I have just moved into a new home. After 12 years of having the same address, I have forgotten the pain, sore muscles and incredible disorganization that comes with moving an entire household. I found the toilet paper and the TV and I know how to order pizza. But, sitting on a chair that is piled with winter coats devouring the pizza and watching old shows on Netflix is not the vision I had of living in my new house! I thought I could wiggle my nose like Samantha in “Bewitched” and everything would find its proper place. Unfortunately, the boxes piled from floor to ceiling are not complying with the nose wiggles. I used to say when I had to move (which was often) that it took me six weeks to break down a house and six weeks to set one up. This recent move gave me four weeks to break down and just looking at these cavernous piles, I think it is going to take me four YEARS to set the new place up! So…it is I who has to do the heavy lifting and get the place in order. Instead of getting right on it, I decided to do some research and find suggestions on how to put together a new home swiftly and with the utmost in happiness! This is a list of hints, clues, aides and recommendations to make the house a home.
One of the great opportunities of moving is that it is a starting over point. If you didn’t like how you put something together at the old house, then you can do it the right way at the new one. You can get organized, really really organized! And then stay that way. If you didn’t declutter before the move, moving in can help make lots of declutter decisions quickly. Does the old chest of drawers fit? Do all those clothes have a place in the closet? Do you really need all those shoes? If it doesn’t fit into your new home or your new life, toss it!
This move from one home to another was only a distance of two miles, but because of past moving experiences, I knew that the first thing you should do when moving is pack a NUMBER ONE box. This is all of the essentials you need to get by for a few days until you find where the movers put the rest of the boxes. Things like soap, toilet paper, hand cream, combs and brushes, cleaning supplies should be in that box. Screwdriver, hammer, wrench, electrical cords and plugs are important for the setting things up part. Shampoo, towels, toothbrush, pajamas and slippers should be thrown in the box just like you are camping in your own home. Paper plates, paper towels, utensils and a pan or two will help get your new kitchen started. And don’t forget the coffee maker! Bedding and an air mattress will help if you arrive before the movers.
After the movers have left and you get a good night’s rest, don’t look at the chaos as something to defeat. Look at it as rediscovering your own wonderful treasures! My problem has always been that I want to do everything at once and all that does is make a mess everywhere. So, a big suggestion in my research says to just unpack room by room. With the amount of stuff I have and the depth of the canyons in my living room, I am hoping that I will get to the final room before six months from right now!! But, this suggestion is actually quite correct. It gives you the opportunity to get one room in order and to make you feel as though you have had a major accomplishment. I found a survey that stated when people were asked what room they would set up first, their top three answers were the bedroom – 41%, the kitchen – 32%, and finally the living or great room – 20%. I decided on the master bathroom! Once I got all the toiletries tucked away and the bath mat and rugs laid down, I felt like I was not overwhelmed by the tasks ahead.
Most experts in the field of moving and resetting a home suggest that you unpack and setup in a certain order. Putting the bedroom together is always first on their list because you need your sleep! Exhaustion can make the whole ordeal seem like a burden if everyone is cranky. So they say to set up the beds with fresh sheets and blankets, hang the curtains for immediate privacy and put a few pictures and throw pillows around and it will immediately feel like home.
Next, should be the kitchen. Besides sleep, food is essential to continue on with the vigorous jobs ahead. Because the kitchen is a rather complicated room with concentration on more details, give the kitchen put together a couple of days to accomplish. Line the cupboards and drawers after hooking up all of the appliances. Plug in the coffee maker, the toaster and blender and make sure the microwave and toaster oven have plenty of counter space. Figure out which drawers are matched up with which utensils and cupboards with what plates and pots and pans. Glassware should start with the cupboard closest to the sink and plates the closest to the dining room.
After the bathrooms and the bedrooms are arranged, then the living room should be set up. A lot of items that did not make it into the setups of the other rooms may have found their way into the living area and those will need to be dealt with first. Arrange the big furniture so you have knowledge of traffic patterns and then start adding the lamps and stereo and end tables and books and plants and other decor.
Another trick that keeps coming up in my research is the suggestion to pack a separate tool box. It doesn’t have to be a full box from the work table in the garage. It just needs to be the basics so that you can get things put together, ripped open and tightened up. Putting furniture back together, hutches and their doors matched up and making shelves happen are all part of the getting the house together process. A couple of different kinds of screwdrivers, a hammer, razors, tape, nuts and bolts and a few other basics should help out the cause. You just need to be able to get your hands on the tools are quickly as possible.
One of the things that makes the whole place feel off kilter and can totally overwhelm you is not doing a couple of things to make the place feel a bit like home immediately. If possible, hang a picture or two or put out some family photos. Plug in some lamps instead of having the overheads blasting. Put out an afghan on the couch and a couple of familiar pillows.
Another thing that happens when you move is that you look at your stuff in a completely new way. I have various collections of pottery, books and tea sets. In some homes I have lived, these collections took prominence in their display. The new house is not as big as the last and I have decided that the pottery and the tea sets will be on display in a guest room. Forcing yourself to evaluate every item as you take it out of the box can make your home turn out completely different than any of the ones in the past.
When you unpack a box, break it down and put it in recycling immediately. My mother always taught me to clean as you go and the same habit can be done with unpacking. Everytime you empty a box and move it to recycling, it makes that much more room to move things around. It has also been recommended in my research that you unpack all the boxes from one room at the same time. You can see everything you’re working with and assess how much you have and where it can fit and not be surprised by a box of something that was placed in another room. I understand the concept but unfortunately, this move has caused boxes and bags to be all over the house that may pertain to a certain room. I just figure I will be “jiggling out” this house to make everything fit for months to come!
They also say that before you begin unpacking a room, arrange the furniture first. That way you can arrange everything else around the arrangement of the room. If you have statues, they can be placed in certain areas within the traffic pattern. Things around the TV or the audio system can be arranged to create a vignette, and positioning lamps makes more sense when the couches and chairs have found their location.
If you have to put some things into storage bins, make sure that you label them. And make sure they are labeled with everything that is in the bin. For years I looked for an item from a wedding I decorated. I could never find it and I just figured that it had gotten thrown away in a move. Lo and behold, it was found in a box labeled “Christmas Dec”! Labeling everything helps with all lost items and organization!
Every new home I have lived in, I have frantically wanted to buy something “Big”. But, this time, I am waiting until I have lived in the place for a few months. Sometimes homes change after you have lived in it for a while. The furniture doesn’t quite work or the kitchen is missing something. When you get the kinks worked out is the time to hit the furniture showrooms and buy something just right for your new address!
So there is a basic list of how to get ‘er done in the world of moving! Now, if only someone would c’mon over and help me get 150 boxes unpacked!