Downsizing in the Cotswolds: #4 Decluttering & Minimalism

“There is something to be said for the Zen concept of minimalism. We are not the things we possess, though often they possess us. Letting go of clutter, even if sentiment and nostalgia is attached, can be more satisfying than holding on to things to be enjoyed briefly from time to time.”
I really like this quote. As a psychologist and a Buddhist I can completely identify with it, especially as I sit in our now empty ”old” bedroom looking at all of the stuff spread across the floor taken from bedside cabinets and drawers. The hand-written journal I kept from our first ever trip abroad to meet my wife’s family (how emotionally endowed is that!), my late mum’s army badge from WW2, …….. There was much more that I just had to put down and leave till tomorrow when I could be more cognitive-rational and far less emotional-guilt ridden. Now we get to the nub of decluttering; it’s NOT simply about separating the useful, from the beautiful, from the useless. These are all black or white decisions, reality is completely different.
For those of you new to this series of ours on Downsizing, we live in a 3 storey house in the Cotswolds region of the UK. Our house has SIX bedrooms, THREE bathrooms, need I go on? We decided to downsize in situ by living only on the ground floor and converting one of our two lounges to a bedroom. It worked, we carefully “moved in” and resisted the urge to re-clutter our “new home”! But, the problem now is about decluttering the kitchen plus the two floors above us. Together with choosing whether to place a greater “value” on a piece of art or a cappuccino maker!
It began in the “old bedroom” with clothing removed from wardrobes and laid on the floor, then sorted into 4 piles. Winter, Summer, Charity Shop, Trash. The winter stuff was taken downstairs to the new wardrobe and included a couple of smart jackets and a winter coat. The summer stuff was rehung in a smaller bedroom wardrobe and will stay there for a few months until being brought downstairs and swapped with the winter clothing. Trash claimed four sacks full and the village charity shop were delighted with their four sacks too! The other drawers, cabinets and bedside tables were emptied onto the floor and also separated into four piles, Keep, Unsure, Charity Shop, Trash. The “Unsure” stuff has been packed into a carton and will be held till the summer; if nothing is used in that time …… out to Trash it goes!
Apologies if this is a bit tedious to read, but there’s a message in it for wannabe downsizers…… be systematic, dispassionate, ruthless and have categories to help your decision making.
The kitchen was next; every cupboard was full, every work surface had something on it, and we could have opened a shop selling wine glasses, garlic presses and potato peelers to fund our next holiday! Our daughter’s help was enlisted this time as we began a drawer by drawer, cupboard by cupboard clearance. Same categories as before …. keep, unsure, charity shop, trash. Surprisingly this time we had virtually nothing in the unsure category, only a little in the charity pile, and MOST into the trash pile! By the end of the morning every work surface was clear, and three drawers were completely empty! Everything is organised, to hand as we need it, multiple duplicates discarded; the only concern is that we may have kept too many pots and pans, but time will tell. Two books you might find useful:
  • The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (Francine Jay)
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Marie Kondō)

Next week #The New Life!

Categories: Philosophy

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18 replies

  1. Trying again. To get my click back right. sorry.


  2. De-cluttering is so random and depends on current state of mind. Sometimes I can be ruthless but at other times hopelessly paralysed about parting with treasures. Sometimes I know that if I throw something away then I will surely need it nex week!

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  3. I love Marie’s book – I applied it to my closet – keep only things you love. Her folding techniques are fun too. But…with other things, I end up being my self-proclaimed Dubious Minimalist, and it’s working for me. Fun to read your adventures!

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  4. Sounds great Dr C & B! 👍🏼 I hope you’re not thinking of decluttering the wine cellar too quickly?

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  5. When we moved to Spain three years ago we got rid of 75% of our belongings in a similar fashion. I still think I have too much stuff and may have to cull some more.

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