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The big downsizing dilemma

Family homes are wonderful places, full of memories. But when the family has its own space and visits to them are more frequent than the reverse, holding on to it can become more of a hindrance than a help. There's more to clean, there's more to heat, council tax is higher and it's not just the expense, it's the time all of this takes. So let's assume the decision to downsize has been made. What now? Whether we are doing this for ourselves, or helping someone else with the difficult decisions involved, asking the right questions can help.

Firstly, let's put a different perspective on it. Let's not call it 'downsizing', let's call it 'rightsizing'. No one likes to move down in life, but doing something right. Now that's a direction we all can take.

Don't think 'What can I leave behind?' Start by asking, 'What do I need?'.

Don't worry, this isn't all you will take, but it's a good place to start. Do you still have the same hobbies you had 20 years ago? How often do you have people to stay? Do you plan to eat out more and cook less?

What do you love?

Once you have a list of 'needs' you can start on the things you 'love'. But you have to be realistic. If you love your huge sofa, it will be no good in your new place if it completely dominates the room and you constantly bang your knees on it.

Are you using possessions to keep alive a memory?

Take a picture of it, you or others using it, wearing it or having fun with it. Keep that instead. I guarantee it will release the smile just as much, if not more, than the item gathering dust in a corner.

Are you keeping things because others expect you to?

I refer you back to the things you love, but be cautious if it's a family heirloom. Best to pass it on, you will know best how to keep the peace in your family.

Are you keeping something because it's still in good condition and you don't want to be wasteful?

Keeping something and not using it is still wasteful! Let it go and it can be useful to someone else.

Are you keeping things to pass on?

Have a family meeting and ask them what they want. If it isn't on your 'need' or 'love' list let them have it now. But don't 'persuade' them to take something just because you would prefer to keep it. You'll just be forcing your clutter on to other people.

Are you storing your children's possessions?

Even adult children store old possessions at the family home. Don't hesitate to ask them to remove them. But please do ask before you have a blitz.

Lastly, if you still have things you don't want to send to faceless individuals - however deserving - try this. Buy some card labels, write a description of the piece and why it's important to you on one side and attach it to the item, invite your friends and wider family, they write their name on the reverse of the label on the items they like, if only one individual wants it great, if more than one, draw straws, take a picture of everyone with their item, keep it and release the smile every time you look at it.

Happy 'rightsizing'!



Sadly the Orvention conference has been cancelled. We believe this is due to insufficient take up . It has been a tough year for many. We hope we will see it return in 2012.

APDO online

Cassie Tillett has been busy reviewing and improving the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) of the website to ensure APDO remains at the top of relevant search term results for the major search engines. At the same time some minor design amendments have been made on the website.

If you aren't already following us on Twitter and Facebook, now is the time to sign up and keep in touch with other regular users. Members of APDO increasingly use social media, it's a great way to stay in touch and find interesting articles which helps us stay up to date in our profession. The link is now on the APDO home page - it couldn't be easier!

Regional news

This month we take a more detailed look at the offerings of some of our colleagues from the Central, NW, N and E London areas.

Clear of Clutter

Clutter clearing is the most fascinating tool to regain energy, purpose and enjoyment! Birgit Medele of Clear of Clutter considers it a hands on way of personal development. Many essential life skills are trained when trying to decide whether or not we still want that cup, book or pair of trousers: letting go; making decisions; taking responsibility.. A new series of clutter clearing classes is starting Sept 27th at Wanstead House, E11. Please check out the website or email her at if you'd like to come along!

Declutter Coach

I'm Juliet Landau-Pope and my aim is to help clients to make time and space for what really matters! I offer practical help with sorting, selecting and storing household stuff, and will motivate you to make positive choices about what to donate and recycle. I take away anything that can be loaded into my car to deliver to charities or recycling, and offer email support between sessions. As a certified life coach, I'll empower you to overcome procrastination and review habits that contribute to clutter in your home and your schedule. Strict confidentiality assured. Free consultations and gift vouchers available.


It's been a busy year with refurbishments of properties and sourcing of lots of items for homes. This summer has been crazy weather-wise, but at least it hasn't put people off trying to sort out their clutter. I've been dealing with Estate closures, art work sales, purchasing items for clients in the salesrooms, and watching different building firms tackle work in different ways. No wonder the general public get confused or annoyed with builders as far too often the builders are singing "I do it my way", which isn't necessarily the way the client wants things done, or even in that order!

APDO continues from strength to strength and there have been many more media enquires this year than in previous years. It's good to see how members interact on the Yahoo group, and the seminar was a fantastic opportunity to put faces to names and see the enthusiasm first hand. Hopefully we can all meet up again, soon. Best wishes for all success!

CynClaire Decluttering Service

CynClaire is run by Cynthia Salter and Claire Lincoln who set up the partnership 18 months ago. They offer a personalised service to people who wish to de-clutter their homes for many reasons, from moving house, downsizing, preparing for building works, dealing with bereavement, or simply to regain space occupied by piles of toys, clothes, books etc which belong to past times. CynClaire de-clutter anything from single rooms, cupboards, attics, garages, offices and whole houses. Their specialist area is working with older members of the community downsizing from family homes to smaller accommodation. These clients are parting with many memories - Cynthia's and Claire's experience enables them to provide the support which is required.

Declutter and Detox

I love working with ladies helping them to let go of their unwanted physical possessions, detox emotionally and streamline their lives. I specialize in "Letting stuff go" (both physically and emotionally) as opposed to organizing it! I love helping clients remove excess clutter in their lives and help them move forward. My aim is to create more space in client's homes (and lives) which creates a stronger sense of control and purpose. My approach is friendly, supportive and personalized.

Calm from Clutter

We are an energetic business offering practical and emotional support with de-cluttering and organisation to people throughout London. Calm from Clutter has been supporting people rejuvenate their spaces for over 6 years, with extensive experience in the de-cluttering and interior design profession. Enabling clients to live free of mental and physical clutter - rapidly, Calm from Clutter provides individuals with a personal and professional coaching service. With practical one-to-one hands on help, empathy and encouragement, this service really makes those shifts happen. No more procrastination or apathy, we bring energy and motivation to your project and together we succeed.

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