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Renovating Or Moving? Packing Dread Is A Thing…

You’re so excited with your reno plans, you’ve poured over them for hours, worked out exactly what you want, where you want it and what it’s going to look like. You and your design professional are still on speaking terms and you both can see the future bliss of your new space.

It’s taken FOREVER. Times 3. Then all of a sudden, the builder rings, he can start next week and you’ve got the netball finals and school camp and your mum and dad are coming to stay for the week and you have to get that thing done for work.

Great. Fabulous.

If you’re like most people moving or renovating, you’ve been putting off packing, let alone decluttering. Looking at the chaos of your kids rooms, the monumental amount of gadgets and gear in the kitchen and garage your heart sinks to your Uggs and you find there are so many Way More Important Things to do.

Finally the time pressure is too much, it has to be done NOW. Like ASAP, YESTERDAY. So your pack up will be a mad rush, shoving everything in boxes, telling yourself you’ll sort it all out and declutter when you unpack.


In my experience, after a reno you’re so OVER. IT. ALL. that you can barely bring yourself to unpack the necessities let alone declutter. Boxes get yanked into the room and everything is just shoved back into the approximate space.

That is, if you even do unpack. I’ve had clients live out of boxes for months after a renovation because they just don’t have the time to do it properly and can’t bear to shove things in and have to do it all again.

You want it to be perfect. Right?

SO. MANY. BOXES… Wouldn’t it be great to move fewer?

Here’s an idea. Plan your declutter and packing, as soon as you start seriously planning your reno. Yes I know it’s 6 months away (Translation – 12 months+…).

I know it’s not as exciting as design, it’s not as much fun as choosing colours and fabrics and it gets shoved down the priority list when you’re being asked to make Very Important Decisions, over and over again as well as managing your home and family and work and all your other responsibilities.

Which means the next bit is Really, Really Smart And Sensible.

Decluttering With Intention:

It’s interesting how this works.

Whether you’re dreaming of your new house or you have a vision of your future fabulous extension, you’re pretty sure of the style you’re going for in your new space, but you’re not sure if your stuff will suit it. So you keep everything. Just in case. And this is fine, this is just one of the options you have.

Let’s lay them out:

Keep everything Just In Case.

This includes the wedding presents that you never opened, the china sets that your Rellies gifted to you because THEY were decluttering and the three odd sized French coffee presses that are dusty and have lost respectively: the knob, the springy bit and the rubbery base bit.

This is similar to Panic Packing.

Be careful what you pack!

Panic Packing.

This usually comes about with sudden tight timeframes, procrastination, sheer busyness or all three. There’s no time to think about what you’re actually going to use or what will work in the new space and quite frankly you don’t have the brain space to think about all that right now.

Here are some alternatives…

The Planned Pre-Packing Declutter.

This is the interesting bit. In my experience, a large proportion of what you have now, will not suit your vision for your new space. Unless you’ve been purchasing with intention or you are very consistent with your tastes and habits. If this is the case your packing and unpacking will be a dream.

If not and you have done the usual acquisition of a Whole Lot Of Stuff like the rest of us, this is your opportunity to minimise your packing and maximise the ease of unpacking at the other end of your reno or moving journey.

This is an immensely flexible process: On the Decluttering Continuum you can choose to QUICK & DIRTY DECLUTTER the bookcase and linen cupboard. You can choose to PURGE the garage and the 100’s of broken, dusty pink plastic toys under your daughters bed.

Purge or Quick & Dirty then pack?

The trick is to start now. Before you’ve even spoken to your builder, architect, interior designer or that immensely knowledgeable old guy at Bunnings. Break down the whole task over time, get as much done now as you can to take the pressure off yourself.

The Decluttering Continuum.

Imagine a scale of intensity of actions from 1 to 10. Like lifting a tea cup to lifting a five year old who does not want to go to bed. The Decluttering Continuum is a scale of behaviour or action that you can apply to any space in your home.

Quick & Dirty Declutter.

This is First Level Decluttering. This is an opportunity to get rid of things you already know you don’t need, use, want, love or even remember. As you dig the slightly sticky electric popcorn maker (which has bits of burnt fossilised popcorn still in the cup) out of the back of the cupboard… that’s an opportunity for a Quick & Dirty Declutter.

Stop Decluttering With Your Eyes

You know you only ever use microwave popcorn because it’s just so much easier. You haven’t used this gadget, which you bought after much begging by the kids from The Warehouse in 2010, in 5 years.

Those incomplete coffee plungers? Gone! You get the idea.

The Purge.

This is hardcore decluttering. It doesn’t mean you have suddenly converted to Minimalism. It is an opportunity to start afresh with only the objects that you know you need and love and use. It means unpacking will be so simple you’ll be done in mere hours. It means you can plan to purchase new things with thoughtfulness and intention.

Or not. You may find you like living with less so much it’s actually hard to find things you love THAT much, that you’ll start to clutter up your peaceful, simple space.


From Q & D to The P and everything in between, there’s a level of decluttering that will work for you and your things.

The Unpacking Declutter.

Similar to The Pre-Packing Declutter, the Unpacking Declutter is flexible. The Decluttering Continuum from Quick & Dirty to The Purge applies once again.

But this time you’re looking at your things with fresh eyes. You’re in your new home, or your new space. The colours are PERFECT, you are completely in love with everything. Except maybe that tap, but that can wait.

You open your boxes for the first time in… how long has it been? Hmmm, you’d forgotten you’d decided to pack that. And the colour is NOT what you remember. Now in this new space it looks… Wrong.

Out it goes.

There’s always the option here to trial things too. Live with them a bit. But don’t shove things into the back of cupboards please. This is such a wonderful opportunity to NOT have that hidden burden lurking in the back of your mind.

Let’s stop Packing Dread with a bit of planning, declutter at a level that suits you and avoid Panic Packing!


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