How to De-Clutter Sentimental Items

In the last post we tackled the bathroom clutter. The de-cluttering process for cosmetics is quite prescriptive; throw out what’s out of date and try to reduce the amount of space the rest takes up.

Sadly, not all categories are quite as simple. Marie Kondo addresses this in her book 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up', by asking readers to question whether an item sparks joy. If it does, it should be kept. If not, respectfully disposed of.

Taking items into our hands and thinking about whether we sense joy, might feel silly. That being said, the intention behind this action does help the de-cluttering process by making us question the purpose of the item.


“Only keep what is functional or beautiful, nothing else”

- William Morris


This quote is helpful to keep in mind whilst de-cluttering sentimental items. I'll admit, this is the toughest category to clear through quickly. You find yourself wanting to hold onto things because of what or who they represent rather than what they are.


The following checklist should get you into the practice of drilling down to find out whether you really need to keep an item or not.

1. How long since I last saw/used this item?

If it's been a long time, and the items original purpose is probably void. Ask yourself how it will serve you in the future, and be honest with yourself on whether you would reach for it again. The memories associated with an item are often enough, so lots can joined the 'dispose' pile here.

2. Is it still fit for purpose? Does it work?

Check the item still works in the way it should. If broken, throw it away or fix it immediately. If you wear the item, does it still fit? If not, donate it.

3. Has it aged well?

Be honest with yourself on how good the item looks now. It might have been your favourite top as a kid, but would you be embarrassed to wear it now it's pulled and out of shape?

4. Is it functional or beautiful?

If the item is not beautiful, it could be functional. For instance, I am not particularly fond of our cooking utensils but for now they are functional. At some point I will replace these to be both beautiful and functional!

5. Is it stored effectively?

If an item is beautiful, it should be displayed to highlight it's beauty. Where is the item currently stored and does that location suit its purpose? Can the item be stored in another more compact way, for instance digitising paperwork can save a lot of space. Can sentimental items be displayed so that they give you joy every time you pass by them?

For instance, the letters pictured here are very sentimental to me, although not particularly beautiful to anyone but me. I however will be looking for a new way to display them so that I can enjoy them more regularly!

Practice makes perfect, and I'm definitely still practising! This checklist might not work for every item, but it does start you off in the right direction. I'd love you to share this post with your most a messy friend, who could do with a bit of help!

Next time inspired by Kondo's books, I'll be blogging on organising your wardrobe to make more space, and hopefully finding more to wear. All without spending a penny!

Framing my favourite old photos so that I can enjoy them, rather than them living in a box!

Framing my favourite old photos so that I can enjoy them, rather than them living in a box!

An antique notebook I picked out as a child, something I am holding onto!

An antique notebook I picked out as a child, something I am holding onto!