In the world of home moves, staging has become a popular activity to help sell a house. In the case of sorting and organizing a downsizing project, staging is still used to sell a house but is also what we do to prevent churning and to simplify the decision making process. This was evident to me yesterday while helping a family friend pack her father’s household goods as part of a downsizing move to his newly purchased condominium. A very active bachelor for many years, Jill’s father had accumulated large amounts of sports and recreational gear. The years, however, were catching up on him and, having limited his activities to his favourite few, he was ready to send away to a new home many of his not-loved-or-needed-anymore household, recreational and sports items. Jill and I were preparing items for his move next weekend and to take a load to the auction house the following weekend.
As Jill and I walked through the house, she was able to point out to me many items in closets, cupboards and various rooms that had already been sorted and were in various stages of being packed. Jill expressed concern that her father was planning on moving too many items to his new “pad” and would struggle to adjust to the smaller space. I suggested to Jill we set up a staging area to accumulate items on which decisions had been made, help identify what was left to sort, collect items for packing together in one area when possible and start to move out the items that were being sold or donated.
Jill had set up a packing station in one part of the house but the area had become congested with items her father was still using on a day to day basis. We identified a convenient staging area, collected and labelled the sorting, packing and boxing supplies and moved them to this area as a new packing station. Jill had wisely used a packing table so that boxes could be packed at waist height without the packer having to strain their back by bending, leaning or twisting. We moved this table to the packing station along with all the remaining boxes. This cleared out one of the bedrooms so that Jill and her father could more easily see what still needed to be sorted in that room. In an open area in the living room, beside the packing station, we established the rest of our staging area: in one corner were the items for auction, in another the items listed online to be sold, and in a third the items packed to go to the new condominium. We then did a second sweep through the house, which had several stories, and grouped items on each floor. As most of the large furniture was already gone, it was easy to move items into one area on each floor. We set up areas for each type of item based on where it was to go: auction/for sale online, donation or the condo. The recycling and garbage we took away and put in the garbage/recycling bins. Any item for which a decision had already been made was moved out of its place and put into the appropriate pile. These items can be packed in place and them moved to the main staging area.
The end result of our work was that Jill and her father didn’t have to revisit these decisions each time they entered a room or looked into a closet. Her father could clearly see the volume of goods heading for the new condo and they could both see the results of their sorting as each room became emptier and emptier. Finally, Jill could easily see when packing supplies needed replenishing. All of these small details help to reduce stress in a downsizing project.