Stephanie Staton
April 1, 2014

When we started decluttering our old house to prepare it for sale, I was completely unaware of the amount of stuff we had accumulated over the years—I mean, I knew we had a lot of stuff, but not this much. I began by purging items that we no longer used, but couldn’t let go of some things without knowing if they had purpose in our new abode. (At that point, we hadn’t even located our new farmhouse yet.)

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I decided then and there that anything we brought into the new house had to have a home and a use. Both criteria must be met to permit entrance into the house—easier said than done, obviously.

Thankfully, my husband and I have family members willing to put up with piles upon piles of stuff for the past year-and-a-half while we renovated. (They weren’t exactly thrilled about it, but we’re eternally grateful for their suffering.) This has been a blessing because it saved us from renting storage space and enabled us to slowly unpack what we needed as we needed it. We moved in before much of the house was finished, and that meant doing without anything beyond the necessities.

When moving, use bins to separate your donate and trash piles. Photo by Stephanie Staton (
Photo by Stephanie Staton

Gradual unpacking has had its fair share of challenges: rifling through boxes for that one item, locating boxes that had been magically “reorganized” in our absence and doing damage control from a few tiny, furry invaders—surprisingly, not the dogs this time.

But it’s also had its benefits. It’s allowed me to really get a feel for our real needs, so I can immediately keep, toss or donate stuff as I unpack. I’ve also been able to be more organized about unpacking—and you know how much I loved being organized. For the first time ever, I’m actually tracking our donations for tax deductions. An itemized list of each item with its estimated resale value will be stapled to our donation ticket and immediately filed away for our 2014 records. You can make a digital or printed tracking sheet that’s as simple as one column for description and one for monetary value. I printed out several sheets with colorful headers and put them on a clipboard so that they could go with me anywhere in the house. I plan to scan a digital copy of each page once completed just in case anything happens to the originals—you never know. 

The other day, one of my favorite bloggers wrote about her packing plan, which included a “move-in” box with items to make the first night in her new home that much better. A move-in box can include anything from basic tools for assembling furniture and cleaning supplies to luxury items, like fluffy towels and favorite libations, for a comfortable transition. While I missed out on this boat, you might consider adding this to your packing process if you’re about to get you’re move on. Moving can be stressful, so anything to make it a bit more relaxing and fun is welcome mat I’m happy to roll out.

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