How To Renovate A Memory Palace (And When You Shouldn’t)

how to renovate a Memory Palace feature image of a ladder and door frameYear after year, people ask me “what if” questions about the Memory Palace technique.

For example, what if I need to make changes to my Memory Palace?

It’s a good question with several dimensions.

For one thing, we need to look at what the need to change involves. Is part of the Memory Palace making its use inefficient?

Or do we feel the need to expand the Memory Palace, if not connect it to other Memory Palaces?

Certainly, you can do all of these things if absolutely necessary.

And on this page, I’ll give you some suggestions that will help make the process smooth.

But there are also ways to ever have to avoid renovating any Memory Palace once you’ve set it up.

And when things do change, you’ll be ready to handle the need for transformations in a flash.

Ready to get into the nitty-gritty?

Let’d dive in!

The First Thing To Do If You Feel The Need to Change A Memory Palace


That’s right.

Before you do anything, pause and ask a simple question:

Is this really necessary? Why do I think the Memory Palace needs to be changed?

Could I start a new Memory Palace as an alternative?

The answer is that yes, you can start new Memory Palaces. But some people don’t have enough of them.

No problem. Here’s How to Find Memory Palaces.

Try Compounding Within The Memory Palace

Often, you don’t need to change the Memory Palace, just how you’re using it.

For example, when using the Memory Palace for language learning, I usually focus on memorizing vocabulary first.

Then, using the principle of compounding, I add entire phrases to the words I’ve memorized.

This technique moves from strength to strength because they only thing it changes is the mnemonic imagery, not any of the Memory Palaces themselves.

Explore Reusing Your Memory Palaces

Frankly, reusing a Memory Palace is usually only worth exploring after you’ve mastered the main Memory Palace technique.

I’ve talked about this several times.


Here’s a follow-up video with more detail:

The key drawback is that reusing a Memory Palace often leads to ghosting or confusion. Ghosting is often referred to in memory science as The Ugly Sister Effect.

How To Renovate a Memory Palace Properly

After exhausting all other options, the first step is to clean the Memory Palace you want to renovate.

According to 3x World Memory Champion Alex Mullen, the key is not to “clean” the Memory Palace. That would involve going through it with an imaginary mop.

Instead, Mullen suggests that you leave the Memory Palace fallow for a certain amount of time. Not using the Memory Palace will fade out anything in it and give you the most solid foundation for changing it if you want to revise the journey.

This point is important because if you make changes too soon, you could lead to the ghosting issues created by reusing Memory Palaces.

I totally agree with Mullen, but alternative views exist. You would do well to also get Idriz Zogaj’s take on the matter of clearing out your MPs too.

Add “Virtual” Elements To Memory Palaces

One of the simplest ways to renovate or expand a Memory Palace is by creating and adding Virtual Memory Palace elements. These can include imaginary bookshelves other types of invented or imaginary stations. You place these between pre-existing stations and the information memorized at/on/beside/in or under them.

This technique will be most useful for mnemonists who already have some experience using Virtual Memory Palace elements in combination with the Method of Loci.

Personally, I stopped doing this many years ago. Starting a new Memory Palace has proven faster, more direct and ultimately more effective.

Connect Your Memory Palace Network With Mnemonic Images

At intermediate and advanced levels, every mnemonic image can serve as a Memory Palace.

In fact, this is one of the points of combining the 4 pegword methods with the Major System and the PAO System.

Let me give you a case study:

I was working with a coaching client yesterday. She was asking for help with memorizing an aspect of the law. For a term like “Supreme court jurisdiction,” I showed her how Superman connects with the word Supreme.

And it connects via the letter S to my friend Stacey’s home. It also connects to the number 1 using the Major. And the number 1 has a top, middle and a bottom.

These observations mean that you can expand any Memory Palace conceptually. You don’t have to change it. You just notice features of the target information and start to elaborate it with spatial information in mind.

This is just one of the features of the ancient memory techniques that are quite different from how memory athletes memorize.

