Seller TipsUncategorized 09/04/2023

What kind of a personality does your home have? 


What kind of a personality does your home have?  Is it grandmotherly? Quirky? Religious? Fun? Somber? A Designer’s Perfect home?  Or? 

When I show buyers homes, I tell them to find at least one thing in the home that will help them to remember that home.  It can be a toy in the children’s room, a unique décor item, a purple chair or lime green wall – but it must be fairly unique – no writing down lovely kitchen since several homes may have that, and whatever it is, they must write it down to help them remember that home later on.  I point out to them, that if they don’t, after a while, homes will blend together and they won’t remember which home was which. 

When you first left your parents home and get your first place on your own, how did you furnish and decorate it? Hand-me-downs from family and friends? Walmart specials? Goodwill? Cinder blocks and bricks? Or were you lucky enough to have a little bit of money and be able to buy some furniture from a real furniture store? 

I’ve seen some people who purchased all new furniture that matched – but they typically didn’t have much money and it was all that they could afford at the time, so it tended to be cheap furniture that they didn’t really like all the much, and it fell apart rather quickly as well. 

I’ve seen others who started out with hand-me-downs from grandparents, parents and neighbors. While it may have been dated and not fit your personality at all, it was often sturdy construction and wouldn’t fall apart when you sat down on it. 

Most of us were a combination of all of the above. Nothing quite matches, but it works – as long as we have a table to eat at, a chair to sit in and a bed to sleep in. 

When I work with first time home buyers, I encourage them to buy quality used furniture (pointing out that they can often get the most from their money at church rummage sales, and after that donation shops), to start with. Then to gradually add the pieces that “speak to them” and that really fit their personality and how they live their lives.  

I’ve been in homes that were obviously decorated by a professional, those decorated by someone who had a passion for something (be it a city, a particular animal, or a style), ones that no one really cared what it looked like as long as it had the basics, and ones that really raised even my eyebrows.  There was one home I showed where we never figured out if the homeowner owned a gift shop, was a shopaholic, or what. Literally, we had to walk through sections of the home sidewise to get through all the “stuff” in the home.  And EVERY flat surface was covered with gift shop type, fancy little knick knacks and items.  But none of it coordinated.  Even when you walk through a furniture store or a décor store, there is some semblance of order and cohesion.  This house had none.  On the kitchen counters, there would be a lovely vignette of chickens, right next to it one of Chefs, then flowers, then something else.  It was totally overwhelming.  The buyers couldn’t see the house for all the “stuff” in it.  They fairly quickly decided this wasn’t the home for them, but we kept walking through it, because we just couldn’t believe how much was there and the huge variety of styles and themes and materials and and and….. 

Today, most of the young people I deal with don’t want any “hand-me-downs”, they’d rather get IKEA’s cheaper price line of modular furniture that is easy to move, since they tend to be mobile then previous generations. Some use the philosophy that if I don’t pay much for it, I can more easily leave it behind when I move on and this job probably will only last a couple of years before I move on and the next job won’t give me any moving allowance, so it’s for the best. 

My son for years went by the philosophy that if it didn’t fit in his car (and later, in his car and his Dad’s pickup truck), it needed to be left behind when he moved. He’d just pick up a few things here and there as he needed them.  When he lived in Germany and his German girlfriend wanted him to buy IKEA furniture he resisted, feeling that it was too much like Saunders put it together yourself office furniture that wasn’t very sturdy.  Once he moved back to the States, he suddenly decided that IKEA had multiple lines and the higher priced lines really were decent and would hold up.  When he got his apartment in Tampa, he bought a couch, coffee table and a bed from IKEA.  He said he didn’t need any “other” furniture, so I felt honored when I went to visit him and he told me he’d gone out and bought a kitchen table and 4 chairs, so I could sit at a table and have a cup of tea when I was at his apartment.  Since he loves books, I’m sure that by now he’s probably also gotten some bookshelves to put them on, rather than stacks on the floor.   But he doesn’t want any pictures for his walls, because then he’d have to patch the walls when he moves on. 

As a minimalist, he doesn’t feel the need to have “possessions” that own him.  Me, on the other hand, I definitely have possessions that not only “own me”, but that I have carted around the world with me.  I fully admit, it’s easy when the military pays the movers though you have to keep ensuring that you don’t go over your weight limit).   

Mike and I have an old desk chair that he “appropriated” from the Missouri Theater in Columbia MO, when he worked there as projectionist in the 70’s and found it in their trash pile. We still have quite a bit of the furniture that we got handed down from family – from the bookcases my Dad made when I was little, to my mother’s family’s old dining table that my father cut the corners off of when I was little because everyone kept running into the corners and ending up with bruises, to the hand-me-down dressers my parents gave us when we got married. Then there are the “special” pieces – like the Moroccan camel saddle that my sisters and I sat on as children, and the cork Portuguese cooler that we use to carry things in on picnics and other interesting knick knacks that I inherited as they periodically downsized.  Then there are the tidbits of décor items that my sisters would periodically give me for Christmas or a birthday, or that Mike or one of my children gave me (or better yet made for me), along with the pieces I have chosen for myself. 

