Keeping the Sentiment without the Clutter

Sentimental clutter is bound to happen. Through the courses of our lives, we all collect things to remind us of the people we love, the places we’ve been, and the adventures we’ve had. Over the years, these items have a way of piling up in dusty boxes or hiding away in the back of closet. Suddenly, we forgo parking the car in the garage or avoid opening certain drawers because we know if we do, we’ll never get it shut again. But still, holding on to our sentimental belongings feels like a MUST. As scary or impossible as it may sound, shedding your home and your life of memorabilia overflow can relieve stress and make your space more peaceful and enjoyable. Decluttering your sentimental items might never be easy, but here are some tips to help you through this freeing process.

Whenever in doubt about an item, remember the three most important reasons you should keep something.

  • It is functional and you use it regularly.
  • You would save it if your house were on fire.
  • You would pass it on to your children/family.

Letting go of sentimental won’t take your memories with them.

As we are sorting items to declutter, we are often reminded of our experiences and memories attached to some items. Maybe you came across a trinket you got on a vacation. Suddenly, your mind is flooded with memories of exploring new cities with your family. The item is then placed back in the “keep” pile only to collect dust in the back of a closet once again. In these situations, it is important to remember that getting rid of the trinket you’ve only now seen for the first time in 5 years does not mean you will also be getting rid of your cherished and irreplaceable memories.

With this in mind, it is also important to…

Get Rid of Guilt

Sometimes we keep things we don’t need or use because letting go of them makes us feel guilty or heartless. Maybe a loved one gave you a gift and you keep it because it reminds you of them, you believe the giver expects you to display the gift, or maybe you feel that letting the gift go means that you don’t care about the giver. Remember, getting rid of sentimental items does not mean we don’t cherish the memories or loved ones surrounding the item. If you are feeling guilty, try to think of the decluttering process as empowering. It is important to be objective to honestly evaluate if a sentimental item has genuine usable value or if you are keeping it out of guilt.

Pass on Heirlooms

There is no accounting for taste, especially when it comes to family. Still, many of us hold on to family heirlooms strictly out of obligation, even if it is not to our style. If you don’t enjoy an item that has been passed down to you and don’t happily display it, don’t let it clutter your home. However, what is clutter to you may be a treasure to someone else. Before tossing, ask others in your family if they would like it, or if valuable, a local archive or museum may enjoy displaying it. This will also help temper any creeping guilt you may have for not hanging on to an heirloom item.

Have a Collection? Keep One.

Maybe you have an assortment of keepsake mugs from your travels or maybe you have numerous collectable bobbleheads that you’ve gathered throughout the years. Either way, they’re taking up space and adding to your clutter. You’ve spent so much time collecting them and they harbor so many fond memories for you, how can you bear to part with them? Well, selecting one of a bunch to display proudly is a great option for keeping the sentiment while clearing the clutter. While it may be hard to part with any, having just one to remind you of all the others will allow you to fondly reminisce. If it helps, take pictures of all the ones you don’t plan to keep, so you can still look at them forever!

Don’t Store. Use!

Do you have a closet full of things you “might” use “someday?” Either use them now or send them on to a new home! Your beautiful wedding china and fancy guest towels were meant to be seen and used, not just in case the King stops by for a visit. Actually using the special items you have stored for years will cut down on your clutter and you will be able to see those sentimental items every day!

And lastly,


Do you have boxes upon boxes of precious family photos or artwork? A great way to keep your precious memorabilia without storing those hefty boxes is to have them digitized! In other words, take pictures and upload them to a flash drive or computer. You can even invest in a digital picture frame that will show you your treasured images on rotation!

Happy cleaning!

Jaime Sawyer