William Morris, Uganda & The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

I read something last week about Swedish Death Cleaning.


Yes quite.

I thought Marie Kondo’s decluttering method was a bit full on but this new practice makes that look fairly tame!

This new craze is based around a book called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by a lady who, it’s fair to say, is in her twilight years.

Margareta Magnusson is aged somewhere between 80 and 100 and has written a guide for purging your home of excess belongings (that you don’t need or cherish) in preparation for leaving this mortal plane.

Her motto (one of many it must be said) is:

‘If you don’t love it, lose it.


If you don’t use it, lose it.’

Although the book focusses on the elderly and their families, Swedish death cleaning can be used whatever your age; to help you declutter your life.


This isn’t a new concept by any means though.

Back in 1880, the esteemed designer William Morris famously said:

If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’

So although Swedish Death Cleaning may be this season’s new ‘buzzword’, the words ‘bandwagon’ and ‘jumping’ also spring to mind.

William Morris was heading up that trend years ago.

Talking of useful and beautiful, I spotted some gorgeous things in HomeSense last week.

They — and their sister store TK Maxx — will be selling a range of handmade baskets made by remote communities in Western Uganda, this October.

All of the above available from HomeSense and TK Maxx

Beautiful, Useful and Altruistic

Traditional weaving techniques have been rediscovered to create the range; which is part of HomeSense’s initiative to help disadvantaged families in Uganda.

The baskets have been beautifully made using local materials — William Morris would definitely approve — and they come in a wide range of contemporary shapes, bright colours and designs. 

Best of all, as well as being useful and beautiful, the income received from the sale of two pieces is enough to pay for one Ugandan child to go to school for a whole term.

It’s lovely to see unique artisanal pieces like this in a high-street store.

So many things are mass produced these days, it’s really cheering to see things that have been crafted by hand; using traditional methods.

William Morris founded the arts and crafts movement, so I think he’d love this initiative.

He’d also probably agree that if things are beautiful, useful and the proceeds of sale are for a good cause, that’s surely the best combination of all.

And definitely worth keeping

Please share, if you like this!

About Caro Davies

Caro Davies art directed fashion and interiors before leaving the world of design to pursue a career in social media. She can now be found chasing the light — and two small twin boys.

8 thoughts on “William Morris, Uganda & The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

  1. These are stunning! When I went to Uganda, I brought back a few of these bowls and baskets – they are lovely to look at.

    I’ve seen this death cleaning mentioned elsewhere too – what a funny concept! But I suppose I get it – thinking about what would you like to remain after you are gone. I certainly wish I wouldn’t leave just random junk for my family to sort through!

    1. They’re lovely aren’t they? I would LOVE to go to Uganda!! The Death Cleaning notion is SO weird isn’t it? I like the idea of sorting out my assets so the boys don’t have to do it but getting rid of all my stuff???? NO WAY!!! I like my home comforts too much!! ;)

  2. I’ve seen a few references to this Swedish Death Cleaning so I was intrigued to read this! And William Morris was actually a local here in sunny East London! In fact, one the house groups at my daughters secondary school is named after him. I rather like the quote of his that you use here. I’m all for a declutter but then when I look at those gorgeous bowls and those lovely colours, I could quite easily fill some space. A lovely concept too. Thanks for hosting #HomeEtc Caro

    1. It’s a bit weird isn’t it? I’m not 100% sure that I could adhere to the whole death cleaning thing… I definitely like my stuff too much!! Maybe I’ll have changed my mind by the time I get to 80!! ;) xx

  3. I could totally get on board with Swedish Death Cleaning! It appeals to my minimalism, unfortunately Pete is the total opposite and it would never work :) Gorgeous pieces from Homesense too, what beautiful colours X

    1. Could you? I deffo couldn’t — I like my ‘stuff’ too much!!! When I pop my clogs the twins will have drawers of cards (to and from me and their dad), plus my red sparkly shoes in a glass dome, and various other ‘treasures’ that I can’t bear to be parted with!! I like the sentiment behind it — and I may change my mind once I reach my twilight years — but, for now, I’m allllll about a comfy home ;) xxxx

  4. I love a great shopping trip to HomeSense or TK Maxx, I can always find something in there that I just have to have not that I need. It’s very rare I ever pop in without coming home with something new and fabulous. xx

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