Julie Winding was ready for a change. In the summer of 2012, she decided that, after 49 1/2 years in the same Maple Bluff home, she wanted something smaller, newer and easier to maintain. “I’d been in my house nearly fifty years with my husband. I’d raised two children and a number of pets and had accumulated quite a few treasures there.  But it was time for a fresh, new space, one that supported a different lifestyle.  On the other hand, the thought of making it happen was overwhelming.”  Entry foyer

Enter TLC. Around this time, Julie happened to chat with a former co-worker, who now works with Kathy Rounds at TLC. “She recommended I give them a call. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that suggestion.”

The first task Julie and Kathy discussed was staging, the term for making making real estate as attractive and appealing as possible, often by paring down the objects in the space to best advantage – an open, inviting, uncluttered environment.

However, in order to best stage the home, Julie and Kathy agreed that a good deal of decluttering would make sense. “Mind you,” says Julie, “I’d made up my mind and was moving fast. My daughter is a real estate agent and had found a great condo for me. From the time I decided to move until the time I bought a new place, hardly any time passed. Less than a month. So I was very motivated. Declutter, stage, put on the market, move.  And I couldn’t have asked for better partners in any  – or all! – of those things than Kathy and TLC.

“I knew it almost the minute I met her. Kathy set up a preliminary meeting where we discussed my goals, my timeline, my expectations. She has a calm demeanor and she asks insightful questions. Yet at the same time, she stays on task and comes across as organized and efficient with tons of resources at her – and therefore, your – fingertips. I knew immediately that I was in good hands. I trusted her.  But even I was astounded by how wonderful an experience the whole project wound up being, from beginning to end.”  Liv rm 1a

After the initial meeting, Kathy wrote up a proposal and they got to work.  Working one-on-one with Julie, the TLC team went through every room in the two story Maple Bluff home (including the garage, attic and basement) and determined what could be accomplished to best stage each area. They then sifted through all the closets, drawers and cupboards, selecting items to donate, gift or toss. Julie gave away many items to her children, grandchildren and friends, then contributed less sentimental or valuable things to local donation centers, in particular the Hospice centers, since Julie has personal connections to Agrace Hospice, and has volunteered for them in the past. Of course, some things simply had to be thrown away (or properly recycled).

“It took three days. Three days to go through nearly fifty years of stuff,” Julie reflects. “Amazing when you think about it. But the TLC team was so patient and helpful. They were very mindful of the potential emotional impact of this task. In fact, I was much quicker to get rid of things than they were. They asked all the right questions and were extremely cautious and empathetic, yet at the same time they kept their collective nose to the grindstone and kept us moving right along — so efficient and organized. Honestly, going through that process with them made it so much easier than I ever dreamed.”

Once the initial decluttering phase had been finished, TLC got to work staging. They re-arranged furniture, area rugs, photos and wall-hangings; in some rooms, they replaced some accessories and enhanced the décor and lighting – all to best show off the entire house.  They recommended some needed repairs and painting, in particular recommending to neutralize some specific dramatic color choices that represented Julie’s style, but might detract from the sale of the home.

Dining 1Julie also took this opportunity to have her aging dining room furniture refinished, and Kathy helped her arrange to have the vendor hold the pieces until she moved in to her new place.

After a couple of weeks during which all the repairs and painting were finished, the house went on the market on November 1, and sold in 9 days, to the second person who looked at it. Success!

Next came the move.

Due to the timing of the closings, Julie moved in early December.  Kathy and Jeanne Cantwell, a TLC co-worker who has an interior design background, walked through the new condo with Julie and took notes on the space. They established a good feel for the floor plan, keeping in mind the furniture and items that Julie would be bringing with her.  Jeanne, under separate contract, consulted with Julie on color choices for the condo  and coordinated the entire painting project, bringing Julie’s vision for what she wanted for her new home into fruition. She went shopping with Julie to recommend some additional furniture and decorative pieces (some of which came from re-sale shops), including also bedroom and bath linens, wall art, decorative painting, etc., and she guided Julie in ways to bring new life to some of her older pieces of furniture. Many of the preliminary design details were put into place before moving day, and Jeanne and Julie worked closely together so that everyone knew what Julie hoped for regarding design style.

Since so much decluttering had gone on before the house sale, packing for the move was a fairly straightforward process.  On December 11th and 12th, TLC packed all of Julie’s belongings, labeled boxes, hung clothing in wardrobe boxes, and even provided an emotional shoulder to cry on – helping through the ‘closure’ of leaving the house she had lived in for so long.

