How to Handle Sentimental Clutter
I tell all my clients they're not alone. And they're not.
I constantly run into the same questions, comments, and concerns during my initial consults, all the way through project completion. It usually starts with embarrassment, which is the hardest one to watch. No one intends for their house to become cluttered and disorganized, so when it finally gets to the point when asking for some help is a necessity - it's overwhelming and discouraging. I soothe their concerns by reminding them that I have this conversation with EVERYONE. It's not just them. We'll get it under control. And we do.
But in-between the problem and the solution, a lot of decisions are made. What is currently useful to you? Does it make you happy? When was the last time you wore it? Would you keep it if you moved? If it's broken is it really worth fixing? Would you buy it again if you were shopping?
But the biggest question I run into again and again? What about the sentimental things? The things that aren't saved because they're useful or practical- but because they're special. This is hard clutter to get rid of, but boy do we all have it. Recently, in the same sentence, a client was annoyed at how much stuff she had acquired from her parents in adulthood, and campaigning to keep everything for her kids *just in case* they might want it. It's clutter with good intentions.
Special stuff is special. Stuff is stuff. Systematically going through things you once deemed sentimental may help determine the *really* important things to keep and cherish for years to come. Our friends at Becoming Minimalist came up with a list of How to Handle Sentimental Clutter that we love:
1. Remember that less is different than none.
Boy do we agree. Parring down items in your home, even the sentimental ones, leaves you with the very best, and the most important. So that when you look around your home, you love it all.
2. Your memories do not exist in the item.
This doesn't mean throw every heirloom in the house away. It does mean that as you sort through the things in your home, keep in mind that the memories are within you. When you remove the item, you aren't removing the memory.
3. Our emotional attachment to things can actually provide motivation for owning less.
That feeling you get about the sentimental stuff? The goal is to get to a similar place with everything you choose to surround yourself with. Why have meaningless things around when you know what it feels like to truly place significance on an item and the joy that brings?
4. Don't start with the sentimental clutter
Start easy. Start with the things that you can easily disregard. The sentimental things can be tricky- and as always, that's why having an experienced hand to hold through the process can be quite a gift.
If you'd like to read Becoming Minimalist's full article, read it here: