DownsizingEventually most homeowners get to that stage in life when, after they’ve raised their families in a large home, full of stuff and memories, they find they have more space and more things than they need and decide it’s time to downsize. It’s finally happened to my wife Margaret and me.

When we moved to Westchester as mere young’uns more than 40 years ago, I was absolutely delighted. Both compulsive collectors at the time (we’ve since recovered), we moved from a duplex in Brooklyn Heights of about only 1500 sq. ft. (I’m only guesstimating because in those days, before I was a realtor, who knew?) to a 3900 sq. ft. farmhouse with a tremendous attic and full basement.

Our intention in buying such a big house, even though we had only one child, was to be at-home entrepreneurs, and we have conducted a number of businesses on site through the years. At the same time, a large home allowed us to have an accessory apartment for rental income and to indulge our passion for collecting things, both big and small.

Now the time of reckoning is here. We’re downsizing to only 1780 sq. ft. of space, less than half of what we currently have. Let me tell you, it’s quite a feat of planning to literally halve ourselves. Margaret is good at that kind of thing, but I am not and where I am normally the bossy one in our relationship, with this assignment at hand, she has morphed into the drill sergeant, and I, her buck private.

“Bring all the breakables to the dining room that we’re taking with us,” she orders. “Put in those boxes what we’re holding for the tag sale,” she commands. “Yes, SIR!” I say, snapping sharply to attention, but sensing I’ve carried the role play a bit too far.

In a couple of days, while the house looked in a shambles, everything seemed to be taking shape for the big move. By mid-afternoon, the day after Thanksgiving, we both had to take a nap. Our bones and will had given out.

Having written a number of times about the mechanics of downsizing, I can tell you that the emotions that go into “letting go” of “stuff” can be unsettling if you don’t prepare yourself for it. I’m such a softie, I guess I wasn’t prepared for some of it, like finding in an old box that I hadn’t opened since I was in college, originally containing gift pears from Florida, an envelope with the inscription in my mother’s handwriting: “From my son William’s first haircut at 2-1/2 years old,” and inside was a shock of auburn curls that perfectly match the color of my daughter’s hair when she was that age.

Thank goodness we have the help of a wonderful mover I discovered named Phil D’Erasmo of Advantage Movers who is giving us very personalized attention. He has personally stopped by the house several times to counsel me, hand deliver boxes and what he calls “contractor bags” to get rid of my tax records for shredding that go back to 1972 (I’m not kidding. Imagine?)

He also brought me three different sizes of boxes and bubble wrap and consulted with us about whether we wanted to pack our own breakables. We decided to have him do that, however.

The most heart wrenching part of our job was to decide what to let go of. That involves going through every item of clothing, every stick of furniture, every file, even every photograph taken before the days of digital photography! The time involved is almost overwhelming.

I won some points in the romance department for having saved some items my wife didn’t know about, like the scrap of paper on which I jotted down her name and home phone number (no cells in those days) when I first met her on the job, and all the love notes I saved when we were going together. “Ahhhh,” she cooed.

Funny, but having moved five times in our first five years of marriage, we vowed when we moved into this beloved house that “they’ll have to carry us out of here in a pine box before we’ll ever move again!” But times and circumstances change and it seems we’ll be moving happily to new wonderful digs with a concierge, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a gorgeous gym that will allay any excuses for my not getting back to my long lost 34 inch waist, and I can throw away that snow shovel. So what’s to complain about?

If there’s a move in your future, be sure to check in first with Phil D’Erasmo at 800-444-0104.

And here’s something else to know about. Once we’re packed and moved, look for our ad for the neatest tag sale we’ll throw here at the Ebenezer White Homestead for all the antiques and bric-a-brac that we’ve decided to let go of. It will be one humdinger of a sale! It will take place about mid-December.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (, specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is: and his blog is: To engage the services of Bill Primavera and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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