Show us Your Mess

We asked you to show us your mess and you did. Studio 5 Contributor and
professional organizer, Kelly Pratt, tackles viewer clutter traps and shares
solutions to help everyone get rid of clutter.

We all have one: a clutter trap that makes us cringe every time we pass it.
Whether it’s a cupboard or an entire room, there is a way to whip things
into shape, even if we haven’t found it yet. Here are three common
scenarios with products and principles that will help you transform your
own mess. And if you have an area that only a dig-out will fix? Well, we’ll
tackle that too!

Area 1: The Laundry Room

Related organizing trouble spots: The mudroom, the kitchen counter/table,
the pantry, kitchen and bathroom cabinets

The problem(s): The first horizontal space as you enter your home is often
a catch-all for a little bit of everything: returns, purchases, paper, anything
we don’t know what to do with.

Cabinets can often become storage black holes, especially when they hold
numerous smaller items. If the cabinet isn’t clearly divided and zoned, and
if you can’t reach items at the back, you will have clutter and waste.

Product solutions: Chrome pull-out cabinet organizers, clear plastic bins,

How they help:

. Chrome pull-out organizers help you keep areas separate and allow
you to access items at the back of your cabinet shelf.

. Clear plastic bins are a less expensive, less permanent solution that
will fulfill the same function as a pull-out organizer. Bins can also be used
as inboxes for incoming household items or papers.

. Baskets or cubes are great containers to hold items that need to be
returned or taken to other areas of the home.

Where to find them:

. Pull-outs: Home improvement warehouses,,
specialty online retailers

. Plastic bins: Walmart generally has the best selection for the best price.

. Baskets: Big box retailers, big box craft retailers, online

Keep in mind: We can often overload areas of our homes with too many
functions for the amount of space. If a room or cabinet is trying to fulfill
too many functions or hold to much, you will always have clutter in that
area. Especially in high-traffic areas of your home, the fewer things you
store there, the better. Relegate your storage to other areas of your home.

Area 2: The Pots and Pans Cabinet

Related organizing trouble spots: The pantry, kitchen and bathroom

The problem(s): Odd-sized cabinets and stationary shelving make storage
tricky. Sometimes the very thing that MUST be stored in a certain area
doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly. How do you make the best of a difficult

First of all, assess whether or not there really may be a better storage spot
for the items in the area that is driving you nuts. If so, do a little switch-o
change-o. If not keep in mind that items you use less often should go off
to the side or to the back of an area. Remember not to stack items too high
or deep. Nest everything you feasibly can. Remove items you rarely use
from the area and store in a longer-term storage area.

Product solutions: Lazy Susans, wire stackers, lid stackers, pan dividers

How they help:

. Lazy Susans will help create more space in corner areas by helping you
access items at the back of the cabinet more easily. Lazy Susans are
particularly useful in storing smaller items.

. Wire stackers lend some stacking capability while maintaining

. Lid stackers help keep unruly lids under control.

. Pan dividers help vertically separate muffin tins, cookie sheets, cooling
racks, etc. so you don’t have to stack them to store.

Where to find them:

. Lazy Susans: Target, Walmart, IKEA, kitchen specialty stores, home
improvement warehouses, online

. Wire stackers: Big box retailers, home improvement warehouses,

. Lid stackers: Big box retailers, home improvement warehouses, online

. Pan dividers: Big box retailers, home improvement warehouses, online

Keep in mind: Take an inventory of how many items in any cabinet you
actually use. Put a piece of tape on each item in your cabinet; remove the
tape as you use an item. If you find over the course of a couple of months
that you don’t use certain items, consider putting them in a higher cabinet
or removing them to a storage area.

Area 3: The Game Closet

Related organizing trouble spots: The linen closet, toy closets

The problem(s): You want your kids to play, you just don’t want a mess
from the time they take something out until the time they put it away.

Product solutions: Game Savers, clear plastic bins, baskets

How they help:

. Game Savers help preserve games when the game box is broken. And
they’re much cheaper than a new game! They also lock tightly, so if your
kids take games off the shelf and tip the box, they won’t dump the

. Clear plastic bins can hold certain games and are great to keep on the
floor of a closet with blankets inside. Using bins and baskets to hold things
like blankets and books will help keep the closet tidy.

Where to find them:

. Game Savers:

. Plastic bins: Big box retailers, home improvement warehouses, online

. Baskets: Big box retailers, big box craft retailers, online

Keep in mind: In order for “family” closets to function well, you have to
keep in mind the needs of the youngest users. If you want your kids to take
things out and put them away, you have to make doing so simple.

Store games and toys in reach of your kids. Obviously, if you have some
that you don’t want your kids to reach themselves, store them higher (i.e.
out of climbing range). Don’t stack games more than a couple of boxes
high so people don’t topple towers of games if they want to play the one
on the bottom (and the game everyone wants to play is always on the
bottom J).

The Dig-Out

Some areas require some serious intervention. What do you do if you want
to throw in a match and just start over?

Focus on quantity, not quality. To clear a space quickly—

. First collect paper. Keep your really HOT items (like bills, important
pending correspondence, etc.) handy, but anything that can be filed in
longer-term storage can be stored together. Get the boxes of paper set
aside as a separate project.

. Create areas for KEEP, DONATE, RETURN, TOSS. Each item in the room
will fall into one of those four categories. Sort QUICKLY. DO NOT pause to
make any decisions other than which of these four categories an item falls
under. If you pause to make additional decisions, you will never complete
your project. Seriously.

Once you have your piles separated, take your donations to the charity of
your choice immediately. Doing so will ensure you won’t go back through
those items and keep more than you should. Return any items to their
rightful owners or areas of your home. Take out the garbage.

With your keep pile, you will sort into finer categories. Keep in mind that
just because you initially decided to keep something doesn’t mean you’re
locked in. Continue to cull as you go.

Product solutions: Garbage bags, banker’s boxes

How they help:

. Garbage bags are self-explanatory. J

. Banker’s boxes will help you keep your items organized as you sort. If
you have a lot of stuff to go through, you NEED to give your piles
boundaries or you will recreate your mess. Banker’s boxes allow you the
luxury of time because you can stack them, label them and get them out of
the way while you work on your project.

Keep in mind: HGTV is awesome, but some of the organizing shows on the
air have created an unrealistic vision of and expectations for organizing. If
you have a big, big mess, it’s going to take awhile to undo. If you can get a
team of 20 to help you, it will go a whole lot faster, but many of us don’t
have that resource. If you have the expectation that your project may take a
couple of weeks of dedicated effort to complete, you won’t give up so
soon. Don’t beat yourself up over clutter traps. If you had known what to
do to solve the problem or had had the time to dedicate to solving it, you
would have already done something. Let huge messes be a chance to
assess whether or not you’re overscheduled or have gone through huge life
changes. Be compassionate. Every mess has a story. Once you’re really
ready to tackle your space, yours can have a happy—and tidy—ending.

For more information, you can email Kelly or visit her website.



Add comment