Tidying Up Canadian Style with The Big Downsize



If you’ve ever struggled to get rid of old belongings that are sucking up valuable space and preventing you from achieving a tidy, organized home, you are most certainly not alone. Many of us have the exact same secret boxes of shame, full of junk that’s longer useful, but difficult to get rid of. And when it’s time to finally move on, sorting through it all can be quite a daunting task.

In the new series The Big Downsize, produced for VisionTV by Canada’s Tell Tale Productions, professional organizer and de-clutterer Jane Veldhoven shows us how to get the job done by helping two families who desperately need to shed their belongings. With the clock ticking, saying goodbye to their stuff proves more complicated than expected.

The Big Downsize

Big Downsize S1 - Maria, Donald and Malcolm McNeil rummage through their stuff with Jane

As a Certified Professional Organizer in Canada, Jane takes on over 50 clients a year to help organize, de-clutter, redesign and redecorate their homes. While she takes great pleasure in the act of tidying up, the job isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. For so many of us, possessions are closely tied to positive memories that can trigger an emotional reaction when it’s time to say goodbye.

“The stuff is usually a symbol of emotional chaos, something that’s happened in somebody’s life,” explains Jane in the series’ premiere episode. “So in the end, that’s what we see physically, but it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with that. People keep stuff for 20 different reasons, depending on what’s happened in their life and how they grew up.”
The Big Downsize

Big Downsize S1 - Pam Gaines' Overwhelming Basement

For Pam and Scott, separating after 28 years of marriage and moving to smaller apartments brings sadness and nostalgia as they prepare to close a chapter of their lives and move on to a new one. Pam especially struggles throughout the series to part ways with items that have meant the most to her over the years and is constantly reminded of the life she’s leaving behind. While Jane must carefully navigate these difficult emotions, the objectivity she brings to the process is crucial for helping Pam confront the limits of her new space while working through the emotional blockage that’s been preventing her from letting go.

Big Downsize S1 - Jane Veldhoven and Pam Gaines get ready to tackle the play room

Big Downsize S1E3 - Jane Veldhoven and Pam Gaines

For the McNeil siblings, clearing out their cluttered childhood home to put it on the market presents a new challenge for Jane. With four siblings involved in the process, their contradicting ideas on what should be kept and what’s garbage further complicates the overwhelming task ahead of them. The home is filled to the brim with books, family heirlooms, and just plain junk that requires extensive hours to sort through. For one sibling, Peg, her focus on making sure that every item finds the perfect home causes tension within the family and threatens to delay the process. But once the job is underway, the simple act of sharing the stories behind her parents’ most prized possessions allows her to honour their memories and get the closure she needs to finally move on.

Big Downsize S1 - Margaret, Donald, Maria and Malcolm McNeil survey the dining room with Jane

Big Downsize S1E3 - Jane Veldhoven and the McNeils high five

With emotions running high and time running out, each episode brings new challenges and breakthroughs as both families move closer to unburdening themselves from their mountain of stuff.

The Big Downsize encores Mondays at 9pm ET from February 10 through March 9 on VisionTV. Watch for Season 2 in 2020!

WATCH: In this web exclusive video, Jane Veldhoven takes you through her first step of downsizing: taking stock

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