A lot of my customers balk at the idea of packing the kitchen cupboards. They worry that they are going to break their crockery and glassware. The other consideration is around time. You will actually be using your kitchen right up until the morning of your move. So the idea of packing away things that you will need regularly seems unmanageable.
One strategy that you can employ is to pack up the extras. For example, a typical four-person home might have a twelve person dinner service. Of course, the extras are needed to cover times when lunch-time dishes haven’t necessarily been washed before dinner time. Or to accommodate dinner party guests on special occasions. However, you could start packing up your kitchen a week or two ahead of your move. Keep aside the absolute minimum number of items you will need to get by. Then just avoid hosting dinner parties and wash the dishes as you use them.
Let’s get Packing
Prepare a medium-sized box, by closing the bottom flaps and applying two layers of tape along the central seam. Support the join by applying two more layers of tape crosswise a third of the way from each edge. Scrunch up 10 to 15 individual sheets of packing paper and place them at the bottom of the box. Remember that these paper balls act as a dampener for the effects of the various forces that will be acting on your crockery and glassware while they are in the box. So if you’re unsure, rather put more paper balls than less.
Take each piece of crockery or glassware and wrap it in an individual sheet of packing paper. Stack the plates and bowls side on in the box, one behind another. Place mugs and glasses upside down in a single layer. Keep similar items together in a single box and dis-similar items separate. For example, don’t be tempted to mix plates and mugs. Or champagne flutes with teacups. When the items inside the box have similar shapes then they are less likely to act against each other and cause damage.
Once you’ve placed a single layer of plates or cups or glasses, scrunch up another 10 to 15 sheets of packing paper into balls. Place these around the items, creating a barrier between the fragiles and the inside of the box. Also make sure that you have covered over the top of the items. Assess how much space you have left in the box. If you feel that you could fit another layer comfortably, then do so. However, if you think it might be a bit of a squeeze then don’t. You may find that you have some space, but not enough to put another layer of plates or cups.
In this case, you could look for small, light and robust items in your kitchen that could be placed on top. For example, a few pieces of cutlery or a few utensils that can be placed flat along the top. These won’t take up too much space, but will also not have a detrimental effect on the other contents of the box.
Before you close up the box, make sure that you fill up any remaining gaps with scrunched up packing paper. You want the whole space to be filled up. Any gaps in the box can leave the cardboard exterior unsupported and lead to boxes not able to remain stacked. Seal the box with two layers of tape along the central seam. Then apply two layers crosswise a third of the way from the edge of either side. Label your boxes clearly. Note that they come from the kitchen and what the specific contents are.
Amber Moves provides removal services in north west London. So if you live in the local area and need any help with packing or materials, we would be over the moon to help you.
Pictures frames and mirrors are great for getting some packing done ahead of your move. Although your walls will start to feel a little bare, you can easily get these done well in advance. And best of all, you won’t inconvenience any family members.
You will need packing boxes, tape, packing paper, super bubble wrap and a craft knife.
Firstly, gather together all your picture frames from around the house. Collect up everything from the little frames that nestle on shelves right up to the large frames and mirrors that hang on the walls. Bring them together in piles of similar sizes.
Prepare a small box by folding over the bottom flaps and applying 2 layers of tape across the central seam. Then apply 2 layers of tape crosswise at intervals. Scrunch up 10 to 15 individual sheets of packing paper and use them to line the bottom of the box. These paper balls act as a dampener for the forces that the box contents might experience.
Start with the smallest frames. Wrap each frame in a sheet of packing paper. If the frames are very small, you may be able to wrap more than one frame in a single sheet. Make sure that there is still a bit of paper around each frame, even the back side.
Once you’ve wrapped the picture frames, you can pack them into boxes
Stack the wrapped frames next to each other, vertically rather than horizontally. This helps to evenly distribute the downward forces that will be acting on the frames and any glass inserts that are present.
Once you’ve filled the box with a single layer of the smallest frames, scrunch up another 10 to 15 sheets of packing paper. Place these paper balls around and on top of the layer of frames. Make sure that you fill-up all the spaces and scrunch up more paper sheets if necessary. Close the flaps of the box and apply 2 layers of tape across the central seam. Then apply 2 layers of tape crosswise at intervals.
