Downsizing: a personal journey THE ESTATE SALE

When my husband's job took us from our hometown of DC, where we shared a charming one-bedroom apartment, to Augusta, we chose the smallest home we could find: a beautiful, historic four-bedroom "cottage." There was a lot of furniture to buy to properly outfit the house but the enjoyment we derived from it in the four years we've spent here were well worth it. 

But tomorrow we throw our pets in the car and move to Manhattan, where we'll be back in a one-bedroom apartment - one quite a bit smaller than our first place in DC. We are thrilled to be returning to city life and, as luxurious as our home has felt, we're also eager to live simply with only the essentials. It'll be less to move, to manage, to maintain, to clean. And we'll spend more of our lives out in the streets than curled up at home. 

In preparation for smaller living, we gathered the 3 pieces of furniture we decided to bring to New York, our minimalist wardrobes and kitchen supplies, our crucial paper files and a couple other odds and ends into our upstairs sunroom. Everything else was left out to be sold in an estate sale. 

Estate sale: the bottom line

  • Hire an expert. Kara Chavous of Antique Unique Estate Sales knew how to price and market our sale. She would have laid out everything for display but, as the Type A control freak I am, I did most of that before she arrived. 
  • Sell EVERYTHING. We were told not to throw anything away, that people will buy anything and everything. We were skeptical, but listened and it paid off. People walked away with things we'd have surely trashed. Half a can of bug spray? Someone wants that. 
  • Get out. On the day of the sale, we did our best to stay away from the house. This is more comfortable for buyers and less stressful for sellers. Unlike most, we weren't emotional about parting with our stuff or sensitive to comments about it, but we sure didn't need to witness firsthand the stream of strangers parading through our home. 
  • Build a barricade. We were warned that estate sale buyers show up early and often, and try their hardest to access the off-limits areas of the home. I was still surprised, though, to walk downstairs at 7am in my pajamas and find two men on our front porch rocking chairs. And shocked when, twice, buyers tested the door handle on our bedroom door, which sported a giant "X" in duct tape and sign that said, "Do NOT enter. NOT for sale." Luckily, the handle locked from the inside. It would've been awkward to be barged in upon in my bed watching Hulu. The next day, I added to the sign, "Seriously." 
  • Cash in and move on. Today we will receive a check that does not match the total amount we spent acquiring our belongings but it's 100% more than if we kept this stuff. Instead of dragging our past along with us or spending thousands on storage, we will purchase a new bed and sofa in New York, and keep chugging. With money in the bank and a very small UHaul, we're ready to start living large (small!) in the next phase of our lives.