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I decluttered so much stuff, we got rid of the house too

I’ve moved house.

Three little words that sum up months of hard work, see-saw emotions and a lot of emulsion.

We swapped our rambling Edwardian house with half an acre for a newish soulless box.

And couldn’t be happier.

This comes at the end of a pretty tumultuous year. It began last September when we went to live in the Caribbean after my husband’s job was made redundant here in England. He took a position on Grand Cayman, a tiny island just under Cuba. It was a fantastic eight months, we had some great adventures and made many good friends. We wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

But a tiny island has its limitations, and palm trees and cerulean seas couldn’t make up for missing our sons. A job came up in the UK so we returned this summer.

On the long flight home my mind turned to the stuff we’d left stored in my mother-in-law’s garage. I’d decluttered big time before we left, getting rid of furniture, clothes and general knick-knackery.

But from 36,000 feet up, I could barely remember what the garage held.

Was any of it really that precious?

I made a list of ‘Essentials’ and ‘Desirables’. The Essentials included Henry hoover, the Nutribullet, my favourite bread knife and the goose down duvet.

The Desirables list was trickier. Somewhere over the Atlantic, I realised I no longer desired the 20 year-old sofas and a motley collection of furniture and crockery I’d come by over a lifetime.

As lists go, it was fairly short:

1. Dorothy, an Edwardian shop mannequin that Dad and I pulled off a skip when I was 12.

2. My mother’s china dog – an ugly thing but she’d treasured it.

3. My parents’ wedding photo from 1945.

4. A laundry basket bought for £1 at an auction the year we got married.

5. The leopardy velvet cushions.

6. My peppers painting.

7. An album of our sons’ baby photos, taken pre-digital.

And that was it. If the rest got washed away in a freak North Sea wave, I’d be happy to start from scratch.

Making a list of belongings I truly valued felt powerful.

When we got home, more stuff went. Why keep 20 dinner plates when our table only sat six? So what if those curtains were expensive – I never liked them.

Who really needs a gravy boat?

Sofas, rugs, chairs, lamps, and anything else that hadn’t raised a frisson of excitement on the flight home went to Gumtree or charity.

The house was starting to echo…Two rooms had nothing in them and cupboards were bare.

Eventually: Why on earth were we keeping a half-empty house?

So we decluttered the entire thing and sold it. This sounds glib in retrospect; it was a lovely old place that had been in my husband’s family for 40 years. It held many wonderful memories.

Nevertheless, this summer we downsized drastically and set forth on a new, unfettered life of living with only things we love.

It wasn’t so much moving house as moving life on in leaps and bounds. It’s liberating… I feel like I’m on holiday. I buy far less and I’ve become very choosy.

I have set about injecting personality into the soulless box. It’s surprisingly exciting, like painting a new canvas, adding layers of colour and texture.

I ordered a new sofa, one I’ve lusted after for years.

What I’ve learned over the past year has informed the way I work. My forte is sorting your wardrobe. On that I am an expert. On other life issues, I tell it how it is for me and let you draw your conclusions.

But from experience and working with clients to declutter their lives, this is what I’d say:

If you’re gazing at your wardrobe, or your understairs cupboard, or an entire house full of stuff, and it’s making you feel stuck and tired, CHANGE something. Just start. Maybe move some paintings or sort the sock drawer, something innocuous.

Shifting stuff moves energy, and choosing to keep only with what you love is liberating.

I’ve found that every time I do this, something happens. It may not be what I expected, but like a wave crashing onto a beach, once the water recedes, the sand and shells and seaweed are never where you left them.

Try making a Desirables List. If you’re in the middle of your clutter and it’s overwhelming, leave the house. Go and stand in the street, or M&S knicker department, somewhere neutral that’s not home.

Now think: What would you grab from the tidal surge? What do you truly love?

My bet is your list won’t make ten fingers…

I work with clients to edit their wardrobe and shop for exciting additions to create a look that suits their lifestyle, colouring, shape, their style essence and their intention. They usually report back a feeling of lightness, clarity and, in some cases, head off for a complete life change.

If  you’re ready to get that wave rolling but really don’t know where to start, give me a call.

Together, who knows what we might wash up…

Until next time,
Sarah, Being Lois

Sarah Morgan is a personal stylist based in Norfolk UK.

If you’d like to see future blogs please sign up to my newsletter.

Website www.sarah-morgan.co.uk

Blog www.beinglois.com

4 comments

  1. You certainly changed my life, my lovely!
    It’s still a work in progress but I’m getting there. And I still love reading your blog ?? xx

    1. Thanks Jane. Will I be getting a postcard from Blackpool soon…? Sarah x

  2. Hi Sarah. I was struck by ‘just do SOMETHING’. So at 8am this morning you have spurred me on and I went into the spare bedroom and removed some pictures hanging on the wall in a room that is used only occasionally. I realised most of the pictures in there were there because I didn’t quite like them and had nowhere else to put them or I was too much of a coward to admit that this room had become the ‘also ran’ room. I’ve bubble wrapped three of the ten and the remainder are either waiting to be claimed by our children or will go to the charity shop. I am relieved to have made that decision. Thanks! And………. lots of happiness in your new home.x

    1. Thanks Dawn. The reasons people hold onto stuff they no longer like, fascinates me. Usually it’s just habit. What I have learned is that just because I have always had it, doesn’t mean I have to keep it. We are often absorbed by ‘worth’ – or what we once paid for it. Or maybe it was a gift or reminder of a place visited. I’ve come to realise I don’t need nick-necks to remind me how good life is – or I take photos and let the thing go. Paintings are interesting though. I only keep ones that make me feel happy – I was surprised at how many of mine were quite miserable in content! They’ve all gone… ‘Relief’ is a word I hear a lot after people make the decision to declutter… Sarah x

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