Friday 28 July 2017

How to shift the 'stuff' and de-clutter for good

De-cluttering your old home as a first step to downsizing can trigger a lot of issues - like what to do with 25 years' worth of family possessions and heirlooms, and in particular, what to do with Granny's loved but seldom-used china, writes Bairbre Power
Bairbre Power
Bairbre Power
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

As a fashion editor, I'm used to doling out advice, and the golden rule is: If you haven't worn a piece of clothing in 18 months, then say goodbye, it's on a one way journey out of your wardrobe. However, the 18-month rule was kicked firmly out the window this week when it came to deciding on the future of the oceans of 'stuff' gathered under the roof of a four-bedroomed house over 25 years.

Downsizing to a house with a much smaller garden was always on the cards as adult offspring flew the nest but a pensions bombshell last year brought everything frighteningly into perspective. Judicious decisions are now of paramount importance and until I find the new home for me, I'm in what I call 'transitioning mode' which is Power shorthand for one massive de-clutter.

Hands up. I'm a massive hoarder, so weekends are now about the cull. Facing up to reality, I'm cutting my cloth carefully and while I can edit my wardrobe, efficiently, I'm having massive difficulty letting go of certain other possessions, in particular, the paper in my life.

The journo in me wants to cling to, and embrace, my hundreds of books, even more magazines and a lifetime of photos. Surveying four giant boxes of photos spanning 25 years, the photographer in me downsized by scanning my favourites.

I've started to 're-gift' books, and dozens of cookery books belonging to my late mum were distributed among family and friends. While I kept the Delia Smiths the author signed for us in a bookshop in Rathfarnham, I dispatched chef Andrew Rudd from Medley off with the rest to his Fleet Street restaurant where they add to his culinary memorabilia on shelves.

Boxes of cassette tapes are obsolete because we don't have anything to play them on but I kept Fleetwood Mac's Rumours tape for posterity, so the grandchildren can see what their muso forebears listened to on their pilgrimages to Slane back in the 1980s.

I've kept all of the children's art from Montessori and school along with the family's old sepia portrait photographs.

The charity shops in Rathmines and Camden Street have been on the receiving end of my downsizing project and even the piano has found a new home. Well. I was never going to be like Ryan Gosling, who crammed a lifetime's piano lessons into three months for La La Land. Instead I had one last go at playing Chopin's Nocturne op.9 and then waved it goodbye, off to a new family.

Exploring under the stairs, I was fazed to discover even more copies of Vogue magazine, long lost cousins to the dozens already liberated from the attic. The glossy magazines have moved faithfully with me through five different properties and while I suppose I could sell them on eBay at some inflated price - especially the ones with Kate Moss or Princess Diana on the cover - the truth is, I want to keep them. It's a fashion editor's indulgence and maybe they could end up in an homage to print if I pop a sheet of glass on top and turn them into a post-Modernist coffee table.

Largesse in the kitchen means a hipster pal is now loving my fondue set while some of our Le Creuset enamel casseroles are going to jeweller Chupi Sweetman-Durney, who is an enthusiastic collector of the orange ones.

However, when it comes to china, this lady is not for turning. I'm hanging on to Granny's dinner set with its faded pattern, even if it comes out only once a year - on Christmas Day - and then goes back into an IKEA box with bubble wrap, followed two weeks later by the crib.

Professional storage is expensive and I wish more of these units were open on Sunday afternoons which is the time so many of us enthusiastically get into tidying up, gardening and taking the dog for its big walk of the week.

The big floral jug and basin from my great grandmother's wedding trousseau have gone into storage along with a few big pieces of furniture while I get on with clearing out the attic of stuff such as the set of Encyclopaedia Britannica my dad was talked into buying.

Romy, the family Yorkshire terrier, is more than happy to explore territories new so she will enjoy a move. In the meantime, as I dedicate my Sundays to editing my way through a substantial sea of stuff, one thing has become patently clear: it's not about the possessions you own, it's about where they came from and the memories you want to take on to your new home with you.

Sunday Independent

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