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Clearing Out the Clutter

An organizing expert tackles the messiest room in one couple's house.

Julie and LeRoy Kareus want to get their 18 x 15-foot guest room/library in working order. Neglected for years, this room, along with an adjacent 9 x 9-foot closet, is home to piles of books, papers, craft supplies and photos, all of which have made this room the most avoided one in the house.

They turn to professional organizer Charlotte Steill to come up with a prescription for a clutter-free room. The first step she takes is to help them sort through all the existing stuff, deciding what gets to stay and what should go.

Once that's complete, Steill announces her master plan for the room. She intends to warm up the room with fresh buttery gold paint on the walls, create a quaint reading area, get the massive bookcases organized, and bring in a new armoire to house the TV and the Murphy bed linens. Topping off her list is turning that cluttered closet into a working craft room. See the results below.

Before: There wasn't enough space on the floor to get around, much less house guests.

After: Now there is plenty of room to pull down the Murphy bed that was once blocked by mounds of clutter. This room is now a multifunctional space that not only serves as a guest room, but also a library, entertaining area, reading area and craft room.

Products from Esselte/Pendaflex:

five-tab hanging folders, legal size in Aqua, Teal, Navy, Orange and Red

Products from Easy Closets:

two valet poles, White with chrome

Products from Russell and Hazel:

expanding files in Orchid, Blue, Lime, Khaki and Red/Orange

Products from Stacks and Stacks:

six 24-compartment box
floor light dart

Products from Home Decorators Collection:

Wuchow TV armoire
Soho Strata love seat

Products from The Container Store:

Makati magazine basket, Mocha
three extendable valet rods
flip hook rack, Natural
four 24-compartment K-Resin boxes
two see-and-store containers
case of 20 shoeboxes
Pandan wastebasket
clear divided tray
Mighty Magnetic Strips in Orange, Blue, Green and Pink
Elfa legal file cart
six small lined Makati baskets
20 shantung photo boxes, five each in Olive, Red, Teal and Blue
eight clear magazine files
label maker
eight-drawer storage chest
three Mighty Magnet Strips, White
eight shantung letter boxes, two each in Olive, Teal, Red and Blue
eight document boxes, four each in Olive and Red
two Pandan storage stools, Espresso

Products from Soft Surroundings:

two Flight of Fancy decorative pillows, Garnet, one size
silk peony duvet cover for queen-size bed, multi
two silk peony shams, multi standard
two silk peony shams, Sage, Euro
silk peony bedskirt for queen-size bed, Sage Queen

Products from Padma's Plantation:

set of three dark-chocolate shelves

Products from Organize Everything:

four magnetic baskets
Black office chair

Products from Newport Furnishings:

Lectern recliner, Light Walnut leg finish
Black cover

Before: The floor was covered with miscellaneous boxes, furniture and framed artwork. The ample bookshelves were equally packed, with stacks books and random clutter covering nearly every inch of available space.

After: Now there is room for a new love seat and armoire (not pictured) for the TV, as well as a cozy reading nook by the window. The shelves are also tidy. The donation of some of those books made room for photo boxes and other keepsakes.

Before: The closet was filled to the brim with office and craft supplies, including a cumbersome copy machine. Organizer Charlotte Steill was determined to turn it into a productive craft room, as was originally intended.

After: The new craft room is now fully functional, with shelves full of boxes, baskets and even rolling carts stored underneath the table to hold supplies and free up valuable counter space on top of the table.

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