When they call about delivery, I rush home from work. I’m pregnant with our first daughter, and super excited to see the furniture we ordered: sofa, loveseat and chair with ottoman. Our first big expenditure for the nest, what I now affectionately call the money-pit!
Turns out we made a sound purchase, because it held up. It lasted through our family of four: two kids, three dogs, and various people taking rest and comfort, as well as fort building and cushion jumping. It was functional, durable and served us well. People are shocked to learn that this furniture is almost 30 years old, because it’s still in good shape. Yet, it’s time for a fresh look for the not-so-empty-nesters that occupy the family home these days. Today, I’m expecting a delivery of new living room furniture.
The decision to change this furniture was not made lightly. First, I considered reupholstering, making changes for an updated look, such as no skirt, exposed legs, etc. With the proven quality of the furniture it would be worthwhile, right? What I found was (1) savings – not much (2) style updates – also not much.
Next, the decision of what to do with the old stuff. We pondered who in the family had a need for furniture, and drew blanks. I sent a photo to Consignments Plus, knowing they take like-new items. This was confirmed, and Habitat for Humanity was suggested for donation. For kicks, I posted photos on Close5. Although this produced a quick offer, we still preferred to give it to someone we knew.
I asked a neighbor friend what she thought about offering the furniture to someone we jointly knew. She thought it was a great idea. I called him, he looked and took a picture to show his wife. In the meantime, I gave the furniture a quick cleaning with an upholstery brush, sticking my hands down the crevices. Naturally, I found a few things: pens, a soccer pencil, a nickel, a photo of me age 14, candy wrappers, pretzels and Cheerios. But I was creeped out when my hand felt a big lumpy thing in a plastic bag, which turned out to be dry beans.
I’m still puzzled about how beans ended up down the sofa. My grandma used to say “don’t put any beans up your nose.” She never mentioned the sofa. Maybe the sofa will talk.
The next day, our friend loaded everything into his pick up, securing it with ropes.
I teared up for the second time that day thinking about the babies I’d nursed on the sofa. Their first steps taken, holding on to the edges of the sofas. Their little bums squeezed into the chair watching TV with Daddy. Little girls dressed in costumes, Christmas mornings, birthday parties, snapshots of life, 1987 – 2016. I wonder, if our furniture could talk, what would it say?
Here are my takeaways from this experience:
- To buy or not buy is a question that only you can answer. What you buy is a personal decision, but I lean toward quality over quantity. This ends up saving both time and money in the long run. Changes are stressful and minimizing stressors seems like a good idea.
- Likewise, there is no rule book that says you have to buy a home, and fill it to the max. I would probably go the homeowner route again, because I thoroughly enjoy nesting. I do work on decluttering continuously, but I will never be a minimalist.
- It’s okay to feel attached or sad about parting with things. When it is time, you know. Obviously, we are greater, we are more than our stuff, but let yourself feel emotions you may have. If you can feel sadness, you can feel happiness. Reminisce in your mind, or with a trusted person. There is no need to rush. Take the time you need to process so that letting go feels like a healthy, natural progression. Nothing is being torn from you. You’re making conscious choices. Your memories are alive.
- Be realistic about your stuff. Value is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it now, not what you paid. Unfortunately, the second hand market is bloated. All generations are being affected by this, from the Greatest Generation to Boomers to the Millennials. When selling something, a good rule of thumb is 10% of what you paid; if you get 25% you are doing well. Prepare your heart and mind for the likelihood that your loved ones will NOT want your things. If this bothers you, work through your feelings. Focus on the enjoyment that you received. Remember, it’s a “thing,” and you are okay with or without it.