Barbara's house appeared orderly and serene, but behind the tidy façade lurked chaos. Julie Morgenstern helps a wife and mother solve the mystery of why she needed all that stuff.
"I've been trying to get organized forever, and getting nowhere," 40-year-old Barbara told me. But in the photos Barbara sent, I saw a warm, pleasant three-bedroom house that she shares with John and their two children. I didn't see the mess. The rooms were clutter-free, and even the closets were orderly, with rows of uniform containers. "My house looks organized on the surface, but its chaos underneath," she explained. "I've bought every container by every manufacturer ever created. I just don't know what's in them."

Neat on the surface, clutter underneath—ah, don't you wish that were your problem? At least you could have guests over. If you've ever jealously ogled a friend's home, consider that she may be like Barbara—masterful at hiding the mess. And though the problem doesn't seem nearly as urgent as blatant visual clutter, it can wear your psyche down in profound ways.

What was Julie's plan of action to resolve the chaos?


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