Thinking of a career change?
Fifteen years ago, the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers was born in the UK.
Since then, decluttering here has become big business.
With the release of Netflix’s Marie Kondo show and the general interest in decluttering as a reaction to increasingly stressful lives, it’s now a common go-to for those looking to streamline their homes.
Can you please describe your business in a sentence?
I help people live with less, so taking away the chaos to reintroduce the calm.
How did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always been interested in how people live. In my previous career as a journalist I edited the interiors section of Sunday Times Style magazine, wrote about houses for Living Etc, Marie Claire and the Daily Mail. I remember interviewing a minimalist for The Telegraph and thinking — I get this — we don’t need all this stuff.
I realised I spent a lot of time helping friends and family make their houses more efficient — so removing the excess and re-organising what remained. This took away the sense of overwhelm, everything had a place so things were easier to find and homes flowed better. I’d stay with people and reorganise their bathrooms when they were out at work. I didn’t know there was an actual profession until I discovered the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO) via Google. I joined the association in 2018.
What are the most common issues you see in people’s homes?
Thinking there is value in their stuff so keeping piles of things to put on eBay or for car boot sales. I think we have to change our mindset about things — firstly bring less into our homes, but also see things as having fulfilled their purpose for us — such as a coat we’ve for a few seasons — and then be willing to donate rather than spending lots of energy chasing a few pounds. Once you start letting go of things you will feel the benefits.
Also, people stockpile duplicate or ‘just in case’ items — I advise that if you’ve not used something for over a year and you can replace it for less than £15, let it go.
When I work with clients they’re often amazed at how much they actually own. Decluttering is a good way of taking stock. I have clients who have discovered that they have so many beauty products, reams of stationery or tins of food squirrelled away, lots of items can be scrubbed from their monthly shopping lists.
What are the 5 quickest fixes for taking a home from stress space to sanctuary?
- Get into the habit of shedding the excess, so see your home like a garden which needs regularly tending to and pruning back.
- Give yourself permission to let go of things given or gifted to you. If you don’t like something, re-gift or donate it. The person who gave you something received pleasure in giving it to you, now do what you want with it.
- Start small — even if you have just decluttered and organised your underwear drawer you will feel the benefits.
- Free your house of the hidden clutter in sheds, lofts and garages, then you can make space to store the things you really want and need.
- Keep like with like, rather than having things scattered around in a haphazard way in different locations. This can be applied to everything from the things you eat for breakfast to your medications to your holiday accessories.
As well as being a professional Declutterer, I’m a Move Manager specialising in supporting older people relocate from the large homes in which they brought their families up in, to much smaller retirement properties. It’s a huge life change so has to be handled sensitively.
A big part of the process is allowing them to share the significance and memories imbued in something, such as a dinner service or cut crystal (not used for years), then they feel more able to let it go. It is a privilege to listen to their stories and help them on this journey.
Essentially you’re expecting them to strip back decades of their lives and resort back to the amount of stuff they had when they were first married. It’s important to recognise the impact this can have. I encourage them to use and enjoy their good things and not save ‘things for best.’
Can you dispel a common myth about decluttering?
That you have to be a minimalist and that professional declutterers want you to throw everything away. Everyone has a different threshold of what works for them. When you start to feel overwhelmed and your house generates stress, it is time to start skimming some layers.
What have you learnt about how people relate to their homes based on your work with them? Any profound thoughts on the nature of home, environment and the impact on our sense of self?
Our homes should be our sanctuaries. They should be a place where you feel still and calm — not places which cause anxiety. When people regain the control of their environment they find their homes become a source of rejuvenation rather than a drain on their mental and physical wellbeing.
HomeHero is a digital home manager, taking care of your chores, bills, maintenance and admin, to free up your time for what matters most.