Organizing Photos and Art the KonMari Way: Sentimental Day 1

We’re now caught up to where I left off with my Marie Kondo method: sentimental. Follow along as I dive into this section that I’ve been putting off for far too long.

Sorting Your Sentimental Items

Photo by  Cole Keister

Photo by Cole Keister

Most of my sentimental items center around photos. However, I decided to also include artwork, only because I apparently stack all these items together.

I moved into my new apartment in February. It’s now October, nigh November, and I’ve had a stack of undealt-with-stuff sitting in a corner. This includes a box of sorted-but-undecided-upon photos, and artwork both framed and unframed.

While I have plenty of artwork on my walls, these other pieces of artwork I would say, if I’m honest with myself, are sitting here because either they need a frame, or it’s likely time to let them go but I feel guilty.

Getting Started

First things first. If your sentimental items are spread out around the house:

  1. Collect your things into your “sorting area.” Whatever that might be. I’ve taken over my living room floor.

  2. Divvy things into piles of like items.

For me, this looks like:

  • *Artwork (posters, paintings, art photos)

  • **Photos (photo albums, loose photos, framed photos)

  • Memorabilia (letters and other sentimental objects)

*It’s also possible you tidied your pieces of artwork in the komono phase, but if you didn’t, or any pieces fell through the cracks, you can catch it here.

**Photos here means photos you or your family took, photos of your family or you, as opposed to an art photo. If you took an artistic photo, or you’re a professional photographer with a slew of your own work on the walls, feel free to place it in either category.

Decisions, Decisions

The first thing that confronted me was a lovely, ornate picture frame with 9 photos of my dog and cat, both who died the same year several years ago. I had these photos, in this frame, hanging on the wall when they were still alive. When they died I took it down, and have just packed this thing around, photos still inside, never hanging it up - just holding onto it.

Perfect example of why the Sentimental section is so difficult. It brings up sadness and other emotions we’d rather not deal with.

I took a step back and realized the reason I didn’t want to deal with this frame in particular was that I thought taking these photos out was akin to dismissing the memory of my dog and cat - plus, I knew I'd be sad taking their photos out. But once I realized those were the thoughts, I saw that I could approach this differently. The frame after all is lovely. The photos are lovely too and I can still keep them, just not inside this frame. And yes, I was sad taking their photos out, but I had a better place for these photos to live.

It seems like such an obvious solution, but our emotions do make thinking intelligently difficult.


  1. I can put their photos in an album dedicated to memories of my pets.
  2. Then, use the frame to showcase photos of my life now.

I took the photos out and placed them in a box, a holding area dedicated to photos of pets. I anticipate finding more pet photos after all. Once I go through all of my photos, then it will be time to sort these individual caches and choose just the right album to house them.


I’m at that stage in life where hanging things on the wall without a frame just doesn’t feel right. So most of the things I have on my walls have a frame, or at least a matte frame. It’s a lot of investment, both time and money, to pick the right frame: color, size, material. Not to mention finding it.

Therefore, I have many rolled up posters, both large and small that are essentially backlogged because I haven’t found a frame for them. Which is overwhelming and why I haven’t done it for everything.

However, there are some art pieces I couldn’t find a frame fast enough because I wanted to hang them on the wall so badly. And I made it happen. Others fall into one of these categories:

  1. I’m too lazy to frame this - which, in all likelihood, probably translates to,

  2. I’m just not that into this.

  3. I like this but will it match the rest of my decor?, or

  4. I’m not sure where to hang this even if I had a frame for it.

We do only have so much wall space. I could technically fit everything on my walls, but do I want to? I love art, and I’m okay with having a lot of pieces on certain walls, like my living room, but there still has to be a flow. They still have to go together, rather than looking like a mish-mash. Other walls, like in my bedroom, I keep relatively sparse.

In my first round of artwork sorting, I stacked the pieces already in frames, and the pieces without frames. Of all these, I picked out one unframed piece and already determined the type of frame I want and where I want it to go. Which tells me this is a keeper.

Switching It Up

For a few frames that have held the same pictures for probably over a decade, I took one look at them, then the stack of unframed pictures, and realized I would rather have certain unframed pictures inside those frames than what the frame was holding.

For instance, one big wooden frame, complete with matting, held a picture of a Buddhist sculpture from a calendar. It’s a beautiful picture, but I didn’t feel like it really spoke to me any longer. And sitting unframed was a matted reproduction of an Edward Curtis photo of the Cheyenne that my dad brought back to me from a trip to Arizona.

Sometimes we just need to see what we have to realize, “Hey, this would actually go better with this!” Even better, it’s free! You’re just making better use of what you already own.

That concludes Sentimental Day 1 for me.

Sentimental Day 1 Stats

In total, I spent roughly an hour. Like I said in my last post, whenever I tackle something I prefer to do it in intermittent start-stops. So I set my Tabata timer for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.

What do I have to show for it?

  • Stack of unframed artwork - I’ll decide whether to keep or not later.

  • Stack of framed artwork - I’ll decide whether to keep or not later.

  • Stack of photo albums - I’ll look through those later.

  • Stack of memorabilia - I’ll look through that later.

  • Art piece I want to have framed.

  • Frame that’s now ready for new photos to go into.

  • Holding area for my photos.

  • A newly framed photo that’s ready for a home on the wall.

Now I’m going to relax into the rest of my Sunday. No need to spend hours and hours. Just a little bit. I’m excited to keep going another day, but not overwhelmed. You want to hit that sweet spot where you know what you're going to do next and you're not burned out. I have a couple options for next time:

  1. Decide what unframed pieces to keep, or

  2. Start in on photos.

Hope you all had a productive and relaxing weekend. Until next time!



Cover photo by ian dooley on Unsplash