Mike and I were idly discussing our furniture style the other day – to say it’s Eclectic would be an understatement. 

In my living room, which is done primarily in an Oriental style with things from when I lived in Korea and traveled in that portion of the world, I have an Oriental tea cart, a handpainted grandfather clock and handpainted display cabinet  all of which came from Taiwan (the roll top desk that comes apart in modules that will fit in boxes small enough to be shipped through the US mail system is downstairs in Mike’s office). A large room divider that was hand embroidered with rose bushes by little girls in an orphanage in Pusan Korea, who were being taught a skill that they could use as an adult to support themselves.  The screen is so detailed it even shows the bug holes in a few leaves, along with a framed embroidered map of Korea where the provinces and islands are shown by roses and rose buds.  The rug in the room is a handwoven Chinese, I bought in Germany back when Chinese rugs couldn’t be sold in the US. But the large “china cabinet” style hutch that is filled with collectibles is Belgian and part of a 3 piece shrunk that I currently use separated. The cuckoo clock is German, the antique display cabinet English, and the samovar from Turkey. The antique sewing basket holds music. Then there is the large white wire birdcage that matches one on the cover of the menu from a dinner Mike attended at the Moroccan Embassy years ago. Pictures on the wall include a unique hand drawn poster from a Grand Opening of a McDonald’s Hamburger Restaurant in a small town in Germany where we stopped to get a bite to eat on a trip to Bertchesgarden.  Tossed around the top of the grandfather clock are a couple dozen small Reindeer toys that Burger King use to give away for free or sell for a pittance 30+ years ago (and that Hallmark now sells for a LOT more).  Then there is the stuffed toy “bear skin” rug Mike bought me at an Indiana State Park and the 2 stuffed monkeys sitting on a chair. 

Then you step into my dining room. The table was my Mother’s family table, the antique chair around it are English, but I bought them in Germany, the other 2 pieces of the Belgian shrunk are here, along with a HUGE French Hutch from the French German border that is so tall (when I first saw it and fell in love with it, it was in an airplane hanger) that I have never had a home with tall enough ceilings to put all the hand-carved topknots on the top of it.  The display shelf is an antique German wood window with a shelf added to the base of it (it goes with the wooden German child’s sled that has been made into shelves by adding boards on top of the runners), filled with nutcrackers and smokers, friends in Germany gave us.  A modern wine cabinet from the church ABC sale sits across from it.  There are also wood inlaid pictures of flowers from Italy, an antique German wooden high chair (with a large red stuffed Welsh dragon sitting in it), that can convert to a child’s rocker and a picture I bought at a medieval festival where the painter selling his own pictures had a very modern style, but beside his pictures was this very old picture of women spinning and sewing that I fell in love with – it was an old family picture that the painter hated so he had brought it along to get rid of.  The dining room window is full of different types and sizes of birds in different materials – most that my sister Lida has sent me over the years. Best of all though, are those tiny little plastic flowers that my children won at the local fireman’s festival in the village or Morz, Gemany, where we lived when they were little, then so proudly presented to me. 

The rest of the house is similarly adorned – the kitchen windows are filled with Hallmark bird ornaments from another ABC sale, along with my mother’s kitchen witches, “teapot” ornaments with wonderful sayings on them like “Sharing a cup of tea is like sharing a cup of love”, enameled plates from Turkey, antique wooden cookie boards from Germany, a wreath of bright flowers, German lace curtains, tiles decorated during St Mark Women’s retreats, and a large sign that says “My Kitchen, Where Everything Happens”, along with a tile painted with birds above my window that my Mother gave me with a little tin cat beside it that my sister Lida, gave me. 

Writing this down, makes it seem like I live in a hodge podge of everything, but the truth is, that while a decorator would probably have a fit in my house, it works for us. It showcases the diversity of the places we’ve lived and the people we’ve loved. Unlike the house I showed where we had trouble walking through it, it was so overwhelming with “stuff” and nothing was cohesive; my home has a not only a cohesion to it, but as I walk through the rooms and my eyes sweep over the things that are out, memories bubble up and make me smile with happiness and joy and if it is overwhelming, it is with a sense of gratitude that I have been able to live a life that has taken me around the world and allowed me to make friends and learn about other cultures and ways.  

Some of the items in my house have come from hand-me-downs, some from expensive stores, some from donation shops and church rummage sales and some from travels far and wide.  Some were gifts, some gifts I gave myself. Some areas of my home are quirky, some religious, some a travelogue, none are somber, some would be considered grandmotherly, others waiting for a child to come along and play.  But they are mine, they are unique and I am happy to be “owned” by them.