How to Curate a Tub of all that Wedding “Stuff”

Finding a way to pare down and store memorabilia isn’t always easy.  It can feel daunting to sift through a tub or box of papers, tickets, cards, invitations, and all sorts of what-nots that you have been storing for years.  And there can be some embarrassment or shame over the fact that you kept some of the stuff in the first place!

I mean, why was I storing 17 year-old faded receipts from the cake decorator!??!?!  Ugh!

But… I have been determined to fight the shame & embarrassment and resolved to keep chipping away at the tubs taking up too much space in our storage area.   Along the way I have been doing a little research and conducting my own experiments to find out how we can all let go with a little more ease.

Here’s a recap of my sessions with a tub of “stuff” that we had been storing from our wedding and a product called the Wedding Edition Keepsake Box from Savor.

I decided to buy this product from Savor after thinking about the amount of space that I wanted this category of stuff to take up in our home.  Savor’s box with the folders & the little pull-out drawers felt like it would offer enough options to store a variety of different items and I liked the ease of having everything ready for me when I sat down to work on the project.

Disclaimer:  You do not need to buy a fancy product to get organized.  There are a million ways to store your things with items you already have in your house (shoeboxes, file folders, binders, paperclips, ziploc bags, etc.).  I chose this product because I wanted to conduct a little experiment to find out if a tool like this can make the organizing process easier.

I pulled the tub down from the shelf & began my first sort.  This meant I was only looking for things that I knew were a definite “NO.”  So I was making a “TO KEEP” & a “NOT TO KEEP” pile.  Remember this was my first sort.  I wasn’t trying to organize.  It was all about decluttering.  Making decisions & letting go of the extras.

I had some good laughs as I pulled out a big white wedding binder with color-coded folders that held all of the pamphlets, brochures & magazine pages that we had compiled during the dreaming & planning phase.  It was fun to remember all of the time spent in the planning phase, but it was easy to let go of most of the stuff in the binder because it didn’t hold specific memories- other than how excited & geeked-out we were about planning our “big day!”

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After that first sort, I took out the recycling & trash that I had created & put the “TO KEEP” stuff back in the bin until I could carve out time for the next step.

The funny thing about sentimental things is that we often need a little time/distance from the event or the memory to allow the decisions to come easier.  Time can create some perspective about what really feels important & what doesn’t speak to your heart any more.  So, it really doesn’t surprise me that 17 years had to pass before I felt I could let go with more ease.

When I dug in again, I gave myself a bigger chunk of time and some room to spread out.  This time I was thinking about the story that I wanted to tell with the things that I planned to save.  It was like going on a treasure hunt.  Finding the best items to tell our story.

"What story will these items tell about our wedding & our marriage?"

I let go of receipts & blurred photos.  I pulled out a few pages from a barely-used wedding planner and let go of the rest.  I let go of any duplicates & all of those chicken-scratched notes of to-dos.

And then it was time to start organizing what was left.  I started dividing things into categories: engagement, wedding showers, ceremony, reception…

Savor helped me out with this by providing pre-labeled stickers & folders that I could slide everything into.  I made a few categories of my own using their blank labels.

The items that didn’t fit into folders found homes in the little storage boxes & those were offered a few labels too.

The whole process involved some time & diligence, but I was able to pare down from a huge plastic tub into an attractive box that can fit on a bookshelf & could be looked at on our anniversary or any time we want to take a trip back in time.

This project had been waiting patiently for 17 years to get some attention and I’m so glad it did.   Pulling out the tub offered a chance for my husband and I to reminisce about that very special time in our life.  And I think the items that we saved can now tell their own story of how we wanted to start our marriage.

Your Turn…

When I offer a talk on this subject, I remind people that it will probably take a few sorts before you really get down to the amount that you really want to keep.  That means starting out with the expectation that you will do a first sort, or first pass, to pull out the “junk” or items that you had forgotten were being stored & feel no emotional pull toward.  Then you can come back and do another sort with the items that are left.  At this point you can be more discerning as you ask yourself questions about whether this item still offers a good memory and tells a story you’d like to remember or share.

