How to get your house ready for sale – strip out all character

Suppose for 20 years you only pleased yourselves with your house. The colors are bright, and not so ordered. The garden is in the front yard, where you can talk to the neighbors. The grass is unwatered, unmowed, untrimmed, but still looks fine under the sheltering oaks. Every leaf that has fallen on this property has stayed on this property, cycling from yard to compost heap to garden.

The line that Philip drew on the desk, the wall, the door when he was 2 is still there, as vibrantly black as ever. The heights of the kids, their cousins, and their friends are still on the study door. The lowest mark is Philip in October 2001, and the highest is Julian on Christmas, 2006.

Flags and scarves preserve our modesty on the bottom panels of bedroom windows. Miniblinds, long gone out of fashion do the rest. In the living room are actual lined, cloth curtains, that can be drawn with a cord, but seldom are. Every plant, every mark, every dent has a story. For example, the round dots that flank the study window once held a child’s gate. At one time I worried that children would lean out the windows and fall. They never did.

The attic probably bears the most marks because we installed hundreds of hurricane ties to keep the roof on for Hurricane Rita, which did not come here.

Down come the flags from the windows. Rick and Therese graciously accepted the cinder blocks bordering the gardens. Philip and Nathan moved the sandstone rocks from around the pond to around the Malvaviscus. The leaves in the front have been mostly moved to the back compost heap by the same two.

I suppose we’ll be gone for the final insults, when the house is painted, the carpet changed, the garden purified and colored. We will see it in the sterile professional photographs, and wonder if we ever lived there. And it will sell, and sell well, left to a new family to make their mark. I hope they thread their lives well with our neighbors, and enjoy these happy walls, doors,windows, fans


Philip’s toddler autograph.


Heights in the study.


The fish tank will have to go.


Look at the lovely paint job Danny did!


This healthy grass has not been mowed in 6 months.


Philip tried to turn off his light by throwing a shoe at the switch, many years ago.


This is where the leaves belong, in our compost heap.


No cover to these lights in the kitchen.


Isn’t a gate at the top of the stairs a good idea? Apparently not.


Those knobs have to go.


OK, maybe this paint job in the downstairs bathroom is a bit much.


See those circles from the child gate?


Flags for privacy.


A well-staged table.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Homes, Moving to a new city. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How to get your house ready for sale – strip out all character

  1. Elizabeth Rosebird Slappey says:

    Gonna miss that house, those gatherings and… the two of you!

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