Peter Walsh

Peter Walsh has helped hoarders dig out of their piles and frat boys conquer their messes. Now, the king of organization is tackling an epidemic affecting nearly every home in America—everyday clutter. "Whether it's the busy life, the three kids, the competing demands in your career, at the end of the day, you collapse into a chair thinking: 'I just can't handle it. It's too much,'" he says. "I think everybody's in that boat."

To help families everywhere take back their space, Peter shows one family how to clean up the top five trouble areas in every home.

Mindy and Billy's kitchen before

2. Mindy and Billy's Kitchen, Before
With three kids, one house and not enough storage space, Mindy and Billy have a clutter conundrum on their hands.

The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but Mindy says hers is just a mess. "We do not have a pantry, so we try to make do with the cabinet space just shoving things in [shelves] and also putting things on top of the refrigerator," she says.
Mindy and Billy's kitchen after

3. Mindy and Billy's Kitchen, After
Because Mindy and Billy's kitchen is a small space, Peter says it's essential to make the most of what they have. "The top of the fridge is a huge problem for a lot of people," he says.

To make room for the food Mindy has stashed on top of the fridge, Peter has Mindy and Billy sort through their cabinets to figure out what they don't need. Once shelves are cleared, the family has more room for food storage. "When you buy new things, you put the new items at the back of the shelf," he says. "You will never then find yourself with food items that are out of date."

If you absolutely have to store something on the fridge, make sure the items are things you use every day and are organized so that you can see what's up there. "These fantastic baskets with the handle from The Container Store mean that you can very easily grab what's on the fridge or deep in a pantry."

Learn more about The Container Store baskets
Mindy and Billy's closet before

4. Mindy and Billy's Master Closet, Before
Mindy and Billy's master bedroom is also short on storage. "My biggest problem in the room is the closet," she says. "There is not much space for my things. My husband's things don't fit in here. So most of his clothes tend to be in laundry baskets here, other closets or in the basement."

Peter orders Mindy to start sorting through her clothes. "Start at one end of the closet. If you don't want it, throw it out here on the floor straight into the donation pile," he says.

5. Mindy and Billy's Master Closet, After
Mindy is shocked when she sees her new closet. "How does it all fit and still have so much space?" she asks.

"It's very simple," Peter says. "We got things off the floor. We changed out all your hangers for slim-line hangers. These take up much less space [and have] velour, so nothing will slide off."

Learn more about The Container Store hangers

6. Mindy and Billy's Master Bedroom, Before
Billy's clothes were also a clutter culprit in the bedroom. After stepping through piles to get to the dresser, Peter discovers there are actually empty drawers! "Let's make sure your stuff lives back in here, Billy."
Closet after

7. Mindy and Billy's Master Closet, After
With Billy's clothes back where they belong, the bedroom is once again a relaxing sanctuary for these busy parents. "It doesn't look like the same room," Mindy says.
Mindy and Billy's bathroom before

8. Mindy and Billy's Bathroom, Before
Mindy and Billy's bathroom may appear neat to the naked eye—but behind the closed doors of their vanity lies an explosion of toiletries, hair products and more. "I can guarantee that under every bathroom cabinet in America this is what you would find," Peter says.
Mindy and Billy's bathroom after

9. Mindy and Billy's Bathroom, After
Peter's bathroom solution is simple—group similar items together in clear containers. For example, put all makeup supplies in one container and haircare products in another. "It's not all shoved in a bucket," Mindy says.

Learn more about The Container Store bathroom organizers
Mindy and Billy's family room before

10. Mindy and Billy's Family Room, Before
Mindy and Billy's family room feels more frenzied than fun. "This is my half-man room," Billy says. "It's actually shared with our girls' playroom."

Mindy says toy storage is the family's biggest obstacle in the room, which Peter says is a common problem for many families. "We think that if we just buy the right thing, whether it's for our kids or ourselves or our home, we will acquire the life that we want. That more is better," Peter says. "Happiness and abundance can be found in simplicity and actually in less."

11. Mindy and Billy's Family Room, After
To make room for Billy's man cave, Peter worked on keeping the girls' toys at bay. "With kids' toys, it's really important to get them involved," he says. "Get the kids to pick their five favorite toys and then you make decisions on the rest."

Peter also created zones for different areas of play using simple throw rugs and used easy-to-access shelving to make clean up a piece of cake. "These bins from The Container Store are fantastic because they're see-through," he says. "The kids can see what's in them. A place for everything and everything in its place."

Learn more about The Container Store bins
Mindy and Billy's basement before

12. Mindy and Billy's Laundry Room, Before
Once the rest of the house is in order, Mindy and Billy take Peter to where they hit clutter rock bottom—the laundry room. "When I see this room, I just feel defeated," Mindy says. "It's a clothes explosion."

Billy says some of the clothes scattered across the floor have been there for months. "There's probably clothes in there from the summer still," he says. "They haven't been washed and put away like they should."

Peter says things in the laundry room spiraled out of control after Mindy and Billy started piles on the floor. "The moment you give up on a flat surface—whether it's a kitchen table, a countertop, the top of a bedside table or the biggest flat surface of all in your home, the floor—the moment they are not clear, you have given in to clutter," he says. "You have to keep flat surfaces clear."
Mindy and Billy's basement after

13. Mindy and Billy's Laundry Room, After
After moving mountains of laundry, Peter sets up an organized laundry room with a simple system. "Imagine your laundry room's a factory," he says. 

There's now easy access to the washer and dryer, a clear folding table and three hampers. "Two for colors, one for whites," Peter says. "When you decide to wash, straight here to the washing machine. Straight here to the dryer. When things are dry, straight out here onto your folding table. You fold. You throw it in [a basket] to go upstairs. "

Mindy loves her new laundry room. "As much as you could enjoy doing laundry, I do," she says. "It's just so much more efficient, and it's just not overwhelming anymore."

The Container Store's 5 must-have products

More to Know for 2011
The 5 health numbers that could save your life

Bob Greene's 5 ways to keep weight off for good

The items every woman needs in her closet
FROM: The Five Things You Need to Do in 2011
Published on January 13, 2011


Next Story