Clearing Out: Some Tips for When It’s Time to Downsize


t happens slowly, imperceptibly: a thrift store bargain here, a forgotten birthday present there; yards of old fabric and the log splitter you used one time; leftover paint cans and bags of weed killer. You’ve got a houseful of stuff, and little recollection of how it got there.

If you’re thinking about moving from a house to a smaller space, or have been tasked with clearing out your parents’ home, you might initially be seized with a feeling like: terror. (Do I hire someone? Will the kids help? I can’t even locate a piece of paper and a pen…)

Clearing out a house takes confidence; confidence and the right contacts. Contacts who can get dumpsters delivered and emptied; take old computer equipment, old wood and metal scrap, old paint and weed killer; contacts who  buy vintage clothing, mid-century furniture, books and valuables, resellable art or the entire contents of the house.

This is Recycling 2.0: repurposing, reselling and envisioning a second life for household goods that might end up in a landfill were it not for your hard work, contacts and multiple car trips.

If the heavy lift of emptying a full house falls to you, be assured there are plenty of good people to help, and truly  a place for everything.

A man and his father joyfully packing boxes to move in an apartment.

The Big Move

If you are moving a family member to senior living, and need someone who understands the impact a move to a senior community will have on an older person, Discover Organizing can help. Formerly a social worker and human resources professional, owner and former Mt. Lebanon resident Jill Yesko has been in the organizing business since 2003. Three of her employees have earned the credential of Senior Move Managers from the National Association of Senior Move Managers.

Yesko and her specialists work virtually with senior clients throughout the entire process. She has published a Senior Resource Guide for Kindle on Amazon, and has a library of instructional videos for family on her website. If decision overwhelm rears up during the sorting process, she can temporarily store the undecided items in a franchise she owns, Homestretch Storage, until a later date. Creating client albums of loved possessions, curating photos and uploading them to a digital frame are among their attentive touches. A gentle, personalized transition is always their highest goal, she said. “(The elder) is still a whole person, about to make their last move. We can ease them into the transition, guide them at their own pace, and preserve some good memories.”

Gold jewelry sitting on a table.

Diamonds & Trust

Robert Truver of Truver’s Jewelry apprenticed right out of high school to a master jeweler in the Clark Building, once the home of Pittsburgh’s diamond trade. He’s done business in his corner building at West Liberty, one block from Scott Road, since 1997.

Truver sells and designs jewelry, has a large professional network of jewelers and collectors on the lookout for estate pieces—items from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s—and specific cuts of diamonds. “Some diamonds are more in demand than others,” he explained. Oval, pear-shaped, and marquise are hot items now. “Some (customers) come in simply to identify exactly what it is they have—whether it’s gold filled or gold and silver” and its approximate value. Truver’s has simple advice for those looking to sell silver: if a piece is truly sterling silver, it will bear the word “sterling” stamped somewhere on its surface. That tea set of Mom’s might get tarnished, but unless it’s stamped “sterling’ it’s silverplate, not sterling silver, he explained.

Truver does evaluations for his customers by appointment on Mondays.  He is a Gemological Institute of America-certified diamond expert, offers shopping appointments via FaceTime and Zoom, and does insurance appraisals.

some things layed out on a table, and clothes hung up on a rack with a sign that says "estate sale".

Final Clearance

Linda Wilson, CEO of LAW Estate Sales has done estate sales for more than 20 years throughout Allegheny and Washington counties, and as far north as Grove City.

At the first meeting about a prospective sale, she sits with her client for more than an hour. “I need to know about their family, their expectations, their preferences. It all matters. I’m very detail oriented, so no detail is too small to me,” she explains. To select someone to handle an estate sale for you, it’s important to interview at least two people, she suggests. “You should get a feel for them, and have a comfort level with whoever you choose. Let them know what’s important to you, prepare some questions and see how the conversation goes.”

Speaking of comfort, Wilson has always preferred to limit the number and spacing of people attending her estate sales, even before the pandemic. Wilson can arrange for a clearance company to show up at the end, see what’s left over and give you a price to include the labor of at least two people to load the truck. A large piano, sleeper sofa, or a television with an outsize cathode ray tube (CRT) can take three people to move.

“We take a lot of pride in our sales. We try to make it comfortable for everyone.” Coming from someone who has orchestrated estate sales in the hundreds by now, seen housefuls of china, cookie jars and countertop appliances, that’s a cheering thought.

One tip she’d like to pass on to the younger generation of homeowners:

“Three things have to be true before you buy something:

You need it.

You have a place for it;

and you’re going to use it.”

Wise words for us all.



Resources for Sell-Donate-Recycle

Old Tires

Liberty Tire Recycling


Wood molding, scrap wood

Construction Junction

List of what they accept changes periodically. They also have a great recycling resources list.


Batteries, lightbulbs, electronics

Batteries Plus

You can also bring old batteries to the customer service center in the Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building, 710 Washington Rd, weekdays between 8:30 and 5.


Dumpster Rental

G.I. Haul

Michael Brothers


Hard to recycle items

Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC)


Off the Floor


City Mission (Washington, PA)


Vietnam Veterans of America

Free Donation Pickup



Fabric, yarn, sewing notions, crafts materials

Center for Creative Reuse


Vintage clothing, accessories in saleable condition

Hey Betty! 

No consignments; direct offers only.

Eons Fashion Antique


No consignments; direct offers only.

Send photos to


Everything Else

Mt. Lebanon Pass-Along and Pick-up

Private Facebook group


A grassroots network of more than 9 million members.

Photos by iStock