Decluttering Without Tears

Most of us are secret hoarders living in homes filled to the brim with clutter. Our attics are crammed with our children’s old toys, chipped china ornaments, broken suitcases, cardboard boxes and bric-a-brac we can’t bear to throw away – not to mention the clothes, shoes and handbags overflowing from our wardrobes, and DIY and gardening tools in our sheds and garages.

It is madness how much stuff we keep but very frightening if we begin to contemplate throwing any of it away.

Over the years I have developed all sorts of strategies to purging our home of ‘stuff’ and discovered that going through one room at a time is manageable – and rekindling that virtuous feeling when it is clearer, looking bigger and tidier makes all the effort worthwhile.

Every item should be scrutinised before it’s allowed into your new house or even remain in your existing one. The consequence, if done well, will be a clean, pared-down, surprisingly optimistic environment for the next phase of your life. The strange thing is, you seldom if ever, miss the things you have given away, when you have given the things you love the space to breathe.


Jane’s tips to clearing the clutter mountain

  • Stick to the William Morris rule. If an object isn’t beautiful or useful, don’t live with it.
  • Plan your space. Imagine where each item is going to go in your new home. If there is no room for granny’s sideboard, pass it on to someone else in the family, or sell it.
  • Papers and photographs. Frame photographs and family mementos you treasure. Stick others into scrapbooks or photo albums. Pics of people you don’t know can be binned and scan the rest and keep on your ipad.
  • Damaged goods. Ruthlessly fix or throw away anything that is broken or chipped. It’s far better to move into your new house with everything working and clean.
  • Heirlooms. If you are saving items for your children, hand them over now. You might be surprised how little they want. If great-uncle Albert’s commode isn’t to your taste or theirs why hang onto it? Sell it on ebay and give them the money.
  • Keep only what you intend to use. If you only play the piano once a year, consider selling it. If you can’t actually read the complete works of Trollope without a magnifying glass trade it in for a Kindle.
  • Kitchen equipment and cookbooks. Chuck that icecream maker with its 10 attachments that you only used once along with the Teasmaid, fondu set and sushi maker. And do you need all those cookbooks?
  • Rid your clutter from your home. When you have decided what should go, take it straight to the menders, dustbin, charity shop, child’s house or auction room. Don’t let it sit around reproaching you.
  • Get some help. If the process is too emotionally fraught enlist the help of a family member, friend or a professional, (Google ‘Clutter Clearing’ on the Internet).


For more information on services offered by Churchill Retirement Living, including downsizing, please find out more about how you can Move With Ease.


Jane Slade – Retiremove Editor