Reader question… “I read in a book about decluttering and purging that a photograph of an item is a good substitute for actually having the item in your possession. Would you share your thoughts about purging sentimental items and what you think about the idea of keeping only the photograph and not the item.” –Susannah H.

I keep coming across this idea too… and also the assurance that it really works, even for people who are “keepers, savers, or sentimental types.” I think it depends completely on the item and how YOU feel about it, because a photograph might be a viable solution for one person and a terrible mistake for another. The important thing, I think, is to not let yourself be persuaded to purge items you value unless you are POSITIVE you will have no regrets about what you have done.


Almost 200-year-old cut glass bowl, first given as a wedding gift,
then given to my aunt, then given to me when my aunt was 101 years old

I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what YOUR feelings are. If an item means something special to you, you should never feel that you have to purge it to follow someone else’s idea of simplicity. And especially if you are in the middle of an emotional crisis because of some life change, this is not the time to do something you may regret later on.

I would suggest a trial run. If you’re not sure, take the photograph and pack the item away out of sight. You can always purge the item at a later time… without regrets.

It’s important to remember that simplicity does not mean a mandatory purging of items that add meaning to your life. If something is truly important to you, it deserves a place in your home.