We lived in four caretaker houses in the last year (and totally drank wine in a fifth, then packed everything back out again). Our deal with caretakers was that the clock started ticking the moment we stepped over the threshold: 5 days, and that place better be ready to show. Furniture set up, décor out, boxes tucked away. People thought we were crazy - how can you be ready to go in five days, but each time, we were.
It has now been 19 days since we moved into our "own" place, and there are still 4 boxes in the living room that I haven't opened. There are empty spaces above the kitchen cabinets, a bare wall above the fire place, and closets I haven't touched. Why is this taking so darn long??
Well, the answer to that is two-fold.
1) We really did only ever unpack a tiny fraction of what we owned each time we moved, and still have a ton of stuff, despite not one but TWO garage sales, Craigslist ads and several well-timed runs to Goodwill.
As you may be aware, I have some OCD tendencies, especially when it comes to cleaning. However, this is me being (relatively) objective here! Anita only lived in this house part-time. The rest of the time she lived in Florida. Now, you wouldn't necessarily know this, because the house was totally full to overflowing with oversized furniture, and literally every closet was stuffed to the door - mostly with clothes. She even had the shed in the yard filled with clothes- and at the closing, told us that she used that for her closet (no kidding!)
Immediately before she sold the house, Anita had rented the place, fully furnished and including her wardrobe, out to three college boys. We met them when we came to see the house. Nice boys, but renters and college boys at that. I'm assuming there wasn't a lot of cleaning that went on. I'm also assuming that they didn't have much stuff, because I don't know where they would have put it.
Knowing this, we asked in our purchase offer, that she have the house professionally cleaned prior to closing, which she agreed to.
I have the receipt for the carpet cleaning, which I am grateful for, but if that house was professionally cleaned otherwise, I will eat my hat.
However, I will not eat the food splatter that was left on the kitchen floor.
This house has some serious dirt, and while I don't want to go as far as to call it "filthy," because it certainly isn't, that doesn't stop me from thinking it is chalk-full of filth as I'm scrubbing what appear to be full-on farmer's blow, snot rockets off the bathroom walls, ceiling and doors. I'm having TB nightmares. I've gone through half a bottle of family-sized PineSol and I'm not close to done.
It's gross (there's the OCD talking, not the objectiveness).
Therefore, before anything can get unpacked, the room that stuff goes to has to be cleaned. Every shelf in every closet, and the closet walls and ceiling, have to be washed. Every room wall must be scrubbed. Every dust-crusted baseboard must be de-crusted. Otherwise, I can't, I just CAN'T, unpack in there.
In the kitchen, I've learned that fired food must have been a house specialty. Before the kitchen could be set up, I had to wash out all the cupboards, and realized that there was a thick film of grease over everything near the stove. It got worse as I reached to top of the cabinets, and required that I come back with something akin to superpowers to remove it. The cabinets are a light colored wood, but the tops of them had turned dark grey, slathered with years of fry oil. It took a product called Krud Kutter, full-strength and left on the cabinets for several minutes, to cut through and remove the ooze.
So, it's been a slow process. That being said, at least you have a guarantee that if you come visit, you will stay in a clean house, with clean walls, bathrooms, floors, etc.
Just don't come until this weekend, or I may ask you to pull on a pair of rubber gloves, and get to work.