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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Taking Stock And Selling a Family Home

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring is the time when many people take stock of their surroundings and do some Spring cleaning. It just feels good to declutter, to breath a little fresh air into our surroundings, and to freshen up our spaces. 

Selling a family home needs some special cleaning and organizing in order to present the house to potential buyers as a house to buy, not a home to visit. For us, these last steps in preparing Mother's house to sell are our final steps in saying goodbye to her and our family home. Bit by bit, day by day, her home to visit has become a house to buy.

Getting my late Mother's house ready to sell involved even a deeper, more thorough cleaning than the usual deep Spring cleaning she always did. From baseboards to door trim to ceiling fans, every surface was cleaned. In addition to cleaning, all rooms have been pared down to a minimum number of pieces of furniture, collectibles have been packed away in boxes, and personal family photos on the walls have been distributed to family members. 

The house seems empty. 

Following the realtor's advice the house was stripped of most of its contents. The walls are almost bare, and the kitchen counters are free of the coffee maker, toaster oven, and canisters. The house is devoid of personality, devoid of my mother's personality. Gone are the prints she bought in Hawaii, France, and Napa Valley. The coffee table is clear of its artificial flower arrangement, the oversized book of Africa, and the family history book that traces our family to its humble roots in Europe.  

Taking stock of Mother's house arranged following the realtor's advice, the rooms do seem bigger and brighter. Yet, the rooms seem to echo without Mother's presence, both physically and decoratively. 

The potential buyers who have visited the house seem very pleased with the house fitting their wish lists. Their wish lists include walking distance to the elementary school, handicapped accessible bathrooms and door sizes, and landscaping filled with azaleas, hydrangeas, dogwood trees, pear trees, pecan trees, peonies, snowball bushes, and a plot for a vegetable garden. 

Without personal decorations inside, the buyers can see the house as THEIR home. But, the outside still has Mother's personality which the potential buyers appreciate and are attracted to. The curb appeal reflects how Mother joyfully worked with her flowers right up until the day before she died. 

Potential buyers as well as us, love the hydrangea plants that Mother diligently covered during late freezes over the years. The pecan trees bearing nuts are a big draw just like they were for Mother who gathered, cracked, and shelled pecans every year for adding to brownies, cakes, salads, and Christmas stockings. 

The small backyard vegetable garden plot is plowed this Spring even though Mother will not be planting it. My sister will plant seeds and starter plants within the next couple of weeks. If the house doesn't sell over the summer, we will enjoy the harvest. If the house sells, the new owners will enjoy the harvest. Either way, Mother would be pleased. 

There is one room in the house that does not seem empty. The sunporch filled with its plants, gardening supplies, butcher block cart, and wicker furniture still has Mother's presence. 

On the butcher block cart are bundles of fresh lavender and peach stock flowers waiting to be arranged in vases for a little touch of Mother in the house as it shown to potential new owners. 

Back home in my own house, I have been taking stock and doing some Spring cleaning of sorts by decluttering and organizing electronic files. In my computer cleaning frenzy, I deleted over 8000 old emails. 

Then the next day discovered, UH-OH... I deleted some, well, a lot,... that is, MOST, of my gmail emails accidentally. I had only five gmail emails that survived the frenzy. The good news is I have lots of space on my computer and on my gmail email account. The bad news is I lost some emails that I planned to respond to. So, this Spring I really do have a clean slate and fresh start...with emails. Try writing me again, and I promise not to delete it... unless it's spam. 

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