To people overwhelmed by the thought of moving a houseful of possessions or sorting through years of accumulated clutter, Dawn Kingsbury and Christina Bollenbach are fairy godmothers with aprons and brooms.
A little less than a year ago, Kingsbury and Bollenbach started Moving Transitions, a nontraditional moving service that helps people sort, clean and organize all aspects of a move.
The two women met while Dawn was doing merchandizing for a local furniture store where Christina worked in client services. While doing home consulting for clients, Kingsbury realized that many older people needed help with redecorating, sorting through clutter, downsizing to smaller homes or moving into retirement residences.
“They may be stuck with wallpaper that’s 25 years old, with paint from when their children were young, and the children are adults now,” Bollenbach said.
Kingsbury noted that change can be overwhelming and upsetting for some people, and they put off doing anything because they don’t know where to start. Their adult children may be too far away, too busy or simply not interested in helping their parents sort through decades of accumulated stuff. Where a professional decorator might be too intimidating, Kingsbury and Bollenbach keep things light and low-key.
“We come in and try to make them laugh, make it as fun as possible,” Kingsbury said.
The two will take care of all aspects of a move, from sorting through stuff, cleaning, appraising the value of items to be sold, hiring an auctioneer if necessary and coordinating the movers to painting, minor repairs and staging the home for sale. At the new home, they will place furniture, unpack, hook up electronics and hang pictures.
“We’re not afraid to get dirty,” Bollenbach said.
Bollenbach notes that they also have clients who aren’t moving, but need help to sort through and clear out clutter that may have been accumulating for decades. They’ve found a Nordmende tube radio from the 1950s; a 1970s disco light shaped like traffic light that pulses in time to music; and a fridge covered in orange flowered MacTac.
Even things that are worn out, broken or haven’t been used in years can be tough to part with for sentimental reasons.
“There may be a lot of memories with this stuff, but it’s just stuff – you’ve always got the memories,” Bollenbach tells them.
Throwing things out is a last resort; items are offered to family members first, then put up for sale or donated to local charities. If things are worn but worth saving, they will have pieces repaired or reupholstered.
Kingsbury’s motto is “purge and emerge” – get rid of clutter and start fresh, in a new home or an old home that is brighter and more spacious.
Bollenbach encourages people to use their good dishes and linens instead of packing them away in the back of the closet, saved for special occasions.
“You’re not really living if you feel like you’re living in a warehouse, not a home.”