Violets growing in grass under tree on farm

Keep What You Love

Farm track in March

Spring has arrived. The violets and primroses are in flower, tiny buds are forming on the hedgerows and the fields are drying out. Best of all, today the sun is shining. (Heavy rain and overnight frosts are forecast for the rest of the week but I’m ignoring that.)

With the advent of spring there was a need to clear the decks and set about a little spring cleaning.

Every room in the house was cleared. No room escaped. No cupboard left untouched.

My aim was “Keep What You Love”. Not in a Marie Kondo type purge that I may later regret (though I do like her clothes folding technique) but more of a Jane Goldney @LempobeeI’ve done a big ol’ purge of china dishes and nicknack-y things and it feels good.

We cleared out broken items beyond repair like the kitchen chair which had two dodgy legs, despite previous and copious applications of wood glue and screws.

We scrapped all those things that had been kept ‘just in case’ but in fact had either been forgotten or proved not to be as useful as we’d thought. Out went scraps of fabric left from clothes made over thirty years ago that had been saved for a quilt that will never be made or cables from computers long since gone.

I got rid of things that I didn’t like. Even if they were a wedding present. Or made by the children when they were small. Or I’d spent weeks and months hand knitting them. I may have muttered Keep What You Love a few times just to remind myself. There are a few things that could more truthfully be described as It’s Not That Bad Really.

There was ethical disposal (recycling and charity shops), less ethical disposal (forcing ‘useful’ things into the arms of family members) and fun disposal (smashing broken crockery) and it was all rather liberating. No more guilt now when I move that ugly jug to reach the loved ones; no subtle manoeuvring larger guests away from rickety chairs.

Hand sewn patchwork quilt

Everything that we’ve kept is there to be used and to be enjoyed, so no more saving for ‘best’ or shutting away to keep safe. I’m applying the same philosophy as I did to the knives that used to belong to Gran. I was told they had to be hand washed, but with four small children I ignored the advice and after more than twenty years of everyday use and dishwasher abuse, the knives are (mostly) fine.

Possessions sorted and still in full spring fervour, furniture was moved so that an alarming quantity of cobwebs and dust could be swept away, along with various pieces of Lego, pens and other detritus that had fallen behind and below it and the whole house was dusted, swept or washed. I fear that some corners hadn’t been this clean for years.

The reason for all this hustle and bustle was not just because it’s spring or that I’ve suddenly changed into a happy homemaker, complete with floral pinny and a duster always in my hand, but because we moved house. Just next door. Into a barn.

This barn, though rather more habitable now.

Exterior view of Essex Barn conversion to house
With scope for developing the garden. On a Keep What You Love basis, the container will have to go as will the farm machinery you can see through the doors and a proper doorstep might be better than using that old pallet.
We’ve only been in a couple of weeks so I’m still at the stage of wondering where I’ve put things. Or whether I kept them or threw them away.


Are you a hoarder or a chucker? Nostalgic keeper of the less than lovely or do you only keep what you love?

25 thoughts on “Keep What You Love

  1. Anne, more details are required!!! Why have you moved??.

    When we moved out of our house it was the cleanest it had been for AGES. It is funny how that happens. You wait until you move out to get things fixed and painted only for someone else to benefit.

    1. The bonus is that my daughter moved in to our house, so it made the cleaning more worthwhile. All that cleaning did reveal some minor building defects though that they’ll have to put right.

  2. I moved in February and still can’t find some of my pots…

    I am definitely NOT a hoarder. My family knows if you want to make me happy, let me throw stuff out. My spouse is the “save useful items for someday” type.

    Our move was downsizing after the kids go to college, so we are forced to eliminate because there just isn’t room for all the residual “stuff” from raising a family. I have enjoyed going through everything and then letting it go. 😚

    The new barn home looks very chic and I look forward to seeing more photos as it transforms into a home.

    1. It all seems so logical when you first put things away doesn’t it? I feel a little like being in a holiday home when it takes at least two attempts to find the right cupboard for anything. I’ve gone from a house full of cupboards to one with only one, so that’s a bit taxing. I didn’t realise just how much was lurking at the back of some of them.

  3. I hoard but himself is very much a minimalist …… except when it comes to Land Rover parts and body panels and then his ethos is ‘the more the merrier’ 😀

    So? Why the move?

  4. I hope you will be very happy in your new home, Anne. The barn is looking wonderful! I love the entrance with all that glass! I am a reluctant hoarder. I hate clutter but somehow I feel I have to hang on to things for all sorts of reasons.

