Downsizing The Family Home

What to Save, What to Let Go

by Marni Jameson

Number of pages: 256

Publisher: Sterling

BBB Library: Personal Success

ISBN: 978-1454916338

About the Author

She is a nationally syndicated home design columnist, and author of two best-selling home design books, “The House Always Wins” and “House of Havoc,” (DaCapo Press). Marni’s popular syndicated column, “At Home With Marni Jameson,” appears in more than 25 newspapers throughout the United States reaching 7 million readers each week with her humor and advice. A long time writer for Tribune Media, including the Los Angeles Times and the Orlando Sentinel, she has also written for other top-tier media, including Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Child, and Fit Pregnancy. A frequent speaker, she has been a guest on numerous TV and radio programs around the country.


Editorial Review

Most homes have items that can trip those clearing them out into sinkholes of sentiment. As the family museum, the old homestead is filled with relics that represent a lifetime of storied treasures: Art collected during travels, dresses worn for special occasions, significant jewelry, family photos, yearbooks, and mound of documents, important and not. Sorting through it all is emotionally, mentally, and physically overwhelming. But if it is done right, it can be tremendously rewarding.

Book Reviews

“Marni Jameson’s book Downsizing the Family Home is very helpful to those of us in the modern world dealing with liquidating a family estate. I expected this book to be rather dry; a “how-to” book full of instructions and checklists. Instead, this book was a warm and compassionate recounting of the author’s own experience as she cleared out and sold her childhood home, and helped her parents transition to a retirement centre. She writes like she’s talking to her friends.” —

“While Jameson’s book certainly isn’t the first to tackle the topic, it addresses what few others do — the powerful feelings and memories.” — Marin Independent Journal

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Wisdom to Share

Sorting through a household makes us face our own mortality: the passage of time, life, and death, where we’ve been, where we haven’t been, and where we are in life, successes, and regrets.

Why a parent’s household is so emotionally charged? Because this isn’t about the stuff, this is about dealing with fundamental issues of families and growth and loss and love.

Letting go at anything we have seen, used, or experienced as a child is hard because the memory embedded in the object has such power. We fear if we let go of the object, we’ll lose the memory.

A thing is worth what it can do for you, not what you choose to pay for it.

The more you have of something, the less you appreciate it. The more heirlooms you hold on to, the less meaningful they are.

Live well, love deeply, and hold on to a heartful- not a houseful- of memories. That will be plenty.

We don’t like to get rid of our loved one’s belongings because we believe they define them, that they embody them somehow, as if with an umbilical connection. The more we believe that, the harder it is to let go. We are not our stuff. Our loved ones are not their stuff.

You are not your kids’ attic. It’s not your job to save everything from your children’s lives. Box up what belongs to each kid and send it to them. For a while it comforts both parties to have the grown child’s belongings at home. But when the children are in their forties and their scouting badges are still in the basement, it’s time to purge.

Everyone has these mystery boxes they move from one house to another and have no idea what’s inside. If you really want to know, it’s emotional laziness.

Change is hard because our brains crave the familiar and want things to stay the way they have been.