Seriously, we all have so much junk, and thus my Princess Plan, to get down to the way the house was when we moved in is with just what we truly needed.When I was thinking about that move earlier today and wanting to get back to that level it reminded me that this is generally the big moving season across the nation and now might a good time to post the best way I have found to move. This is what worked for us, and I hope it will work for you.
After helping a friend move where she quite literally opened her car trunk and then carried the drawers out of her kitchen and DUMPED them in the trunk rather than pack them I decided that there had to a better way. So when we moved a few years later I worked out this plan and have used it to move several people since then.
WARNING: this may sound a little like I over did the organization of it, but the people who helped us move have all sung praises of it and have since used this system for their own moves. So here goes.
KNOW YOUR LOCATION: 99% of the time we all know when we move exactly where we will be moving and what space is available to us. So take advantage of that knowledge and use it.
If you can get into the apartment or house ahead of time go measure each room. I like using graph paper for this. Designate each main square on the graph paper to equal 1 ft. Be as precise as possible.
Mark on that graph paper the location of windows , doors, air registers, closets, cupboards, outlets, switches and any other architectural design that may need to be included in the placement of furniture as closely precise as you can get it. Measure how high the windows are from the floor, also measuring their height and width (this is handy to know when you go to do window coverings). Be sure and get the width measurements of the door openings too. This will take a little bit of time to do right then but the hours, frustration, and back strain it will save you later will be so worth it.
Don’t forget to measure the inside of the closets and cupboards as well. Make note of how many shelves are in each, and the placement of the clothing rods were applicable.
Do each room this way, don’t forget the garage, basement and storage rooms. When at all possible I like to do this before I ever start to pack, but even if it’s the night before the move in it’s a thing I really try to get done and you are about to see why.
Once you get home measure all your furniture at its widest points. Be sure and get the width, length and height. Here is where the fun comes in. Cut your furniture pieces out of the graph paper based on the width and length, using the same scale you did for the floor plans. Write the height of that item on that square/rectangle/circle.
Now arrange your furniture on your floor plan graph. It’s amazing how much lighter those little pieces of paper are than moving a chest on chest bureau dozens of times.
Once you have decided on an arrangement you like check for height. Will that sideboard fit under that window and not block it? Is there an outlet nearby for that lamp? Ooops! Did that bookcase just cover up the light switch? Is the air register blocked?
Re-arrange as necessary. Remember, faster and easier now than later.
Now that you have settled on your arrangement assign a colored hot dot to that room. You knew if it was me writing this article color coding was going to come in somewhere. We use those hot spot stickers you can pick up at all sorts of places, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, grocery stores, office supply stores, $1 tree they are in the stationery department. They come in usually five or six different colors in a package and about 100 or so per color per package. They come in neon, primary, and pastels so you will have plenty of variety to work with. If you can’t find a wide enough variety in your area consider using color combos or doubled dots for an assigned room. Don’t think you will only need a few, we are color coding this whole move. Each box is going to have one of these hot dots on all five sides (top included). This is done on all five sides so no matter which side is toward a person they will KNOW which room it goes to and what is in the box. Trust me you will thank me later.
While you are in the stationery department pick up a package of black markers, a package of red markers, a package of black/blue ink pens, a tape gun, lots of package tape to fit that tape gun (much cheaper than duct tape), blank self adhesive labels of a decent readable size, a single box of string tags, a box cutter or two, and some bubble wrap for the extremely fragile items you want to move. Frugal hint here—most of this is cheapest at the big box stores. I know Sam’s Club sells a large roll of bubble wrap for not much more than what you would pay elsewhere for a small package of it.
So as I said, assign a color for a room, one color one room, one room one color. This is important.
