What are the things you would find really hard to let go of in your home? Read on to discover mine…
In a previous blog, I quoted a woman who, on moving house and downsizing, exclaimed in exasperation to a friend: “Are we all too possessed by our possessions?” This chimes with something I have been thinking about for a while now.
Isn’t it funny. We spend at least half our lives building up our belongings, only to then reach a peak at a certain age and start dwindling them back down again. Or perhaps that’s just me…
My OH, when I once raised the subject of moving house, said in panic: “But we have too much STUFF!” As though that would stop us from ever doing anything. “We’ll just have to get rid of it then,” I replied airily. Ha! I think we’re going to need help.
Fear not; help is out there aplenty. Decluttering is huge business. Visit any bookshop and you will see all manner of titles purporting to help you downsize your possessions. Yes, yes, we know: Work through a room at a time, and do it in bite-size stages, so it doesn’t overwhelm us. Enlist the help of a kind but firm friend, who won’t let you dither about: “I’m just tidying it all up and putting everything back for now.” “Oh, no, you’re not!” Sort things into three piles: Chuck, keep, charity shop.
What did we DO before charity shops came along? Even our local dump is running a small shop now, and it’s full of quite decent-looking stuff which people were chucking out. Some nearly new. That’s affluent Surrey for you. But, seriously, it’s a great idea and I hope it catches on everywhere.
Back in our grandparents’ day, and beyond, there were no dumps. People buried their unwanted stuff in the garden, or they burned it. Hence why we’re always finding bits of broken china when we dig over our flowerbeds and, one time, a real treasure, as in the pic below: a stone foot-warmer, made around about the time our house was built.
Of course, in those days, we have to remember that most people didn’t own a fraction of the amount of stuff we all have now (I’m not talking about the very wealthy classes here). Things were made to last and people saw no reason to chop and change their décor on a whim, as we are encouraged to do now (though I did used to know a lady who had summer and winter curtains).
My mother still has the oak 1950s sideboard she and my father bought when they were first married. And the G-Plan furniture they bought later on in the 70s. Now fetching a small fortune at mid-century modern fairs. People have latched on to this style in a major way and the industry is booming. I have the Terence Conran 1960s coffee table (complete with label) my sister and I used to leap over when we were dancing to Top Of The Pops (“Shaft” was climbing the charts at one point and proved to be particularly suitable for this, as I recall). I bet the hipsters and fashionistas would love my trendy table. But no, I’m not selling!
It’s not the potential worth of an item for me: it’s the meaning behind it. I am a terrible sentimental hoarder. I can’t bear to throw away the chipped yellow china custard boat and floral-patterned gravy boat (also chipped) which belonged to my grandmother, and which always made an appearance when we had one of her stupendous Sunday roasts, followed by an equally hefty pud or three.
Talking of being sentimental: when it came to clearing out his parents’ house, my OH took a load of china, glass, etc to the local charity shop. He immediately regretted it, went in there the next day and bought the whole lot back.
You can see why we might be in trouble when it comes to downsizing! However, all is not lost: recently, I have become obsessed with taking weight out of our house. I’m not sure why, or even what exactly started me off. It just seems to make sense to me. Perhaps I have reached that peak I mentioned earlier and am now starting to declutter my possessions – give or take the odd sentimental object, of course. (One area I find very hard to declutter, however, is books – my next blog is all about my lifelong love for them.) Whatever, nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to be able to carry heavy bagsful of rubbish and sundry unwanted items to the outside bins, or the charity shop, or dump.
But look, it’s a lovely day out there. Far too nice to be cooped up indoors, going through cupboards, so, if you’ll just excuse me, I’m going to take some more weight out of the house: Me. I’m off to the shops. Just browsing, honest! I promise I won’t buy anything…