Trash or Treasure? How To Deal With Inherited And Sentimental Clutter

Trash or Treasure? How To Deal With Inherited And Sentimental Clutter

If your home is filled with decades-old arts and crafts from the kids, your great-aunt’s tea set collection gathering dust, towers of boxes and folders filled with memorabilia or well-meaning gifts hidden out of sight, you’re not alone.

Known as inherited, generational and sentimental clutter, it may be treasure to some but trash to others. So how do we deal with it?

Here are my top tips.

  1. Guilt is not your friend! Your great aunt may have had a penchant for tea sets, but they were for her pleasure – not yours. Often, items that become clutter were never intended as family heirlooms, so remember if you don’t have an emotional attachment to it, it can go, guilt-free.
  2. Keep a select few items that you love, use and have fond memories. It doesn’t matter whether the item has a financial value or not – it needs to be valuable in your own eyes.
  3. Don’t assume your kids want it either. Talk to your kids before you burden the next generation with stuff!
  4. Bring in the big guns. Ask a trusted friend, sibling or spouse to help you out. Before you start, think about how you might answer questions like “how can you give that away, isn’t it valuable?” Prepare your answers – know what you want and what you don’t want. Having a prepared response will help you feel empowered.
  5. Be prepared. Have boxes, bags, paper and wrapping on hand, so you can pack everything ready for donations, storage or… to throw away!
  6. Know what can be donated, sold or thrown away. Check with your local charity shop to see what kinds of goods they’ll receive. Some will be in need of good-quality, used bed linens while others will only take clothing. Some items may be of monetary value, and it could be worth checking in with a local auction house for a valuation.

Start small. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting through an entire house, consider dealing with one room at a time.

Most importantly, remember that sorting through years of memories can be a big step, so ask for a helping hand where you can and be kind to yourself. There are experienced professionals out there who can assist in downsizing, and if all else fails start with a cup of tea or big glass of wine!

Ali Broinowski

Wife, mother, business owner, taxi driver, negotiator, organiser and lover of all things interiors - Ali has lived and worked in Central NSW for over 25 years. Having experienced first hand how overwhelming things can be when preparing a home for sale, moving house and more - she decided it was time to help!

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