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If you’re having a difficult time getting rid of things with sentimental value, here are some ideas that will help you declutter and enjoy the sentimental things you love.

How to Let Go of Things You Love

When you’re faced with the tough task of decluttering your home, it seems easy to abide by the principle, “just keep the things you love!” But sometimes, even after decluttering, you still end up with a house that is still too full.

So how do you deal with having too many things you love or that have sentimental value to you or those you care about? It’s extremely common to have things in your home that you feel obligated to keep or have a hard time parting with for whatever reason.

You know the things I’m talking about. The set of china you were given for your wedding that you don’t have space for in the kitchen so it sits in a box in the garage. The boxes of items you inherited from a family member and feel you should keep to honor their memory. The leather jacket you used to wear in 1989 but would probably never wear today, so it hangs in the back of your closet. The cat sculpture your aunt gave you for your birthday years ago (you feel like you should love it because he gave it to you, but it was never really your taste).

It might seem simple to declutter in theory, but when it comes down to it, all of us have had those moments of stress and even guilt about what to do with a sentimental item.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself when you are debating what should stay and what should go:

sentimental item storage

1. Do I feel burdened by keeping these items? Do these items limit my enjoyment of my home or my storage space in any way (whether it’s the item individually or the combination of ALL the sentimental items causing clutter and stress)?

2. Do I see these items often enough that they are really able to bring me joy? Is there a way to use them so I would enjoy them more?

3. Why do I feel the need to keep this? Is it because I really love it? Is it because it has good memories attached to it? Do I use it often enough to make keeping it worthwhile? Would I feel bad for the person who gave it to me if I was to let it go?

Here are seven helpful ideas for decluttering while finding joy in the sentimental things you love:

1. Display it! Frame children’s old artwork, hang heirloom plates on the wall, etc.

2. Offer a sentimental item to another family member who would enjoy the memories just as much as you do but will have more room to display it.

3. Keep one; lose the rest. Keeping one sentimental plate out on display can be more meaningful than keeping the entire 12-piece set hidden away in a box.

4. Acknowledge and cherish the memories, but lose the clutter. Photograph the item for an album if you want to be sure to remember it.

5. Make it into something functional so it is more useful. Turn your dad’s old flannel shirt into a pillow you can enjoy every day!

6. Sell it and then donate the money to a cause you believe in so you feel good about your choice.

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7. Give items away, knowing what you have been holding on to will now bring joy to others.

What you keep and what you choose to give away is a personal decision, but paring down excess belongings really can bring more joy and contentment with your home and life, so it is worth the effort!

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About the Author

Melissa Michaels

Melissa Michaels is the author and creator of one of the top home decorating blogs on the web, The Inspired Room. She has been featured on such sites and publications as, Apartment Therapy, and Ladies Home Journal.

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  • Great list of alternatives to keeping everything!

  • Kristen

    It is so difficult to get rid of things that are attached to memories – but you are right – it can feel SO good in the end to get rid of the clutter!

  • Good stuff! 🙂

  • debbiehaleyangel

    I completely agree that decluttering is therapeutic. Really does free up the mind clutter as well 🙂

  • Great tips – I take a photograph of the thing before I give it away, that takes no space and remind myself that the thing is not the person. Decluttering is like exercise – hard to get started but you never regret it afterwards!

  • Last weekend I went through the invigorating process of purging all my old hand-drafted plans. With friends, music, and a bon fire the process became ceremonial. It was 20 something years worth of accumulated hard work in those rolls but it was weighing me down, plus who needs them now with AutoCAD! It was a great experience but now I’ve found more accumulation to get rid of. Will be writing about it on in hopes it helps others declutter as well like how this article has helped me. Thank you!

    • whattarush

      I would have made some greeting cards! But, bonfires work, too!

      • It was AWESOME! I will share my video of my purging ceremonial bonfire soon on, my blog about ALL things design. I hope you check it out!

        • whattarush

          I did look at your blog, and I thought it was fantastic. It looks like your entries are thoughtful, interesting and well-written. I was wondering why you didn’t have more comments. Do you have traffic? I’m sorry to say, but from what I’ve seen it doesn’t match my style at all. We’re more of a conglomeration of whatever-we-find-and-like kind of women who are hoping to buy a house in the near future. From what I’ve seen, you focus more on modern/contemporary (I really don’t know terms) decor and design. Best wishes in building your fan base.

          • Thanks for your feed back. We get more feed back through our social media. Not really sure how to get people to comment and would love recommendations if you have any. I think our home technology post would be perfect for someone considering buying a home. Here is an example.

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  • Francesca Gunn

    I think my biggest problem with stuff I love but want to pass on, is keeping it stored for my young adult children to get as they are settled. My 18 & 20 year old daughters don’t have room for the things they want in their tiny spaces. I need to figure out how to hang on to this stuff for them without it making me crazy in the mean time.

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