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December 30, 2011 > Real Rooms for Real People: The Organizing Bug Strikes Again

Real Rooms for Real People: The Organizing Bug Strikes Again

By Anna Jacoby

A couple of weeks ago I was stricken by the organizing bug. It happens to me a few times a year, but especially this time of year... and when it happens, no drawer, closet or cupboard is safe. Sometimes I can feel this bug coming on slowly and other times it hits with no advance warning. But the approach of the New Year always makes me want to start off the year organized; if I can start January this way, there's a good chance I can keep it up throughout the year. As much as I try to keep things neat and tidy, with our family's busy lives, things sometimes get out of hand. Maybe you can relate.

I walked by our messy, disorganized hall closet, and the bug hit with full force. It had been a long time since I had given this closet my attention. (It is so much easier just to close the door and ignore it!) Something had to be done; it was now or never. I took everything out of the closet and piled it on the floor. Every last piece of paper, box, bag, and scrap came out. It surprised me how bad it had gotten; there were receipts from last Christmas, wrinkled wrapping paper scraps, envelopes filled with miscellaneous photos, and games and toys that had not been played with in years. I was ruthless. I threw away trash, and made a large pile of giveaway items. I sorted the remaining items and put them neatly back in the closet-games on one shelf, gift wrap supplies on another shelf, and so on. Now there is even empty space on some of the shelves, which I don't plan on filling any time soon.

Those of you who know me, know that I hate clutter. It doesn't mean that my house is never messy (on the contrary! Sometimes it is very messy!), and it doesn't mean that I am not the culprit occasionally. Personal correspondence, business paperwork and my kids' school work pile up, and soon I can't see the counter top anymore. It does mean, however, that once a week I tackle the paperwork on the counters until the surface is visible again. I am far from perfect, but keeping clutter to a minimum saves my sanity.

A few years ago, I caught an Oprah episode with professional organizer Peter Walsh. He challenged viewers to try this experiment to combat kitchen clutter: I took his challenge, and I urge you all to try it too, as it will be eye-opening. Here's what you do: Transfer the entire contents of your kitchen utensil drawers into a large box. Place this box in another area of your house, away from the kitchen. (I placed my box in the laundry room.) Every time you need a utensil for cooking, go to the box, get what you need and put it back in the kitchen drawer. At the end of three or four months, you will see which items you really need and use, and which items are just taking up space. Get rid of everything still left in the box-you won't miss them, and your kitchen drawers will be clutter free.

I can feel the organizing bug coming on again. Next: the bathroom cabinets.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local interior designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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