One of my favorite things about working with clients is that I get to know them as individuals. Through the organization process we purge, sort and categorize. Most clients share numerous stories about where their belongings came from and why they are important to them or another member of their family. During this process I am able to learn so much about the individuals and families I work with. Sometimes the family stories and treasures we uncover are fascinating.
I have been working with a fun couple for a few months now. We started in their garage, moved to the basement and have now worked throughout most spaces in their home. Their entire home has remnants of family history and things that were once important to my client’s parents, grandparents and other family members. It can be so hard to let go of these treasures, especially when they are also really cool antiques. I have to admit I even wanted to keep some of the cool things we found and they have no sentimental meaning to me! However, keeping all of the things that hold memories of people, events and stages of life we never want to forget, can leave us with a house so full of clutter we do not have space to make new memories.
My goal with clients is to help them identify the things they enjoy looking at and put them on display, store a few treasures in a way that they can be enjoyed for years to come and then hold onto the memories and let the weight of the rest of the clutter go. This is especially important if you are looking to downsize or move frequently.
One way I recommend that clients preserve memories without hanging on to all of the physical clutter is through pictures. As you sort through boxes and furniture, set a few things aside to display or store in a way that they are well preserved and can be enjoyed when you want to look through them or pass them along to the next generation. Take the rest of the items and take photos of them.
A trunk that has been passed down through my husband’s family.
To take good photos, find a spot in your home with natural light and some space to work. Lay out a large, pressed white sheet or piece of white paper and place items on the white backdrop. The back side of wrapping paper provides a nice wrinkle free backdrop. Snap a photo of the object and then put it in a box to donate or sell.
A music holder of my grandfathers that I use for magazines.
After you have gone through all of your belongings, gather the pictures and create an online photobook through a site like Shutterfly. You can add captions or stories with as much or as little detail as you would like. You can then let go of the physical item and know that the memories of that object that bring you joy are not lost and will not be forgotten.
Photo books aren’t just for portraits, they can be so much more!
The object and the story of your memories can be preserved in a thin, easy to store, and easy to share photo album. If you are working with family heirlooms after the passing of a parent or grandparent, you can even do this and make multiple copies so that all family members can have one.
Often the object we hold tight is not what we can’t part with, it is the memory we associate with that object. We fear that if the object is gone, we may forget the memory, person or event we associate it with. Taking photos and storing them in a meaningful way allows us to hold on to those memories and have space in our homes for new memories.