How to Declutter When You Are Sentimental About Your Stuff, By Sarah Dobbs

Blog / Real Estate Resources / January 24, 2017

How to Declutter When You Are Sentimental About Your Stuff

By Sarah Dobbs, owner of The Home Capsule

A general misconception is that tidying means tossing items that don’t serve a purpose. Tidying and decluttering is also the best way to accentuate the things you value the most. The built-in that rests at the top of our basement stairs, is a favorite feature in our Maplewood home. I displayed all sentimental items in this prominent area. These objects aren’t functional things I use daily, but still enjoy seeing each time I open the door. Homes should have heart, so clearing visual static enables you to mix in pieces you love. 

What is the process I use to accomplish this? It varies, but here is a guide to get started.

1. Declutter

Deciding what to get rid of; This is a personal choice, the system that works best for me is physically laying out every single item of a particular category. 

Putting things away is something many people dread. After you edit the collection, the number of items may still make you sweat. Combing over them one more time will allow you to purge more, and this cuts down on an excessive volume of items.  

2. Lend or Donate

Holding on to items, because you aren’t sure if you are done having kids? Lend them to friends. Lending is a nice middle ground, a test of usefulness. After the item is gone, you will quickly come to a conclusion if it’s a true need.  Finding an item you never liked in the first place, but you are holding on to it because you spent money on it? Let it go, and take it as a learning experience when making purchases. 

3. Organize and Style 

When organizing shelves these are well known ‘styling’ rules; 

1. Color coordinate the shelves

2  Groups items in 3s 

3. Use white space, so items aren’t crowded

These are all starting points that I incorporate when finding a spot for possessions. I tend to focus mainly on movement, by placing items so your eye travels seamlessly around the shelf. This minimizes distractions that your brain registers as orderly. 

Finding the balance to create a visual that isn’t rigid and cold may be your biggest challenge. I love a lived in look, and find it is more sustainable for my clients, but takes some practice for a beginner. 

Organization comes down to having less. When items don’t look crowded, you can easily find what you are looking for. The process becomes an afterthought, that doesn’t need to be repeated often.





Vanessa Pollock

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