Having a large attic can be both a blessing and a curse.
Architecturally speaking, the attic is that space directly below the pitched roof and above the top floor of a house, an inhospitable place that is normally cold in the winter and boiling in the summer. Functionally, it is the repository for the remnants of our past, and anyone looking at my attic today would say, wow, this guy has quite a past.
When it came time to list my own home, I was forced to clean out the attic so that when any prospective buyer would ask to see that space, I wouldn’t be embarrassed.
As serial entrepreneurs, my wife and I have been involved in a number of ventures, the remains of which were relegated to the attic. Besides an ongoing public relations business, these other ventures ranged from restaurants we’ve opened, cookbooks we’ve represented, a food gift business, a gourmet society (and an antidotal diet program), a nursery school and, with the largest leftover inventory of all, an antiques shop.
It isn’t that we haven’t tried to wrestle some control of the space from time to time. About ten years ago when it had reached its maximum capacity, we just opened the attic windows and threw down old clothes, books and office records directly to the lawn, to sort out there. Any passer-by would have thought that someone had gone berserk inside the house.
Initially I approached the formidable task of this final cleanup on my own with one handyman. Together, we carried many things down two flights and to the roadside in time to beat the deadline for a scheduled bulk pick up. But, barely into this onerous task, I realized I was ill-equipped to deal with the emotional and physical challenge of shedding so much old skin all at one time.
Then I remembered that I knew a problem-solver for just this kind of situation.
I had listed a property that was an estate sale with a house full of furniture, collectibles and junk to be disposed of. The lawyer representing the estate retained Jennifer Gurahian (“Life Transitions and Estate Sales”) to clean it out, and I found her to be an expert at her craft.
Jennifer cleans a space down to broom clean if needed. She gets rid of the junk while assessing items of value for their best price for sale. Then, she matches that with the buyer who will pay the best price. She either finds specialized dealers and collectors, or deals with the local retail and flea market venues.
Prior to Jennifer’s visit, my wife and I went through the attic, as well as the rest of the house, deciding what should go and what we would keep. I thought that I would be regretful about letting go of some things that were quite precious to us at one time, but instead, I have this almost exhilarating feeling that I have been liberated from the clutches of the past to make way for new adventures.
For those things that I will miss, mostly antiques, I say, farewell old friends. Let other people enjoy you now.
As it happens, after we de-cluttered the house and made some major upgrades in our kitchen and baths, we liked the results so much that we decided to stay for a while. What a joy it is to know that we now have an organized attic.
And, we have promised ourselves that we'll keep it that way.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor associated with Coldwell Banker and a marketing professional/journalist who writes weekly as The Home Guru. For questions about buying or selling a home, he can be emailed at bill@PrimaveraHomes.com or called directly at 914-522-2076.