If you are interested in more of Savor’s products you can find them here.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on sentimental projects.  Have you recently tackled a project that involved sifting & sorting to curate your special memories?  Or are you hoping to get started on a project, but don’t know how or where to begin?  Tell me about it!

 

 

What to Do When Your Collection has Become a Burden

As I peered up at the tubs of photo albums, this phrase ran through my mind. 

“When everything is important, nothing is important.” – Peter walsh

We have been storing photo albums and loose pics on a high shelf in our storage room for years.  They have been been traveling in their box as we moved from house to house- rarely touched or opened.  Some albums hold memories from childhood.  Some capture the behind-the-scenes of our wedding.  Others document the growth of our family.  All seem to hold nostalgia. 

At one time the albums were displayed and occasionally thumbed through, but as the years passed, the space was needed for items of greater necessity and the albums were gathered up in tubs & moved to the basement. 

And now as I look at these tubs & boxes of photos, I start to ask myself some questions:

  • Are these albums a blessing or a burden?
  • What will happen to these photos in 10 or 30 years? 50 years? 
  • What story will all of these pictures tell?

As I think about these photos all tucked away & forgotten, I can feel a sadness.  I know this collection is too big to reasonably enjoy.  They aren’t organized to tell a story that will make sense in 50 years when the next generation is stuck with them.  They aren’t labeled and many aren’t even the best of the best. 

And while thinking of all of that can bring up some sadness, disappointment, and overwhelm,  I also sense a feeling of exhilaration.  Paring down this collection to a size that is easy to manage & enjoy with our family, feels refreshing!  It feels worth the effort & exciting to create something that could tell the story of our life.  A collection that wouldn’t take up as much physical space, but would hold a more prominent place in our home because of it’s ease & simplicity.

Next Steps…

If you have a collection that has become a burden, then these tips might ease the overwhelm & decrease the weight of it.

Be a curator.  In the case of photos, I will pick the ones that truly mean something & have people in them.  With collectibles or other special items, you can do the same – pick the ones that really make you smile or touch your heart.

Shift perspective.  It can be hard to let go of things that have been with us for a long time; things that were acquired with love, took energy to collect and create, or seem to hold special memories.  But paring down doesn’t mean losing the memory and doesn’t discount all that went into gathering this collection.  Shift your perspective to gratitude for the enjoyment you received as you created this collection & lightness in knowing that the memory isn’t held in the item, it is held inside of you.  

Capture the stories in words.  As I sort & pare down the photos I know there will be a lot of reminiscing.  This is a great time to dictate, journal, or jot notes about the stories that surround the items & the memories attached to them.  Find the simplest method to make this happen – maybe with sticky notes, a notebook labeled “special memories,” or by dictating the story into a smartphone.  These stories can offer your loved ones an understanding of how these items or experiences made you YOU.

Share your collection.  As I dig into the collection, there will some photos of family or friends that might be worth passing on or sharing in a fun way.  I imagine taking a pic of a photo & texting it to brighten someone’s day.   Or start asking yourself if there someone in your circle that would appreciate your collection as much as you did?   If there is a  family member that took an interest, has a similar collection, or enjoys reminiscing as much as you, then share some of the joy.  (Remember to ask before you pass on physical items.) 

Use a service to lighten the load.  To pare down our photo albums, I am looking to a few services that have the tools readily available to support my goals.  Look for professionals, apps, software, or products that were created to manage your specific collection.  Then let these services decrease the overwhelm & enable your vision to become a reality in less time & with fewer headaches.

Let the decisions come when you are ready.  I know that as I begin to sort through my collection of albums there will be some photos that I won’t be able to part with quite yet.  I’m giving myself permission to take time with those tougher decisions.  When you are feel unsure or need more time around a decision, let it be okay.  Label & store those items for now.  AND then set a date on your calendar to check in and determine if your feelings have changed & you are ready to send them on.