Once you have settled on your arrangement and assigned a color for that room make notes on the floor plan, I mark it in color so it’s easy to spot, where you might need an extension cord or an air deflector. Start a list of items to have in your “GET STARTED BOX” Put that extension cord or air deflector on that list. This is important because one of the very first things you are going to do at the new home is place the extension cords and air deflectors BEFORE you place the furniture. So you need to know how many you need and what length of cord. Go ahead and uncoil them to where they need to be, plus plug them in. Check the outlet before setting furniture too to make certain it works. Better to find out that the outlet needs repair before that fully loaded china hutch is in place.
Another important thing to note at this point is “Will it fit through the door?” Not all doorways are created equal. While the standard is around 36 inches wide and seven foot tall, not all doorways are that size. Better to know that the antique harvest table won’t make it through the front door and that sharp left turn into the living room before someone hauls that beast up a flight of stairs ahead of time. Voice of experience, luckily we had an alternative route available.
When all the what if scenarios are worked out make certain each furniture piece is labeled clear enough that anyone can understand what that square/rectangle/ circle represents. In other words don’t put s on a rectangle and expect everyone to know it’s the sofa. Label it sofa. If the room has more than one sofa, put another identifier too such as floral sofa, plaid sofa.
Once labeled clearly tape each furniture piece securely in the chosen place on the floor plan.
Once you have all your furniture organized on paper in all your rooms and every room has an assigned color make an overall floor plan showing the layout where each room is and place your corresponding colored dots on that. You will need more than one copy of this floor plan on moving day. One for each entrance into the house/apartment, and one for each packed vehicle. More on this later.
PACKING: Start as soon as you possibly can gathering boxes. One of the reasons my friend dumped all those drawers was she ran out of boxes and she was not ready the day of the move.
I highly recommend getting friendly with your neighborhood liquor store. Those boxes are all very much uniform in size, they are heavy duty, and generally have lids if you make prior arrangements with the liquor store. Not to mention those dividers that are so handy for protecting your fragile items.
Most liquor stores get their deliveries on specific days. Most will also say that if you will pick them up on those days they will keep the lids for intact for you. Make certain you hold up your end of the bargain to pick them up on the day you agree on.
As soon as you have boxes start packing. Even if it’s going to be weeks before your actual move day start packing. If you have that long of a lead time, so much the better. Start with the things you are least likely to need until after the move and pack those.
Now is the time to THIN OUT your belongings. As you do this keep in mind your floor plan, and especially the measurements of your closets. How many storage bins will really fit on those shelves? If you can’t remember the last time you used something it’s history. If you don’t have the time or the inclination for a garage sale, donate it, recycle it, trash it do anything you can to avoid moving it. The people who help you move will sing your praises for culling out as much as you can.
Once you’ve decided you must keep an item and you are going to pack it, pack similar items together. IE: Wall décor, all for each separate room goes together. Don’t mix items from different rooms. No hodge podge boxes. One room only per box. Photos all go in another box, kids toys in another (be sure and put some of those in the GET STARTED BOX to keep the kids entertained on moving day if they aren’t staying with a sitter.
The only exception to this rule are your linens. You are going to wrap the lesser fragile items in them. Put hand towels between platters, wash cloths between breakable plates, wrap a lamp parts in a bed sheet. You get the idea. This accomplishes packing two things, cuts down on the use of newspaper and bubble wrap, and is a far better use of your space in your boxes.
As you pack on your label write what is in the box. EXAMPLE: Wall Décor would say things like “ fighting roosters, grandmother’s oil painting, musical notes. Wrapped in bath towels.”
When the box is full you copy that label four more times so you have a total of five labels.
Now using your tape gun seal the box, to not be opened again until it’s in the new home. On each side of that box and the top place one label and one colored dot for what room that wall décor is going in. Be certain to match the color you are putting on the box with your floor plan. This is important, it is probably the most important part of the plan. Make certain you don’t mix the colors up.
With the black marker mark boldly on the box the general category of the box as in our example “Wall Décor” on all five sides.
If the box contains fragile items in it use the red marker to boldly mark ‘FRAGILE” on all five sides.
