Senior thoughtful man sitting in chair and holding old photo frame


You’ve probably amassed a house, garage, and maybe even shed full of things over the years. But now that you’re moving to a smaller space – whether it’s an apartment, retirement community, or your son’s or daughter’s house – you have the onerous task of thinning out and paring down all those years of accumulated stuff. How will you manage to part with some of your things, particularly those that tug at your heart strings?

Richmond, VA, artist Tammy Hinkle, of Memories in Paint, makes sure you don’t have to. Hinkle, who also works part-time for a senior transition company, recognized the stress that seniors were going through letting go of their “special things.” She came up with the ingenious idea to preserve these prized possessions – from large musical instruments and quilts to small pieces of jewelry and teacups – in a stunning still life, which seniors could take and enjoy wherever they go.

Memories in Paint Richmond
Memories in Paint | Tammy Hinkle

“Bringing joy to these seniors, who are overwhelmed and sometimes sad is a passion of mine,” says Hinkle. “I feel that it will make them smile to see this special piece hanging on the wall in their new home for all to enjoy!”

Plus, the significance of each pictured treasure is noted on the backside of the painting, so future generations will know the meaning it held for their loved one.

Explains one of Hinkle’s clients: “It’s really hard to part with memories of my life just because there is no room for them. It’s a part of my heritage and I cherish the things that I’ve had all of my life. This painting brings me joy every time I look at it!”

Commissioning a painting of your cherished possessions is just one of the ways you can remember the things you love. Here are a few other space-saving strategies to preserve your prized possessions … and your memories:

  • Cozy up. Do you have a drawerful of souvenir t-shirts? Have them sewn into a cozy quilt which, while keeping you warm, will also remind you of your most memorable trips or experiences.
  • Capture digitally. Bet you have boxes and boxes of old family snapshots, love letters and cards, awards, magazine covers, and other pieces of paper you just can’t bear to get rid of. Whittle those decades of accumulation down to a manageable pile and scan or take digital photos of these items to preserve for posterity.
  • Curate your collection. When space is at a premium, those collections of antique fishing lures or Matchbox cars may not make the cut. Why not choose a few of your favorites and showcase them in a shadowbox frame instead?
  • Conduct a tour. Before you pack up to move, preserve the love you feel for your home – and the memories you made there – with a priceless video tour. While you walk around your home, show where you and the kids rolled out the Christmas cookies each year, point out the corner of the garage where your husband did his woodworking, and don’t forget to include a shot of the tree in the front yard that’s always the first in the neighborhood to turn vivid yellow every fall. Be sure to also call attention to those special items that you can’t take with you, like your grandma’s armoire or your 100-piece Christmas village, and recount their stories for future generations. After you’re in your new home, this video will provide a comforting trip down memory lane when you need it.

While you’re preserving your treasures to carry with you to your new home, you’ll also be creating a treasure of a different sort for your kids and grandkids!

Share how you preserve special possessions while downsizing.

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