7 items you should never throw away during a declutter

Are you making a costly mistake when you throw things out?
Colourful kids room bookcase with plants on shelvesPhotography: John Downs / Styling: Kylie Jackes

We’ve never been more obsessed with decluttering our homes. In recent years, a plethora of books have been written on the topic, and if you’re not up to doing it yourself, you can always hire a decluttering expert to do it for you.

But according to Jacquie Denny, co-founder of online estate sale company Everything But the House, you could be making a costly error.

She believes that people forget to consider the resale value of some of their items.

“I always tell people that as soon as someone calls me and says either ‘my mom doesn’t have anything’ or ‘she has the ugliest art I’ve ever seen,’ I want to go to that house,” she told Apartment Therapy.

She says that when considering the value of something, it really depends on two things: condition and rarity.

So what should you keep, and what should you toss? Read on for Jacquie’s expert opinion on the things you shouldn’t be chucking.

1. Dinnerware

If you’ve collected china in a specific pattern over the years, it might be worth hanging on to.

“When you talk about china on a broad scale, it’s not as valuable as it used to be because people entertain more casually now, but there are still stars,” say Denny. Brands like Royal Albert, Royal Doulton and Wedgwood have resale value.

butlers pantry with grey cabinets
The owner of this heritage home in Melbourne collects blue and white china. (Credit: Photography: Armelle Habib / Photography assistant: Sara Wilkosz / Styling: Julia Green / Styling assistant: Jade Lee Martin)

2. Vintage toys

It might be worth hanging on to your beloved toys, as long as you’re strategic about it, rather than sentimental.

“I can’t tell you how many parents who had kids in the ’60s and ’70s will say ‘these are all my kids’ old Star Wars stuff, their old toys,'” says Denny.

“I’ve sold Star Wars Lego sets mint in the box from the ’70s for $800.”

Keep an eye out for iconic pieces that represent a particular time or place, but don’t hang on to anything unless it’s in mint condition.

“If you’ve got a Fisher Price See n’ Say that has the labels worn off and it warbles when you pull the string, there’s probably no value,” says Denny.

(Credit: Dulux Colour Forecast 2023 | Photography: Eve Wilson | Styling: Josh and Jenna Densten)

3. Furniture

Mid-century pieces will always attract buyers, and hang on to any designer items like Australian Parker furniture.

“Furniture in general is the safest it’s been historically,” says Denny.

“The reason for that is that we’re the largest generation in history with the most people passing away and making a downsize. There’s way more furniture in the marketplace than is being absorbed.”

Suspended above is a striking replica George Nelson Saucer Bubble pendant, while the Golden Quartz feature wall (stone sourced from Slate Discounts in Melbourne) references the beachside location. The painting is an original work by artist Toni Messiter.

4. Oriental rugs

Before you ditch your gran’s old rug in the hallway, consider its value. According to Denny, hand-woven rugs have never been more popular.

“People want area rugs for the first time in 20 years.”

Just make sure you’re hanging on to a quality rug in excellent condition.

grey lounges with black chandelier
(Credit: Photography: Sue Stubbs | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

5. Electronics

According to Denny, items like early iMac and Apple computers can go “for thousands of dollars.” Have a look on eBay and find out what your machine is worth.

If you have an old record player, think again before throwing it out. Vinyl records are having a renaissance, so collectors will pay good money for a vintage record player in good condition.

6. Children’s books

“I always tell people to keep their children’s books because when we go to start reading to our children, we remember them,” says Denny. “Reading from the original books are so much better.”

Apart from the sentimental value of books, they can also fetch a pretty penny. Keep any first editions or anything signed by a popular author.

Colourful kids room bookcase with plants on shelves
(Credit: Photography: John Downs / Styling: Kylie Jackes)

7. Family heirlooms

It can be hard to part with sentimental items, but boxes of keepsakes can take up a lot of room in storage. So how do you decide?

According to Denny, “If it’s an item that’s sentimental, or has a family history to it, I encourage them to keep it unless the family gets into the situation where they need to sell a historical piece.”

However, she cautions that “If you’re not going to display it or see it or share it, if it’s just going to sit in a cabinet, sell it and put the money in an account and go on a trip together.”

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