Decluttering

decluttering bookshelvesThis May is mostly about moving house. We came to this home as newlyweds, so there is a definite sadness in leaving it. It has its imperfections (shabby around the edges, an awkward staircase for negotiating a bike up, a distinct lack of cupboards), but it is the first place we made ours, and it will always be special for it. It’s time for a new adventure though, and it seemed a good moment to start decluttering our lives.

The years we’ve lived here have given plenty of time to accumulate clothes, paperwork, the trappings that make four walls into a home. I can no longer fit my life into a suitcase; instead we are prepared not just for daily life but also for the seasons – boxes of handmade christmas decorations, camping gear for the annual church festival, spare bedding ready for the arrival of friends and family…

We want to make our home a sanctuary – for us and for those who enter it – without making it a fort of stockpiled items. Our wardrobes and rooms are dominated by second-hand items from local charity shops and our generous church family. A surplus of second-hand items is still unnecessary consumption though, something we are trying to avoid in moving to more sustainable living.

This house move is a chance to declutter again, but what criteria should we use for filtering items? I veer between two extremes of hoarding (my own stuff) and ruthlessness (with other people’s), so I’m seeking to apply William Morris’s principle:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Two simple categories, whilst still allowing for personal preference. The challenge comes with my newfound forays into upcycling. What if it could be useful in the future, with a bit of effort? What if it requires some work, even money, to make it beautiful? My brain starts to overthink the principle’s application, and I must remind myself that this is just a guideline to filter my sentimentality. It is a way to ensure our home reflects our values of sustainability, community and creativity. I’m looking forward to seeing what this looks like in the new place.

The bookshelf was acquired second-hand from a local charity shop. The books are primarily from childhood or second-hand sources. The vintage suitcase was a last-minute acquisition for our wedding and currently stores sewing patterns. These things are likely to survive the moving cull (for now). 

Today’s soundtrack: Imogen Heap // Sparks

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3 thoughts on “Decluttering

  1. I totally relate to the “veering”. I constantly am amazed at how much stuff my husband has – I think our entire flat is filled with it. He, on the other hand, is completely convinced that 95% of it is mine. (He is wrong, but until I have ruthlessly decluttered every unnecessary item of mine, I feel I have nowhere to go with his stuff!)

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