How to Deal with Sentimental Clutter
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Figuring out how to keep, display, or use sentimental items may feel like a hurdle when deciding what items to keep or declutter from your home. In this blog post, I aim to help you learn ways to declutter and display sentimental items you keep.
Dealing with Sentimental Items
Let's start with decluttering. For help with parting with sentimental items, this Decluttering Sentimental Items playlist may provide some inspiration.
Decluttering sentimental items is an individualized, personal decision. I wish I could write a formula for how to decide to let go of something and be at peace with the decision. Allow me to offer a few tips.
Sentimental is a major category when trying to live with less, and starting with smaller, easier categories might help you build some "decluttering muscles."
Visualize the item in your home. When dealing with household clutter, one key to success is to have a home for each and every item. When items don't have a home, they become clutter until they have a home.
Consider honoring the person or the reason the item is sentimental by using it, repurposing it, or finding a new home for it.
How to Declutter Sentimental Items
If you wish to donate, you can search for charities near you. If you have something you'd like to consign, you can search for consignment boutiques and shops in your local area to set up an account. You can drop off at donation centers, or make a few phone calls to narrow your donation focus. Churches, charities, and shelters may directly benefit from the extra effort, especially for furniture, clothing, and items they can resell in their front-end, charity and thrift shops.
Selling through consignment shops could be a safe route if you do not want someone to come to your home. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Mercari, LetGo, eBay, and other applications offer free listing services, and may charge a fee upon sale.
Some areas have an organized Buy Nothing group on Facebook or a separate website. You can post your listing and give the item away for free. You can also list in Facebook Marketplace for $0.00 and give it away locally.
I had to trash dozens of trash bags full of sentimental items that sat in boxes and bins for decades. Growth, mold, mildew, and other grossness prevented me from saving those items. It was a shame to put so much into the landfills, but I could not send items with growth on them to other homes in good consciousness.
However, the pain of having to trash so many belongings made a mark on me. It helped me to learn that sentimental items do not belong in a box in my smelly basement. They belong featured in my home and in my life, or they belong in another home that would feature them rightly.
Repurposing an item can breathe new life into it. My mom turned a jacket that didn't fit me any longer into a pillow. It was the jacket I wore when I met my husband. We have an antique storage cedar chest from my grandmother that we have repurposed as a dining room decoration.
A few ways to keep sentimental items into your home:
display like items with like items (old wooden cutting boards with new boards)
stack small things together (small old Bibles with small books)
keep in sight (featured decor in your home)
heirloom box (keep old letters protected)
pair old with new (an old doily on a new table)
use in everyday life (our dishes!)
scrapbook (photographs, letters, flowers)
take a picture (digitize the memory)
Watch this video as we unpack and declutter family heirlooms and work through ways to incorporate them into our home.
Most recently, I shared how we deal with sentimental items in this video.
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