Continue your packing with a new box, using a larger size if necessary. Once you get to the picture frames and mirrors that are larger than the boxes that you have available, then you need to use an alternative method.
Cover the larger picture frames with a layer of super bubble wrap. Cover mirrors with two layers of super bubble wrap. Take a flattened box and cut it along one edge, so that you have one long sheet of cardboard. Use the cardboard the cover the glass or mirror front, wrapping any excess cardboard around the edges. Use tape to hold the cardboard in place. If you feel it’s necessary, use more cardboard boxes to protect all the glass, mirror and fragile surfaces and edges. Ideally, you would cover the picture frame or mirror entirely in cardboard to make it as stackable as possible. But you may feel that is excessive for the value of the picture frame.
Remember, with anything that has glass, more protective packaging is always better. If in doubt, use another layer rather, especially if the item is particularly valuable.
When packing up your DVDs and CDs, it’s a fairly straight-forward affair. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
Where possible, try to dedicate entire boxes to each category. CD and DVD cases are so regular it is a shame to waste the efficiency that can be achieved when packing these items by trying to fit disparate items in the same box. When unpacking, it’s also generally very easy to separate DVDs and CDs into various piles if you do keep collections for separate rooms.
Stack the cases vertically, rather than horizontally. This gives a more even distribution of forces across all the cases. Rather than putting more force on the bottom cases, which may lead them to crack. This could be exacerbated if there was a crack in the casing previously. Children’s CDs and DVDs tend to have prior damage, so this method is particularly helpful for them.
CDs and DVDs tend not to need any special covering to help protect them, but if you have any collector’s sets that you want to keep in mint condition, then I recommend covering them in a layer or two of bubble wrap and packing into a smaller box.
Remember to consider the weight of the boxes
CD cases tend to be made from a denser plastic than DVD cases. So try to use a small box for CDs. You can use a medium-sized box for DVDs. It is important to remember that you need to be able to move the box once you’ve packed it. So even if you just need to get the box to the other side of the room, you still need to make sure that the box isn’t packed heavier than what you can carry.
Once you’ve filled the box with CD or DVD cases, fill any remaining space with scrunched up packing paper. Remember that other boxes may end up being stacked on top of this box, so you need to fill the box enough so that it won’t cave in when something else is placed on it.
Make sure to tape the top and bottom properly, to help support the weight. Use 2 to 4 layers of tape on each side if necessary. Don’t try to fold the flaps over each other without taping together. The box will not have enough strength to carry the weight of it’s own contents, let alone any additional weight from boxes that are stacked on top of it.
Label the box with the name of the room that it should go into in the new home. Make a note of the contents, ie. CDs or DVDs. If you have any collector’s sets, write FRAGILE on the box. This communicates to anybody handling the box that they should take extra care.
Don’t forget about the children
If there are any particular favourites, I recommend writing the title on the box too. Sometimes children go through phases where they like to watch a particular DVD or listen to a particular CD every day. No matter how much you try to prepare your children for the change they are going to experience. It can still be distressing for them to move from the old familiar home to a new unknown place. And being able to watch their favourite movie can be a source of comfort on a day that will be out of the ordinary. So I recommend knowing which box that DVD will be found in, so that it can be set up quickly on arrival if necessary.
When you’re faced with the prospect of packing up your entire home contents, you can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. I always recommend that my customers start their packing with things that they don’t use on a regular basis. Things that the family can cope without for a month or so. Books are a great example of this category. Although we love our books, the truth is that nobody is looking through every book on their shelf every day of the year. So set aside the books that are currently being read and the student text books that are currently in use.
There are two ways to approach the remaining books. You can either bring ALL the books together and put similar sized volumes together. This will allow you to optimise the space that you use when packing. In turn, you will use less boxes and enjoy the consequent cost-savings. Rather than having all the books packed communally, which entails a lot of sorting out during unpacking. You can do a similar exercise, but on a room by room basis. This has the practical advantage that books are kept together in the collections that make sense to your family.
Books are one of the quickest and simplest items to pack – assuming you don’t own a large home library – as you don’t need to be too fussed about their fragility, but do keep in mind their weight. The important rule is not to pack the box too heavy for your own strength. Remember that 10 kids’ books may be lighter than 2 encyclopedias, so assess each box individually as you go.
