Darius, Kristen and their five children

What does your house say about you? Organizational expert Peter Walsh, author of It's All Too Much, says your house is a metaphor for your life.

Darius and Kristen have five children, two dogs…and 10 completely messy rooms. "Every surface seems to have something on it, and usually something that doesn't belong there," Kristen says.

While stay-at-home mom Kristen says she likes the "lived-in look," she says she doesn't have time to keep up a house full of seven people and likes to spend her time scrapbooking. Darius says he finds their messy house embarrassing.

"We fight about it a lot because I think it's really unacceptable that I come home from working 12, 15 hours a day and have to clean up," he says. "She stays at home and as far as I'm concerned, quite honestly, that's part of her role to keep the house clean."
Darius and Kristen's messy foyer

Peter says that clearing out the clutter and chaos in your house will allow you to live a fuller, richer life. "Who is going to create the life you want? You have to," he says.

When Peter takes a look at Darius and Kristen's house, he enters through the foyer…and that's where the clutter begins. He found a suitcase left out after 16-year-old John returned from a trip—and he's been home for a week!
Peter decluttered the foyer.

Following Peter's advice, Darius and Kristen remove the items that didn't belong in their vision for the space. In no time, they were able to whip the entryway into shape!
The dining room hasn't been used in years.

Kristen and Darius say they use their dining room every day. Only, they haven't eaten at the table in two years!

It's full of everything but dishes, napkins and silverware. Kristen also uses the dining room for scrapbooking. Darius calls it a dumping ground.
Peter Walsh declutters the dining room.

With a new vision for the dining room, Darius and Kristen remove everything that doesn't belong. "We wanted you to see the huge change you could have by just letting [the room] be what it should be," Peter says.
A simple solution for Kristen's scrapbooking materials

With a desk from Crate & Barrel, Peter finds a simple solution to the rooms bursting with Kristen's scrapbooking materials. They're now all contained in one place. "That is so awesome. That is amazing," Kristen says. "I'm almost speechless—I'm never speechless!"

Then, Peter puts some limits on Kristen's hobby. "It has to be kept in one place and it has to be limited to a certain amount, so you can't keep adding stuff," he says.
Darius and Kristen's messy master bedroom

Darius and Kristen's master bedroom has a massive problem. Just about every surface—from the bed to the chair—is draped in piles of laundry that belong to everyone in the house. Kristen's scrapbooking materials bulge out of a cabinet. The ironing board stands in the corner, always in the ready position. Their bed isn't made and the television rests on a storage bin.

The problem, Peter says, is that Darius and Kristen aren't following their own house rules about putting things away and making the bed.
Darius and Kristen's new clutter-free master bedroom

Peter applies his basic organizing principles to the master bedroom. "Establish the vision for the room. Agree on that together. Decide what would help you achieve that vision and what will not. Then purge that stuff."

They empty the master bedroom of loads of kids' clothes, the ironing board, the baby's playpen and Kristen's scrapbooking materials. Then, he uses the cabinet that stored those scrapbooking materials for the television.

Without the clutter, the master bedroom is much more open. "You can breathe," Peter says. "And that's what's important, in more ways than one."

In the future, Peter says, Darius and Kristen must develop routines. "When you take off an item, put it away. If it's dirty, clean it. If you open it, close it," he says. "Finish things."
In the cluttered closet

In their closet, Darius and Kristen had everything you'd expect to find…and then some. Not just clothes, but also a box of ties, family photos and even cans of paint.
Peter Walsh declutters a closet.

If your closet needs organizing, Peter has important words of wisdom. "Anything that you haven't worn in 12 months, really consider getting rid of it."

After your closet is decluttered, keep it that way! Peter says that when you buy something new, you need to get rid of something old.
Darius, Peter and Kristen survey the cluttered garage

Like most people, Darius and Kristen's garage is their biggest clutter problem. It's so stuffed they haven't been able to park a car in there in almost eight years!
The garage is now clutter-free!

Darius and Kristen's garage is an intimidating mess, but Peter says they need to think "F.A.S.T."

F) Fix a time and stick to it. He's given Darius and Kristen 10 minutes to do a "quick and dirty" sort. Then, haul out any item that fits in one of the following categories:

A) Anything you haven't used in a year

S) Stuff that doesn't belong

T) Trash. How much trash was in the Jackson's garage? Enough to completely fill a dumpster, with another huge pile that's going to charity.

Now Darius and Kristen are ready to deal with what's left. Peter says to sort what will stay into categorical piles like bicycles, tools and sports equipment. Eventually, everything will end up in separate zones in the garage.

Lowe's installed a Gladiator System, which is bolted to the wall and allows things to be stored off the ground. For the first time in years, Darius and Kristen can see their garage floor!
Kristen, Darius and Jamison

Peter says eliminating clutter in your life is about more than just cleaning up your house. It's about cleaning up your life. "I think so many people fill their homes with things that just take over," he says. "And in Darius and Kristen's case … Darius came to the conclusion that he was treating his wife very much like a business partner."

"We were just partners raising kids," Darius says. "I think we talked through a lot of the clutter."

Now that their home and life are clutter-free, Peter says it's vital that Darius and Kristen take their new routine into the future. "If you don't model that life for your children, nobody else will."

The new routine has already rubbed off on their daughter Jamison. "The first night she came in and said, 'I want my room to look like your room,'" Kristen says. "So we've started with her room." Jamison has even donated to charity two tubs full of toys that she doesn't play with anymore.
FROM: Nate and Clutter Expert Peter Walsh Team Up to Clean Up Your Life
Published on January 01, 2006


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