Downsizing

Note: This post went out as a partial post earlier today. This is the version that I meant to share with you. Sorry for the confusion.

Three trips to Cleveland in the past ten weeks have schooled me in the art of downsizing. My sister Lynn and her husband Tim have lived for years in the five bedroom family home that my parents built over fifty years ago. An improved housing market, lower mortgage rates and paining knees and hips led them to the decision to put their big house on the market and make a move to a home they can manage into their golden years. I have observed the process from afar. Only after visiting their new digs have I realized what a massive process is really required as one makes this life decision.

My sister is a quilter. Her handiwork graces every room in her home and in the homes of some of us fortunate enough to have received one of her heirlooms. (Mine was given to me on my fiftieth birthday and travels with me on Pelican.) Lynn’s approach to downsizing has been similar to the process she employs when planning a quilt. There is the design decision, the preparation, the selecting of materials, the measuring, the cutting, and the stitching. The beautiful finished product can’t be accomplished without each calculated step. Her downsizing process has been pretty much the same.

Deciding

The decision to downsize in life comes to a sixty plus couple like any other life decision I suppose. Although I wonder when ours will be clear. Lynn knew she wanted to retire and that the big house was keeping her from it. The housing market in their area has heated up as young families in the thick of their “acquiring” years crave the neighborhood we grew up in. But first comes the search for a one story ranch in a desired area, close to things like health facilities, shopping and church. With baby boomers clambering to downsize all over Cleveland, Tim and Lynn were lucky to find just-the -right house in Bay Village.

In with the new

The new house needed lots of revisions to the somewhat dated floorplan and finishes. Walls are removed, the kitchen gets a full renovation, floors are replaced, the bathrooms are renovated to accommodate aging in place, the basement becomes a fantastic retreat for kids of all ages, the screened porch becomes a three-season room with new glass and screen sliders, the overgrown landscaping gets torn out and replaced with new hardscape and beds full of seasonal color. Lynn is uber-organized, determined, creative and decisive, all qualities necessary in this massive undertaking. The results reflect this. Their new home is beautifully designed, comfortable and perfect for the years ahead.

Out with the old

The old family home now needs to be listed and the same eye for detail and determination to stay on task rules this process as well. The house needs to be prepared to list. Small repairs are completed and rooms freshly painted in a color pleasing to the prospective buyer. Staging means evaluating many personal treasures and culling. Less is more in order to show a home at it’s best. Rooms look bigger. Buyers aren’t distracted by the sellers “life” but instead can visualize their own coming alive within the walls. As the Gods would have it their efforts pay off and the house sells for asking price within 24 hours!

Executing the plan

Now here’s where the rubber meets the road! Getting rid, giving up, giving away, compromising, purging, shredding, burning, stowing, packing, scrubbing the old, cleaning the new, moving, and re-staging. I’m not saying this would be easy for any couple and I’m sure Lynn and Tim had some words throughout the process but from a distance it looked like it was moving right along. The recycle pickup man even walked up the drive to tell Lynn “Good job on the paint”. She put kitty litter in all the cans, resealed them until the paint turned solid and set them all on the tree lawn to be picked up.

The movers were also impressed by Lynn’s systematic approach to the moving day. She ordered two trucks instead of one, had them load “stern to stern” at the end of the driveway (if you will humor my boating lingo) and loaded only one layer into each truck. The process is seamless as the movers don’t need as many tie downs and there are fewer steps to cover. Unloading goes through the same logistics. She has also measured ever wall in the new home and mapped all the furnishings on a graph paper floor plan long before moving day. This way each piece comes in the door and is set into place in it’s designated room

Now the subject of downsizing comes up between couples all the time as we round the bend into the years following 6-0. Lynn and Tim’s adventure took nearly three years. Several other friends have similar stories. We have met numerous couples who are not just downsizing their homes but sold all of their dirt and moved aboard their boat. Certainly Mac and I are finding ourselves visiting the subject time and time again. Just as the decision to take the year 2018 and grab ahold of the cruising dream took planning, the decision that looms on our life’s horizon to get rid of some of our dirt needs to be addressed. Which leads me to the question once again How do you know when you know that you know? Let me know where you are in the decision to downsize. Is it still ahead or in your rear view mirror? Leave a comment. Perhaps it will help the skipper and I make our decision!

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2 Replies to “Downsizing”

  1. Took the plunge at age 61 and sold a 2 story farmhouse and 85 acres. Moved to brick ranch on 10 acres within 1/2 hr of 6/7 kids and did reno before moving in. Purging still a work in progress. Books are my downfall. I love them, and with 16 grands can’t seem to part with them even tho I do library storytime often. I’m a work in progress!

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