It took nearly 40 years to accumulate their “stuff,” but only about nine months for Candy and Bill Kline to declutter as they prepare for a big downsizing move.
The Klines first invited professional organizer Lynne Poulton of Wholly Organized and me to their Suffield Township home last April after agreeing to let us chronicle their big downsize and move. It was part of an organizational series I started in January 2017 called The Checklist: Get Organized. It began with Lynne cheering me on as I decluttered my craft room/office, which had become a dumping ground. My room is still in great shape a year later it sparked my husband and I to tackle other parts of our house — even before the Netflix TV craze of Marie Kondo and her "Tidying Up" show. (More on that below)
The Klines got the expertise of Lynne (with me tagging along) through periodic check-ups.
But the family did all of the heavy lifting, purging, sorting, donating and gifting.
The Klines said the accountability factor of having us — as well as lots of readers — monitoring their experience kept them motivated.
“We would have procrastinated,” Candy said.
They are moving to a house in the Portage Lakes area that is less than half the size of their current home. While their oldest son and his family are moving into their house, the Klines knew their decorating styles weren’t the same.
Bill knew if he didn’t go through his large collections of tractors and trains, his kids would have to go through them someday and perhaps wouldn’t understand the value or would see it as a burden.
His attitude changed a lot. He reluctantly agreed to let Candy volunteer them. At our first visit, he told us he knew he had to downsize his toys. At our second visit, Bill was at the new house doing work and Candy said he was backsliding and wanted to keep his stuff.
But by the third visit and in this most recent visit, Bill said he knew he had to face reality.
“I didn’t realize how many things and stuff and junk we had. But ... most people have a lot of those things they have to get rid of. It’s hard sometimes, but there’s a need to have and a nice to have and I can only take the need to have,” he said.
They are four months ahead of schedule since their move isn’t until spring.
But the Klines — and especially Bill — kicked it into high gear over the holidays.
They knew Candy had to travel for work for two months and had a trip to Ireland planned before the move. Bill also needed to renovate a bathroom at the new house.
Plus, they wanted to surprise us when we returned in January with empty shelves and cleared-out closets.
They had a “free” garage sale at Christmas for family. A niece told Candy she appreciated that they stayed to relieve any “pressure” to take something. Lots still went to various donation sites.
Other things, like some of Bill’s father’s war memorabilia, will go to his sons and various nieces and nephews. Some fine china will be donated, since younger generations didn’t want it, and some was given to her brother.
They’ve boxed up a lot of the collectibles — Candy’s Fenton glass bears and Bill’s collectible trains and tractors — and Kiko Auctions will try to sell them. They took pictures to remember them.
They’re also hoping that some of their furniture, which will soon be on a Kiko online site, will be sold before they’re ready to move.
In their basement, the Klines purged more than 20 totes of Christmas decorations down to about four — and said they probably can purge more.
An area called “Grandpa’s store,” which was filled floor to ceiling with Matchbox cars in packages that the grandkids would come and “shop,” is now empty. Bill donated most by making silent auction baskets to their church or parish school.
In one of the back bedrooms, Grandpa spent a week meticulously reassembling countless Lego sets, taking a box of loose Lego pieces to give to a grandchild to take home.
The Klines said they were amazed at how many neighbors, friends and strangers would come up to them at stores or restaurants to tell them how they had inspired them to get started on organizing and decluttering their homes.
People typically catch the organizing/tidying bug this time of year, and there's added interest now with a popular new Netflix series.
Kondo’s show follows various families who are trying to organize and, through the magic of television and time, get their projects done.
Lynne said it is “wonderful what Marie Kondo and her Netflix series have done to spark conversation about our possessions and how to organize them.”
Lynne said she wonders, however, how many people “who have watched the series wish their homes were as contained as the ones highlighted on the show. For many of us, the disorganization is much bigger in scope and involves deeper emotional aspects.”
“Of my current clients, 82 percent have had one or more rooms that are filled and unusable in their current state and 73 percent have experienced a significant loss.”
Lynne suggests trying 15 minutes a day to start. It will add up quickly, she said.
“Getting organized and/or tidying up is not a one and done process. Rather it is an ongoing process that also includes examining habits, use of time and practicing self-care,” she said.
The Klines have been a great example, Lynne said, of showing “when you do a little bit, it adds up” and building a plan with check-in points can work.
Make sure to check out my video with this column at www.ohio.com/topics/linfisher to see some “before” and “after” videos and tips around the Klines’ house.
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ.