Döstädning, anyone?

If you’ve ever looked around your home and wondered where on earth all the ‘stuff’ came from, you’re not alone.

  • Summer 2019
  • Lifestyle

Drowning in accumulated essentials and endless bric-abrac, the prospect of a good clear out seems appealing… but not enough to actually do it. That is, until necessity demands. 

Downsizing to reduce a burden of maintenance, release capital, meet changing health or mobility needs, or simply embark on a new chapter means those bursting cupboards can no longer be ignored. Time, perhaps, to embrace Sweden’s döstädning philosophy? Loosely described as the process by which we create order in our lives as we prepare for the inevitable, the philosophy may not be cheery, but we all know it makes sense.

Döstädning is explored by Swedish author Margareta Magnusson, while Japanese author Marie Kondo’s ‘KonMari’ method has also become hugely popular. Essentially, both decluttering methods involve identifying the items you genuinely use or have meaning in your life and jettisoning the rest. But where do you start?

Think about what you really need

Make a list of the things you know you really need. These can be general household necessities, leisure items, or sentimental items you know you can’t bear to part with. Think about things you know you won’t use again—gift, sell or donate to someone who will.

Start small

You can’t expect to cull years’ worth of possessions in one day—it will take time and, yes, it will be difficult. Commit to clearing out one room, or even one cupboard or drawer over a day or weekend.

Know that it will be emotional

Emotional attachments are inevitable as we look back on the memories and experiences we associate with our possessions. 

Consider ways you may be able to keep the memory while clearing out. For example, you might have a dress or suit you wore on a special occasion but will never wear again. Perhaps keep a photo of it (especially if you have one of that occasion) instead, and then donate it. 

Go digital where you can

We all have cupboards and drawers full of paperwork, photos, and documents. Think about how much of it can be digitalised to save you physical space. You can register for paperless bills, banking, and taxation, and scan old paper documents and photos onto a hard drive. Going digital has the added bonus of being more environmentally friendly and, best of all, if you back up your important documents online, there’s no need to worry about it being destroyed in case of fire or flood.

Do a wardrobe cleanse

You might regularly go through the pain of “I have nothing to wear”, but when you see all of your clothing in one big pile, you’ll be surprised by how much is there and, more importantly, how much of it you don’t wear.

The best rule of thumb for deciding which items of clothing to get rid of is whether you’ve worn it in the last 12 months. If the answer is “no”, it’s unlikely you’ll wear it again.

Anything in good condition can be donated or sold (especially if it’s a popular label or brand). Clearing out your wardrobe will make it easier to see what you’ve got and simplify the decision-making process of what to wear each day. 

Be ruthless

Have a ’keep‘ pile and a ’get rid of’ pile, but no ’maybe‘ pile. You need to make the difficult choices as you go.

Keep what you love

Remember, you’re decluttering and perhaps downsizing, not going backpacking (unless of course you are!). There’s no need to go overboard—if you love that vase just because it’s beautiful, keep it. 

Once you’ve decided what goes, sell anything of value. A garage sale is a bit of effort, but a great way to get rid of a lot in one morning. Anything left over you can either list for sale online, or donate to an op shop. In most cases there’s no reason to dump—if it had a place in your home, it could just as easily be enjoyed in someone else’s. Reduce the environmental burden and remember that in today’s parlance, nothing is ‘old’, it’s retro, vintage or perfect for upcycling!


Forever young
  • Summer 2019
  • Feature

Forever young