Ask the Expert: 5 Tips to Help De-Clutter Your Home
Photo: Tim Macpherson/Getty Images
On The Big Downsize, host and certified professional organizer Jane Veldhoven helps two families de-clutter to downsize.
The five-part series was filmed in Halifax, where Veldhoven lives and operates her firm Get Organized by Design. “I have been organized all my life and when I found out that I could run a business helping others become more organized, I was thrilled,” Veldhoven says about her inspiration to get into the organizing game 16 years ago.
She has a passion for helping clients de-clutter and simplify their lives. But it’s not for the faint of heart, as people purge their possessions or those of a loved one.
Tara Losinski: On the The Big Downsize you worked with a foursome of siblings to de-clutter and downsize their family home, and speaking from experience that can be difficult emotionally.
Jane Veldhoven: Part of my process is to try to help my clients realize that stuff is not important, people are important. Holding onto stuff isn’t going to stop life from changing nor is it going to bring back a loved one you have lost. Taking pictures of special items before letting them go is a wonderful way to hold onto the memories without actually keeping things.
Many of the items in the MacNeil home had wonderful stories that went along with them and the telling of the story was a way for the siblings to say goodbye while respecting each other’s wishes to keep certain things that were important to them. I am not a huge fan of rushing the downsizing process as it can lead to regret.
I have had the privilege of working with clients who are clearing their home long before they need to so they can take their time and so that family are not burdened with a huge clear out to meet a deadline. They also then have the opportunity to give things to people now so they can enjoy it with you.
TL: De-cluttering is certainly having a moment but some people may balk at Marie Kondo‘s “spark joy” principal for purging. How do you help people decide what to keep and what to toss?
JV: Marie Kondo and I are on the same page when it comes to encouraging people to value and take care of their possessions. But I am not sure that a criteria as simple as “does this spark joy?” is meaningful and realistic for people who are completely overwhelmed by how much they own and the ensuing chaos.
I always work towards my client’s goals: Sometimes they simply want to be able to use a room for its intended purpose. Most of the time they feel completely out of control and just want their home to be organized and have proper storage solutions so they can spend less time taking care of their “stuff” and more time enjoying life.