Dispatches from the outer limits of clutter. You Can Take it With You Worried about leaving unwanted furniture after you die? Fear not: Maine-based company Last Things creates bookcases that—when the time comes—double as coffins.
Lost Last August the body of Billie Jean James was found buried under mountains of junk in her Las Vegas home, four months after she'd gone missing. This despite the early deployment of search dogs—and the fact that her husband still lived in the house.
Trashistan A Netherlands-based architecture firm is proposing a habitable, floating recycled island built from plastics caught in the Pacific trash vortex—an accumulation of debris currently estimated to be the size of Texas. Much of the trash has been broken down to microscopic size by photodegradation, while larger material regularly ensnares about 100,000 marine animals a year. The designers believe their massive habitat could not only help clean the ocean but house some of the estimated 200 million "climate refugees" who may be displaced by changing weather patterns in the coming decades.
Hoarders in History Last year a stash of 52,000 coins was discovered in Somerset, England, some stamped with the face of Marcus Aurelius Carausius, a third-century A.D. Roman military leader. Turns out burying your family's valuables—never to retrieve them—might once have had religious significance.
Bacon Was a Pig If you think your workspace is messy, you should see the late British painter Francis Bacon's studio in London. Bacon, whose Triptych 1976 sold for $86 million in 2008, reportedly could not work in tidy spaces. Old photos show every floor and table surface drowning in a sea of debris—papers, paintbrushes, wood, clothing, Champagne boxes, and more—leaving little room to even stand. After his death, the scene was lovingly dismantled and reconstructed in a museum in Dublin (where it took three years to re-create the mess).
Humble Abodes One way to forcefully de-clutter is to move into a home the size of a parking space. The Small House Movement—which has been featured on the Oprah show—is thriving, according to Kent Griswold, author of tinyhouseblog.com. Griswold recommends Tumbleweed Tiny House company, whose models (with names like "Weebee") range from 65 to 840 square feet and cost less than $20,000. "I've traveled from Canada to Mexico with my small homes," writes Griswold. "Can you do that with your current home?"
Organize it Like Beckham One celebrity whose organizational skills are praised consistently—by no less an authority than his wife—is soccer star David Beckham. Victoria Beckham has revealed that Becks color-codes the contents of the fridge, vacuums the carpet in straight lines and gets upset when anyone walks on it, and has a separate bathroom because he can't stand her clutter.