Decluttering and reorganizing any space starts with the most difficult step: deciding what to keep and what to discard. Some items are easy to part with, but others much more difficult, especially if you don’t have a use for them. There are several vintage family heirlooms that I hastily sent off to a new home with distant cousins that I regret to this day.
When simplifying your space, consider the value of each item and think about potential future uses. You can always store them, and if you change your mind, discard them later.
NO. 1: BIG BABY ITEMS
If you’re not absolutely sure you won’t have another baby, keep the crib, stroller and other big baby stuff.
Getting rid of them might be costly if you end up needing them for another child. Check the condition of each item you want to keep; a five-year-old stroller is fine if it’s still in good shape. Also, check recent recalls on baby items to make sure what you’re holding onto is safe and not on the recall list.
NO. 2: VINTAGE CLOTHING AND FURNITURE
Here, I’m speaking not retro things you bought at the thrift store but rather vintage items you inherited — anything from old dinnerware to high-quality clothing to furniture pieces. It’ll never be out of style forever. And if you absolutely do have room to store, take them to a consignment store for evaluation. Making sure they are re-homed rather than sent to the landfill will give you peace of mind.
NO. 3: AWARDS AND MEDALS
Medals, trophies, certificates and other awards mark a significant achievement in your life or perhaps your childrens’. They may seem like clutter right now, but they’re also irreplaceable. Someday, you will regret getting rid of them.
These are not items that should you change your mind, you can just run into Walmart and pick up another. If you can’t decide about tossing out your athletic medals or other irreplaceable personal mementos, pack them away in a safe place. Then revisit them in a few months. If you’re still wanting to trash them, you’ll easily be able to do that without regret.
NO. 4: PHOTOS
Hold on to your photos. Even if you’re going to scan them into a digital format, keep physical copies of your favorites. Photos don’t have to cause clutter. You can put them in a memory box and then store the box in a closet, on a shelf or in another out-of-the-way spot.
NO. 5: ELECTRONIC CABLES, ADAPTERS
There are functional items you should keep — electronic cables, adapters and cords. Take the time to label and then organize by type and use. Separate headsets from phone chargers: USB-A from USB-C, etc. The point is to store these items in a way that everyone in the house knows exactly what you have, and can actually find it.
NO. 6: APPLIANCE ACCESSORIES
I’m referring to the extra shelves that came with the refrigerator or the attachments for the vacuum cleaner. If you own a specific appliance, it’s a good idea to keep all its parts — especially the power supply, which easily becomes disassociated with its appliance if it’s something you use only occasionally. Even if you’re not using them right now, you might need these things in the future. Getting rid of a part for your dishwasher or vacuum cleaner could be a big hassle and possibly prevent you from selling or donating it later.