Downsizing on Bostons' North Shore, its a Cultural Challenge

A Few Thoughts on Downsizing

Frequently the topic of Downsizing comes up over the course of the year with people in our area. We get the usual call from someone here on Boston's North Shore, either in Gloucester, Machester By The Sea, Hamilton, Wenham, Essex or perhaps Marblehead. You can feel the dilemma in their voices. Its always a hard thing to get into when you're along in years. As i said in the title here "Downsizing on Bostons' North Shore, its a Cultural Challenge" , for many they might feel they are selling their own heritage. 

On occassion a call comes from one of the old Yankee families who sound on the phone like something out of "Upstairs Downstairs" or the an old Cary Grant movie.

    Downsizing on Bostons' North Shore, its a Cultural Challenge
    McKim, Mead and White Architects, "A Summer Cottage"
  • NOTE: Around here, and in a few other spots around the country, the house they are moving out of can often be one of the  6,000 plus square foot Archs built during the early 1900's known affectionately as "Cottages". Why they are called that is the original Summer Houses were always called Cottages regardless of size. The famed New York architectural firm of McKim , Mead and White helped coin the term "back in the day". Its also not uncommon that the house is now in it's third or even forth generation within the same family. Always bear in mind, Old Yankee Boston Families NEVER take anything to the dump. I know that comment sounds odd, but in 30 years I've learned its as close to one of life's few truisms as I've ever known. So the place is likely stuffed, much of it great and some of it pure junk.  I know, my own parent's house in Marblehead still had paint cans left over from when they painted their FIRST house in 1952, along with broken power tools that haven't worked since the Korean War as well. We sold the house in 2006.

However most of the time, it is someone looking for help in handling how to go about reducing the mass of one or two generations of furniture, paintings, silver, carpets, jewelry and almost anything else you can imagine. While much of it can simply be sent to the Yard Sale its always good to bring in an Antique Dealer to look at things first. For decades many stories have been published about folks who Yard Sailed away Millions...  so please call a dealer first. Over the last 30 years handling estates I've pulled Chinese Rhino Horns and Rare American Needlework's out of trash bins put there by a helpful duaghter in law who was trying to "clean up a bit" before we began examining things. On one occasion the family "Dumpstered" 6 Louis Vuitton Trunks made around 1890 "to make more room in the garage for the lawn furniture"..they were worth thousands each, the lawn furniture was worth around $50.00.

Downsizing In New England
Watercolor by Salem, Mass Artist Racket Shreve
Very often Downsizing is a nightmare and on occasion its an easy process, the folks you're dealing with are happy to see the things go, the kids have already selected what it is they would like. DONE.
A few years ago, I asked my friend and local artist Racket Shreve who loves painting "serious art" he is a superb marine artist, but on occasion can be talked into do doing something very funny. So I asked him to paint a picture that could be made into an over sized mailer seeking folks who might be downsizing. This is what he came up with.

Emptying out a house regardless of it being for downsizing or simply to sell off the contents to settle an estate while getting the most out of it is a challenge, ask around get a few names, talk to them to see who most closely understands your needs and wants, but always work with a professional.

Feel free to email or call with any questions about your own Downsizing Dilemma.

Thank you for visiting ~ Peter Combs
Gloucester, MA 978-283-3524

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