What about sentimental items?

When Marie Kondo came on the scene a few years ago, lots of people were talking about her decluttering mantra: “Keep only things that spark joy.” It makes sense. Why hang on to things that aren’t making you happy (or serving a practical purpose in your life)? It seems like a straightforward concept until you get to those boxes in the attic full of childhood toys and memorabilia. The wedding album tucked away in the closet. Your great grandmother’s jewelry, passed down through the generations. Marie’s “joy” principle becomes a little more challenging once items have sentimental meaning attached.

Keepsakes, photographs, family heirlooms, and gifted items are harder for people to let go due to the emotions and memories that go along with them.

Does that mean those things are immune to decluttering? Apologies in advance to anyone who isn’t ready to hear this, but the answer is NO. Just because an item has a happy feeling attached to it doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever. (The same applies to items that have been gifted to you.) Eventually, those items fill up boxes and dusty corners of the basement, only to get looked at once every few years. Sure, you may feel happy when you do decide to take those items out, but are those few moments of joy worth all the wasted space they are occupying?

A few tips for anyone who has trouble letting go of sentimental items:

  • Keep only the things that are really important to you.
  • Take pictures and document the rest. The memories are what often holds meaning, not the physical item itself.
  • Transfer photos/papers to digital files. You can still hang on to them this way, but they won’t take up as much physical space.
  • Donate items to other family members who may want them. (This way, you can still keep things within the family, but can take the responsibility off yourself.)
  • Don’t feel guilty. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. You are not obligated to hang on to every item that comes across your path. Getting rid of something doesn’t mean you love a person, event, or memory any less.

Challenge Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that this is the last day of the New Year, New Habits Challenge already! The first weeks of the year have flown by quickly. Whether you took part in the challenge or just made the decision to start your own organizing journey this year, I am proud of you. The decision to make important life changes and those first few (scary) steps are HUGE. Even if you tried the challenge and it didn’t quite go as planned, I hope you give yourself a pat on the back for even trying.

I am pleased to report that my own challenge to do the dishes every night before bed went extremely well. I will be one hundred percent transparent with you: As someone who worked in the culinary field for several years, I loathe doing dishes. I have often viewed dishes as a “chore” and would avoid doing them for a few days at a time. When multiple people live within your household, however, ignoring the dishes for a couple of days can add up and create a lot of visual clutter in the kitchen. Going into this challenge, I decided that even on days where I really didn’t want to do the dishes, I would force myself to do them anyway.

And you know what?

It wasn’t that bad! Doing the dishes every single night was actually way easier to maintain than doing them every other day. By keeping up with them more regularly, I cut down on the amount of time I would normally spend washing dishes. As I’ve mentioned before, getting in the habit of doing something for just fifteen minutes a day can make a huge impact on your day-to-day routine. The best part of the challenge was waking up every morning to a completely clean, empty sink!

I have loved receiving pictures and hearing about your own organizing challenges! If you haven’t done so already, leave me a comment or send me a message on social media to share your own challenges with me! 🙂

2022. Let’s Do This.

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping for a year filled with happiness and positive things, no matter how big or small.

Don’t forget that today is the beginning of the New Year, New Habits Challenge. It’s a way to jumpstart the process of creating some new, better habits in your life that will help you be more organized.

My personal goal for the next 14 days is to go to bed every night with an empty sink. I do my best to keep up with the dishes, but I could definitely make some improvement in this area. Waking up to dirty dishes stresses me out, so hopefully this challenge to myself will make me a little less cranky in the mornings. 😉

What habits are you working on the next 14 days (or this year)? Whatever you decide to do, remember to have fun with it.


Don’t forget to share your progress pics on social media and tag @theremakestudio on Instagram!

Join the Challenge!

Now that we’ve begun discussing habits, I invite you to join me in the “New Year, New Habits Challenge.” This is where we’ll jumpstart the process of turning our bad habits into better ones, ones that will help move you towards the life you want to have.

It doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. Rather than try to tackle all of your bad habits at once, I encourage you to pick just one habit. One habit that’s adding clutter to your environment, such as:

  • Leaving dirty dishes in the sink every night
  • Letting bills and paper accumulate on your desk
  • Stuffing things in closets or under the bed instead of finding a proper place for them
  • Ignoring the laundry until it’s overflowing from your hamper
  • Leaving children’s toys all over the floor, rather than pick them up

Whatever bad habits you have that are creating stress and chaos in your life can be changed. (They didn’t become “habits” overnight.) Beginning January 1st, I challenge you to spend 14 days tackling one of those habits. Even if you only spend 10-15 minutes on it a day, I promise you’ll begin to notice a difference and it will become easier.

