“Curb the Clutter”

Margie Lehnen-Holtz



 Is decluttering a skill that you learn with practice or is it through making a “decision” that you stick with?

With the correct system in place I believe that someone can learn to stay organized if they like the system and want to use it.  Sometimes, even when a client decides to stick with it they don’t always keep it up long term.



 If a person has a much larger home versus, a small living space, is the clutter problem easier to contain?

My first answer is yes, because there is just less space to manage.  Although, if you have a large home you have more places to create “homes” for your belongings.



 What is the “timeline” that you suggest your clients to “toss out” items that haven’t recently been used, i.e. One year? Two years? Five years? Ten years… and how do you help clients follow through?

It really depends on what the item is. Clothing can be timeless as long as it still fits.  Other household items would be discussed. If the client has a strong attachment to the item this is discussed.  Follow through is done by setting up a time for me to call and check in or making a follow up appointment.  Most of the time clients are very receptive to this because it helps them be accountable for getting tasks completed and stay on track.



 If a client has a bicycle or gym equipment, or other exercise items/equipment that haven’t been used in years (but the client is promising ones self to get in shape), are these items keepers or something to let go?

Well, I am a guilty of this myself.  I think it really depends on their physical condition and the reality around whether or not they will be able to use it.  If it is taking up space that could be better used for something else or is affecting the normal living space, then I suggest letting it go.  If they insist on keeping it then I would discuss with them a deadline to start using it.



 How do you help clients who have parents, children, a significant other, or renters that clutter?

I feel very strongly that you cannot force anyone to declutter if they don’t want to.  The only time I have been in that situation is when they are required to declutter and clean up their living space for health and safety reasons.  This is one of the hardest jobs, because most of the time the client is very resistant, even though they have to do it or get evicted.



 In clearing clutter have you ever come across a highly valuable item that a client has kept for years, in essence finding a “lost treasure”? (For example… coins, stamps, art work, jewelry, collectables).

I helped a client downsize and move to a senior living facility and I found some old jewelry that she sold for $1300.



 How much does having financial problems or family problems or life problems have to do with accumulating clutter?

I believe that it has a lot to do with accumulating clutter.  These three problems can cause depression and in turn cause clients to just stop functioning and maintaining their environment.



Please give us some more examples of clients you have helped, sharing your before and after pictures. This is so inspiring for anyone who wants to declutter.


I have a regular client that I have worked with for 13 years. Over that span of time I have helped her move from a condo to a house.  I organized a successful garage sale for her twice. I also organized her garage at least 3 times.  See the attached before and after photos of her garage.


Last weekend I volunteered on a project for Rebuilding Together.