I was so fortunate to work with Robin Caton founder of Found Stuff Estate Sales and Appraisals on this story. Robin has been a full-time antique dealer and certified appraiser for almost two decades. She is an expert in art, antiques, jewelry and collectibles. Found Stuff Estate Sales and Appraisals is her full-time business.
If you missed the first part of this story, you can find out more about Robin, the homeowner, and the backstory in Part 1. I interviewed Robin and her employees as they prepared a hoarder home for an upcoming estate sale. The house was packed floor to ceiling on all three floors. The team cleared out rooms, priced merchandise, and conducted three sales. This post focuses on a tour of the house and its furnishings.
Part 2: A Tour of the House
The House was built around 1900. While it is boarded up today, not too long ago it was a quaint Victorian with a wrap around porch. It is located in Portland Oregon and sits on two city lots. Portland Maps showed the home’s last purchase was in 1990 (to the recently deceased owner) for $35,000. According to an on line realtor site it sold for $550,000 (just the lots, the house is to be demolished for the construction of multi-unit housing).
There was evidence that-at one time- the home owner who later became a hoarder, had a well-kept, perhaps even magical garden. Beneath the refuse, broken architectural salvage, and building materials I could make out brick pathways, pergolas, and artistic yard decor. The house was shrouded and the two city lots seemed to have a whimsical landscape design. The yard was populated with many trees and mature plants.
Here is the home a few years before the sale as listed on
Just as with some of the items in the interior, the exterior decor had some remarkable and expensive features. Dark red cast iron flowers sat above the windows. An iron lion was perched just below the roofline, above the row of windows in the third story, partially finished attic. The front door frame was intricately carved wood. The columns were added by the former owner another example of the eclectic and enchanting quality found inside and outside of the home.
Stairs and Hallways
While there was room to navigate the halls and stairs, the passage way walls were covered with framed pictures and paintings, many of which were religious. As with the other rooms with the house, chandelier’s were everywhere. Those hanging from the hallway ceilings were not wired. Unlit, these large crystal chandeliers kept the narrow spaces dark and haunted. The rooms off the halls were mostly obstructed by furniture and piles of stuff. One of the bedrooms had not even been opened at the time of my visit. It was completely closed up, blocked by the objects inside and around the hallway door.
The team had already cleared out the downstairs when I started this story.The upstairs remained as it was when the former owner lived in the house. I interviewed Robin Caton during the preparation for the second of three sales in this home.
The Hidden Room
The hidden room was at the end of the hallway. It was a room that Robin and her team had not been able to enter because of piles of objects obstructing the door on both sides. She gave me the first peek at the room. As in the other bedrooms there were a number of large carved pieces (dressers, sideboards, etc.). More chandeliers. A heavy wooden four post bed sat in the center. Linens, pillows, lamps, and other objects were in piles on top of the bed almost to the ceiling.
Robin pushed open the door and there was a narrow pathway through five to six foot piles of tapestry, pillows, porcelain / brass figurines. A canopy was draped over the bed around a wire valance resembling a large tiara. The metal valance was decorated with earrings, costume jewelry, and small ornaments.
I was afraid to venture into the hidden room, not knowing what was underneath the piles. Instead, I took video of the room from the doorway.
The “after” was dramatic and had an emotional impact on me, more so than anything else about the hoarder house. Once cleared out, this room gave me a strong feeling of the former home owner. The heavy carved furniture, rich tapestries, asian vases, framed paintings, and figurines had a Renaissance feel. Once Robin and her crew cleared out the piles, the original room came through.
To me it was a metaphor. The man before the neurosis. Or perhaps, the man buried underneath his neurosis.
The remaining rooms upstairs were similarly packed with items. Robin said that there were hundreds and hundreds of “smalls” (smaller items sold at the sale) with goodwill stickers. She described it as a goodwill addiction. I can relate to estate sale and good will “addiction.” I can attest to the treasure hunting fervor rummaging through bins in the hopes of finding a priceless treasure. In part 3, I will talk about hoarding and the psychology behind the the compulsion to collect or save to the point that it interferes with the inability to live a normal life.
The Partially Finished Attic