If you need more help, make sure to complete these elaborative encoding exercises.

Multiple Memory Palaces for each letter of the alphabet may have limited appeal. But once you give it a try, you’ll find that it works a charm.

The worst that can happen is that you wind up not using some of the Memory Palaces you create.

But that’s hardly a problem. It will give you a lot of practice in Memory Palace construction and you can always go back and use those Memory Palaces later. You’ll also boost both your memory and intelligence simply by engaging in the experimentation and exploration process.

Your mind loves this kind of exercise and the experimentation involved. It certainly gives your declarative memory a workout, amongst other types of your memory. You just need the mindset, the willingness and the determination to succeed and you’ll find more success than you imagined possible.

Multiple alphabetized Memory Palaces also work wonders when you’re memorizing vocabulary around themes.

For example, if you’re memorizing words based on the theme of restaurants, instead of having one Memory Palace with 50 words, you could have 5 with 10 words each.

In fact, you could think of 5 restaurants that you’ve enjoyed and use these. This will create a nice connection between the theme you’re working on and the actual Memory Palaces you’re using.

Get Out There And Start Experimenting

Ultimately, in my experience with teaching memory techniques over the last decade, I feel strongly that your personal experimentation is the key to success.

Studies in active recall demonstrate the importance of your personal involvement. And one of the only mysteries that remains is why some people jump in and others hesitate.

I hope this post has helped you take action and I invite you to learn more by getting my FREE Memory Improvement Course:

Free Memory Improvement Course

It will help save you time by teaching you how to create Memory Palaces properly from the get-go. That way, you won’t have to worry about renovating them because everything I teach you is based on how your memory actually works.

But if you still want to, now you can. And there’ll be no “what ifs” about it. Because now you know that you need to experiment – and if you run into trouble, you now have powerful alternative approaches to renovating Memory Palaces.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions. And if you want more detailed training, everything you need to learn and memorize anything you want awaits you in the full Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.

4 Responses

  1. I really like the outro soundtrack. The bassline is just amazing. Am I right with my assumption that it is you playing the bass guitar? May you provide some more tracks?

    Greetings from Switzerland

    1. Thanks for this post, Dario – Yes, that is me playing the bass. You’ve reminded me too that I wanted to look for a band again, so after getting your comment, I put together a video to see what’s possible.

      It has some other song ideas I’ve put together and a live version of the podcast outro from the rehearsal room:

      Thanks again for your comment and talk soon! 🙂

      1. In fact, your bass lines inspired me to start again with my guitar playing. I once have been in a band, in a way this was such a great thing, but anyhow – unfortunately- I stopped playing the guitar as our band splitted up.

        I listen to every magnetic method podcast . I am an English learner and use it as well as my learning resource. That way I can kill two birds with one stone as I am so fascinated by the content of your podcasts.

        I have a lot of respect of you and your directness, I recently
        listened to the Robin Williams episode.
        It is not self-evident that one talks about matters that are let’s say not so comfortable. It requires a lot of courage.

        Anyway, thank you very much for your effort to create all this podcasts.

        Viele liebe Grüsse

        1. Hi Dario, Great to hear that my little tune for the podcast inspired you in this way. I can’t wait to find a band to play it with. I had started with some guys, but it didn’t quite pan out.

          It’s also great to hear that you listen to all of the podcast and that it serves as a learning tool for you. I guess you’re right that it does kill two birds with one stone for people learning English. That’s very cool.

          Finally, thanks for your comment on the Robin Williams episode. I wish more people would speak openly about it. I think it takes less courage than it may seem and could help improve – if not save – lots and lots of lives.

          Best wishes for 2015 and hope to correspond again soon! 🙂

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Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, names, music, poetry and more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.

Dr. Metivier holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from York University and has been featured in Forbes, Viva Magazine, Fluent in 3 Months, Daily Stoic, Learning How to Learn and he has delivered one of the most popular TEDx Talks on memory improvement.

His most popular books include, The Victorious Mind and… Read More

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