Decluttering & Organising in Norfolk.

Dealing with Treasures

Dealing with Treasures

Sentimental items
Why do we hold on to sentimental things?

Most people are attached to belongings of one kind or another. Old school books, inherited crockery, faded letters and photographs. Our relationship with objects begins in early childhood; a treasured toy, a worn blanket, and continues into old age with varying levels of accumulated memorabilia. Our belongings are important to us, creating meaning, belonging, status and identity.

Is it a problem?

It can be. Many people never look at their sentimental items but store them for decades. Attachment to many things might stop you from using a room for it’s intended purpose or cause problems with access to areas of your home. You might experience anxiety at the thought of sorting through boxes of old photographs or feel overwhelmed by a large number of inherited items. The question of what to do with sentimental items comes up a lot in conversations about clutter.

Recognise the changes

One of the things I notice when I’m working with clients is that feelings and obligations towards our possessions rarely stay the same over time. So it’s good to recognise that you may well be ready to let go of items that were previously deemed precious. Of course, if you are only part way there and feel unsure, about whether you are ready, put the items to one side and consider them again in a couple of months. Feelings towards belongings can and do change!

Picture perfect

Your memories are not held within physical items. Objects just trigger memories, as can other kinds of reminders. Could you take a photo and let it go? Images can be a great way of preserving memories, enabling you to share the past with the future without the physical clutter. Images take up little space space and can be much easier to make use of than objects. They can also be used to create beautiful digital books that really tell the story.

The objects are very beautiful and important in and of themselves, but also because of the story they tell.

David Silverman
Can you use it?

Why not enjoy the treasure again. Let children play with those old toys or give that inherited crockery a new lease of life in your kitchen. Many sentimental items can also be repurposed to bring them back into use. For example, jewellery can be refashioned, clothing can be altered, gardening equipment can be sculpted and medals can be framed.

Share the love

Can you donate the item so that someone else can value it more than you do? They it go to a family member, friend, charity or even a museum. Or you could consider listing for sale if you think it has a monetary value or is collectable.

I hope I’ve given a little inspiration to help you revisit your treasures. Let me know how you get on!


  1. Geri

    An excellent article. Clutter and letting go is a really serious problem for me. I am currently going through photos. There are absolutely hundreds of them. The really old ones of my parents and grandparents that the family may be interested in, I will digitise and store on the internet so they can be accessed by anyone in the family. My only brother recently died, and that was what sparked it off looking for photos to display at the funeral wake. Some photos are very precious, but all those holiday snaps I took of people and places I dont remember, they are easy to let go of because they are of no interest to me anymore or anyone else. Some old school photos are worth keeping for reunions but again, I will digitise them so they can be shared electronically. I will get through them all but it is a long process, I find it emotionally draining.

    1. Thank you for replying and I’m so sorry it’s only now I’ve seen your comment, let alone replied! Yes it can be very emotionally draining, often because it stirs up strong emotions and memories. It sounds as though you have a good plan in place for sorting the photographs. Good luck with it.
      Best wishes, Anita

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