‘I’m a stranger in a strange staged land.’
My Favorite Only Sister, who is a real estate agent as well as an all-around swell person, once told me that when you put your house on the market it isn’t your home anymore.
I’m pretty sure she meant that you had to stop thinking of your place as home—not that it literally would stop being home. But that’s what happened to our apartment—it got transformed into a completely alien place.
I was reminded of this just yesterday when I made what was my second visit back to the City since the Pandemic hit. (I’m lucky to have been able to “self-isolate” out in the Family Place in Amagansett for the duration.) I walked into “our” apartment and was hit anew by how foreign and alien it felt—how decidedly “unhomelike” my old home feels to me now.
This didn’t happen the last time we put it on the market. (This was about ten years ago. The Child had gone off to college and we thought downsizing would save us some $$$; once we crunched the numbers we realized this wasn’t going to happen, not on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Besides, where would The Dude put his filing cabinet, not to mention his Steinway?) But back then, when the real estate agent scheduled an appointment, she just had us put the cat toys away.
But no. Not this time. Things have changed, real-estate-wise, at least in this part of the world. Nowadays, when you put your place on the market, you hire a “Stager” to come in, edit your stuff and “style” your place. I was assured that doing this would “more than pay for itself” and help the apartment “sell in no time.”
We figured the Stager would prune some stuff. You know, have us take down the framed finger-painted masterpieces in the kitchen and pack away the multitudes of family photos studding every available flat surface.
For this kind of thing we were prepared. What we weren’t expecting was for virtually everything we owned to be banished from the premises. True, our couches were slipcovered garage-sale finds. But the bench that I sat on to sip coffee and read the Times? The leather wing chair that I loved? (In fact, I so love chairs I wrote a story about my addiction. It’s called “Sitting Pretty”)
Yup. It all had to go. Some to the Amagansett house, some to charity, some to friends. But, alas, most to the (gasp) dump. Things got tagged; movers came; it all went away.
If you check out the photo at the top of this post, you’ll see what the living room looks like now. I must admit it looks nice. Anonymous, but nice. Kind of like a hotel room. A hotel room with no curtains. (Curtains are bad; they block the light. New Yorkers love light more than life itself, hence no “window treatments.”)
But worse than the living room was what we had to do to the dining room. See, for years the dining room also served as a library. The whole room was lined with shelves. There was a comfy leather reading chair and also a breakfront that did double-duty as my desk.
But no. The library/dining room had to be “turned back into a Dining Room.” Big fat *sigh* goes here.
Oh well. I am realizing that this whole post has a decidedly 1% flavor, for which I apologize. But I just had to get this out, and what better audience than my Blog Fans? If I could I would have invited all you faithful readers to The Last Dinner Party I gave there last fall. It was after the place was staged. Everything went pretty well, despite the fact there was no where to put drinks (no more end tables), the couches kept scooting when someone sat down (no carpets) and the place was very very noisy (no carpets and no curtains). Needless to say, this event was not repeated.
The good news about all of this is that I doubt very much that I will feel all weepy and sad when we (finally! please! someone!) sell the apartment. Perhaps, when we hand over the keys, I’ll present the new owners with one of our little banished treasures.
Amagansett, New York. July 2020