Kris’s Life Cleaning

Not to be confused with Swedish Death Cleaning.

I mean, think about it. Swedish. Death. Cleaning. Sounds…final, doesn’t it?

I first read about it a couple of years ago. I think it turned up at the tail-end of one of the periodic waves of Konmari articles. As I understand it, Marie Kondo’s Konmari method stresses the concepts of tidying up as steps on the path toward your ideal lifestyle and only keeping the things you love. Swedish Death Cleaning, döstädning, takes this several steps further. Now you’re cleaning up in order to make things easier for loved ones after you die. Getting rid of the garbage. Instead of willing objects to friends and relatives, you’re giving them away now. Making hardcopies of passwords and account numbers. The motto is minimize, minimize, minimize.

(As an aside, I don’t think it’s coincidence that two approaches to stripping your life down to the basics originated in Japan and Sweden, two countries with what I consider a very stripped-down aesthetic and simplicity in style and decor.)

I’m not quite at the ‘cleaning up to make things easier for my executor’ stage of life yet, knock wood. But I’ve talked about decluttering for ages, and I have a fair amount of junk that accumulated over a couple of moves, the clearing out of my grandmother’s house, and general acquisition. I have stacks of old manuscripts that need to be sent to Northern Illinois University, collectibles I don’t care for anymore, and books, clothes, shoes, and other things that need new homes or a date with the recycler.

Also, tastes change. For instance, furniture styles. I used to be content with a look that was vaguely Early American. But my living room is all wood and stone, and darker wood furniture tends to fade into the walls. So now I’m drawn to rustic/distressed, like this credenza, pieces that are usually lighter in color and often contains flecks of brighter shades, like blues and greens, that break up the brown monotony.

So, I am hoping that, barring the Inevitable Unforeseen*, this will be the Year of the Great Purge. I’ve started by clearing out two living room cabinets that I don’t want anymore. One contained a number of collectibles that I haven’t yet figured out how to dispose of—they’re getting stashed in a chest in the basement for now.** I’m also getting rid of the old couch, which is 30+ years old and pretty well worn. I’ll be getting a newish one from friends, a sectional in a more modern style and color that will work with whatever new pieces I add.

In the end, my aim is a neater house in which everything is in its place. Simple, right?

*yeah, I always qualify things right out the window. I blame Slavic Fatalism, aka “no good mood ever goes unpunished.”

**I know, but it’s either that or I break them up with a hammer. While most of them aren’t worth the effort to put up on eBay, a few may be. I’ll sort that out later. Right now, I want them out of the living room.