Don’t forget to spread the word and share your pictures on social media. Tag @TheRemakeStudio so others can join in and work on remaking their lives, too!

New Year, New Habits

Most human behavior is the result of habit. Setting your purse on the table when you get home, the way your husband leaves his shoes next to the bed, the way your kids leave their breakfast crumbs on the table…All habits. Even though you are completely unaware of it, many of the things you do on a day-to-day basis are the result of your brain signaling for you to repeat previous behaviors.

As we move into the new year, think about the habits you’ll be carrying with you. Think about the life you want to create for yourself. Are your habits supporting that life, or are they pushing you further away from it? If your goal is to be more organized and live with less clutter, stress, and frustration, that habit of letting dishes accumulate in the sink for days may not be serving your best interest.

This is the time to take action and change those habits, to move towards the life you want. “Why now?” you may ask. Why not now? You owe it to yourself to create a life of happiness. So let’s make it happen!

Holiday Declutter: Avoiding Burnout

Most of the people I know seem to fall into one of two groups:

a. The “I love everything about the holidays” group

b. The “Ugh, it’s the holidays” group

If you identify with the first group then this post is probably not for you. (Go put up some more lights and buy your family matching plaid pajamas. This is your time to shine!) If you find yourself in the second group, then I welcome you to the club.

Many people get super stressed around the holidays. When you’re a kid it’s all Santa, presents, and excitement. Sadly, it no longer feels like “the most wonderful time of the year” when you’re an adult and all sorts of additional expectations are thrown at you. There are presents to buy, parties to attend, dozens of cookies to bake, and family members demanding your presence. This is where step one of the organizing process comes in very handy. (Yes, the principles of organizing apply to areas outside of the physical mess in your home! Don’t worry, there will be plenty more on this later.)

The first step of organizing is to declutter. Simplify. Purge. Edit. It doesn’t matter which term you use, the principle is the same: Cut back. If you want to be less stressed around the holidays, then it’s time to cut out the excess. Despite what anyone else says, you don’t have to do everything during the holidays. Did you get that? You don’t have to do everything during the holidays. A lot of people feel like they have to cram their schedules with as much “stuff” as possible this time of year. If you’re already working a 9-5 job, parenting, taking care of your house, running your kids back and forth to soccer practice, and doing all the normal day-to-day responsibilities adults get stuck with, adding an additional week’s worth of activities on top is going to leave you exhausted and stressed. For what? For the sake of saying you did a Christmas photoshoot every year? For the sake of seeing those relatives that you don’t speak to the rest of the year? For the sake of attending more parties than you did the previous year?

If any of those things are important to you/your family, then that’s great. Keep it up. You should do the things you enjoy during the holidays. If you’re just doing them to please other people, or because you feel like a “failure” if you don’t do them all, then you need to reevaluate. Will some people be disappointed? Maybe, but that’s their problem, not yours. Focus on yourself and the things that bring you joy, too.

Home Organization in Fifteen Minutes

“I don’t have time.” We’ve all said it at one point or another. (Yes, even you, shaking your head as you read this.) It’s the number one excuse organizers hear from clients. And, trust us, we understand. It’s always easier to just put things off and use lack of time as an excuse when we are feeling overwhelmed. But that’s why you need us, isn’t it? To come into your homes and show you that getting more organized will actually create more time for you in the long run.

If you’re busy running the kids around all week, working a full-time job, and putting dinner on the table every night, the thought of trying to squeeze in time to remake your pantry probably sounds exhausting. There are only so many hours in the day, right? Exactly! And that’s why you need to create habits that will allow you to make the most of your precious time.

Realistically, organizers don’t expect you to start skipping work or abandoning little Jimmy at soccer practice so you can declutter. But what if you set aside 15 minutes every day? Fifteen minutes isn’t that long. You probably spend more time than that mindlessly scrolling through social media when you want to unwind. If you can find a way to sacrifice 15 minutes a day, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference by the end of the week. Choose what you want to focus on during that time: If you always feel like you’re drowning in dishes, take 15 minutes every evening to work on emptying and loading the dishwasher. It beats having a meltdown on Thursday because it’s dinner time and there are no clean plates in the cupboard. If you’re dreading that huge pile of mail that’s been slowly building on the counter, see how much of it you can tackle in 15 minutes. Make separate piles – throw away, file away, and action. Even if it takes you a few nights to get everything sorted, by the weekend you’ll be ready to tackle each of those piles with ease because they’ll already be categorized. Tired of tripping over your children’s toys all day? Take 15 minutes before bedtime to put toys away in their respective places. You can even get the kids involved and make a fun game out of it.

