Cleaning Out the Stuff

As a homeowner and a listing agent, I dislike clutter. The more that is removed, the better.

Last fall I spent some time on the perpetual project of organizing and cleaning out our basement. There were four boxes of empty 3-ring binders that had been on their way out for quite some time. All the paper they used to contain was recycled long ago. After removing the labels and other personalizations, it was time to get them out of here.

Empty Binders

It occurred to me that much of the clutter in our house comes from things we bought but no longer use.

The binders are a great example of something our lives have moved on from. When we were in business school we used business cases rather than textbooks, so we had to have shelves full of binders to store all the paper. It was important at one time, but that time has passed. The things we have moved on from have to go.

We have more than just binders that are no longer in use. Much of it I’m ready to part with, but there is still an attachment to other items. Some things have sentimental value. Others are still there because I believe they might come in handy one day.

Cleaning out is a process, and I’ve found that it’s good to evaluate everything regularly.

Cleaning out is especially important for people who are selling their homes. Once the home sells, all of that stuff is coming out of the basement, and attic, and closets, and garage no matter what. Do you need it in your new place? Do you want to pay to move it, especially if it to be shoved back in the attic and never heard from again?

It’s okay to get rid of things. And for sellers, eliminating clutter can help you get a better price for your home.

How I Hate You, Ceiling Fan

We have been on a bit of a remodeling tear at our house lately. Updating a half bathroom (which we’ll blog about shortly), re-painting our foyer and accompanying woodwork, along with removing some wallpaper border. And getting rid of this guy. Well, two of these guys, actually.

I hate these ceiling fans with a passion. They reside in our living room. Someone installed them who knows when. We’ve been living with them for 8 years and I’ve finally had enough. Yes, I completely understand this is a first world problem that I’m complaining about. I really try not to complain too much about this type of thing, so I think I’m going to take a bit of liberty here and go off for a bit.

They’re gigantic. They’re gold. They have frou-frou glass shades I can’t stand. Did I mention they’re gigantic and gold? We use those compact fluorescent light bulbs in them which I also loathe. It’s stressing me out just typing this, thinking about how awful they are.

We’ve been meaning to replace these things for a long time. We’ve been diligently looking at lighting stores and antique stores to try and find something period appropriate. No such luck. Most of the new stuff was unacceptable and whenever we found a nice antique, there was always only one, never a pair. And so these remain a fixture in our living room.

Until my favorite, House of Antique Hardware, finally offered something acceptable. At least for an interim fix until we find something great. Which may take another 8+ years. But at least these behemoths will be gone.

Anyone need two lovely ceiling fans? They fill a room nicely, provide great air circulation and illumination and are in a fashion-current gold motif. What more could you ask for? They’ll be on Craigslist shortly, so now is your opportunity to act in advance. I’ll give you a super Greater Hartford Real Estate Blog reader discount!

White Ice

Stainless appliances are out; at least according to Whirlpool. Instead, we are all hereby instructed to select the new White Ice finish to show our superior taste when designing the ultimate kitchen. It’s been described by one reviewer as employing “Apple’s popular design language.”

I have no idea if their bold move will catch on. I guess we’ll find out when buyers featured on House Hunters complain about stainless kitchens. But whether the next new thing is White Ice or something else, it’s completely unsurprising that appliance makers are trying to steer consumers in a new direction. The stainless trend IS getting a little long in the tooth.

But here’s the best part! Because of the new White Ice collection, I have a perfect excuse to post this classic Vanilla Ice Video … time to dance everybody!

Incandescent Light Bulbs

100 Watt BulbsThe incandescent light bulb. Once a symbol of American ingenuity, it is now under attack as a wasteful.

Just about everyone I know has strong feelings about the incandescent. Most prefer the light they provide. Most would also agree that they are inefficient compared to compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) technologies. Some argue that the newer technologies are inferior due to their color spectrum and their turn on time, though both of those characteristics have been improving with each generation of the technologies. Others are just turned off by the higher prices of the newer bulbs.

Congress got involved with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was supposed to take effect at the beginning of 2012. The plan was to gradually halt the production of incandescents starting with the 100W bulb this year. The 75W would have been phased out in 2013, and the 60W and 40W in 2014. However, action by Congress during December of 2011 has effectively pushed out the start date until October 2012.

I have two perspectives on the matter. At the personal level, I think that efficiency is important and have been testing out the various CFL products for years. They were very poor at first, and I think they earned their bad reputation. Some of the newer bulbs I’ve bought have been much better, almost as good as the incandescents. I do still have a problem with the smaller specialty bulbs that are visible. Coiled CFLs just don’t look right in a nice chandelier, and I haven’t been impressed with the performance of “decorative” CFLs I’ve bought.

At the professional level I am a really big fan of incandescents. I’ve shown buyers enough homes to know that they are always more impressed with a property well lit by incandescents than they are by CFLs. One issue is that the quality of the CFLs vary depending on which generation technology the sellers have. So it’s common to see older CFLs that play right into the negative stereotype, which gets a buyer thinking about the lighting instead of the house.

My main recommendation at this point is to sellers. No matter how you feel about the different bulb technologies, you will make your home sell faster, and potentially for more money, by replacing all your CFL bulbs with warm incandescents. Think of it as part of the staging process, and remember that you can pack up your CFLs to bring to your new home.