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Organizing your home

Organizing Tips: What to Keep vs. Toss

by Ronique Gibson

Each season the need to go through your closets, basement, attic, garage and storage areas can be a daunting task. Choosing what to keep and what to toss is often a tug-of-war with your sentimental feelings and your home’s ability to store any more items. Before you toss everything in your attic or keep everything in your garage, here are some helpful organizing tips to make the decision process easier. While the decision will ultimately be yours at the end of the day, these important factors may make parting with your possessions a little easier, and keeping those that are essential much easier in your mind and heart.

Sort through the clutter first: 

Before you start setting your kids’ toys in a box out at the curb for the trash pickup, do a thorough de-cluttering and purging mission first. Go through each storage closet and area in your home. Throw away items that are broken and can’t be repaired, and set aside items that may be able to be repurposed into a new use. For example an old wooden ladder that has been replaced by a aluminum version may just be taking up space in your garage. Consider repurposing the ladder with a coat of paint and placing it in a bathroom or other room to hang towels on for guests or put plywood shelves on for a new bookcase! Sorting through your clutter will help you prioritize what is important to you and your family members while also helping reduce many items you haven’t used or seen in years.

Make decisions about your past, current and future storage needs:

Over the course of a lifetime you may have several homes, several stages of your life and your storage needs will change. Along with storage needs your sentimental value of many items will change in priority. If you are still holding on to every craft your kids made in elementary school and they are now married and expecting their first child – throwing away or at least purging only the most special of these crafts could free up valuable space in your basement. When organizing your personal items decide what past, current and future priorities you would like to hold on to, and which ones it is time to say goodbye to. Many homeowners take digital pictures and keep an electronic file of past items instead of keeping the physical mementos – so they never forget how special the items were to them.

Ask your family members before making sentimental decisions: 

Every household has a special dynamic and the same sentimental items of a new family with toddlers could have different sentimental items than a ‘empty-nester’ senior couple.  If your home houses many personal items that belong to family members, seek their advice before tossing or giving away items. Consider having a family meeting discussing why it’s important to purge and give items to others. Possibly hold a garage sale and family members can keep the money from their items that are sold. Younger children that don’t play with old toys can go with you to drop them off at a charity donation site or even give items to churches or neighboring children. The process of letting family members let go of unused items will help your home get organized and help them make closure with their parting personal items.

what to clear out in your home

Making room for keepsake items: 

Once you have purged and reduced your items to just those you will keep it’s time to organize or display your keepsakes proudly. If you love to display items such as heirloom antiques, military honors, trophies and other items you hold dear – consider visiting a craft or restoration store that can give you ideas on how to keep them looking good for years to come. Shadow boxes are perfect for displaying on the wall and won’t get harmed by fingerprints and curious hands. Display boxes, curio cabinets and shelving options are also ideal for your keepsakes. For larger items you will need to decide if you have enough space to safely house your keepsake or if they will need to find another alternative for storage.

Your storage areas shouldn’t be a catchall location for items in your home that you don’t think about anymore! Instead, ensure your storage areas are organized with keepsakes and items that your family cherishes and holds dear. Use these tips to help you purge, donate, repurpose and organize those items you hold dear, and those that can find a better home with someone else.

If after organizing your belongings you find you’d like to save items you access infrequently, an off-site storage facility is a helpful solution.

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  • Don

    I recently moved from a 2600 sq. foot house to a 15×13 sq ft. room.

    I’m new at this, so all constructive advice is welcome.

    How do I block electronic energy from my bed?