After my aunt passed away and my uncle moved into a retirement facility, I helped my cousins prepare their three-bedroom split level home for sale. The process of preparing for the sale took many months. After that, I also needed to help clear another relative’s large home and another one’s apartment. An organizer helped me with one of them, throwing away just about everything that was not attached. After these experiences, I knew that I did not want to leave our house for our children to “clean up”. However, finding the kind of help I need was elusive.
I don’t have a specific “sell date”, but it is important to me to have my home ready for staging while still living in it for a while. I learned a new description of what I want to do. It is ‘Staging to Live’. Claudia McLaughlin, Founder of CMF Transitional Organization (CMFTO™) explained this idea to me. I had the delight of speaking with her recently. She shared some new, helpful ideas such as: “staging to live means living worry-free when your home is edited in a way that is unique to you and your lifestyle, leaving you ready to react to any home-related transition that comes along.”
What sets this company apart is their personal approach to meeting their client’s needs. Whether it’s a senior relocation, a corporate or individual move, or staging to live in preparation for what’s to come, CMFTO has developed the best solution to the age-old question: What do I do with all my stuff?
CMFTO approaches things differently from other people I have worked with. Claudia is different. She focuses first on what you want to keep, by creating three specific lists:
- Things you need, and use;
- Things you love, and use;
- Things you love, and don’t use.
Everything else falls into the “get rid of it” category, which her team then addresses for you with compassion and an attention to detail. (They’ve even found missing jewelry tucked away at the back of a linen closet for one of their clients.)
The CMFTO team recognizes that simply getting rid of something because it’s no longer “useful” doesn’t honor the emotional memory held in the object. When you’re dealing with objects that carry emotion, it’s important to be respectful and have a discussion before you ever begin. From there, a plan is created so that everybody is on the same page and in agreement. With Claudia at the helm, the CMFTO team approaches every project with compassion, respect, and understanding, which is why they are so successful at what they do.
For two decades, Claudia and CMFTO have helped thousands of clients move through home-related life transitions with ease. Over this time, they have perfected a 5-step approach that guides them in creating a customized plan for every client, as follows:
1. Starting the Conversation.
Getting all the family members involved to discuss options and future goals. Creating agreement.
2. Making the Plan.
Working with the client to create a customized plan (including a timeline) to meet their specific needs.
Identifying what has meaning, what has use, and what is no longer wanted or needed, by the client or any relatives.
4. Addressing Remaining Items.
Deciding whether to sell, donate, or recycle the remaining unwanted items.
5. Final Steps.
Staging the house for sale or overseeing the move and installation in a new location.
I had an opportunity to interview Claudia McLaughlin as follows:
B. K. What was the motivation for expanding the original interior design business to helping people relocate?
C. M. Meeting the realtors’ needs. I was first contacted 22 years ago to assist a well-known Chicago realtor with a client challenge… meeting her close date within six weeks.
B. K. Your company approaches relocation with sensitivity and direction. How did you develop this approach?
C. M. I was raised in an extended family with my grandparents and parents’ friends and social network often present in our household, playing cards, baking cakes, taking my brothers on their paper routes, etc. Through those years, I gained great perspective on how to interact with people, regardless of their age or situation. We were raised with respect for anyone that crossed our threshold.
B. K. How do you account for the growth of CMFTO?
C. M. Our attention to detail and quality of service speaks to both our clients and referring sources. Word of mouth referral from satisfied clients has been the driving force behind our growth over the years.
B. K. As you celebrate 20 years, what are your plans for the future?
C. M. To continue to expand our services and client base throughout the country, including creating new offerings to reach a wider audience.
B. K. Are there any special moments that you experienced during the 20 years in business that you would like to share with our readers?
C. M. I worked with Jim Hughes, a beloved client, for over two years preparing his “fully accessorized” home for market. After we prepared it, we had the privilege of then moving him into a senior community with his wife of 54 years. Our time together turned a client relationship into a friendship that continues to this day, like it does for many of our clients. It’s the best part of what we do.
As I move forward working with Claudia and her team, I hope to reach that worry-free point of “staging to live”, and I will share what follows.
More information about CMFTO