Run! Don’t walk! Hurry and rescue your photos from the garage, basement, & attic!
Storing your photos in cardboard moving boxes in the garage, basement, or attic is a recipe for disaster. The heat and moisture are terrible for photos so please bring them to a conditioned space. Think of them as your family members, even if they are only 2 dimensional versions of them. They need to be cared for properly.
Store them in a distant closet or high shelf to keep them out of the way. If you have time to put them in albums, that is wonderful. I recommend to people who have them stored all over their house to put them in a photo box to keep them together. You can always categorize them later.
The most important factor is that they are not exposed to extreme temperature or moisture. I’ve unfortunately witnessed moldy photos that were kept too long in cardboard boxes after getting wet.
You can always put them in an airtight plastic bin with a lid but I would still recommend bringing them indoors to a conditioned space like a closet.
The picture above is one client’s solution for storing loose photos: in large zippered pouches, labeled and sorted by subject like Vacations, School Photos, Photos with Grandparents. That is how she wanted them organized because it made the most sense for her. You may have your own strategy which is equally great.
We all have more digital photos these days so it is important to preserve the printed ones that we do have. Digitizing isn’t a bad idea either, for archiving family photos. Framing is also a great way to enjoy them and enjoy happy memories daily.
Valentine’s Day means a lot of cards sent and received and how wonderful is that? It’s great to express love and affection by sending a sweet card but people can get overwhelmed with what to do with them once the holiday has passed.
How should I store sentimental cards and letters?
I recommend a memorabilia box for eactly these things: cards and letters from loved ones that you want to keep.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but a box large enough to hold what you have and room for more. I like to use a box with a lid or top in this case to keep the cards and letter from getting dusty. You may want to have multiple boxes: one for your honey and one for family. Whatever works for you but have a place designated for cards and letters from your loved ones so you know where they go when you get them.
However, you DO need to be judicious on what you are saving. A hand written card is much more meaningful than a card with just a signature. Evaluate if you REALLY want to hang on to something before putting it in the box.
This may be professional suicide but I have a confession to make about my least favorite place to organize: the unfinished basement. I don’t know if it just stems from my childhood fear that there was some sort of monster lurking in the shadows underneath the stairs or the abundance of spiderwebs but the basement is just not my favorite place to organize.
That being said and off my chest now, I can tell you that it is a place that I can organize very quickly because I know what lurks down there and I don’t want to be there very long.
If you have boxes that you put in the basement during your last move to “go through someday” now is the time to do that. Just do it. Before you have a flood or other water damage that seeps through the dirty cardboard and ruins your priceless photographs or other memorabilia. Chances are, if you haven’t looked at it in more than 5 years and you don’t know what’s in there off the top of your head, you don’t need it.
Cardboard is my nemesis. That and wire hangers make me crazy because of the bad things they do under the guise of being helpful. Cardboard is perfect for sending packages and helping you move but it is not for long term storage. It gathers dust, doesn’t protect from moisture, attracts vermin, you can’t see through it, and is ugly. Go through your boxes to make sure you know what is in there and if you need to keep anything, put it in a clear box with a lid and label it. Plastic is not impervious but it is a step in the right direction.
The basement is also a gathering place for project leftovers that you may or may not need to keep. I can tell you that wall putty, cement, joint compound, and 1/4 filled cans of latex paint will not last forever down there. Anything that is water based that has been opened will have a shorter lifespan than you think so buy small unless you are doing some major renovations. Also, consider storing those types of repair materials in a less humid and cleaner environment. Latex paint can be put into glass jars if you have a half gallon or less. Make sure you label the jars with the maker and color of paint as well as where it was used in your house. You could even attach the paint chip to the jar to be super organized. Seal these jars tightly as any air is going to cause them to dry out. Also, clean the cans and seal them back well if you’ve got enough to keep the paint in the original can.
While we are on the subject of paint, if you’ve repainted any rooms in your house, you don’t need to keep the old paint, do you? No sir-ee. That means you can clear that paint out and make room for the new paint. Less stuff=less clutter.
Not sure what to do with random leftover screws or nails? Use a glass jar to corral all of them (or use 2–1 for screws and 1 for nails) so that you then know where to look if you need a screw or nail. It’s all about creating a home for everything, even if it’s temporary.
Last but not least, don’t neglect your basement. If you never go down there then make sure whatever is down there is secure and safe. Add shelving units or pallets for what you do need to store down there so it’s not on the floor. Sweep the floor and get rid of cobwebs. Add some lighting so that the monsters have no place to hide. 🙂 Your home is a reflection of you and your basement is your foundation. Let it be a clean and ordered foundation.
First off, Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! Thanks so much for stopping to read my blog and I hope you all have lovely days. I am usually a little bah humbug about Valentine’s because for a long time it was a reminder of not having a Valentine and I resented the Hallmark holiday. I am happily married and still feel like you should show your love everyday instead of just once a year but I have to admit I get caught up in the decorating aspect and just having fun with it.
This does lead to a question that I get a lot from clients which is how do I deal with paper memorabilia? What do I do with the old birthday cards, letters, notes, etc. from various holidays? Of utmost importance is that you decide what you want to keep and what you want to throw away. Now that I’ve said that, know that you can’t keep everything. What I think you really want to focus on are the ones that mean a lot to you—special birthdays, cards with memorable messages written in them, notes from relatives, etc. I don’t think the generic birthday card from your dentist or insurance company warrants keeping unless you have a special relationship with them. J
So what do I do to manage these cards, notes and letters that I want to keep?
Designate a location for them: this is an absolute MUST! Get a pretty lidded box or designate a drawer in a piece of furniture for this type of memorabilia. Everything needs a home and if you know where to put it, it won’t end up in a pile of other stuff somewhere.
Box it up: Semi kolon makes some great looking boxes for this and they look fabulous on a book case or shelf. These are found at Container Store and Sam Flax. I used one for cards and things from our wedding. I knew I wasn’t patient enough for #3 but I at least know where everything goes and enjoy going back through the box periodically. You can also get attractive wicker or rattan boxes at Cost Plus or HomeGoods. Just make sure it has a lid to keep the contents dust free.
Make a scrapbook: This suggestion is for the crafty people out there. You can make a really nice book out of the cards by using a photo album or empty scrapbook. Etsy has an amazing selection of unique, handcrafted ones.
Scan or take pictures of the cards and messages. You can make a photo book easily with Shutterfly or TinyPrints. Even if you just keep the photos, you can organize them on your computer so you can easily retrieve them to view later. Just remember you need to back up your computer on a regular basis
I hope these ideas help you in managing some of your paper memorabilia. Remember to keep and honor what is important to you. Having multiple, random piles is not honoring the memories; having a pretty, accessible home for them is. Do you have other suggestions for how you keep up with cards, notes, and letters?