Guilt-Free Decluttering for the new year

When is it time to let go of sentimental items?

We all tend to hang on to items that have a special person or a special memory attached to them. Learn how to hang on to the memory without hanging on to the item.

We all sometimes have a basement, crawl space, attic or closets that contain items that we don’t necessarily love but are attached to a person or memory or gift from someone. Sometimes these items represent a period of time that we would like to hold on to and remember forever. Some items may consist of school projects or artwork, cards, gifts or programs, items given to us by a friend or family member. Even items that were passed on to us when a friend or family member dies. The list could go on and on. I can teach you how to hang on to the memory without having those items take up valuable real estate in your home. 

I was working on an organizing project in a client’s basement. The basement contained many bins of school work, art and science projects. It even had a complete solar system made out of styrofoam balls which measured at least 4 feet across. I asked my client why she was keeping it all. She replied that her daughter had made them all in school and “we just can’t get rid of them.” 

On another project, I was working with a client who has a smaller house and wanted to optimize the closet and storage areas. As they were showing me around the house and we were talking about the space we approached the front closet and when they opened the door the entire floor of the closet had a large canister vacuum that was orange and yellow along with its many attachments (very old). I said, “wow that’s an old vacuum, does it still work”? The homeowner replied that it did not work but belonged to his grandmother and he just couldn’t get rid of it now that she had passed away. 

My suggestion to both of the scenarios was the same… 

What do you think about taking pictures of these items to keep their memory alive? You could even make a collage of pictures of the school projects and proudly display the picture collage of the projects. Then you could get rid of the actual items and free up space in your basement for other storage items. 

The collection of school supplies looked great framed in a collage! They did decide to save a small bin of small items, most larger items including the solar system was photographed and removed. 

The homeowner with the canister vacuum loved the idea and proudly displays the framed picture of the canister vacuum in memory of his grandmother and is now using the entire floor of his front closet for boots and bins of hats and gloves for the entire family. 

Another sensitive topic is gifts from family and friends and what to do with it all. When people bring you gifts or pass along items to you, they are just trying to be kind and generous. 

Sometimes family and friends will bring you a sentimental item that they just can’t bear to throw away, so they bring it to you. When this happens, remember you are not required to display these items or decorate your house with them. Many people think that if they do not display these items when the person who gave it to them returns to their home they might be upset when they do not see the gift item. 

More often than not, this will never happen. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. 

When people come to your house, they are just excited to see you and are not searching your décor for their last hostess gift. Remember, you are the boss of your own house and your own life. 

You should not be forced or guilted into decorating your home with other people’s choices or gifts or an item from a long-lost family or friend. You need to decorate your own home with items that you love and that have special meaning in your world. You are the owner of your life and your décor. 

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Holly Lake
Professional Organizer , Holly On The Spot
Holly Lake founder of Holly on the Spot specializes in assisting clients with organizing their homes and offices in a very large or small way. Closets, pantry’s and basements are only part of her specialty. When planning for a move Holly and her team can assist with packing or unpacking and helping clients make the most of their space in their new or existing home. She will even assist in selling items that no longer work for you or your current space or lifestyle. Holly on the Spot allows their clients to stay focused on careers and families, while keeping them organized and assisting with daily tasks. She helps her clients stay organized which helps reduce stress in life. Personal errand services are also available. Holly takes pride in building a personal and professional relationship with her clients. The nature of the work is often very personal, so Holly’s professional and focused approach is important to her discerning clientele. She has become a trusted friend to many of her clients. She takes great pride in offering a personalized service. Holly Lake founder of Holly on the Spot is passionate about helping others. She spent the first 22 years of her career at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. She is also a licensed cosmetologist, specializing in fashion consulting, hair and nails. Holly helps her clients remove clutter and organize their life. Holly and her team are truly a full-service company, no job is too big or small.
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