The following is a step-by-step guide to packing a box of books.
Step 1: Seal the bottom of the box well: twice along the closing flaps and over the side corners to ensure the weight doesn’t fall through.
Step 2: Line the bottom of the box with paper to protect the books from the box flaps. If the books are more delicate, you can add a layer of bubble wrap.
Step 3: With the spines up, pack the books along the wall of the box, or as best you can fit them in if their shapes are not similar. Ensure the weight is evenly distributed. Scrunch up more paper to fill in the gaps.
Step 4: Place a layer of paper over the spines.
Step 5: Insert a layer of scrunched up paper. (If your box is shorter than our preferred boxes, you may only be able to accommodate one layer of books, in which case you can skip to step 8. Our boxes can accommodate 2 layers of regular-sized books.)
Step 6: Repeat step 3.
Step 7: Repeat steps 4 and 5. The scrunched up paper at the top is to close up any air gaps before sealing to ensure the box is sturdy enough to take the weight of any other boxes that may be loaded on top of it.
Step 8: Seal the box with tape over the long flaps and short sides – as you’ve done with the bottom – and label it.
Last week I started talking about the process of furnishing your new home. I discussed how you can go about making an assessment of what furniture you might need to acquire for the new phase of your life. I also mentioned that you will find that these items fall into two categories. The low-priority items should be put off until you’ve lived in the new house for a while and have developed your new routine. This week, I’m going to talk about the high-priority items.
Let me start by explaining what I mean by high-priority items. These might include a bed to sleep in. For example, it is quite common in London for 1 or even 2 bedroom flats that are rented, to be provided with furniture. However, you might find that when you move on to the next property that there is no bed provided. So you will have to purchase one immediately, otherwise you will be sleeping on the floor. Another consideration might be white goods. Again, if you move from a flat that is furnished with a fridge/freezer or a washing machine and then move into a flat that does not have these items. You will have to buy or acquire these otherwise you will not be able to keep fresh food for long or wash your clothes.
Finding Space for New Furniture is Always Difficult
The conundrum we face is that if you are moving from a fully furnished 1 or 2 bedroom apartment. It’s probably tiny, especially if you live in London, and likely stacked full of boxes once you’ve done your packing. So if you know that you need a bed, a fridge and a washing machine for the new home, where do you keep it? You don’t have space in your current apartment for anything else to take up residence, even for just one day. But you know that you will need these things when you arrive.
This is where your removal company can help you. If you pre-order the items that you need for the new house. Your removal company can collect it on the way to you on moving day.
A word of caution at this point. This only works if you are organised. You need to be sure that any white goods or furniture that you want to pick up on moving day will be ready when the removal company arrives. If you haven’t been able to pre-order, make sure that you know exactly which store you are going to. Call the day before to check that they have the item in stock. If you’ve bought something second-hand or have been given something for free. Make sure that the person that you are collecting from is in and that the item is ready to be collected.
Organisation is Key
What starts out as a simple collection of a piece of furniture on a day when you’ve already booked a van and a team of men, can quickly derail the whole move day when it turns out that we have to wait while stock levels are checked and warranty forms are filled-out. In general, there is a lot happening on moving day. Between the estate agent, the solicitor, the bank, the cleaner, the children and the pets, adding the purchase of a vitally important piece of furniture can easily turn the day into a catastrophe. However, with a bit of preparation and elimination of unnecessary tasks. You can make a smooth transition from your current home to your new home without losing out on sleep or clean clothes.
When you’re in the planning stages for your upcoming move, you may realise that your new home is lacking in a few furnishing items. Perhaps it does not have as much built-in storage as your current abode. Or possibly, you’re moving to make space for a new baby – who will need a cot, changer and wardrobe. Another client of mine is moving from a large old-style flat to a modern apartment with more stream-lined dimensions. So she’s decided to get rid of her old heavy teak furniture and replacing it with contemporary furniture that is more in keeping with her fashionable new home.
Moving is all about change
As I’ve said before, all moves are about some sort of progression in life. There is something that is changing about your day to day business and this will be reflected in the choices you are making about your new home. The logic of change is that something must be let go of so that something else can take it’s place. When you are planning for your new home, you may very well know that you need some new furnishings. But it’s not always sensible or even feasible to buy the new furniture while you are still in your old home.
When you think about the furnishing items you might want for your new home, you will find that they fall into two separate categories. On the first list, you will have the high-priority items. These might include beds or a washing machine that are being replaced. On the second list, you will have the low-priority items. These include the decorative artwork you think will look perfect in the hallway and the new dining table that you believe you absolutely have to have to make best use of the space.
I urge you NOT to buy any low-priority furnishing items!
Please, please, please! Whatever you do, don’t buy any furnishings for your new home that isn’t vitally important before you’ve moved in. As much as we like to think that we are able to imagine how we will be living in a space. We’ve drawn up our floor plans. We’ve worked through the daily scenarios that will play out in the new house. The truth is that we just don’t know how we’re really going to feel about things until we’re actually living in the house. This is because that evolution that I spoke about earlier, that reason for moving in the first place, it hasn’t been enacted yet. You’re making plans with your “pre-move” self. You’re planning from the perspective of someone who hasn’t taken that new job or birthed that new baby or started that new business. You simply aren’t the person who you’re going to be in this new home. So don’t make decisions on behalf of your future self until you find out who you are going to be.
Choose items that reflect your life
I’ve come across this conundrum many, many times over the years. People find a new home and they, understandably, get very excited about it. They start seeing sofas that will look gorgeous in the new lounge. And dining tables that will be just fabulous when having dinner parties. Ooh, and that artwork! It will be beautiful in the new hallway. But once they move into the new house and they start their new job / birth their new baby / start their new business, they don’t have time for dinner parties. Or perhaps they feel differently about their days, so the artwork that uplifted them before, now depresses them. And the most common of all the scenarios is that the sofa that you thought would be perfect, doesn’t physically fit in the new lounge.
There is a lot of excitement around moving home. A lot of pressure to have the home immediately ready to receive guests and looking like something out of a magazine. Be patient and kind with yourself. Your home is an organic reflection of your life and your family. Give yourself time to live in it a little and get to know it. So that when you spend money on new furnishings you know its right for your home and not a waste of your funds.
Every time you move home your life changes. Whether it’s a subtle change like moving from a studio to a 1 bed flat. Or a more significant change like welcoming your first child into your family. Either way, you are going to have aspects of your old life (and associated furniture and belongings) that you will continue to use in your new life. But you will also have things that are not necessary or just don’t fit correctly into the layout of the new home. Don’t be afraid to dispose of these things.
An example from my own life
For example, two properties ago, we bought a lovely television unit for our studio flat at the time. It had loads of storage and fitted the room very well. Then we moved into a 2 bed flat where we had adequate space in the lounge. However, it was supposed to be a combined lounge and dining room and now it didn’t quite fit the proportions of the room as well as it did before. Nonetheless we chose not to dispose of it because it was still a useful piece of furniture.
After a few years, we moved into a 3 bed house. In this property, the lounge was separate from the dining room and so it was smaller than our previous lounge/diner. It also had alcoves around a fireplace along with a bay window. This gave us an odd layout that was quite different to what we had before. Consequently, we decided to get rid of our trusty combined storage and television unit. We replaced it with a set of bookcases, which fit neatly into the alcoves. And a smaller cabinet for the TV and accessories. This suited our new layout much better and the flow of the room was much more pleasant.
However, we now had a large TV and storage unit to dispose of. In the end, we contacted someone who sells second-hand furniture. He was able to sell the unit for us and after taking a commission, we had a little money that helped to recoup the cost of the new pieces of furniture. Of course, we didn’t get back anywhere near what we had spent on the unit originally. But we did have 6 years of service from it and the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that our furniture went to someone who needed it. We also didn’t send the unit to landfill.
Only have things that are useful and beautiful
I come across so many people in my line of work who insist on holding on to their old furniture. And it seems to me that the older the furniture is, the tighter people hold on to it. There is a tendency to value older items as “antiques” or to feel that you are letting down some family legacy by letting go of a piece of furniture that was passed on to you by the previous generation. I promise you, your ancestors want you to be happy. And they don’t want to see that you are holding on to a piece of furniture that doesn’t serve you out of a perverse sense of duty.
