Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Organizing Memories

Items that have a strong sentimental value can be some of the hardest to let go of. As time goes on and the collections of memorabilia grow, the task of going through it all gets a bit overwhelming. Below, I break it down into three steps.

Step 1 - Consolidate

Photo credit Minima

The first step to organizing anything is to put like with like. For example - if you're organizing photographs, go through your home and get them all together in one location or container. By doing this, you're already more organized. Do you know the exact whereabouts of your college graduation photos? Maybe not, but at least you'd have an idea where to start looking. Added bonus - those photos are no longer cluttering up the various corners of your home where they were living before. If you are doing an all inclusive memorabilia sort, choose a room that can be used as a temporary work space and gather all of your items together in that space.

Have a whole house full of memorabilia? Pick one category that you feel will be the easiest to start with and follow our steps accordingly.

Step 2 - Sort and Purge

Once you have everything together, sort into more detailed categories. For photos, I always recommend keeping things simple and sorting by year. If you're doing an overall memorabilia sort, separate items into categories like "travel", "kids' art", "wedding", "childhood items", "cards", "photos", etc. I like to use free boxes from the ABC store to help contain the sorting process and keep items separated. You won't know what kinds of store bought containers you'll need until you have finished the sort/purge and can determine the quantity and size of items to be stored.

Tip - sticky notes are your friend! Use them as temporary labels while you sort. Photo credit Minima

As you are sorting, if you come across an item you know you don't want keep, start a "donate" and/or "consign" pile. Typically I recommend quickly sorting items into categories without much consideration as to whether they will be kept. Then, once you see your complete collection all together, it's easier to make editing decisions rather than deciding one piece at a time.

There are many ways to keep your memories alive other than holding on to every item that has sentimental value. Most of us simply don't have that kind of storage space. For many, snapping a photo of the item is enough to help them remember. A digital photo takes up zero physical space as opposed to the 20 stuffed animals from your childhood (maybe just keep your all time favorite). You know the saying - "Why don't you take a photo? It'll last longer."

For printed photos, local business Revolve offers scanning services so that you can safely store images online. They can also transfer your VHS to DVD!

Another option is to re-purpose an item into something that can be incorporated into your daily life. Minimalist writer Christie Thompson transformed a client's late grandfather's jacket into wool ties for his three grandsons.

Visit Fibre Craft for more recycled handmade goods.

Step 3 - Contain

Once you've culled through your collections, the items you've chosen to keep need to be stored in a way that will protect them from damage and keep them organized so that your efforts don't go to waste. When choosing containers, consider where the items will be stored and select something that will fit the space and your aesthetic preferences. Anything kept in an unconditioned area such as a garage or attic should be in a plastic container with a lid. Paper-based boxes like these can be an attractive option for indoor storage. The Container Store and Exposures are two great places to find products.

Clear plastic ArtBin boxes store photo envelopes by year. Photo credit Minima

If you have any questions about organizing keepsake items please feel free to contact me at hello@minimaonline.com or leave a comment below.

Kristen Ziegler


Christie Hope said...

Great suggestions KZ!

Kristen said...


missemilyjones said...

those ties are baller! well done on both counts ladies!

Christie Hope said...

Thanks Em!!