Gracious Moves - Senior Transition Specialists
Brooke's Blog

Moving Mom...The Most Crucial Step

The most crucial step – Floor Planning
Floor Planning
Staging, real estate, project managementIn last week’s edition of the Moving Mom series, Choosing the Right Retirement Community, we discussed the importance of knowing where you are going so we can begin the most crucial step, Floor Planning.  This is the all important road map to success!  Whether you and your family have decided to scale back to a smaller home, or you have chosen a retirement community that fits your needs, size matters.
Do not underestimate the importance of this next step! 
Too often movers pack up everything in a home, haul it all to the next residence and pile it in the middle of the rooms.  The Senior does not have the physical ability to move around furniture or boxes.  They face the daunting task of unpacking and trying to find things, only to discover that the furniture does not fit, and there is no organized plan for putting things away.  They spend months, or even years living like this, sometimes never getting settled.  It is frustrating and unnecessary, and can be easily alleviated through the use of a Stager and Move Manager.
Staging, real estate, project managementA good Stager and Move Manager will know what the new residence has to offer for storage, and what pieces of furniture to incorporate into a plan for functionality.  Floor Planning is not just about the furniture and where it will go.  It’s about an organized unpacking process, having a place for everything, and putting everything in its place.  The day of a move, we are not trying to figure this out.  The planning’s already been done.
Granted, a furniture floor plan is all important, but knowing the whole plan is what makes a move streamlined, organized and seemingly effortless.  Is there room for china and crystal?  Does the kitchen have good storage and pantry space?  This is all considered and calculated into the mix prior to the move.
When we perform a move from A to Z, we have the potential to unpack the entire house the day of the move.  Everything is put away, including kitchen design and set up.  Food is in the refrigerator, beds are made, fresh towels, soap and toiletries are in the baths, and clothes are in the closet.  The Senior enjoys a dinner out and a show the day of the move and comes home to a fully set up home.  Boxes are gone, and it looks like the Senior has lived there always! 
Sound simple?  It takes planning, organization, and knowing the order of what gets placed on the moving truck so it comes off smoothly and at the right time.
As the boxes are moved into the new residence, the team unpacks them and puts things away.  They know what is in each box - they packed it, they unpack it, then put it in its rightful place. 
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  Of all the decisions that must be made during the Senior’s transition, this can be the most difficult part of moving.  When I meet with a Senior who is transitioning, the first thing I do is an assessment of their current residence.   How large is it, how much have they accumulated, and I learn about their tastes.
Staging, real estate, project managementA home tells a lot about a person, and certain assumptions can be made.  If they have been traveling throughout the world, for instance, the collections from afar may be extremely important to them.  It may represent the story of their lives, and although there may not be room for everything, staging and floor planning for the collection will be very important to the Senior or family.
If they have a vast library, fabulous antiques, need space to paint…all of these interests and passions must be taken into consideration when choosing the right pieces to fill their new home.  Prioritizing plays a big part here:  what do they love, what do they like, and what must go for functionality
The Senior’s safety comes first.  The most important thing here:  Tripping hazards, rugs on top of rugs, furniture that does not allow for safe navigation, especially in low light, are always in the forefront of my mind when I am floor planning a Senior residence.  Additionally, lighting is very important to avoid falls, so providing the proper amount of light, positioned in the right place for easy access is an integral part of every floor plan. 
In every instance, safety and functionality takes precedence over beauty.  The goal is to create a safe environment that is also esthetically pleasing.   
Think outside the box.  Consider furniture pieces that can be used differently, so they can be utilized.   Repurposing furniture is interesting, fun and gives a piece a new life.  For instance, a favorite antique writing desk that was hidden in a guest room now holds the new flat screen TV;  a dining buffet becomes the bar; the master bedroom armoire is now going to the living room as an entertainment center.  A small roll top desk is now a nightstand, serving two purposes.   
Art can be grouped and hung gallery style, which is often more appealing than having it spread out throughout a home.  It gives the collection a whole new look, and some clients can’t remember where a particular painting was hanging before.  Why?  With the proper lighting, a painting that may not have been noticed in the upstairs hallway now comes to life in the foyer.  The rediscovery of a forgotten piece, and the resulting smile on a Senior’s face, is my reward!
After the books are donated, I like to add baskets to book shelves for additional storage, and use them as a display for family photographs and special pieces of art.  You are scaling back, but repurposing allows you to keep furniture by utilizing it in a functionally different way.  I incorporate these pieces into the client’s computerized floor plan so I can show how they fit into the scheme of things and the added benefits of doing so.
Scaling back requires you to make choices, and yes, give things up.  However,  you are gaining a new, fresh look, still utilizing your treasures in a different way.  At the same time, you are creating a more organized, functional and safe place to live. 
Rather than an emotional departure from what you have had in the past, make this an exciting adventure!  It’s a new beginning, with less to take care of, no more maintenance and a simpler lifestyle.  It’s freedom, so let’s get packing!
Coming next in the “Moving Mom” Series –  Let’s Get Packing!
By Brooke Bass, Associate Broker with Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners and owner of Gracious Moves LLC, a Savannah based Staging and Move Management Company. 
A nationally award winning Realtor, Brooke has been successfully selling and staging homes since 1985. She holds the National Association of Realtors,  “Seniors Real Estate Specialist” certification, and memberships in the National Association of Senior Move Managers,  and Greater Savannah Coalition on Aging.  For more information, contact Brooke at 912-655-9299 or visit
Ad published in the Savannah Morning News - August 26, 2012

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