The Kelly's Cluttered Living Room

From the outside, California couple Tim and Laurie and their three young children appear like any normal, happy family. Behind closed doors, the state of their cluttered home threatens Tim and Laurie's marriage—and their family life.
Laurie Kelly

Laurie admits to keeping unnecessary items around the house because she can't differentiate between things she may need one day and things that can go for good. So, she simply gets rid of nothing.

"Living in clutter is really depressing and overwhelming," she says. "I have a hard time deciding what is really essential for me to hold on to and what would really be ok to let go of, so I end up keeping all of it."
Laurie with Peter Walsh

One of the most cluttered areas of the home is Laurie and Tim's master bedroom. "Tim and Laurie haven't slept in the same bed for a year and a half. That's how bad the clutter is," Peter says. "This is not ok!"

Go inside the bedroom

Tim has offered to help clean up the clutter, but Laurie's controlling attitude prevents them from making any headway. The couple receives a wake-up call when when Peter finds a souvenir from the couple's honeymoon.

"The intention was to mount it and put it up somewhere in our house," Laurie says. "It???s been folded up instead for eight years."

"We purchased that art that was buried under all that junk on our honeymoon," Tim says. "Those are some of our best memories I've ever had," says Tim.

Peter with the Kelly Kids

Laurie and Tim's children say they are also suffering as a result of the clutter. They have not had a single birthday party at their home or had any friends over because Tim and Laurie refuse to have anyone see the state of their house.

Especially cluttered is the children's play area. "Every day that we want to play we go digging through [the toys]. I don't like living in clutter," six-year-old Sierra says. "I would like to have friends over for a play date and I can't. We would trip and fall down and get a bad 'owie'. I go to my friend's house because they can't come here because it's too messy."

Watch Sierra's plea for help

Peter is concerned that the children may grow up to think that living in clutter is normal.
Laurie and Tim Kelly

Although the decluttering gets off to a good start, things take a things take a turn for the worse when it becomes apparent that Laurie has to have things done her way.

Peter observes the underlying issues between husband and wife, and gives Laurie his take on the situation. "Here's what I'm hearing: You have a perfectionist streak," Peter says. "If you want to be perfect, good luck. It's never going to happen. Your perfectionism is killing your whole chance at happiness."

Laurie, Tim and Peter

Laurie finally comes to realize her controlling nature, in large part, accounts for the communication problems she and Tim have. Peter puts Laurie in a time-out, forcing her to see that Tim is fully capable of taking hold of the steering wheel without a disastrous outcome. He helps her realize that it's okay for her to ask for and receive help.

Watch what happened
Laurie's Daughter

To help the children learn to value their things and organize early-on, Peter has them take part in the de-cluttering of their play area.

"This is the space where the whole family hangs out and it's important that Tim and Laurie set the right example for their children," Peter says. "Before I start emptying the room with Tim and Laurie, I want to show them how they can involve their kids in getting rid of the stuff."

Livingroom Before

Before, the Kelly living room had toys all over the floor and the only furniture that could actually be seen was the couch.
Living room After

After Peter and his crew transform the family room, there is now space for a living area and a play area. Pictures and bookshelves line the walls and everything is in it's proper place.

"It was great to see the enthusiasm and see how excited my kids are to be able to find all the toys. And it was great just to have a new space where they could invite their friends," Laurie says.
Bedroom Before

Before in the master bedroom, clothes were piled high on the dresser and the bed was a mess. The piles of stuff around the room kept Tim and Laurie from sleeping next to each other every night.
Bedroom After

After Peter and his crew rebuild the room, it becomes a relaxing and inviting environment. Now, the honeymoon memorabilia from Fiji that was unearthed during the decluttering process is displayed with honor and respect.
Laurie and Tim Reflect

Now that order has been restored to the house, Tim and Laurie can work on restoring their relationship and working together as a team. "Peter means a lot to me because he helped put back some of the pieces of my relationship with my husband and I'm hopeful of all the possibilities to come in the future," says Laurie.

"Peter certainly helped us achieve a higher level of happiness than we would have been able to find ourselves," Tim says.
Birthday Party

Now, Tim and Laurie's children can finally enjoy playdates and birthday parties in their home without having to worry about feeling ashamed.


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