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The big declutter

Decluttering is an exhausting but fulfilling process.

I am in the middle of a massive declutter. 

Since I am not currently working, it seemed like a good opportunity. The total so far? I'm not quite sure, but certainly 12-13 100-litre bags of clothes sent to Emmaus, Le Relais, and various friends, plus I don't know how many boxes of bric a brac and junk.

I'm not quite sure how long ago it was that I decided to get rid of 10 per cent of everything I owned, but the task was accomplished in days. Kinda galling, but now I'm on the hunt to jettison about 50 per cent, or if not 50, as close to it as I can get.  

To help me in my quest for a lighter life, I've been reading every decluttering article and book I can find, and so far, the Konmari method has been among the most useful. The author, Marie Kondo, is clearly a bit off her rocker, but also very funny and very right about a lot of things. Not all of your clothing has come to you to be worn threadbare, she says (this is something I am constantly guilty of), and if something doesn't suit you, it's already done its job of teaching what not to buy - there is no need to hang onto it just because it's new - let someone else get the benefit. 

Being Shinto-ist, Kondo is rather animist and believes in touching everything you own to see if you still get a thrill from it - if not, into the bin it goes. Doing this, she claims, her clients discard a good 50 per cent of everything they own fairly painlessly, and only have to do it once.

Well, the latter part remains to be seen - I am notorious for yo-yoing between decluttering and squirrel-Nutkin-ing - but the first part is certainly true. I have indeed found this latest bout of decluttering remarkably painless because the Konmari method means you act on your instinct rather than your rationality, thus answering an emotional need. 

Emotion, after all, is why we buy stuff in the first place. Not simply for its usefulness, more because it answers a call within us. Very few of our purchases are made purely rationally: we buy things because they're useful, sure, but also because they're gorgeous, beautiful, pretty, sexy, because we 'just had to have it'. Using the Konmari method, however, I've been able to sort the wheat from the chaff much more easily - discarding the blouse that was too floral, the jeans that were too small and hadn't been worn in years, the colour that I now find too bright, the clothes that are fine and solid and probably have years of wear but that are so familiar that I'm sick of them.

She suggests that you start your decluttering with clothes because these are personal and therefore easy to make decisions about, and I've done just that, keen to whittle down to what will fit in my new gorgeous set of built-in wardrobes, which I swapped for my old car back in the autumn. Kondo's method of folding is also a revelation, enabling you to pack far more into a small space, so my drawers are now full of beautifully folded cashmere sweaters, tees and knickers, all arranged like sushi in a box. 

The result is, suddenly, space. This is a big house - too big, really - and over the past 18 years we'd stuffed it to the gills with crap. But now there is space on the shelving, space on the hanging rail; drawers full of beautifully co-ordinated items in black, grey, taupe and teal; space to move around in. I've been able to bin most of my cashmere knits, acknowledging at last that they have been worn to death, and only retained the best items. And friends as well as strangers have benefited from the offload. 

Overall, I feel much lighter and happier, and in better shape to face the coming year.  


In the midst of chaos

Swapping around our bedroom and home office is no mean feat and I'll be glad when it's all over

Just a quick blog this morning, as we are in the middle of an office move. 

In the usual Chinese puzzle fashion of our house, given that all the rooms are occupied, this has meant moving the bedroom into the sewing room, the office onto the landing, then the office into the former bedroom and the bedroom into the former office. And carting everything up a flight of very tight stairs with a bend in it. 

The house looks like a paper mill exploded inside it - I reckon we will cart at least five 120-litre sacks of rubbish out of the house, the vast majority of it paper - old magazines, old cuttings, old source material, out of date accounts...We do try to stay on top of it, we really do, and we aim to have big chuckouts twice a year, but all the same it builds up.  

It will be a while before the sewing room and landing are back to normal, but the weird thing is that we seem to have gained floor space everywhere, just by moving things around. Our old bedroom was enormous, but the new one is still very spacious and has the advantage of a huge cathedral ceiling, which we now lie looking up at - visual space rather than floor space.

Meanwhile, the office - the former bedroom with its low ceilings - has so much more floor space that we've been able to create a seating area for coffee breaks, and allow for much more shelving. Strangely enough, even the landing seems huge now that we've moved our giant daybed into the bedroom and tucked it under a beam - in the new bedroom it seems unobtrusive, but on the landing it was like a whale in a teapot. 

Just goes to show you, you can live in a place for 11 years and still find you've been doing it all wrong.  


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