After 21 years in her Ten Mile Point home, Christa Bunton is preparing to make a move to Oak Bay.
Drawn by the community’s walkability and easy access to just about everything she needs, not to mention the community appeal, in deciding to move, Bunton was looking ahead to a time when her current home up a steep hill might no longer be accessible.
“If I find I can’t drive anymore I would feel marooned up there without a car, and I felt I should make the move when I have all the time and no pressure,” she reflects.
“Oak Bay is a community that on a small scale provides you with everything that you need or might need, from clothing stores to grocery stores. It’s also architecturally attractive.”
With accessibility in mind, Bunton is looking for a home with a level, or almost level, entry and a smaller garden to care for within six blocks or so of the village. Her current home sold quickly and Bunton is fortunate to have family property on Salt Spring to call home while she awaits the perfect Oak Bay location.
In the meantime, however, as she prepares to move and put many things in temporary storage, it was time to call in the services of Saija Tissari, of Ducks in a Row Organizing and a member of the Professional Organizers of Canada.
Tissari, who helps people in their day-to-day organizing as well as preparing for major events like a move, says it helps to start with one area of a person’s life, whether that means one physical space or one element in their surroundings that is causing concern.
The garage or basement are often good starting points, as they’re typically where we put things we really don’t use anymore but haven’t been able to part with.
“Usually people have already decided they don’t need that stuff but haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
In Bunton’s case, for example, they found two large boxes of old family papers that were no longer needed, but came during a previous move.
Old cleaning supplies and household items are also easy to collect – we might use them one day, we think.
Because those things don’t have a personal connection for people, though, they can be easier to work through and get rid of.
“It helps to start with the easiest thing first, the things that are not useful to you anymore, not beautiful to you, and then you move on to the more difficult things,” Tissari says.
The very act of making an appointment with an organizing professional can go a long way to pushing you past procrastination.
“I think the biggest thing for most people when they move is the procrastination, and that’s where another person comes in,” Tissari says.
“It holds you to it; it guarantees that time and makes you focus on that task.”
Ridding yourself of the excess “baggage” has practical benefits beyond simply feeling better in your space.
For those moving into a smaller home, or one with less storage, that can mean spending considerable money on external storage.
The key, if possible, is to start early.
“In the back of your mind, if you’re thinking of moving in six months or a year, start making time to organize your things. It will give you time to go through things in a thoughtful way,” Tissari says. “Bringing someone in to help you also lessens some of the burden of the move.”
As an organizer, Tissari understands the importance of building a rapport with clients, finding out what is important to them. She strives to understand their goals for their space.
For things clients are ready to part with, Tissari’s experience and network helps her locate sources for recycling, repurposing or finding them a new home, Bunton notes.
For Tissari, and many organizing professionals, the practice comes down to breaking things into three categories: Things to keep, things to recycle (UsedVictoria, auction, charity donation, etc.), and things to throw away (either garbage or literal recycling, like shredding old papers).
Once she and the homeowner have an idea of what’s left in the “keep” category, Tissari can help with things like floorplans and furniture layouts to ensure what’s kept will fit comfortably – and avoid the cost of moving what won’t!
“You have to live within the space you have,” she observes. “At the end of the day, to have value, something must be useful or beautiful you.”