We Save and Save More Stuff But Where Does it Go?

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

Our homes are where we eat, sleep, play, sometimes work and store things we’ve finished using but somehow can’t bear to throw away.

There are many reasons we may want to hold on to possessions we no longer need, but where do we put it all?

Granted, some homeowners live on the light side where nothing is hidden and what you see is what you get. Or they’ve gotten religion just before the sale of a home. The homes on the market that show best are those where all the traditional storage spaces – the attic, basement, garage and large closets – are bare.

When I owned a single-family home, my attic and garage looked like storage rental facilities, but not as neat. When my wife and I prepared to sell our home a while back, we hired a crew to clean out our basement, which had been packed with belongings from cement floor to beams overhead. There was clear evidence there of many different careers and lifetimes, including those of our parents and grandparents, along with tools and leftover materials from house renovations.

One of the workmen took me aside and told me how dangerous it was to have saved enamel paint and paint thinner so close to the boiler. As the Home Guru, I was embarrassed. At first, it was a visceral experience to instruct the workers what to throw out for bulk pick up day.

My propensity to hang on to stuff started young. Maybe I had thought that someday I would be so famous that future generations would want some piece of who I was and what I did in life. But since I turned out to be just an ordinary guy, I really had no excuse.

It all started when I was an adolescent and my mother gave me a white envelope on which was written, “My Son William’s First Haircut, Aged 2.” Inside were Titian red curls that bear little resemblance to my hair today.

That was the first item I tucked away in a sturdy cardboard box that originally housed Florida oranges we would receive each Christmas from my Aunt Helen. Through the years, that box accommodated all my other official documents from my birth certificate to a special blessing from the Pope (my wife had connections) when my wife and I married. Since then, that one box has multiplied like fish.

By the time I was a teenager, I was collecting books and records before the time of downloading audio files, never thinning them out and always saving them. (Anybody want a rare collection of impressive 331/3 rpm records from the 1960s?)  By the time I married, I went on to photography well before the days of digital images. I documented every move my family and I made, starting with our honeymoon.

Then my wife and I started collecting things together and when we got into the antiques business part-time, the floodgates opened. We never got to the point of hoarding, and our house was always tidy, but we never really organized our storage of the things we didn’t have room to display.

Perhaps as homes get downsized, efficient storage will be even more important. Today, there are many resources for creative solutions to tucking things away.

The Internet and large-box retailers such as The Container Store are rich with the tools needed to store things properly. Home Depot boasts Martha Stewart’s cubbies and closet kits as well as a full assortment of containers for the garage or outdoor shed.

For those who need industrial strength help with storage, there is always the great PODS concept (www.pods.com). Where the company will deliver a POD to a private home for “temporary” storage during house renovation, or preparing for a move, I have seen them stay on properties seemingly indefinitely, and there may be some local ordinances discouraging that.

If I were to dispense any advice about storage, it would be as simplistic as to suggest that we should all better manage what we collect.

As for my wife and me, we were forced three years ago when moving to a condo to downsize our stuff to fit into a reasonably sized storage cage. It was very liberating.

While Bill Primavera performs as a columnist and publicist, he is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com, and his blog is www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.


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