Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Let it go

I'm not a great hoarder (yarn doesn't count) but I really have been trying to get rid of clutter this year in the hope that we might eventually downsize and in the meantime enjoy this house more and more as it improves.  Mr FF has done quite a lot of sanding down and painting or re-varnishing, we are looking smart but he in particular finds it impossible to let go.   
Two of Mr FF's favourite reasons for retaining items are they were expensive when we bought them and they don't make things as well today. To me high costs doesn't equate to high value and the fact that something was well made while admirable doesn't necessarily make it either beautiful or useful  
Here's an example of not letting go, when we had our first house in the 70s we bought from a friend for £40 a G plan dining table with four upholstered chairs.   More than 20 years ago we stopped using the table but kept it, it was circular teak and extended into an oval to seat up to 6. The wood was lovely, the extension worked smoothly but we didn't need it.  Eventually I advertised it in the village as free to a good home no takers, I tried to give it to a charity but none would come out from Edinburgh for it.  One cheeky organisation said they would only take the table if it came with chairs, by this time it didn't.  Finally friends of a friend were delighted to have it for their holiday house and gave us a bottle of wine.
Now we have in the front room a low white bookcase and a couple of low cupboards, we bought them again for our first house 30 odd years ago. They are so dated I've taken to putting a throw over the brown fronted cupboards, I keep the Christmas decorations in there and not much else so they serve no great purpose.  
Again Mr FF has explained to me how well made the units are, that he doesn't mind the dated style, that they are much better than anything you'd find in Ikea.  Fair enough, but I don't want to replace them with anything from Ikea or anywhere else, I want them to go and leave a space in the room.  
I had a look through our collection of photographs last week and while they need more sorting I threw out the ones of people and places I didn't recognise, a sure sign they'd been kept too long. And don't get me started about Mr FF's amazing selection of construction industry slides, yes slides you remember those don't you.
They live in these boxes under his desk and relate to his last but one job that he hasn't had for at least 5 years.  He promises me he's going to sort them out and keep just the good ones as there are some really interesting images, there are 1000s.  He did offer them to a couple of engineering related organisations but no one was interested.    At least he has now disposed of his projector and light box which gives me hope the slides will go soon.
Then he can get started on his office bookcase, all these dull tomes, technical papers and magazines, I'd love to have some of this space free and make our office a bit calmer (perhaps even a bit more studio-ish).  I know its not easy to let go of these tangible parts of life and particularly things associated with a long and happy career but there is a part of me that resents having to live with unused clutter.   
Let's face it if you don't sort your own things someone else will have everything to throw away when you've gone.  My sister in law has been emptying the cottage of an elderly relative who died aged 93 and found in a cupboard 25 years worth of Daniel O'Donnell calendars (he's an Irish singer that more mature ladies seem to appreciate).  I bet they were never taken out of the cupboard, I doubt they were that expensive and certainly no better made than any other calendar so each one should have been binned at the turn of the year.  (Mr FF please note.)


  1. Love the story about the Daniel O'Donnell calendars. It really made me chuckle! Good luck with your decluttering! x

  2. We've been on a similar mission here but it isn't easy. Already I'm wishing I hadn't ditched some items.

  3. You're talking to a serial hoarder here! I am trying to declutter and get rid of things. Did a lot before we moved, but still brought along a LOT of excess baggage!!

  4. I need someone to go into my studio and sort it all out for me. I have been there so long that I don't really see it any longer until I need space to start on something else.

    Good luck in your endeavour.

  5. I'm an awful hoarder and now I'm trying to baby proof the charity shop should be well stocked!

    My Gran tells a great tale of clearing out her Great Aunt's house and finding a cupboard full to the brim of Black Magic chocolate, every single box of which had gone off!

  6. Ha ha! Love seeing other people's hoards! I have become much better in the last couple of years and once I have begun to declutter, it becomes a rather addictive mission to keep going as long as possible. Our kitchen has been totally decluttered!!! Bags and bags of unused, old..... rubbish! Yarn is a diferent matter, of course. Ros

  7. Having moved house several timmes, we don't have too much clutter, as each time we moved we had a big sort out. I find I have become less sentimental as I get older. I think you can get a gizmo to transfer slides on to the computer - perhaps you could drop a few hints!