Downsizing: Preparing to put the house on the market

In January we decided on a March 13th open house so the realtor could show prospective buyers how lovely our home was. By mid-February the weight of prepping the house for sale set in. What seemed like a good idea in early January now felt like an unbearable load on my shoulders. Bill took it calmly, but I like things organized, neat, and under control. The moving process is rarely any of those things, at least for me.

The whole time we were working on the house, through the wallpaper stripping and the moving of boxes into storage, we talked about what we wanted in our next house. We wanted something smaller, yes, but also with a spacious kitchen and a lot of light inside. Bill studied Zillow and We asked for and got a list of possibilities from our realtor. We tried to hit at least one or two open houses every Sunday, or at least we drove around and looked at what homes might be available.

The first two open houses we looked at were condos with a second floor. As soon as we walked into the second one, the realtor showing the house sized us up and said, “You two should be looking at houses with a first-floor master (suite), not something like this.”

He was right. That’s exactly what we needed. So we changed our search approach and, although the list was not long, we found a few listings to browse. Nothing clicked. They were attractive homes, the footage we wanted, but there was always something not quite right for us. No garage. Not enough storage for musical equipment. Tight kitchen. Awkward location. Not enough light. No room for an office or even a desk.

When the frustration of thinking about houses was too overwhelming, we focused on the rest of the process.

Bill packed and moved boxes, arranged to have the carpets in the house cleaned, and found a carpenter to remove the bannister between the kitchen and family room. The bannister was something we should have attacked years earlier. During our tenure in the house, we hid the bannister between a high-backed bench and an electric piano. With those pieces of furniture gone, and in the hope of creating a more open space, the bannister had to go.


After we removed the bannister, we needed to fill the rectangular hole it left with a piece of carpet. We found some matching carpet in the attic where we stored it a few years earlier when we had the family room recarpeted, then called the folks who installed it. They recommended someone to do the repair, and in just a few days it looked as though the bannister never existed. The kitchen and family room were now more open and inviting. It turned out to be such a small thing, but so important to the look of the rooms.

For my part, I packed and packed and packed. Store, Donate, Throw Out, Keep. I spent an inordinate amount of time wondering if I got rid of something important. Or did I keep too much? Other people can use this more than I can. But will I miss it?


The closets were finally empty, and the remaining items placed just so. I arranged to get the house professionally cleaned two days before the open house. I also developed a semi-permanent tension headache. It went well with the ache in my back, my shoulders, my arms, and my legs.

Somehow, we arrived at the beginning of March relatively ready to have the general public view the house for the first time. I don’t know if anyone is ever fully prepared for their open house. We were as close to ready as we were going to get.

This blog post is part of a series called Downsizing. It is the chronicle of moving from a 2475 square foot home to one approximately half its size during the first six months of 2016. It takes place in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.

Categories Downsizing

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