Decluttering with Astrid (34)

Secret Desire

A few weeks ago, I was paging through the first edition of Dutch Vogue Living, feeling somewhat low. Not because I found it stupid; in fact, I thought it was actually really nice. Especially as it featured lovely cluttered houses, many of which are those superb English country houses with deer heads on the wall, rocking horses, quirky tables, rows of rain boots, walls with dozens of picture frames, old sofas covered with cushions, and desks overflowing with piles of notebooks and debris. No, what made me feel glum was, in fact, seeing all these beautiful things. Should I, as a declutterer, still be liking all this? Have I not, with accepting decluttering into my life, taken my leave and bid farewell to lavish homes such as these; lavish homes that I always drag my whole family to in England because there’s nothing nicer than to wander around such a lovingly maintained National Trust House and sip tea in its tea garden?

It’s the same feeling of delight I felt when I devoured all six seasons of Downton Abbey. I always watched this series from two angles. One was for the storyline, which was completely addictive, but not necessarily earth-shattering. The other was for the house itself. The set tables, the lamps, the curtains, the silverware, the crockery cupboard in the kitchen, those stunning dresses, and the dozens of staff that did nothing else all day than run around keeping all these bits and pieces beautifully tidy and in the best condition. My goodness, how I would love to see that house for real. But securing a ticket for the few days that it is open to the public each year is another story.

But I digress. Back to Vogue Living and a Grade-II listed Regency house in Somerset, England, which belongs to a fashion designer I had never heard of, called Alice Temperley. It is the house of my dreams: it has donkeys and a llama in the yard, murals, stacks of books that serve as a side table and a crowded mantelpiece. I could barely contain myself. My dream home was in Vogue Living. And it was packed full of stuff. Or at least with things that neither Alice nor I need. And I couldn’t talk to anyone about or show it to anyone, because I write blogs about decluttering…

And so I had a little chat with myself in order to calm myself down a bit. For as long as I can’t afford to pay staff to maintain manor houses, decluttering is the way to happiness. But the minute I can afford my own Mr. Carlson and Mrs. Hughes, I’m moving straight to Highclere Castle, without my belongings. And you can all come. Without a ticket.

Astrid, together with Irene, is the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives with her partner and two children. Each Tuesday, she writes about the sense—and nonsense—of decluttering.

“Week 34 – Secret Desire”