Clearing the Clutter

Real Estate


Tired of all the clutter and thinking about downsizing? If you’re anticipating moving to a smaller home, it’s time to do a thorough cleaning and get rid of those items you will never use again. 

Let’s be honest. Will your children really want that 1960s lime green velvet armchair or grandpa’s collection of baseball caps? 

Despite the fact that these items are collecting dust and taking up needed space, people often have a difficult time saying goodbye. 

“It’s a challenge every step of the way,” Sun City resident Pati Jones said. “I just really hate to get rid of things that bring back memories.” 

Jones is preparing to move to Englewood, Fla., to be closer to family, and she knows she can’t take everything with her. While she has given away a lot of clothing and some other items, she has struggled to decide what to do with the Chinese rug that came from her grandmother’s living room and the table from her breakfast room. 

Stella Anderson of Nitty Gritty Organizing —who charges $105 for three hours of her time—works with people in similar situations. She said people get overwhelmed because they don’t know where to start. She helps her clients come up with a system. 

“Getting help is worth it just for the motivating factor,” Anderson said. “It’s not that you can’t do it. It’s more that I’m here to help motivate you.” 

Tips for paring down at home

Quickly sort items into “yes,” “no” and “maybe” categories. Set aside the “maybe” items, and revisit them at another time. 

Don’t just throw away the items you no longer want. Sort them into “give away” and “sell” categories. 

If an item has good memories attached to it but needs to go, take a photo of it. This will make it easier to let it go.

Anderson has a few tips for organizing and downsizing. 

“Give yourself time,” she said. “And don’t pack things that you’re not sure about.” 

She said to begin by simply putting like items together — all electronics in one area, tools in another area and so on. Walk through your house and go through every drawer and cabinet to collect electronics. Then do the same for tools, office supplies and other items you have scattered throughout the house.

Anderson said Facebook Marketplace is a handy tool for selling items. She does not use Craigslist or estate auctions and said consignment stores will only take items that are current, in season and clean, with no wear and tear. She added that silver and gold are the only items that will sell for what they are worth. 

If you don’t want to bother selling your belongings, donate them to local thrift stores. Some, including the Habitat for Humanity Restore, will pick up donations of furniture in good condition. Donate new, high-ticket items to a charity for a silent auction.

Make sure to get a receipt for a tax write off. Keep in mind, you'll need to complete IRS Form 8283 for any non-cash donation exceeding $500.

Don’t toss old clothing, shoes and linens that are stained or torn. Some thrift stores generate revenue by partnering with Carolina Textiles, a company based in Walterboro that turns the unusable items into usable rags.

“Someone wants almost everything that you want to get rid of,” Anderson said.

Anderson said sometimes you have to think outside the box. She had a client with a doll collection and she couldn’t take them with her to her new home. Her kids didn’t want them. So, Anderson did a little research and found a doll museum that was thrilled to take them.

Another client had a kimono she was ready to let go. Rather than tossing it or giving it to a thrift store to be turned into rags, Anderson donated it to Main Street Youth Theatre to be used as a costume.

The bottom line, according to Anderson: “If you don’t love something that you’re looking at in your house, just get rid of it. You don’t need it. If you have less, you’re more apt to take care of it. The more we have, the sloppier we get.”