpet$, wa$hing oriental rug$, moving furniture.

The outflow is offset by a little income from Craigslist sales. A grand total of $703, so far. (For goods probably worth ten times that, in earlier times). For example someone bought this Victorian curio cabinet I’ve had for decades, stuffed with “curios”, better known as tschotchkes (how DO you spell that??). Curios now cover the dining table.  It’s like that. Sell one thing, displace 500 others that spill all over.

"Curios" without a home

"Curios" without a home

A lot of stuff has gone for free – donated or given away. The baby grand piano leaves Friday for a long vacation at the spacious home of a friend who is a fabulous classical pianist and looks forward to doing two-piano pieces with another friend.

The humongo McGuire desk went to live in Astoria with a young couple who are opening a real estate law practice and needed a formal desk for the kinds of  signing rituals real estate loves. Mazeltov! Its credenza friend awaits an eager adopter in the garage.

Meanwhile, I’ve gone from TWO huge desks to one tiny one plus a lateral file. And a shitpile of paper and office supplies on the floor, seeking a home. Here’s just part of one pile…

Heap o' crap

Heap o' crap

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Filed under Art & antiques, Baby steps, Downsizing