Have you reached the tipping point?

As with anything you decide to collect- photos, nicknacks, hats, shoes, china- there comes a tipping point.  A point where you ask yourself how much is enough?  The tipping point between having just enough to use & manage in your space vs. it all becoming too much to handle.  A point where you can enjoy each item & their presence vs. collecting such an abundance of things that you begin to forget what you have. 

If you can notice & catch yourself as you near that tipping point, then the collection can be a blessing.  You will slow down the collecting, decide you have enough and enjoy what you have, or become very picky when faced with the idea of adding to the collection. 

But if you aren’t conscious as you collect, it can quickly become a burden.  Spilling over.  Taking up too much space & feeling hard to manage.  At this point, decisions can feel overwhelming.

If you have a collection that has passed the tipping point & you long to pare down & preserve it in a way that’s meaningful, then be in touch.  Together we can create a plan that fits your collection & intention.

 

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Profiles in Letting Go- Downsizing a Teenager!

Last winter my husband and I sat down to figure out how our 4 bedroom, 1950s rambler could continue to function well for our family. 

While we love our home, it’s missing many of the luxuries of newer homes.  The bedrooms are tight and there is no master bath, which meant that the four of us, plus guests, had to share the main-level bath.  And we were dealing with two growing kids that were ready for more space. 

So, instead of scrapping the home we love, we decided to rethink our spaces to see if we could solve some immediate problems & determine if this house would be able to support us in the years ahead.

The first step in the room shuffle was getting my daughter’s bedroom moved to the lower level (aka-basement).  The switch meant downsizing her from a fairly spacious room (considering all the bedrooms are small) to a tiny, narrow space that had been functioning as my husband’s office.  The move would give her more privacy and offer her a bathroom in the basement.  Plus and plus!

It took some creative thinking to not only revamp the office into a teen retreat, but the move would take her from a 10 x 14′ room to a 6.6 x 14’ room-  just enough space for a twin bed & a small chair if we planned it well.

We had to begin with her old room.  This room had been redecorated a few years ago and hadn’t been given a whole lot of thought since.  Her bookshelf, desk and dresser had become stuffed with books, school projects, collections of mini erasers, art supplies, photos, medals, nicknacks… the list went on.  She would need to pare it all down since none of this furniture would be making the move to the new room.

Lydia’s old room pre-purge

To avoid the overwhelm, we sorted by categories and area.  One day we focused on the books from the bookshelf.  Another session involved the clothes from the dresser.  Then shoes from the closet. 

Nicknacks came last.  Lydia pulled out her favorites in a first sweep and from there she took time to decide which of those items she would display and which ones would be stored in a memory box.

In between sorting & purging, we started to map out the layout for that tiny new room.  The storage would be limited to a small closet and a platform bed with open shelving.  Lydia and her dad designed & built the bed so that it could house baskets for bags, books & art supplies.

Her new closet was given a complete overhaul.  The doors were taken off & it was redesigned to enable her to walk into the space.  Open shelves with baskets absorbed the pared down clothes from her old dresser, and hooks & hanging space were added.  In the process, she donated 3 bags of clothes, hats & shoes that she didn’t love or that didn’t fit anymore!

When all the dust settled and the paint dried in the new room, we moved her in & crossed our fingers that the move would feel good for the whole family.  

And so far, so good!  We joke that Lydia is getting a preview to dorm-living at the age of 13!

Creating a plan, taking our time, and keeping Lydia involved in the whole process has been really rewarding.  It took some creativity and a lot of decisions, but this new bedroom has become a a cool, peaceful retreat for a girl that needs her own space to recharge.

Read her thoughts on her downsizing experiment in this interview.

Indoor weeding is actually a thing!

A couple of weeks ago, we came back from a wkend up north to find that Spring had sprung!   Our grass was ready to be mowed & the weeds were running wild.  You see, we have a yard that’s slowly being eaten up by Creeping Charlie & if you don’t know what I am talking about, let me just assure you that this weed is aggressive!  It takes over.  It creeps or swallows up any space it can find as it creates a blanket of winding vines, green leaves & tiny purple flowers. 

