So you have been Konmari-ing and you’ve got to the hard bit.
The letters from your first boyfriend. Friendship bracelet from your best friend in primary school. Some earrings you’ve inherited from your grandmother.
Marie Kondo encourages clearing out even sentimental items, insisting that precious memories will not fade even if you discard the things associated with them.
In concentrating what to keep, we should be guided by her all purpose yardstick – does it spark joy?
Image credit: Konmari media, inc
Did you inherit your Nan’s tea set, but it's not your style? If it doesn’t bring you joy, no matter how much joy it brought Nan, if it's packed up in a dusty box in the basement, it might be time to let it go and find a new home with someone to whom it will bring joy.
For inherited sentimental items, Kondo suggests that if it doesn’t bring you joy, thank it for the role it played in your family’s life and pass it on. Thanking it will reduce the guilt you feel getting rid of it.
So you work your way through whittle your way down to the stuff you truly want to hang onto.
What do you do with it?
Here are 13 suggestions of ways to hang on happily.
1. Display on box shelves
Pick selected items you love and that remind you of good times and display them for all to see. A box shelf is a neat, practical way to put a few key items on display without them taking up too much space.
Stick to an item or two per shelf so they don’t get cluttered. Give each item the space they deserve.
You can also use shelving to display smaller boxes filled with sentimental bits and bobs.
2. Archive in vintage filing cabinets and drawers
Photos, journals, diaries etc can be stored in some vintage filing cabinets. Have a look around antique stores and flea markets for bespoke finds.
Sometimes you can pick up the old cabinets from libraries when they used to catalogue books by card, or up-cycle interesting cabinets from doctors' surgeries.
3. Personalized memory boxes
A special way to store memories associated with a special occasion or a child is to create a personalized memory box. You can find some handcrafted boxes on Etsy that can be personalized by name.
4. Wooden boxes
Wooden boxes have that suggestion of permanency. Once you decide what you’re going to keep, you may as well emphasize the secure feeling of connection to your past with a wooden box.
Whether you want something simple, modern, ornate or classic, you can find a number of wooden boxes on the market.
Check out local designers or hop onto Etsy.
Take a wooden box to the next level with a chest. Chests have that wonderful connotation of treasure. Or maybe you’re more inclined to a trunk, packed ready for adventure.
Either way, their sturdy durability also offers great security for a sizable collection of memories which could be extra special when devoted to a certain person.
In episode 6 season 3 of Queer Eye on Netflix, in designing a new home for a father and two little boys who had lost their mother to cancer, they filled a chest with memories of Mum.
In this clever way, Mum’s things and photos were not strewn all over the house, holding the family back from moving on, but collected preciously in one spot. When the family felt like it, all they had to do was open the box to re-live the memories.
If you’re dealing with grief in losing a loved one, unable to part with so many memories of them, a beautiful chest could be a good way to store those memories.
As in the show, you could even personalize the chest with an inscription or their own handwriting.
6. Origami boxes
If you are already KonMari-ing, you may as well go all in for Japanese inspiration and opt for some origami boxes. These can be so pretty, you might want to put them on display too.
Buy some gift wrap or traditional Japanese washi paper and get folding.
7. Jewellery boxes
There are so many ways to go with jewellery boxes for your treasures.
You might even have a family heirloom jewellery box or perhaps one from your childhood that can provide a sentimental home to your sentimental items.
Or you can go totally modern with a sleek, clean design like these.
Or maybe you want to indulge your inner child and buy yourself that magical jewellery box perhaps you never had.
You know the one I mean, that plays music while the ballerina turns around. We’re not judging. Just saying.
8. Hat boxes
There’s no reason why boxes have to be square. Round hat boxes can look great on their own or stacked up and are another option to consider when boxing up items to store on open shelves or the floor.
9. Design boxes
You can get your hand on some great design boxes like these.
Danish design company, HAY, has a range of minimal boxes in various sizes, colours and patterns that are sleek, clean and multipurpose.
South African DE STEYL created these sustainable interlocking storage boxes.
They do block colours and striking patterns designed by Deánne Viljoen. A flexible storage solution, you can put them on wheels or pedestals to build them into a more substantial piece of furniture.
If you're a record buff, Sprout created these Baltic Birch Plywood boxes that are stackable and suitable for all kinds of stuff, but are perfectly sized for vinyl collections.
Metal is another sturdy, durable option that takes on a minimal, rainbow aesthetic in these stackable modules from Normann Copenhagen.
10. DIY boxes
If you’ve got some time on your hands you can make your own boxes. If the origami route is too fussy for you, re-purpose cardboard boxes with fabric or paper.
In making your own boxes you have full control over their aesthetic, and you can go so far as to match them to patterns, colours or textiles in the room you will be using them.
Perhaps you have some left over wallpaper from that feature wall in your bedroom you could use for some boxes. Talk about custom made.
Does anyone else have a thing for tins?
Who hasn’t once stored their treasures in a tin.
Remember the tin of childhood treasures Amelie found?
What a perfect depiction of the power of memories and the joy they can bring.
Our parents parents put stuff in tins and my daughter has her Frozen lipbalm tin she hides her treasures in!
Succumb to the lure and put those tins to good use.
Some of them are so pretty, you need to display them.
Again, take some more Japanese inspiration from Washi tea cannisters.
Display tins in a collection of sizes and patterns to create a striking display.
And the good things is, you’ll have an excuse to buy Danish cookies, posh biscuits and fine tea.
12. Cigar boxes
These old things have plenty of patina and charm if you can pick them up at fleamarkets. You can turn them into jewellery boxes, sewing kits, or photo boxes.
13. Chocolate boxes
Forget Cadbury, but some luxe chocolate shops make some pretty special boxes.
After the chocolate is long gone, you can linger on the indulgence by using the boxes for sentimental stuff or everyday items – bandaids, receipts, baby pacifiers.
Box it up
Whether you are going clean lines with a modern designer box or as humble as a chocolate box, boxes are a fantastic way to not only put everything in its place, but for significant sentimental items, to give them a fitting home.
A special box for special memories.
Treasure troves of happy times.
And if the boxes are gorgeous, there's no need to hide them away, but you can display them on shelves or in stacks.
So go ahead and box up those memories.
How do you store your sentimental bits and bobs? Leave us a comment below.