10 Best Ways To Organize And Store Sentimental Clutter

When my mother died nearly two years ago, I truly understood what it meant to want to hold on to sentimental items with all my might, but not at the expense of filling my home with disorganized clutter or risk becoming constantly triggered by the fact that she was no longer here.

It’s true that sentimental clutter can look different for many people: a newspaper clipping time-stamping a momentous occasion or a letter from someone important in your life. Shira Gill, an organizing expert and author of “Minimalista” and “Organized Living,” told HuffPost that sentimental clutter is typically the most difficult for people to confront and edit.

This is due to internal conflicts and questions such as: If I let go of this item will I still retain my identity? Am I a thoughtless or bad person if I let go of this item?What if I regret letting go of this item and can never get it back?” Gill said.

Reminding us that these types of questions and clutter as a whole are actually rooted in fearful thinking, Gill suggested instead asking questions that are rooted in abundant thinking, such as, “Does this item support my current values and priorities?” or “Is this item adding value to my life right now?”

“Remember, memories don’t live in items,” Gill said. “If you’re a very visual person, you may find it useful to snap a picture of your sentimental items before you part with them.”

In addition to photographing and digitizing your items, other tips from Gill include doing things like keeping one specific token from your collection, passing it on to others in your family that will appreciate its value, and displaying the pieces that are most meaningful.

As difficult as it is to say goodbye to some things, Gill’s tactics and advice could be your answer to feeling clarity in your mind and your space. In the following list, she, along with two other organizing experts, suggest more tips and essential storage items that can help keep some of your most emotionally felt mementos in your possession and organized.

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An acid-free photo storage box

Organizing expertShira Gill said that acid-free storage boxes are ideal for keeping letters, papers and photos to prevent them from yellowing. This protective box is filled with 18 smaller inner cases with snap closures that are the perfect size to house photographs or folded pieces of paper and can easily be labeled on the outside for keeping tabs on contents. The cases are fully removable so you’re able to customize the interior of your case, allowing for larger photos, newspapers articles and other paper valuables.


A wall-mounted shadow box

“Shadow-box frames are a fun way to display 3D items like a favorite sentimental T-shirt,” Gill said. Doubling as storage and decor, we found this wall-mountable frame with a lockable door that makes it easy to store and change the sentimental items inside. It comes in three colors and finishes and four sizes and, if you prefer for it not to hang on your wall, it can also sit nicely on a shelf or a table.


A custom-made hard-cover photo book

Regina Lark, author and certified professional organizer in chronic disorganization, suggested photographing genres of sentimental items like kid’s drawings to old concert T-shirts that you’re no longer able to wear. Then, you can send these photos to platforms like Snapfish, which create customized books containing your photos.

Snapfish offers tons of hardcover memory book options from various page outlines to design themes to book sizes. Additionally, if you want to memorialize special memories in a way that’s more unique than a photo album, the company also offers your photos to be transformed into pieces of wall art, mugs, calendars and even photo tiles.


A platform that creates art books

Another similar platform called Artkive came at the suggestion of Gill, who said that this service can make it easy to turn a pile of your child’s art into a beautiful picture book that’s easy to store and access.

Using professional photography, editing and premium matte printing, Artkive publishes art books ranging from 25 to 200 images and also provides access to digital versions of your images in case you lose your book.


A five-pack of thumb drives for photo sharing

“If you’re struggling to make the tough cuts, digitizing your old letters, photos, art, and mementos can be a great alternative to storing all of the physical items in your home,” Gill said. Our other organizing experts agreed that using digital storage space can be a great option to not only reduce clutter, but to share them with others.

“For [your] thousands of photos, sort, sort, sort,” Lark said. “Then put batches or genres of photos onto thumb drives or DVDs and distribute them to family. These make great gifts.”

This pack of different-colored 64GB thumb drives makes it easy to organize and archive the sentimental things that you’ve decided to digitize from photos to video to songs and enjoy them on any device that has a compatible USB port.


A fireproof fling cabinet

For more sensitive documents, such as death and birth certificates or marriage announcements, Lark suggests keeping a file box to store and organize these important items all in one place. We found this collapsible and lockable file box that’s both fireproof and water-resistant and has mesh pockets on the underside of the lid for additional organizing options.


A set of eight 56-quart clear storage bins

Home organizing and redesign expert, Kayleen Kelly said that she “highly recommends 56-quart clear storage bins for stored sentimental items, photo boxes and albums for photographs.”

Based on her suggestion, we found this highly rated set of four (or more) storage bins that are flatter compared to other 56-quart options, which can make them easier to stack in closets or store underneath beds. They also feature four bottom wheels so they can easily be wheeled in and out of tight places.


A 30-pack of self-adhesive label pockets

Lark brought up the importance of having clearly labeled bins in order to archive that which you want to keep but don’t need to have in your personal space, without having to dig through a bin’s contents. This pack of labels with clear pockets self-adhere to surfaces and are available in 15 size options as well as an assorted size pack.


A set of 10 clear art ledges for the wall

According to Gill, “art ledges are great for displaying a rotating collection of photos, art, or memorabilia.” While there are tons of art ledges and floating shelf options out there, these clear, 15-inch acrylic ledges are low profile for a seamless-appearing display and can display everything from vinyl record covers to figurines to trophies. If clear doesn’t suit your tastes, there are other color options including two wood finishes.


A way to display collectibles and memorabilia

“Sentimental photos and items sprinkled through a home is a great way to highlight and showcase those memories and feelings,” Kelly said, seconding Gill’s suggestion of intentional shelving.

We found this shelf that can either be free-standing or wall-mounted and is ideal for storing collectible figurines or smaller pieces of memorabilia. The five shelves are also completely height-adjustable. You can grab this shelf in four wood finishes, including black or this natural oak color.

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