“How does one balance keeping sentimental items from the past and living a clutter-free, simple lifestyle?” -Emily
As most of you probably well know, I disdain clutter. But even though I can get pretty ruthless in ridding our home of anything we don’t love and use on a very regular basis, I do keep some memorabilia.
Here are some things I consider when deciding whether to keep sentimental items:
1. Ask Yourself: Will I Wish I Had Kept This 25 Years From Now?
When it comes to sentimental items, my rule of thumb is to ask myself, “Will I wish I had kept this 25 years from now?” That really helps me in determining whether or not to hang onto something.
Photographs, letters, and journals are what I hang onto more than actual memorabilia. Sure, it might be fun to show your grandchildren the very first shoes you wore or the very first drawing you made and it’s totally fine to hang onto a few of these things, but if you don’t set some fairly strong ground rules for what you hang onto, you’ll soon have to devote an entire room or storage unit to memorabilia!
2. Ask Yourself: Can I Use It Now?
Just because something has sentimental value, it doesn’t have to be stored away. Some of my favorite sentimental items are things we use on a regular basis–such as my tea set from my grandma. Yes, we run the risk of breaking it if we use it, but it’s so fun to enjoy tea parties with my girls and to tell them about their great grandma whom the set came from.
I also have a set of embroidered dish towels from my grandma that I use almost every day. They are getting worn from use, but I think of her almost every time I pull them out to dry the dishes. To me, it’s much more special to be using her towels in my kitchen than to have them tucked away in a tub in our storage closet.
3. When in Doubt, Hang Onto It
This might seem to fly in the face of point number one, but I’ve been grateful that I’ve followed it over the years–especially with my ruthless clutter-ridding personality! If you’re not sure whether you’ll wish you had hung onto something 25 years from now, don’t get rid of it–yet.
I inherited a KitchenAid from my grandma after she died. I thought I would really love it. Instead, it sat in a closet unused. A couple of times I was seconds away from selling it in our garage sale, but I mentioned this on Facebook and a bunch of you strongly encouraged me to hang onto it. I’m really glad I did because I’ve since fallen in love with it and use it regularly in cooking and baking.
You can always throw something out or pass it on later on, but you can never get something back after you’ve gotten rid of it (well, unless you gave it to someone you know!)
Set Up a Special Memorabilia Storage Space
One thing that has been really helpful to me is to buy two big tubs with lids that I’ve designated specifically for storing mementos. Not only does this provide a place to put special cards or pictures that come in the mail, but it also keeps everything contained and not overflowing into other parts of the house.
We’ve found that two big tubs are currently big enough to house everything we want to hang onto–pictures, childhood memorabilia, letters, and things passed down to us from grandparents that we’re not currently using on a regular basis.
The other beauty of having a designated spot is that it provides boundaries for how much we can keep. When the tubs are getting full, we go through them and pare things down a bit so that we can have more space for new things that might come in.
What about you? How do you balancing hanging onto sentimental items versus having a clutter-free home? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!