Now choose a location to store these boxes stacked neatly together until moving day. If at all possible put the items for each room together. So all kitchen boxes would be stacked together, all master bath boxes would be together separate from the second bath boxes etc. This will be very helpful on moving day. Try to keep your boxes stacked as uniform in size and shape as possible. If you do this then on moving day the “muscle” can simply slide a dolly under the stack and move all the same room together at once from the old home to the new home.
Work your way through your house in this manner. Starting with the least needed items and working your way through each room until everything is packed.
As you come across items you must disassemble put all screws, bolts, washers, etc in a zipper bag you have clearly labeled what they are the parts for. Either put this bag in your GET STARTED BOX, or securely tape it to the item, wherever it is least likely to get lost.
Put color coded stickers (even if it requires using a string tag with a sticker) on all the furniture as well. Far better for juniors crib to end up in the nursery than in his teen sister’s room.
THE GET STARTED BOX: This is the box you want there the minute you arrive. It should contain everything you will need from the word go at the new home. Here is a list of the basics. Everyone has different priorities, so this is a general list:
1. Your floor plans, more on these in a bit.
2. Box cutters
4. All purpose cleaner
5. Cleaning rags
6. Toilet paper
7. Paper towels, both to use as napkins and for each sink
8. Paper plates
9. Disposable silverware
10. Disposable glasses/cups
11. Vacuum bags
12. Toys for the kids where applicable
13. Your extension cords
14. Screwdrivers of various sizes and styles
16. Hand soap for each sink
17. Trash bags of varying sizes
19. You zipper bags of nuts and bolts
20. Aspirin/pain reliever
21. A first aid kit
22. Outside the box but needed in the beginning
a. A broom and dust pan
b. A vacuum
c. A mop
d. Your preferred method of dusting.
e. A step stool
23. Shelf paper—this is why you measured all those shelves days ago. You know how much paper you will need when you get there.
24. Light bulbs
25. Rubber gloves
26. Blue painter’s tape
27. Air deflectors for floor registers if needed
29. Snacks and other feeding of the work crew plans
30. If you have animals traveling with you that first day be sure and put treats food and water bowl in for them.
That’s the top ones, you will think of more as you pack.
MOVING DAY: As the moving truck, trailer, cars whatever are loaded try to keep rooms together as much as possible, this will make unloading much simpler if you do.
When you get to the new place the first thing you unload is your GET STARTED BOX. The first things you will want out of the box will be your floor plans and your blue painter’s tape.
At each packed vehicle tape a whole house floor plan with its colored dots where it is easily seen by those unloading that vehicle. That could be the opened door side of a moving van or trailer, the inside of a car trunk lid, where ever it is easily seen and studied.
By doing this you allow those actually moving the items to be able to see what room they are going to and to be able to figure out the shortest/most convenient route to that room based on the color coding.
Place a complete floor plan on each entrance to the house as well. This will save a forgetful helper having to double back to the vehicle to see if they should have taken a left or right turn at the kitchen.
Next go through the house and put the individual color coded room floor plans on the entryway of each room. That way as the sofa is brought into the room it can be placed exactly where you want it as it comes in.
As you hang the individual floor plans for each room plug in each extension cord that will be needed for the outlets that will end up behind furniture so they will be in place when the furniture is set.
Also place any air register deflectors where they are needed to before the furniture comes in.
As the vehicles are unloaded if the help will stack the same colored dots together it will save time, walking and lifting as the day goes on.
I have to say at this point when we moved out of our home of 20 years to the ranch one friend told me I was being a control freak by doing all the color coding at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day he told me “That was the easiest moving day I’ve ever done.” And he was right.
The unpacking went smoothly too, because everything was clearly labeled we were able to find everything we needed as it was needed to unpack in an orderly manner.
One more thing. Feed your help, even if it’s only a bologna sandwich, feed them. They deserve it.
Jan who has moved more people than she cares to mention and has found this to be the most organized and simple way to do it in OK