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Challenge: Get organized!

How to reduce the physical footprint of your sentimental stuff

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I’ve mentioned before that sentimental storage is the most difficult category to declutter, and as an organizer I’ve learned that what’s sentimental to one person is not necessarily the same for another. I have clients who have no problem donating or selling a household of their grandparents furniture, but they won’t budge on discarding an old college sweatshirt in their storage unit (even if they forgot that they had it in the first place!).

I see, hear, and am witness to a lot of people’s personal items, which includes the sentimental items that are near and dear to their hearts. I think that there is a misconception that getting organized equates to getting rid of your stuff. That’s not the case! But, because physical items tend to take up physical space and lead to clutter, I’m always up for offering solutions that preserve the memory but reduce the footprint of the physical item. I mean, it’s not the actual antique chair in the back of your storage room that you love, it’s the memory associated with it. Seeing the chair reminds you of the previous owners, memories that you had with the chair, or stories that have been passed down about it. The same goes for all other physical items, like clothing, awards, printed photos, and kids’ art.


This summer I’m focusing on reorganizing several areas of my home while my girls are at sleepaway camp. Sure, I already have the right bins, categories labeled, and a place for everything, but there’s definite room for improvement...especially when it comes to my daughters’ keepsake papers, artwork and other save items. At the close of each school year my girls each review the paperwork, art, and other knick knacks that were saved throughout the year, and they pare down so that we’re left with only their favorites (this year we did this process before they left for camp). We store all of the keepers in a clear bin and add a label with their name and grade. It might seem like a tedious process, but it truly only takes 15 minutes and my girls love to revisit the items they have saved over the years. They continuously take items out of their save boxes to look at throughout the year and it is truly a joy to see.

Regardless of the size of your space, storing artwork and sentimental items can take up valuable real estate in your home, and that real estate can oftentimes become wasted if you aren’t looking at or using the stored items on a regular basis. That’s why I love transferring memories into a book (there are a number of companies who offer this, but I love Artkive!).

I love the idea of keeping photos of physical items rather than taking up space to hold on to the item, and especially for alternatives to just kids art to have digitized and stored, including:

  • Trophies
  • Playbills
  • Concert tickets
  • Collectibles (i.e. buttons, matches, knick knacks)
  • Furniture
  • Musical instruments
  • Awards

I’d love to know: what sentimental items in your home are you holding on to? Whether it’s clothing, kids’ art, furniture, or anything else I would love to hear.

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