William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I urge you to remember that your furniture exits to serve you. Not the other way around. Larger traditional homes are being sub-divided into ever smaller pieces of real estate. New homes are being built to smaller specifications. It is becoming increasingly more important that furniture should be multi-functional and tailored to suit the property it is in. The truth is that it is highly unlikely that a particular piece of furniture will be perfect for all the lifestyles of multiple generations of a single family. So please, dispose of those things that don’t serve you any more, so that you can have space in your home to live the life you want.
So you’re planning a home move to a new property and now you have to deal with all your stuff. Everything is going to have to be packed up, dismantled, wrapped up and carted off to the new place. It seems like a massive undertaking.
Where should we begin? I always recommend that people who are planning a home move, start their planning process by drawing up a floor plan of the new house or flat. A lot of estate agents provide floor plans as part of the property’s online listing. You could easily download the images from the internet and print them to a scale that suits you. Alternatively, a simple hand-drawn layout is perfectly fine as well. The main thing is to have a reasonable estimate of the proportions of each room. Secondly, you want to have a general idea of the size of the available floor space.
Use the Floor Plan as a Planning Tool
Now we can use the floor plan to plot out furniture and storage areas. Before filling in the spaces, take a moment to reflect on what you want your new life to look like. For example, if you’re making this home move because you need extra space for a new member of the family, plot that into your floor plan. The new baby will need a crib, a changer and a chest of drawers or shelves for storage. For the first run, fill out your floor plan without consideration of what you already own. Look at all the things you’ll be doing in the new house. Everyone in the family needs a place to sleep, so draw in the bedrooms. Each bedroom needs a bed and some storage for clothing. Does your family like to eat at a dining table, a breakfast bar or on the sofa? Does your family like to watch TV together or do you each watch your own on separate devices? Take all your family idiosyncrasies and the new changes that you are introducing and use them to plan out what furniture and storage you need in your new home.
Once you’ve planned the layout of your new home, make a list of all the furniture and storage that you need. Now review the list of what you need and check off everything that you already have. The items that remain unchecked on your list are things that you will have to buy for your new home. Now you can go round your current home and take a look at the furniture that did not make it on to your list. You may still want to take some of these items to your new home for sentimental reasons. But you may very well find that you can do without some of those items. You could try offering them to others who may be in need. You could try selling them online or you may opt to dispose of them. It’s always working thinking through these things before you conduct your home move.
Use the Floor Plan as a Communication Tool
In the run up to your home move you will find that many conversations arise about your new home. You will be discussing with fellow family members about where the furniture should go. You might be discussing with builders about a renovation project. You might be discussing with an interior designer about decor ideas. Or with a decorator about paintwork that needs to be done. In all these scenarios it is immensely handy to have a map of the house that can be used a visual tool to aid communication.
While conducting removals, we have found that floor plans help to speed up the home move job. This is mainly because the customer can clearly and easily tell us exactly where they want each thing to be placed. When the customer has already made most of the decisions about how they want their new home to be set up, it means that we can get it done for them very quickly. However, if we have a team of people at the ready to bring furniture in to the new house, but then have to wait for the customer to make their decisions, it slows the whole process down.
So when you are planning your next home move, I strongly recommend that you make use of a floor plan to help you through your planning process. And to communicate your ideas with other people.
I have been doing this job a long time. And the one truth that is universal about all home moves is that they stem from an emotional decision. Nobody randomly wakes up in the morning and decides out of thin air that the one thing they really want to do is move. To pack up all their belongings, dismantle all their furniture and move it all into a new home that isn’t quite suited for their stuff. It doesn’t happen. And when laid out like that, it is a wonder that people even convince themselves to move at all.
So why do people move? I’ve found that generally the reasons stem from an evolution in their life. For example, two people fall in love and decide to take the next step in their relationship and move in together. A young family welcomes a new child into their home and now need more space for the little human and the many things that seem to follow them. Taking up a new job opportunity might require a relocation to another part of the nation or indeed to another country entirely. Perhaps the children have all left home and it’s time to look at moving into a smaller more manageable apartment from the large family home. Generally a home move indicates a movement in life as well.