Some people find ways to appreciate it, noting it’s little flowers & it’s fresh, pungent smell.  But I’m not quite there, since it’s not just surrounding & suffocating the grass, but it’s working hard to overrun the flowers & plants that bring me such joy.

It was time to put on my gardening gloves & assess the damage.  And of course, I started thinking about decluttering as I noted all the places that were being taken over.

Are you starting to count all the nature metaphors I make on the blog?  Bear with me please ‘cause mother nature is my favorite teacher!

Creeping Charlie acts just like that steady stream of STUFF that wants to keep being let in the door.  You might not realize how it’s taking over your spaces since the creep is slow & steady. But that slow, steady stream of accumulating can create some big issues!  Spaces being taken over- sometimes completely overrun & unusable.  The enjoyment & ease of your space suffocated by the chaos of too much stuff. 

Weeding is the solution.  It’s the way to keep clutter from collecting & causing trouble.  It’s a habit that requires adding a little attention as you move around your spaces & a little discernment as you bring things into your space.  And you can weed anytime.  Taking out the things that no longer serve you & letting the light into that space.

Back in the garden, I love the satisfaction of pulling those vines & watching the space reappear.  Ahh…

My flower beds are manageable if I stay vigilant &  weed as needed, but two hands & a garden tool probably won’t be enough to take back the large expanses of grass that have been eaten up.  I don’t think I will be able to win that battle without the support of a lawn service or heavy pruning to let in more sunlight, but there in lies another lesson – thanks Mother Nature, you always find ways to keep me moving forward.

Your Turn…

If you feel like your spaces are being overrun and you haven’t given them attention, then it’s time to take stock.  Open cupboards & cabinets, closets & drawers.  Take a look at what you are surrounding yourself with. 

Dig into the spaces & notice all that has been accumulated.  Note exactly what has been clogging things up so you can take action against the “weeds” that found their way into your space. 

Next Steps…

And then weed out the stuff that doesn’t serve you.  And then weed again.  And then once again.

Make a habit of weeding your space often.  Stay aware of the creep.  Be watching for areas of collection & congestion.  Keep the creep at bay.

Here’s a tip that might support your new habit. 

Some jobs are easier to tackle with a partner who can guide the decisions around what to weed & what to keep.  If you are ready for support & guidance to make this process more efficient, light & fun, schedule today!

What is the one phrase I continue to tell clients?

I want to repeat the phrase that I continue to say over & over! 

Decluttering is a journey!

I continue to share this message because there are going to be times of frustration, times when you can’t see an end in sight, & times when it feels like you are slipping back into your old ways. 

But when you remember it is a journey, you will be more likely to stay on the path & keep pushing ahead.  Letting the journey unfold as slow or as fast as it needs to.

I was reminded of this as I returned to help a client declutter the same porch that we decluttered last spring.  It happens.  It’s common.  It’s life. 

Here is the space when we finished up- isn’t it dreamy & ready for spring! 

I pass this along to remind you that your spaces are waiting for their time & attention. They are patiently willing to serve you in the function that you need. 

If this porch needed to be a catch-all for the winter while other house projects were happening, then it did it’s job & now it is ready to shine for the spring & summer- happy to be a part of the journey.

Your Turn..

Have you created a catch-all space that can support you on the decluttering journey?  A catch-all space eases the urgency of needing to know where things should be housed before the spaces are ready.  It also offers a place to let things be in progress or a place to store your “find a new home” items until you are able to give them attention.

Next Steps…

Give yourself permission to make a space in your home that will be a little messy or cluttered as you go on this decluttering journey.  Know that this is temporary & eventually this space will be able to serve it’s higher function.

And if you are wondering what a “find a new home” box is, then shoot me an email.  Having this box makes the process more efficient & light.