Too Much Clutter at Home?

That’s the question explored for ways to 'clean up your act' in the new CA-Modern
Too Much Clutter at Home
Too Much Clutter at Home
Tackling clutter starts with a look inside the mind.

When you're watching the reality TV show 'Hoarders,' do you feel it comes a little too close to home to be entertaining? And when you say you don't enjoy watching people with inflamed symptoms of a condition for which you have only a mild case—well, just how mild is mild?

Fact is, 80 percent of the items that people keep in their lives go unused. That's according to 'Cleaning Up Your Act,' a story by Eichler Network home improvement editor Tanja Kern in the new summer '16 issue of CA-Modern magazine.

Even a mild case of clutter, though, can conflict with the minimalist sensibility of a modern home.

"If they say that they want a minimal aesthetic, but they can't get rid of 75 percent of their stuff, then we know that it's not a realistic goal," Dr. Regina Lark tells Kern. A certified professional organizer, Lark warns, "In order to maintain one of these homes, you have to have a very confident relationship with stuff, because the style of the home is so minimal."

Emma Gordon, organizing and storage specialist for storage provider Clutter Inc., says these problems often arise initially because of a major life event like a baby, divorce, or move.

"Stress and life changes always come with clutter. It's kind of a side effect of a large event," Gordon said recently, alluding to the reality that death also often brings clutter in its wake.

"It's a really common project that we get, helping someone clear out an estate," she related. When helping clients sort and pack "an entire lifetime [of possessions], it really becomes tricky."

Of course, clutter can also simply be an inconvenient product of a person or household's makeup and personality.

"Most of the people who call me are chronically disorganized," Lark told us. "I see them as having been hardwired differently than me. It has to do with the executive function in their brain, which helps you to make lists and keep order."

Kern even consulted a best seller by renowned organizing expert Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. In it, Kondo recommends touching each item you own to determine whether it evokes joy in you. If it doesn't, toss it. Everything that passes that test, lay out directly in front of you, and then store it appropriately.

But even an expert's counsel may not suffice for a serious clutterbug who is trying to be a do-it-yourselfer.