Where to start? There are stacks of boxes, scads of stuff, and loads of unrecognizable containers. What can you do to start making your house/apartment/condo/duplex into a home? Begin unpacking and placing the familiar things from your former life. If you’ve planned ahead, furniture and boxes are now in the appropriate rooms. If not, they may be scattered helter-skelter throughout your abode. Walk through your home and familiarize yourself with where things are—or should be. As needed, make notes or sketches in your Smart Moving Notebook.

If you have room, start placing your furniture in the best location within the room. Yes, you may move it again next month but, for now, place it as best you can. Next, set up any appliances you’ll be needing. That means the microwave (open me first!), stove, refrigerator, and small kitchen and bathroom appliances. You’re probably tired of take-out food by now and a good home-cooked meal may sound appetizing—or not. Even if you’re not going to do any cooking, you’ll soon need the hair dryer.

Then, before you really start unpacking, put away any boxes that you don’t need to unpack in the next week. These can be placed in an empty corner of the room, a spare room, the garage, or a basement or outbuilding, depending on available space and energy.

Okay, now you’re ready to tackle the unpacking job. Where to start? There are no firm rules. So much depends on how many folks in your moving group, whether they are a help or hindrance to unpacking, and how much time is available. Here are some suggestions.

“What if we just call a freelance arsonist, and then the insurance adjuster?!” No! I know you’re frustrated at all the boxes stacked to the ceiling. But burning the place down isn’t the answer. Unpacking smart is the answer!

What should you unpack first? Unless you want to sleep on the couch for awhile, unpack bedding and make beds first. Or, if you’d prefer, at least get all the beds set up and some sleeping bags out. You’re better off starting tomorrow morning with a good night’s rest, and you’ll be grateful the beds are already made when you’re ready to collapse into them.

Next, unpack bathroom items and other personal things. Even putting an overnight case with your bathroom things in the throne room will help make your place a temporary home.

Then, unpack your kitchen. For some folks, this step simply means unboxing and plugging in the microwave and coffee pot. For others, it means installing or connecting the stove, refrigerator, or other major kitchen appliances. Unpacking the kitchen also means making sure the cabinets and drawers are clean and filling them with dishes, pots and pans, utensils, and whatever foodstuffs and cooking supplies you brought. Now aren’t you glad you marked those boxes well when you packed them up?

Next probably comes the living room or family room. If you have young children, place the couch and set up the TV and VCR. Make a deal with the kids: After they unpack a certain number of boxes or help for a set amount of time, you’ll let them loose on the home theatre. You won’t have to wonder what they’re getting into while you do more unpacking.

(After the common stuff that everyone uses (kitchen, bath, laundry room, living room) is unpacked, move on to unpacking bedrooms. Depending on their ages, physical capabilities, and endurance levels, each family member can unpack and arrange his or her own room.

Tomorrow, this weekend, or next month, unpack the decorative dust-catchers and arrange them as the final touches on your new home. Unpack the pictures, collections, wall decorations, mantle clutter and other things.

Then? Head for the garage and/or storage building if you have one. There are probably lots of boxes left that were unidentified or considered less-necessary. Unpack them or store them as appropriate. And here’s a bonus: Any packed boxes that you store in the attic or basement will be ready for your next move!

Moving Tips

Some folks start unpacking room by room. They work on the room until it is just like they want it, and then the move on to the next. Consider this method for your move-in.

Cleaning Up