Choose your new home for your new life
When planning your move it is always important to remember the underlying reason for the move. This should be taken into consideration when selecting the new home. For example, do you need more or less bedrooms as your family changes? Do you need space for a home office or do you simply need a pied-à-terre because your new job is going to keep you on the road? Do you need lots of family living space or a garden for the kids to run around in? The location is also important. Does the new home have to be near to the new job or the children’s school or the grandchildren?
By extension, before you actually start packing up your home, you should consider what you will need in this new life. Sometimes very little changes, such as a family home with 3 children will now have 4 children. Chances are you won’t be getting rid of anything, but you will need an extra bed and maybe a bigger dining table or sofa set. On the other hand, if you’re at the stage of life where you’re downsizing from the large family home to a little two bedroom bungalow, you will probably be getting rid of things. It’s always important to think about what you will need for your new life and only take those things into your new home. Rather than trying to squash all the furniture and belongings you currently have into a home that has been selected for the new life that you are going to lead.
When a reptile grows out of it’s skin, it sheds it and grows into new skin that is better suited to the current version of it’s body. In the same way, when human beings move into a new home, we are evolving as individuals and as family units and we should not be afraid to let go of those things that are no longer going to serve us in the new life that we are planning to lead.
I found several removal stories online of other companies confessing of times when things have not quite gone the right way. And the first thing I thought, after laughing out loud, was that most of them were simply down to silly mistakes that could’ve been easily avoided by doing removals the right way.
- “We emptied a house in London, filled two vans and sent the family off to their new home in Devon while we filled a third van. We found their cat asleep upstairs, so popped him in the van as well. We expected a tearful reunion between the family and cat when we got to Devon, only to discover that it wasn’t their cat.”
The simplest thing would’ve been to contact the customer and ask them a) whether they had a cat, and b) what the arrangements were for its relocation. Even if it were their cat, they may have asked the neighbours to keep it. Whatever the case, before a long drive, always check before you leave that you’ve taken everything that was asked to be taken, and anything left behind is done so on purpose.
- “Three of our removals guys were sent to a job on the King’s Road. They turned up at the address and explained to the cleaner, who answered the door and spoke little English, that they were there to move its contents, and started loading the lorry. The client called me later that morning to ask where the removals men had got to; only then did I realise that the King’s Road they had gone to was the Chelsea one, not the correct address in Richmond. By the time the error was realised, they had cleared the entire first floor. One person who was delighted was the cleaner as it meant she could give the ground floor a thorough clean before they put all the contents back into place and headed off to the correct address.”
This is a case of miscommunication and incomplete information. In this business, you ALWAYS need the full address of all locations involved, no matter how familiar you are with the area. Do you know how many Church Lanes there are? Having this information alone would’ve been enough, but then you have someone unexpected meeting you at the address too. The removal crew calling the office (or the customer) to ask about the cleaner being the point of contact at the current address would’ve cleared things up. We prefer to have the owner/bill payer be on site but understand if they can’t be in multiple places on the same day. For this reason, we check whether we should be expecting someone else on the other side of the door before we even send our crew out.
- “One of my first moves was a London office where the manager told me they needed about 30 crates and had no furniture. I turned up, on my own and with my one truck, and they had nearly 600 crates.”
Why do you need to do a survey? Case in point. ‘Nuff said.
- “Some customers can be overly ambitious. One lady wanted to move the contents of her Scottish farm to a top-floor flat in the Barbican, in the City of London. Included in the haul was a Massey Ferguson 130 tractor. She hadn’t thought through the fact that there was no way we were going to be able to get that in the flat.”
When conducting a survey, certain questions are asked such as what size property will you be moving to? A very simple question and answer would have led our surveyor to advise that the customer be realistic about what to take to the new home – more importantly, what would fit. Sometimes people are so attached to their possessions that they cannot imagine letting them go until someone does the maths and tells them it’s not possible to take everything with them, at least not all to the same place.
People depend on professionals to be prepared and ready to handle the hectic moving day, but we’re all human and some things can go wrong no matter how hard you try. Sometimes, there’s nothing left to do but laugh at an unpredictable situation.