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Rein in the clutter, or fake it

Your collection of old Vogue magazines is teetering. And you've got that closet full of sweaters that are older than Justin Bieber, not to mention those drawers full of kitchen gadgets you never use. We know better than to suggest you get rid of it all. That would be futile. But unless you're looking to land on a reality show, it's time to get the stuff in check. Author and organizational guru Peter Walsh, host of the new show Enough Already! on the Oprah Winfrey Network, shares some advice on appearing to be one of those organized, detached types, even if you're actually one of those Beanie Babies types.

Strategically declutter: Two areas will give away your hoarding tendency faster than you can say porcelain figurine. The first is your entryway. "The moment you open the front door of your house, the first impression sticks with visitors," Walsh says. The second is any large, accessible flat surface. "Kitchen table, counters, coffee table. The moment you can't see your flat surfaces, you've lost the battle with clutter." Keep those areas relatively neat, and you're halfway home.

Surrender a space: Lasso your clutter into a bounded space so it doesn't take over your whole home. When Walsh speaks to groups, he often asks: "Does anyone have that spare bedroom that as soon as the doorbell rings you yell, 'Close the door to the spare bedroom!' " According to Walsh, "Eighty percent of people always have that room." For others, it's the hall closet. One home Walsh recalls visiting had a dining room table with a tablecloth that touched the floor. Underneath? Stuff.

Artfully display: "The line between a collection and clutter is razor thin," says Walsh. "Just because you have a whole lot of things the same doesn't mean you have a collection." If you truly appreciate an item and want to surround yourself with multiple variations of it, do yourself — and the items — a favor. "Display them in a way that brings you pleasure, that doesn't cause stress and that says, 'I honor and respect these items,' " he says. "Anything can look great displayed well."

Edit your clutter: Assign homes for your items and don't let the items outgrow them. If a container designated for magazines fills up, don't add a new one until you get rid of an old one. "I'm not about telling people to get rid of all their stuff," Walsh says. "My thing is, does the stuff you have create the life you want?"

Reality check: If you're keeping stuff because you think it will appreciate in value, make sure it will. "A good reality check is eBay," Walsh says. "If you think your Madame Alexander dolls are worth $1,000 and you go on eBay and realize they're worth $4.99, then you can decide: Is this investment in the future (messing) up your ability to enjoy and live in your home today?"

Rein in the clutter, or fake it 02/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 21, 2011 5:42pm]

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