What To Do With All That Stuff

In a previous blog post titled “Collectibles Are Losing Their Appeal,” we discussed the changing outlook of the younger generations regarding furnishings that have been handed down to them. They don’t want to polish silver, don’t host formal dinner parties, and many just don’t want to have what they call “clutter” in their house. Many people who saved these items for decades are now realizing their children have no interest in receiving them.


So, now they are having to decide what to do. Whether you call it downsizing, adopting a minimalist lifestyle, or just plain getting rid of stuff, there is an increasing number of people who are removing many items from their homes. Though it’s a decision they truly want to make, it is often a difficult one. Emotion often overshadows logic.

Ask these 2 questions


  1. Does it bring you joy? Some items have a history that brings a smile to your face every time you look at them. If this is the case, these hold special memories and are probably something you want to keep.
  2. Do you feel obligated to keep it? Many have china, vases, artwork, and even furniture in their homes that they really just don’t like, need, or want. The main reason is that they belonged to a family member or were a gift. Therefore, they feel it just isn’t right to get rid of the item. Remove that guilt. This is your house, and your surroundings should reflect you. Why keep a decorative item that makes you shudder when you look at it daily? What is the purpose of keeping a set of old china in boxes stored in your attic?


Consider having a friend or relative with you so they can keep you on track and help remove emotion from the decision-making process. Once you have decided what items you absolutely want to keep, you’re now ready to begin clearing out.


Plan what to get rid of


The key is not to just start throwing things away. Give it some serious thought and find out who might want something you’re planning on removing from your home. Set a date when you’ll begin, then ask your children, siblings, grandchildren, and other relatives if there is anything they want. If they choose an item that you decided to keep, note that information on your home inventory so it can be given to them later (our home inventory report includes a bequest section for this purpose).


Lastly, ask friends – especially those who have mentioned how much they like a specific piece. It’s a nice gesture and you know someone who truly wants it will cherish and enjoy it.


Prepare for the downsizing process


Label boxes Family, Trash, Garage Sale, and/or Donations. Reserve a convenient area of the house for this sorting process so you will be more likely to stay focused. You will also be more apt to complete it quickly so you can remove the clutter.


Take a methodical approach


An organized, methodical approach is best. One method is to choose a room and clean out every drawer, closet, under the bed, etc., before going to the next room. Or use the category approach. First choose to remove all clothing throughout the entire house – including the basement and attic – that you no longer wear. This is easier than other types of items because it will give you a quick, non-emotional start. Once all clothing has been sorted, go to other categories, such as china and kitchen ware, silver, decorative items, collectibles, furniture, etc., until you’ve considered every item in your house.


Those who have completed a whole-house cleanse state what a great feeling of relief it is. They talk about the freedom from clutter, and how they really enjoy the few pieces they’ve chosen to keep. Many have even stated the only regret is that they didn’t do it years ago.


Once completed, be sure to update your home inventory to reflect the changes.