Tag Archives: inheritance

Perspectives on Letting Go

freedom release letting go

Ahh, attachments to our stuff. It’s really all a mental game. If we were truly able to assess our belongings according to our practical needs, we would probably be living with 10% of what we own.

Why is letting go so hard? How do we manage the psychology of releasing things?

Over the years, we’ve seen people find success with one (or a combination) of these three approaches:

Focus on how you can help yourself

Honor the life you want to live. Have a vision of how you want to be in the world and edit your stuff so you can match that and live your best life now. This is about releasing the past and creating your ideal future. You’re honoring yourself by letting that be your focus.

Focus on how you can help other people

Recognize that your excess is a form of abundance. Release your objects so they can serve their purpose in other people’s lives. Release resentment or other negative emotions that the objects bring up in you and put them out into the world to do positive things for other people.

Feng Shui expert Karen Kingston tells a story of a divorced woman had a pair of large, expensive decorative urns from her divorce settlement. They were beautiful but made her think, with bitterness, of her ex-husband.  She was encouraged to sell them and get a lot of money for them instead of having them foster bitterness and resentment and a constant reminder of a painful relationship.

Focus on how you can help the environment

Bringing in less can aid the environment, but disposing of things in a thoughtful way will help offset the environmental impact of consumption. Some people hesitate to clean out a closet or garage because they don’t want it all to go to landfill. Take advantage of living in the San Francisco Bay Area which is filled with easy options for recycling/reuse and responsible disposal.

Stopwaste.org is a quick way to find what is available near you. There are many places that accept e-waste, expired medicines, CFLs, hazardous waste, styrofoam, packing peanuts and air-packs. Partially used art and office supplies can go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse or S.C.R.A.P., building materials and hardware can go to Urban Ore or a Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlet. Plastic children’s toys, if not donate-able, can be recycled with hard plastic at most urban recycling centers. There are also resources for your unneeded medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, tubing, etc.)

Freecycle, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and other community neighborhood forums are great places to post usable items for free.  These places allow you to find people who want your cast-offs and will take care of the hauling!

If you don’t want to deal with the public, you can pay for a hauler to come. EcoHaul, 1-800-Got Junk, Lugg are companies that advertise responsible disposal of items the remove from your place.

There is no “right” approach. What is that key that will release you from the obligation to hold on to things you don’t need and really don’t even want? Not sure how to get rid of something? Just ask! As Professional Organizers, we’ve got ideas!

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Filed under Decluttering, organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Bringing Old Furniture Back to Life

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Ever wondered what to do with that special but damaged furniture that has been handed down in your family?

Dana had a conversation with Bernice Rapoport, owner and primary restoration expert, at Geppetto’s Antique Restoration in Point Richmond. Bernice provided some valuable context and practical information.

When is it worth having furniture repaired?

When you love it enough to fix it. Depending on what current styles are popular, many antiques don’t have a lot of resale value so often the motivation to invest in a repair is far more about preserving the piece for sentimental value. Knowing you and your family will be able to use grandma’s favorite writing table for years to come can mean the world.

What alternatives are there to a full repair?

If the piece is useable, sometimes it makes more sense to just give them a clean up or have finishes touched-up to make them more presentable. An example would be a tabletop with some old gouges or scratches. Rather than sanding out the damage and refinishing, some touch-up of the finish over the damage is sufficient. The scratches are actually part of the character of the piece and add to its charm.

How can we best protect our furniture?

  • Don’t place items near heating vents. This accelerates the drying out of both the glues in a piece and the wood itself
  • Keep furniture out of direct sunlight; it bleaches the wood
  • Cane seating: twice a year (you can do it when the clocks change) use a water bottle to spray the underside of the cane seats with slightly warmer than warm (but not hot) water. Let air dry indoors at room temperature. This keeps the natural fiber supple and allows the fibers to tighten up.
  • Rotate area rugs and tables twice a year to allow for more even wear
  • Water rings occur when moisture gets between the wood and the finish. Finishes are slightly porous to allow the wood to move.

We’ve all seen the Antique Roadshows episodes where the appraiser tells the person how many thousands of dollars more their piece would be worth IF they hadn’t refinished it – how do you protect antiques without affecting their value?

It’s important to use period products and techniques when working on true antiques and to know when cleaning or touchup is advised over a full refinishing.

What’s the oldest piece you worked on?

A high back chair from the 2nd settlement to Jamestown from between 1608-1610. The chair had a natural reed rush seat. Really the only work it needed was a cleaning and waxing.

Bring Your Furniture Back to Life

Bring Your Furniture Back to Life

What about modern furniture?

There’s lots of decent enough solid furniture out there, even from places like Restoration Hardware. Overall though, design is compromised for the cost savings of mass production. Handcrafted furniture can last for so long, sometimes centuries, because of the detail that went into it’s construction and design.

Do you have furniture pieces you love but can’t fully use because they’re broken or fragile? Don’t let them languish in your home or garage just taking up space. Explore the resources available to bring them back to life!

 

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Filed under Bay Area Services, Guest Experts, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse

Organizing Your Legacy

Is there anything that you wouldn't want others to deal with after you're gone?

Is there anything that you wouldn’t want others to deal with after you’re gone?

Don’t you hate cleaning up after other people’s messes? Anyone who has a roommate may have had this experience – dishes left in the sink, wet towels on the bathroom floor, laundry half done in the laundry room. What a drag to have to take care of other’s people’s stuff that they could have dealt with themselves!

How does this relate to organizing? Many times we’ve worked with clients who have brought us in to organize their homes after having dealt with cluttered estates of their parents or other relatives. They’re very aware of not wanting to leave behind the same mess for their children or friends.

It’s easy to think that’s a “someday project” – the reality is weeding is MUCH simpler and easier when it happens regularly, not put off and saved until accumulation is overwhelming.

Here are some key areas to weed regularly and keep under control:

  • Paperwork –Wading through decades of accumulated bills, account statements, articles, contracts, etc. trying to figure out what is important is a nightmare for a survivor.
  • Personal documents – Any surprising information in those old diaries and journals that you’d be loathe to have someone read after you’re gone?
  • Collections of value. If you collect anything of value, have it appraised and take care of it while you are around so when you’re gone it’s easier to deal with as a collection.
  • Collections of sentiment or hobby – If you collect things that are valuable to you but not necessarily on the open market keep the collection organized and reasonably sized. Identify a friend or organization that may make use of it after you’re gone.
  • Garage and storage areas – These are easy to get out of hand because typically there’s lots of space and it’s easy to just let older items linger in the back corners. This includes household hardware, glue, rope, paint, tools, sport supplies, wood scraps. Make regular trips to the household hazardous waste center.
  • Toiletries and cleaning supplies – Old makeup, shampoo, travel size items, specialty cleaners…these easily accumulate clogging up valuable storage space and creating a disposal chore when you’re gone.

As you are weeding, extract and keep these items separate and easy to find:

  • Key Financial Documents – Current insurance policies, bills, and estate information need to be immediately accessible if something happens to you. Purge old copies to avoid confusion.
  • Will/Trust – You do have one, right?
  • Safe Deposit Box – Information and key

If this feels overwhelming already, get help!

Utilize family and friends, hire an organizer and consult with an estate attorney. Two great Bay Area estate attorneys we recommend are Richard Lee of Blythe, Lee & Associates, 510-272-0200 x304 and Alexandria M. Ayoub of Ferguson & Berland, 510-548-9005.

What small action could you take this week to help take care of your own business so others won’t have to when you’re gone?

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Filed under Decluttering, Empty Nest, Garage, General Organizing, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Storage, Strategies