Surrounded by too much stuff? Incorporating this morbid-sounding technique could help.

William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” For most, that’s easier said than done. 

Last year, I got an email from a friend’s mom, whose own mother had died a few months earlier. She and her sisters were in the beginning stages of cleaning out the lovely little rambler she had lived in for many, many years. I met with my friend’s mom and we discussed listing the home; we didn’t end up working together, but we did keep in touch. When I emailed to congratulate her on listing the house, she responded with thoughts that have stuck with me:

It has only taken us 11 months to get us to this point… And we aren’t finished yet — once the house is sold (cross your fingers), I still have to close the estate… This has been an ordeal that I never would wish on anyone. I vow that I will do better by [my children]. I will pare my life way down to nearly nothing so things will be easier for them.

It’s not uncommon in real estate to hear people lament the amount of stuff they have, especially when selling a home. Can you relate? I certainly can. I keep waaaay too much stuff–items that hold sentimental value, reminders of past lives, plants, and so, so many books.

In some ways opposite to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing which advocates an all-in-one-go approach, Margareta Magnusson’s The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is an ongoing exercise. The idea of purging and decluttering before you die is referred to in Sweden as “dostadning,” coming from the words for death and cleaning, and it’s an integral part of that country’s culture.

Need a little inspiration for your Spring cleaning? Listen to Magnusson explain the concept in more detail in this video, or grab a copy of the book. I promise, it’s not as morbid as it sounds.

Angela Anderson, REALTOR® RE/MAX Results HomesMSP Team  |   612-396-3654  |

Written By

Having lived both in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and now in St. Louis Park, I know the whole metro well. I especially love helping sellers prepare for what can sometimes be a whirlwind experience, and guiding first-time homebuyers throughout the Twin Cities to achieve their dream of home ownership.

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