By focusing on one project or area of the house at a time, you’ll start to realize that organizing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It only gets overwhelming when you try to do everything at once. Once you get in the habit of regularly putting things away, you’ll notice how much easier it is to manage your home. (Habit is the key word here. You can’t organize once and it expect it to stay that way forever.) Come up with a weekly schedule, if that helps you. Or put a “to do” list on the fridge. There is no right or wrong way to spend those 15 minutes, as long as you’re actually being productive. Hopefully, by the time the weekend rolls around, you’ll have checked enough off your list that you’ll find yourself with time to spend doing things you actually enjoy. 🙂

Permission to Get Rid of Things

This past weekend I went to a friend’s to help them reorganize their kitchen cabinets. They actually have a really nice kitchen layout with plenty of cabinet space and an enviable pantry. But, like many people, space can seem scarce when there is too much stuff everywhere.

Step one (the most important step, in my opinion) involved removing duplicate, expired, and unwanted items. It’s usually the longest part of the process, but well worth the time. It goes something like this:

“Why do you have three blenders?”

“I don’t know.”

“Great. Get rid of two of them.”

It’s that easy. I know some of you would disagree with that statement, but I promise you, it really is that easy. Sometimes there are memories, emotional baggage, and theoretical possibilities associated with the things cluttering up our homes.  “Oh, but I can’t get rid of that. My best friend gave it to me the day my dog died.” Sound familiar? I’m sure all of us have done this at one point or another, and, while it’s okay to hang on to a few things now and then, what happens when your whole house is filled with “What ifs?” and long-forgotten mementos? It can start to feel less like a home and more like a dumping ground.

You. Over there with three crock pots and a spare toaster from the eighties. Get rid of them. You have my permission.

The Beauty of Space

Let’s talk about the importance of space. Having enough space to store all of your possessions, while still having enough room to breathe and live comfortably, is something that everyone should be mindful of. Think about it: You can technically fill your closet top to bottom with stuff until it’s full to the brim and the doors are threatening to pop off. You can fit a huge amount of clothing and knick knacks in that closet if you aren’t worrying about presentation and how much space everything has to breathe. But should you do that?

Sorry if I’m about to burst anyone’s bubble, but the answer is no.

Plenty of people would disagree. Lots of folks still subscribe to the commonly accepted notion that I like to call Too Much Stuff Syndrome. I’m not here to lecture you on how much stuff you should or shouldn’t have. I don’t know things you actually need in your life. Only you can figure that out. But, what I would like to encourage is that you consider how much space all that stuff is taking up.

Are your dresser drawers overflowing? Bookshelves cramped and messy? Does your kid have so many toys that they’re just scattered about the entire house? Are there piles of papers all over the kitchen counter?

Now, an even better question: How do those things make you feel? I bet a good number of you feel stressed or overwhelmed just thinking about it. Perhaps some of you don’t even want to acknowledge all those things because you don’t like how it makes you feel. If that’s the case, please know that there is nothing wrong with that. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by clutter. There have been studies done on it and entire movements around minimalism. People have finally begun to recognize and accept the fact that the “More, more, more” mentality is actually doing more harm than good.

Too much clutter, mess, and stuff can increase your cortisol levels and make you super stressed. When we’re unhappy with our surroundings those feelings can bleed over into other areas of our lives and have a negative effect on our health, relationships, outlook, etc.

Aside from stress, there are other reasons to value having more space in your home: a) It’s more sanitary. You can’t clean your house well if you’re just cleaning around piles of stuff. b.) It’s more aesthetically pleasing. c.) It leaves more wiggle room and room for potential growth.

You might not be ready to dive head first into minimalism. To be honest, I can’t do it either. But you absolutely can start taking little steps to create more space in your home so that you can breathe.

Year of the Makeover

After life came to a grinding halt in 2020, this year has been all about makeovers. Sitting home all day, eating junk food and wearing yoga pants, was fun for a few weeks, but eventually things started to feel pretty stale. In an attempt to regain control, I’ve slowly been making over every nook, cranny, and neglected square inch of our home. I’ve also been working on improving some other areas of my life, as well, but we can talk more about those later.

I’m only halfway done with all of the things I want to accomplish, but it’s already made a huge difference! It’s amazing how new shelf liners and a few baskets/bins can make it feel like you’re in a completely different space.

(Before and after)

Have you given any areas of your life a makeover lately?