  5. Oh Anne, well done! And happy barn-move! I’m so glad that my chuck-out/keep resonated with you. I also did a fairly ruthless throw out of fabric scraps. Am hoping to find the energy to carry it on throughout the house. We’re not going anywhere over Easter so I am looking forward to a bit more then. Isn’t it interesting what you decide you love and you don’t? There was a small number of ‘made by the kids’ things that I decided were more valuable to me than fancy china. And there was a whole set of white and blue Royal Doulton everyday dinnerware I bought perhaps fifteen years ago that we used for a while but never fit well in the dishwasher. Begone! Oh and I hear you on the dodgy kitchen chair thing. One of those now in the driveway awaiting hard rubbish collection day.

    1. I thought your IG comment just summed it up perfectly 🙂 It’s true about deciding what you love – the glasses that were OK but took up too much room in the dishwasher have gone but a set of little hand wash tea glasses have stayed.

  6. Oh my goodness Anne! You moved house, just like that. How exciting. I look forward to hearing more about your new space. What a wonderful purge, I am in the process of doing this too and your post has encouraged me to keep going…floral pinny and duster in hand, not really!

    1. Get that floral pinny on Jane! The last time we moved was back in 1991 so we’d accumulated an awful lot of stuff. I even found some things in a cupboard that my mother-in-law left when she moved out!

  7. I’m very impressed Anne – at present we are emptying my late mother-in-law’s house, a Herculean task as she was a keen shopper and a hoarder, but there were gems amongst the stuff that didn’t need to be kept. Every time we come home I am inspired to throw stuff out here, it is a very liberating feeling to see things go, especially to recycling (I hate seeing things go to the tip). It also makes me realise that things I am keeping will not be kept by my children, and it is just a burden on them when eventually (not soon I hope) I cark it. So, I’m trying to emulate your philosophy! Your barn looks great, I’m looking forward to hearing more about it!

    1. Like you, we took ages to clear my late father-in-law’s stuff and it seemed such a shame that we ruthlessly ditched things he’d presumably placed value on. In fact, he had so many sheds filled with things that we haven’t actually finished and have taken a year’s break. Maybe that was part of the reason for my clear out as if I don’t particularly like things, why give my children the burden of getting rid of it?

      1. On a farm it is even more extreme of course. A year or so ago my brother, who was running the family farm, died, with so many sheds full of stuff. The family moved there in 1958, so there was a lot of stuff. I think my sister-in-law is slowly making her way through it, but it would be a daunting task. Throw it away now has to be our mantra!

  8. Happy landings in your new home, Anne! But never mind the cupboards, how is your new kitchen?! I guess you may have been able to create it exactly how you wanted which is always a cook’s dream, I feel. I am very with you on the whole decluttering thing – spent a good proportion of last year on a determined programme of clearing out / rehoming that lasted for months – just couldn’t believe how much “stuff” we had acquired. I actually kept a log of my decluttering with notes of what I shed and where stuff went (I know – a bit sad possibly!) and the list turned out to be absolutely epic. It made quite an interesting read by the end, that revealed a kind of history of our life in the last decade and tracked our changing needs and circumstances quite illuminatingly. Rather satisfyingly, only a tiny proportion of items went in the black bin & 95% was recycled / repurposed / rehomed – charity shops are really grateful for new stock before Christmas. Afterwards, lots of them were not taking any more donations as I think they get deluged in the New Year, which is worth remembering. Stalls at church fêtes looking for ammunition to sell are good homes for bric a brac, books, toys, all sorts, too. Looking forward to reading more about your lovely barn in due course. E x

    1. Unfortunately, at a very late stage, the kitchen was substantially narrowed (architect’s error) which left 30cms between the wall and the planned island. Big and fast rethink to make a workable, though not exactly as I planned, kitchen. Such is life.
      I’ve been decluttering for over a year, which meant I could trickle stuff into the charity shops (good tip about donations after Christmas) and my two sons are moving into new homes so they’ve taken lots of things too.
      Our biggest declutter was of books and I think I could dispose of more still. Maybe I’ll sort them out ready for the local summer fete.

  9. Congratulations on the move, the barn looks marvelous! A good clean out and organization of our box room would be a good project for this weekend, since the rain is set to continue for yet another 2 weeks.

    More pics of the barn renovation, please!

  10. Moving house does force you to have a good clear out. I guess the new converted barn will be more energy efficient than an older farm house. I look forward to seeing the new garden develop.

    1. I hadn’t realised just how cold and draughty the farmhouse is until I went back to babysit. Obviously already getting soft already. I plan to take my time developing the garden (not a fan of instant gardening) and will probably end up dividing plants from the old garden and bringing them over, under the guise of ‘helping’ with the gardening.

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