Many times over the years we have shown properties where potential buyers have been deterred because there is no room for particular items of furniture.
If you have inherited any furniture or furnishings, then you will know what I am talking about; possession, pride, love, guilt and duty all unite to form a resolute determination to hang on to Granny’s bookcase at all costs, even if you don’t particularly like it.
Last month a client related the story of her maiden Great Aunt who, nearing her end, invited family into her house to divide among them the furnishings that she would be leaving behind. Following a few hours of tactful diplomacy and the odd envious glance at each others’ choices the great nieces and nephews came away with car boots stuffed to the gills. My client recently visited such a cousin who had the walls of his not-so-large sitting room stacked with Georgian secretaries, tallboys and chests. They didn’t fit with the style of his 1980’s suburban house, they were splitting because of the pumped up central heating and you could barely move for the bank of brown furniture. When she asked him why he had taken so many pieces, his response was that nobody else had room for them.
A couple of years ago a viewer of a decent sized farmhouse in Dorset seemed to love all about it, but hesitated as we chatted on the drive after the viewing. He was concerned, it seemed, that the landing and stairwell walls wouldn’t take his collection of six foot canvasses, mostly oil portraits that had been passed down to him and his siblings. He didn’t buy it in the end and as far as I know he is still looking.
We also sold a house recently where a substantial oak dresser took pride of place in a relatively small dining room. Inherited from three generations down, the piece, although lovely, took up half the room, meaning that one side of the dining table could hardly be sat at. The owners had been meaning to sell it on but couldn’t bring themselves to do it and this made me wonder whether prior generations had felt the same.
It can be a foreboding step to part with inherited furniture that stirs sentimental memories. It is so important, however, to create space when selling on a house and large pieces of furniture in small rooms simply don’t help. By the same token, house buying, whether downsizing or changing style, should be an adaptable experience and if the house is almost perfect, but for the lack of space for that inherited linen press, then you just have to weigh up what is most important to your lifestyle. After all, it’s you who has to live it.