There are so many kinds of clutter: excess items you think you might need someday, clutter you’re so used to having around that you don’t even notice it anymore, piles of paper you have to go through, and things you feel guilty getting rid of because someone gave them to you or you spent good money on them. But there’s one kind of clutter you should never feel bad hanging on to.
Discovering the Sentimental Items That Are Okay to Keep
Don’t you have some things that could fairly be considered “another man’s junk” but they’re treasures to you? Honor those things for what they are. Whether you proudly display the gold spray-painted paper plate with glued-on macaroni and your son’s kindergarten photo on your desk or you keep that dried pink rose that brings you right back to your first date with your now-husband in an unobtrusive box and only look at it fondly during quiet moments every few years, those things are yours, and they matter. These types of treasures are more than mere sentimental items. They’re repositories of memories and of our heart’s deepest, sweetest recollections. Some items even accrue a meaning of their own just by being with us through all our ups and downs, steady and unchanging physical anchors as we travel in and out of the epochs of life. And it’s okay to keep them.
How to Decide Which Sentimental Items to Keep
It’s definitely a slippery slope, and we have to be careful. We can’t keep everything that simply reminds us of something because, especially for the more feelings-prone among us, that could be everything! Maintaining a balance of possessing things that are meaningful to us without hoarding every little memento means being keenly in tune with exactly how certain things make us feel. If, as you’re reconsidering your possessions with an intent to declutter, a particular item evokes joy and tenderness and stirs up hope and love and all the things you wish to fill your home and life with, by all means keep it. If it transports you to a time and place, and it’s a good place that you wish to revisit, don’t feel like you have to part with it.
Set the Bar High
When implementing reasonable yet stringent guidelines about what special personal items we choose to keep in our homes, remember that an item simply bringing back memories or taking us somewhere isn’t enough. Being intentional about the emotions and spaces you choose to go back to will help you determine what to keep and what to pass along.
For instance, I recently said goodbye to a hanging candle holder that brought back powerful memories, but not happy ones. The day I bought it, I was with my mother when she got the phone call that her twin sister had died unexpectedly in the hospital after a routine procedure. Seeing the candle holder even a decade later brought me right back to where we were standing and the sound of my mother’s tight, incredulous voice and shocked-white face. I’d never have hung that item in my home; it made me too sad. I much prefer to memorialize my beloved aunt with her collection of pointillism paintings from Mexico that cheer up our guest room.
Less Is So Much More
Another thing to keep in mind as we give ourselves permission to keep sentimental items: The more things we keep, the less the really good things have a chance to shine. This is the purpose of editing our non-essential items down to the best of the best. I recently had a conversation with my mom about how much of my grandparents’ things I kept. If I’d only kept my grandmother’s intricate gold filigree jewelry box, rather than the jewelry box in addition to their dining room set, china, and other furniture, would it have been enough? Probably. And I’d probably cherish it even more than I do. Going through sentimental items and exploring our feelings as we decide what to keep and what to relinquish is a deeply personal journey. The destination of this exploration, though, of finding and keeping the things that move our hearts to joy—and only those things—is a home sprinkled with meaningful items that gently remind us of the intangible beauties of life.
What “clutter” in your house is a personal treasure?
Written for Deb's Blog by Jessica Kane
1. Start Clean
The first step towards getting the perfect closet is to clean it out. Take out everything. After you have removed all of your clothes, accessories, and any other items, it is time to surface clean and vacuum. If you notice any loose rods or shelving, now is the time to make repairs. Furthermore, if the paint is looking a bit dingy, bring out the brushes and brighten it up!
This is probably the most important step in getting a more organized closet. It is also the biggest challenge. Most closets simply have too much stuff. Whether it is your prom dress from high school or clothes that have never been worn with tags still attached, it is time to go through and determine what you will keep and what you will toss. Keep garbage bags on hand for easy transport to your trash can or donation station. Pay careful attention to items that you have not touched in a long, long time. While you may think it's something you will wear in the near future, analyze the reasons why it hasn't left the black hole for months or even years.
This is where the process starts to get easier. Sort your assets into piles including shirts, pants, coats, shoes, and various accessories such as belts, hats, ties, etc. If you choose to go the extra mile, organize these categories by color or type. For example, short sleeve shirts can be separated from long sleeve shirts. You could also choose to arrange in the color of the rainbow, "ROYGBIV" for those who have forgotten. Once this task has been completed, gather any equipment you will need before you begin to zone out where your clothes will go like hangers, boxes, pant holders, tie organizers, shoe stands, and hanging shelves.
Depending on the size and layout of your closet, zoning may be limited. You will want to designate specific "zones" for your sorted clothes. Low rods are great for holding shirts and skirts while high bars are better suited for suits and pants. Keep your dresses together as well as your shoes organized in a specified location. If you have purses or ties, keep these separated from actual wear in an accessory zone. This is all personal preference but works best when everything is kept within its same category.
5. Maximize Space
There are plenty of storage systems available to consumers ranging from jewelry hangers to storage baskets. Through devising creative ways to maximize your space, you will not only be able to store more, but it will still maintain an organized feel. If you live in a region that has significant weather change during seasons, think about using bins to stow clothing that you won't be wearing for a few months. If you need additional storage space but have run out of rods or shelves, think about building more shelves to generate more space for your precious gems.
Having an organized closet cannot only improve your style, but it can also cut your preparation routine in half. Through clearly seeing what exists in your wardrobe, you can easily generate outfits. Not to mention you will also feel better overall when one of your most-utilized spaces is clutter free. So what are you waiting for? Start emptying out your closet and get rid of what you are not longer using. Feel free to get creative and make the most of this experience!
Jessica Kane is a professional writer who has an interest in keeping things organized and in order. She currently writes for FlexCon, a leading vendor of bulk plastic storage containers, bins & boxes.