Declutter Regret

Declutter Regret

When it comes to getting your home ready to list, we always recommend “decluttering” to help Buyers envision the house with their own furniture and personal items.

We do not, however, recommend that our Sellers toss everything out in their anxiety to make their home as “show ready” as possible as it’s hard to tell whether those same items will be just the perfect fit for a new home, or even a home to come 20 years from now.

With the recent emphasis on Architectural Digest-worthy interiors where empty space is the prevailing décor, it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether your own personal style will win out.

So, how do you know which items are truly special enough to hold onto and which ones really need to be sent away forever? 

It’s possible that in our maybe-too-hasty pursuit of an ideal that may or may not be your own, we have some casualties, we lose things forever at our own hand and then feel the pang of missing them later.

As many have found out – like any new habit – trendy meal plans, new workout regimes, or even social media – too much of a good thing is rarely actually a good thing.

We hope the following tips will help you determine if you’re holding a true treasure, or just another item for the recycle to trash bin.

Handmade items

When it comes to decluttering, often it’s the handmade items in your household that suffer the worst fate. Sacrificing authenticity for the sake of a specific aesthetic or adhering to a method, while it feels joyful in the present, doesn’t contribute to long-term happiness. 

One of life’s little joys is to walk into someone’s home for the first time and see their story. Autobiographical home décor is far more interesting than a super-minimal interior devoid of warmth and personality.

It’s perfectly fine to keep some sentimental objects as they add an authentic vibe to a home’s decorations that you just can’t get from Pottery Barn.

Sentimental Items

These can include a favorite stuffed animal or blanket from your childhood, a special gift or letter from a relative, a yearbook, or even a ripped out magazine page with an item that was on your “wish list” from an early age.

Items you’re too young to appreciate

Decluttering can be dangerous when you’re still young and the full value of memories haven’t yet sunk in. If relatives won’t hold onto items for you until you’ve grown up past cringing at anything having to do with high school, consider renting a small storage space to keep these sentimental items.

Clothes that didn’t fit or favorite wardrobe pieces in perfect condition

We all deal with this at one time or another – a closet full of clothes that you’re not sure you’ll ever wear again, yet a few pieces still catch your eye for either sentimental reasons or because you still think they’re cool. 

If the clothing is in perfect condition, or statement-making, consider keeping them just in case: What you like is what you like. 

So if you hate something, by all means, move on! But if you’re reluctantly giving away clothing from another “era” of yourself that you’re still into for whatever reason, think twice. You might want that cropped jacket again someday for an 80s themed party.

Also, consider keeping several different sizes of clothing just in case – It’s not shameful to hold on to pieces you might need later on. Wear your clothes; don’t let your clothes wear you.

With clothing, the key is to get rid of anything that no longer fits, is torn, or you never liked in the first place. But hang onto those pieces that really capture an era of your life.


We rarely print out photos these days so having an actual photo of a relative or dear friend that is no longer with you can mean more than looking at it on a screen. 

Printed photos can be a blessing and a curse. They’re so novel and fun, but where do you keep them? Try figuring out a storage system instead of tossing them as you may want to look at them in the future and will be sad if you cannot.

Maybe you want to chuck those physical photos where you have red-eye. But look for who else is in the picture before you head to the trash bin.

Simply declutter the photos that are duplicates or don’t have anyone meaningful to you in them. The remaining photos likely don’t take much room to keep.

Personal paperwork

Maybe old papers and calendars in a home office don’t spark joy, but when going through documents, pause for a moment so you can be sure you’re making the right decision for the present and the future. When dealing with stuff, you have to be able to purge the junk and save what’s important.

Old magazines

Choose wisely – the thicker ones can be coffee table props someday, Nowadays, buying paper magazine feels like an indulgence, and how cool would it be to look into the fashions and culture of ten years ago?

Toss Out

Old cosmetics. It may feel like they last forever, but they don’t. Expired products can be toxic and irritating to the skin,

Old tech. You’ll never regret tossing an old phone, cable, or calculator.

Clothes and shoes that were favorites but are totally worn down. It’s never a good feeling to continue wearing your favorites if they’re looking shabby and make you feel unkempt.

Perhaps that is one benefit of going overboard: you learn where your true values are.

Also, in decluttering, you learn how your little twinges of regret inform your decision-making. How you decide now for a future self is something to think about. 

In the big push to do some high-impact decluttering, many people get rid of things they later wish they’d kept so it’s okay to take your time now so you won’t look back on it later and wish you had.

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Charles McDonald
Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Solutions
2013 Woodbrook Court, Charlottesville VA 22901
REALTOR® - Licensed to sell Real Estate in Virginia
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