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The Clutter Categories: THE INHERITOR

Your clutter says a lot about what’s going on in your life, both externally and internally. While everyone’s situation is unique, I’ve found that most people with too much stuff fall into general categories: The Collector, The Inheritor, The Parent, The Shopper, The Scout, The Historian, or The Hostess.


If your clutter style is the inheritor, your collection was probably passed down to you by someone in your family. The monetary value can be great or small, and the emotional attachment can be positive or negative. The person who passes things to you as a part of an inheritance may leave a few strings attached . . . and sometimes that string prevents you from getting rid of something you don’t like or won’t use.

We inherit lots of low value, useless things . . . furniture that is out of date, uncomfortable, too worn for use, needing repair. . . you get the idea. And while hand-me-downs are great for your first apartment, eventually you will develop your own sense of style and it will be time to lean into what YOU like.

Another inheritance hot spot is unwanted appliances and kitchen items. How many crockpots do you really need? Or sets of china? Or mismatched pieces of serving flatware? Inherited items can fill a kitchen or pantry or garage in the blink of an eye.

Inherited clothing or fabric may look like a great opportunity for quilting, dressing “vintage” for a party, or making doll clothes. But, if you’re still a working adult or raising small children, the extra burden of stuff will far outweigh the joy of crafting. Give yourself a deadline to start and finish projects, and if you can’t meet them, pass clothes and fabrics to people or organizations who can use them.

Old tools, old toys, and old seasonal decorations create a special dilemma for the Inheritor, because those small everyday items carry the most emotional punch. My husband once bought his father’s stolen roofing hammer from a pawn shop after he recognized the blue paint thumbprint on the handle.

Vintage toys don’t necessarily mean valuable collectible toys, so don’t hang on to anything that isn’t meaningful to you personally. I’ve got a display in my utility room of 5 or 6 old toys that made it from the past to the present, but there are many people with vast collections of Beannie Babies that are wondering what to do now!

So what does the inheritor do to free themselves from unwanted items that were passed to them as treasures? Most of the time, donate it. You can try to sell things online via Facebook Marketplace or Etsy or eBay, but you have to factor in your time and technical skills before you embark. Garage sales are another option, but once again, is there anything valuable enough to sell to make it worth your while.

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