Let’s face it. We all have the same propensity to amass junk, or “the excess” as I like to call it. This excess consists of items that at one point or another seemed necessary. Eventually however, it slowly begins to rob us of the freedom and comfort a non-cluttered home provides. If you’re like me, then coming up with the gusto to say goodbye to these things can be a trying process. While the item itself may serve no purpose or be of little use, the memories associated around it may be strong enough to deter you from tossing, selling, or donating it. However, hanging on to items purely based on sentimental value could cause others to refer to you as, “one of those people”. The answer? For me, it was the storage unit.
For less than thirty bucks a month I was able to hold on to all of my old college treasures. My dated and marked-up textbooks, mementos from my first apartment, and even one of the most questionably decorative “wall-hangings” my mother-in-law made for me. The guest bedroom and closet have not seen this much available real estate or sunlight in years, and my husband finally has the space for his own den in the garage. But getting to this point wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I remember when I first began. The process of deciding what ultimately had to go and what could be moved to storage took time, thought and consideration. Below is a loose rubric that helped me discern what was storable and what I just needed to part ways with.
Items with Sentimental Value
The first thing I considered when deciding an item’s fate was how much sentimental value the object held and whether it was truly worth keeping. I come from a family where my mom saved every piece of artwork I ever created. Every single poorly drawn cat, every school project, in fact, she saved everything! All of these art pieces, projects, and old homework assignments were amassed in a giant storage bin that probably saw the light of day once per year, if that.
The idea of saving something for its sentimental value is a funny thing. As people, I think we are inherently drawn to holding on to an item for a number of reasons. Perhaps for the way we felt when the item was accrued, an appreciation of the individual who gave it to us or sometimes if for nothing else, the preconceived idea that we simply have to hold on to it.
When cleaning out that room I had to keep asking myself, “Why are you saving this?” It’s tricky waters, but for as much as you can, try to really objectively look at each item you are hanging on to and assess if it’s something that needs to be kept in the home or whether it can be moved to a storage facility, donated, or thrown out. This hierarchy of importance is of course different for everybody so you’ll need to ask yourself, “is this as important as I think it is?” If the answer to that question is no, let the items go.
Items with Artistic or Decorative Value
I know I am entirely guilty of this one. Each year as styles and trends change my decorative palate follows suit. I’ll often see little things while I’m out and about that catch my eye and strike me as a good replacement for something already taking up space on the countertop. As I replace the old with the new, old items generally find their way into a box, or under a bed.
My thought process is usually something like “I might re-use this if I choose to redecorate” or, “my kids could use it when they get a place of their own.” But what really happens is that these items stay in the box, or under the bed and rob valuable space and freedom from my home and life. Just like before, it’s time to take out the objective lens and really put a keen eye on what is worth keeping and what would find a better home at Goodwill or another donation center.
For some reason, I tend to collect way too many shelves. Square cube shelves, black shelves, red shelves, block shelves etc… As much as I would like to think my children would appreciate the sentiment of keeping these things for them, I had to ask myself just how in need of all these things they would be. The answer? Not very. The items I did keep stayed in the bin and now rest comfortably in my newly acquired storage unit.
Items that are Worth Money
Occasionally things get saved for their perceived future value. I’m not talking about silly things here like Beanie Babies or Star Wars action figures, but things that are actually worth something, the antique lamps, the old oil paintings, items like that. While neither I nor my family owns any of these items, I’ve seen enough episodes of Antiques Roadshow to tell you that they shouldn’t be stored in these sorts of environments in the first place. Temperature controlled storage facilities are usually the best route to take. A cluttered back room where things are prone to falling on one another is creating a situation where accidental damage is just waiting to happen.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to safely storing the items I’ve amassed over the years is the weight that lifted from my shoulders the moment I knew it was all finally taken care of. The process itself, from classifying to re-location, took about a week and I’m not going to lie, at several points I found myself daydreaming about how easy it would be to just drop everything and let it continue to sit there. But that was the mentality that got me into this mess, and it certainly wasn’t the mentality to get me out of it.
Now that the excess is currently finding a new home at a thrift shop or safely locked away and organized in storage, I know I can find the stuff I do need, when I need it. Take it from me, the enjoyment that comes from the space and freedoms of an uncluttered home is probably worth more than all the stuff in your house!