All of our services at Kuzak’s Closet are solution based. I talk families and real estate agents daily about their organization and clutter issues and I let them know that no matter what, I will offer a solution to their problem. In most cases, I can create an action plan within the 30-45 minutes that we meet during a consultation. But, in cases like this project, I might need a few hours to come up with a creative solution.
I enjoy being able to think on my toes and get outside my comfort zone and I’m a firm believer that each tricky project leads to the next tricky project. What Kuzak’s Closet can accomplish each week grows and grows as estate and organizational scenarios expand our problem solving skills.
For this project I was referred by a real estate agent that we do a lot of work with. His client had a complex estate with several factors that needed to be addressed. The only factor that the client knew for sure is that he wanted to outsource all these factors to a local company so he could spend his free time getting his aging father settled into his new home. We met for a consultation and I returned back to him later that day with a proposal that outlined a 5 day organizing schedule. The result would leave him with a broom swept and empty home that could be prepped and sold in this fast moving Silicon Valley real estate market.
In today’s post I thought it might be interesting to go through each factor in this estate and let you know how we were able to solve the problem. I will give you a side-note, my husband doesn’t like the title of this post because he just launch a multi-factor authentication product for Google but I couldn’t think of a better name. This project truly was multi-factor!
The first facotr of this project that needed to be addressed before anything else was to help our client’s 5 siblings remove or ship the items that they wanted to keep. The biggest help for him was to have us set a start date. There is nothing like a solid deadline to get everyone moving. The morning we started there were two siblings loading up boxes and furniture to be kept. Their father is quite the wood worker so it was neat to see all of the items that he made over the years get loaded up to be saved and passed on to the next generation. My grandfathers were both woodworkers so I enjoy a wood shop and the creativity that each piece entails. These chairs are two of the pieces that our client’s father made, aren’t they amazing!
For the pieces that were not picked up, because of out of state children, we worked with our shipping partner Craters and Freighters to handle the packing and shipping. There were china sets, crystal stemware, yearbooks and paperwork, and additional small furniture picked up by the shipping company after we were able to get quotes approved for the shipping costs.
The next big factor was this huge wood shop in the garage. We needed to evaluate the value of the wood, the machines, and the hand tools so we could maximize the value and sell things online. A shopper on my email list named Ruth belongs to a wood working club here in the Bay Area and she was gracious enough to come by and take a look at the wood. I’ve had to liquidate dozens of wood shops in my years here in Silicon Valley. They were popular for the engineers that pioneered this area but it’s always good to have a second opinion to take a look and give some advice. What we found was that the value was in the cherry and the mahogany but that the bulk of the wood was oak. Oak can be difficult to use if it’s been sitting for awhile and the color consistency isn’t the same.
For the machines, I used my experience to develop a price list and we sold all of the items online through Craigslist and our Instagram shop called @shopkuzakscloset. It’s relatively new but it’s been working out great! I figured that our shoppers are shopping on Craigslist and we are selling on Craigslist so we should create a community where we know who each other are.
The goal with the wood was to sell it to one or two buyers as large lots but to also maximize value. We found out quickly we’d need to break the wood into smaller lots and ended up selling in smaller groups to 5 individual buyers.
I tried to buy this truck from the buyer who came to pick up a few machines and some wood. He said he is the original owner, bought it new in the 70s. His wife came with him to pick up the items and said she has been following along with Kuzak’s Closet’s sale opportunities since we did the big sale at the castle in Los Altos Hills in 2011. Very cool!
If you are noticing all of the chemicals and toxic chemicals near the wood, that is the next factor that we had to deal with. It was probably the easiest factor in this entire project. We recycle loads and loads of old paint, household cleaners, and chemicals each week through a partner in Hayward. It’s a job that Billy has a love hate relationship with but it’s always on his to-do list. It would’ve taken our client 5-8 separate appointments to recycle this volume on his own so he was happy that we would handle it.
The garage/wood shop took the most time to empty because we had to set up appointments for buyers. After the sellable wood was sold, we worked with a metal recycler to haul away anything of value and took remaining debris to be trashed. I always like to sell what we can and then deal with the mess later because you never know what someone will be interested in buying. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all!
It looks a lot different empty and broom swept…
The next factor was all of the “stuff” in the house that the family didn’t want. This was probably the fastest part of the project which probably seems surprising when some of the rooms looked like this…
But the reality is when we come in, we are looking for items of value, items that can be donated, items that can be given away for free if that can’t be donated, items to be recycled, and items to be trashed. Taylor and Hope were in charge of sorting the room above and they were done before lunch. We had items listed online for free, van loads hauled away to charity, and a handful of things to be sold through our Instagram shop called @shopkuzakscloset. If you were wondering how large the room was it’s much easier to see when it was emptied…
The next factor was a hidden wine cellar under the living room. We named it “the wine hole” and our job was to find an expert to evaluate the 1,000+ bottle collection so we could determine a value, possibly sell some of the collection (we don’t have a license do sell alcohol so we would work with an auction company on the sales) and then dispose of the wine that didn’t have a value.
One of my organizing clients has a wonderful wine collection that we have helped move and organize over the years. He has worked with wine experts from Company Fine Wine to build his collection and Nick from Company Fine Wine was willing to come down from Napa to evaluate the collection for a fee. It was a weight off of our shoulders and our client’s shoulders to have an expert look at the collection. We opened up the wine hole for him when he arrived and he spent hours down there looking at the collection, sending pictures to his partner Matt, and doing research.
At the end he came to the conclusion that nothing was auction worthy, most of the bottles had been exposed to too much heat, the corks had dried out so the bottles had too much oxygen inside, and the color of the white wine showed that it was not drinkable. He recommended that we keep a case of this wine for our client’s family to open and test but the rest needed to be disposed of.
Our client’s father was disappointed to find that his collection wasn’t worth collecting after all. Most of the wine he purchased over the years was meant to drink right away, not to be saved for years to come. We spent an entire afternoon pulling wine out of the wine hole, it was so packed that we could only have one person in the hole at a time to pass the bottles up to Ese and Taylor.
So much wine! We all love wine but after this project we switched to drinking beer for a few weeks, ha!
We organized the bottles on tables and in boxes so our client could have a chance to come back and see the collection “above ground” if he wanted to. Hope worked on creating a list of what was there as far as whites, reds, sparkling, etc. and did a bottle count. In the end we totaled up 1,403 bottles.
The client agreed with the evaluation from Nick and Company Fine Wine so our next task was to find a way to dispose of it. In the end we needed to work with someone who would handle ethanol disposal so Billy and Ese loaded up the van and off it went.
This was a fun and interesting project for all of us. We were able to work together as a team on the first day and then we were broken up into smaller groups for the rest of the project. In the end the client was thrilled that it was empty, broom swept, and get on the market that much sooner without him having to lift a finger.
This project was next to an old school donut shop in Mountain View so I couldn’t resist picking up some treats as a reward on the last day of organizing this estate. Chocolate cake donuts with sprinkles are my weakness!