Michael and Maureen Judge had always planned to sell the family home and move to a smaller place once Michael retired. So the day after his last trip on the 5:20 a.m. from Westport, Conn. to Grand Central Station, Michael found himself running boxes over to Westy's Storage and to the dump.
"We had accumulated so much clutter over the years," Maureen says, "And most of it just needed to be thrown out."
The Judges have lived in their house, an old converted barn on the Wilton/Westport border, for more than 13 years. Their two sons, 24-year old Alex and 21-year-old Chris, still live at home while they look for jobs. The house had loads of closets and storage, all stuffed to bursting with sports equipment, trophies, old papers and clothes. Books filled shelves and every wall was covered with the Judges' collection of Victorian landscapes. Framed family photographs sat on every surface - and the cats had shredded the carpet on the stairs.
Maureen tackled the overwhelming task of de-cluttering her home in stages. "I made lists of what I had to do in every room," she says.
She started with the closets. "I emptied every single one," she says. Clothing that was no longer worn or didn't fit went to the thrift shop. The kitchen and bathrooms were tackled the same way. Anything broken or rarely used was tossed or donated. She was ruthless.
Michael sorted the books, donating many of them to the local library. The boys packed boxes of childhood treasures and piled them in a rented storage unit. New carpeting was installed on the stairs. The framed photos and most of the paintings were packed away.
"Toss, toss, toss was our mantra," Maureen says, adding that she also had the walls painted and the living room floor refinished.
With furniture rearranged, the dining room table set and fresh flowers on the empty kitchen counter, the Judges' home is ready for new owners.
"It's been pretty nerve-wracking," Maureen says. "The house looks lovely now that it's so tidy. I wish it had always been this way."
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