What About the Stuff I Love? Gifts that Have Been Given to Me?

A very lovely friend asked about sentimental clutter:

So glad you posted all those wonderful tips on letting go of stuff.  Now here’s a question.  I have lots of stuff “on display” that I received as gifts from my mother and close friends.  I keep it for one of several reasons:

-I like to look at it

-they might notice if it wasn’t on display

-it’s associated with a particular memory and person

​So how to I cull my “stuff” when I’m dealing with those points?​

The Capodimonte Rose from my father is displayed on my dresser with a picture of my parents.
The Capodimonte Rose from my father is displayed on my dresser with a picture of my parents.

Our homes don’t have to be sterile, if you are willing to do the dusting feel free to display items that have meaning to you. After I clear a surface I try to make it attractive to discourage stuff being left on every flat surface. If we have too much on display those lovely items lose their impact. My china cabinet is one place I designate for those things I have received from my grandparents and parents. I am fully aware that I am decorating challenged but I have tried to group similar items for display because I do like them. Some other ways I have dealt with things I love:

  • My mother’s baby blanket is in a shadow box and displayed above a cabinet in my hallway upstairs.
  • A Capodimonte rose my father gave me is on my dresser.
  • My grandmother Ardini’s teapot, sugar bowl, and creamer are on an antique desk a precious friend gave me at the top of the stairs near my bedroom.

    My daughter Amy gave me the antique teapot that is on a try on my bed. It is filled with pot pourri.
    My daughter Amy gave me the antique teapot that is on a try on my bed. It is filled with pot pourri.
  • I have arranged the baskets and other memorabilia I like on top of my kitchen cabinets—this of course means that I am willing to get on my step ladder and dust them regularly.

Try to feature the things you love. If there is just too much, can you put some away and rotate them seasonally with other things on display. As with my mom’s baby blanket, combining some articles in a shadow box may be a lovely way of both protecting them and displaying them.

Precious items require care and protection. Go through your home and determine if these items are being displayed in a way that makes it possible to provide that care and protection.

Root out those things that do not have meaning to you. Pass them on to someone who may enjoy them.

My China Cabinet
My China Cabinet

Remember our homes are not museums but places for life to happen, take care to not let the past keep you from having a present.

I try to honor Roy and make sure I display some things that have meaning to him, too.

Again, our homes do not have to be sterile but do reserve room for life. In my kitchen I keep everything on the back 1/3 of the counters so I can actually prepare food there. I work to keep my dining room table clear and refuse to leave papers or stuff there. The same is true of my bathroom counters. There are a few things displayed or kept there but space is kept clear so Roy can shave, and I can put on my makeup.

If we put away or get rid of things that do not have meaning and just have been left out there will be room for those things that do have meaning.


Mission: Get out a camera and take a picture of each room and the individual surfaces in that room. Examine the pictures. What is lovely and useful and what is just too much stuff? Select places for the things you love. Root out the stuff that you don’t.


Talk to people who have given you things. They may have given it to you because they did not have room to display it. Ask for the story behind it if you don’t know it and write the story down so people will know what is it and why you kept it. Our homes should reflect our heart and our hearts should ever be at home there.