To accomplish the packing, TLC relied on Madison Green Box to deliver plastic boxes for packing 75% of the items.  TLC recommends green boxes, which are sanitized and can be re-used hundreds of times, as opposed to cardboard boxes which have a much more limited use.  (Madison Green Box also picked up the empty containers after the unpacking was completed.)

Julie slept in her own bed the night before the move.  Winding job 12-12 006

Moving Day: December 13th.  The movers were at the Maple Bluff house by 8:00am.  They took apart the beds and shrink-wrapped all the dressers, so drawer contents stayed intact, then moved everything out of the house and into the moving van.  TLC coordinated the effort by making sure each room was emptied, all closets were checked and double-checked, and everything was handled with caution and care.  As is TLC’s custom, they took charge of refrigerator and freezer items, packing them into coolers so the food was transported easily and safely.  TLC also arranged a pick-up by PorchLight for unwanted beds and bedding that corresponded with the move.  And TLC picked up a quick lunch for the movers on the way to the new place!

Julie, on the other hand, left the process completely in TLC’s hands, at their encouragement. “It was smooth and easy beyond imagining.  I went Christmas shopping during my move. I never would have believed that was possible.”

By noon, the moving van was being unloaded at the new condo. TLC directed the movers as to where to place each box and piece of furniture, and began the unpacking process.  It took about 2 ½ hours for the unloading.  As a last step, the movers set up the beds before they departed.

As TLC got to work putting the house in order, they immediately unpacked the coolers into the new refrigerator/freezer.  Then they started with the beds, putting fresh linens on, fluffing the pillows and smoothing the comforter.  They unpacked the wardrobes and hung clothing in the closets.  Furniture was arranged and re-arranged to best suit the new space and lighting.

The kitchen always takes the longest to pack and the longest to unpack.  Moving from an older home with significantly more cupboard, drawer and counter space was a challenge, and despite all the decluttering Julie and TLC had done prior to the move, there were still some choices to be made.  Some little-used kitchen items were stored on shelving in the basement, and other items, including a few furniture pieces, were identified for possible donation in order to create the environment Julie wanted – beautiful, open and uncluttered.

By 6pm on moving day, Julie had food and dishes in her kitchen, her bed was made, her closet was set-up, most of her furniture was arranged, a few pictures were hung, and she slept at her new home that night!

But TLC wasn’t finished yet… The following day, they put the finishing touches on every room. They hung more pictures and set out decorative pieces, and organized the laundry room as well as the garage, so the car could go in that night.  A friend of Julie’s had set up some new shelving in the garage and basement storage area, so more boxes were unpacked and organized in the storage areas.  Madison Green Box picked up all the empty plastic bins, while TLC removed all trash, wrapping paper and boxes, recycling where appropriate.

TLC even set-up the Christmas tree.  Julie and TLC gals

“When I walked into my new home that night, I was so moved by how beautiful and flawless it was, I cried,” Julie remembers.  “I wanted to celebrate the holiday with my family in my new home, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure it would happen.  Kathy assured me it would, but it’s hard to believe you’ll be moving two weeks before Christmas and still be ready to entertain.  Frankly, I could have had them over that night, everything was so wonderfully clean, organized and lovely.

“My family came for Christmas dinner, and it was perfect.”

A few final thoughts from Julie:

“I can’t recommend TLC enough, no matter what task you need help with. If they offer the service, you can be sure that you’ll be happy with the way they accomplish it. When I met with Kathy, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for, but I was so certain I could trust her. And then we walked through all the potential steps TLC could help me with: staging, decluttering, packing, moving. They made the whole process so much better than I ever imagined a move could be.  Everyone at TLC is so calm and reassuring, compassionate yet efficient. And they have so many resources, they know just who to call for every detail.  Furthermore, each task we moved through made the next one even easier. I needed to stage my house in order to sell it. So we decluttered. Decluttering made the move easier. In the end, everything I took with me was something I loved and would use. Moving from a great big house to a much smaller condo, I imagined the task would be huge and painful, but because of TLC it was pleasant and manageable.  Now I live in a beautiful new home, completely at peace with all the choices I made.  If you’re moving, need help packing, or would simply like some help decluttering or reorganizing your home, call TLC. You’ll be so glad you did.”

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