What is "brown" furniture? One of the best lines I've read this year is from an article by Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue:
I know my two millennial aged children have no interest in a beautiful armoire or the buffet in the dining room. They are classic antiques that are sturdy, incredibly well made, and stunning to look at. But younger generations are keen to Target, Home Goods, and Ikea - stuff that won't make it past their own generation.
Kids are mobile nowadays, they like to live minimally, and don't want to be bogged down by a lot of "stuff." They want modern clean lines in their homes and are simply not interested in antiques, china, lamps, brooches, crystal, flatware, and tchotchkes.
Making matters worse is that a lot of our parents' furniture was not antique quality -mostly mass-produced furniture bought at the time. It may have held up well (still better made) but not the right color, style, design, or cachet of the pieces younger generations covet today.
Particularly unpopular today are large things like heavy mahogany pieces, china cabinets, wall units, and dining room sets. I have heard that even Goodwill and the Salvation Army reject donations of home furnishings.
It's possible that if you are in your 70s or 80s, your own children might be downsizing right along side you. They might not want to be burdened by your treasures - however much you cherished them. Even if they wanted to take them, they simply might not have the room either.
So what to do when you decide to sell your Winnetka or North Shore home and downsize? Here are a few ideas:
1. If you have a house full of good quality items, it would behoove you to have a conducted estate sale. There are many such companies that operate in and around the North Shore that are familiar with what sells and doesn't. They generally take a percentage of the sale as their price and most will cart off everything that doesn't sell as well. Home sellers generally have the estate company donate the leftover items, but pieces that are valuable could be sold on consignment or listed by them online. An example is Hummel figurines which are not popular here but are in Wisconson.
2. Give yourself plenty of time to sell your things. You may have to clutter up a spare room or basement, but it probably will take a while to find a buyer. I have the names of several people who can help you assess your belongings and then sell them for you - not as a conducted house sale if you don't want to go that route.
3. Your jewelry should be appraised regardless of what you decide to do with it. If no one is interested in costume jewelry, it can be donated and more valuable pieces can be held onto or sold. I received a very nice sum for a small number of silver and gold chains which were sold for the weight of the metal, not the piece itself.
4. Consider hiring a Senior Move Manager. Like hiring a contractor to add a room to your home, hiring a Senior Move Manager delegates that person to help direct the project of selling and downsizing.
Please call me for more information and referrals. I have many resources for estate sale companies, organizers, consignment shops, online selling options, and Senior Move Managers. It's not an easy task - and it's important to know that you might be disappointed at what becomes of some of your belongings. While the current young generation migh have no need for these items, I believe that their time will come again and "brown" furniture will again be popular. But unfortunately, it probably won't be in our lifetime . . .
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Margaret Goss is a full-time real estate broker since 1998 working in the North Shore communities of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, Glenview, and Evanston.
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