SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 10
Mark and Arielle
Mark and Arielle wanted a big family. And they got busy creating it. It’s a lot. A lot of shoes, clothes, toys and Lego to stick into your feet in the dark.
A lot of “muumuum, where is my (insert annoying toy)?” Arielle is wading through volumes of family paraphernalia just to fish out a Nerf bullet, and she’s done.
The family of ten only has one working bathroom and I can’t even imagine. Strangely they are well toileted, nourished and cared for and it’s seriously impressive. But needless to say Arielle is overwhelmed.
Mark isn’t much help and doesn’t have a lot to say about it, through no fault of his own. He has a chronic condition and a sore leg, which means maintaining the house is not always possible. (So what’s my husband’s excuse?)
The team is pleasantly surprised by the Brady Bunch’s ground floor, but upstairs is where the madness is. Kids’ stuff is spread everywhere and has even encroached upon the office. I am wondering whether the reason the upstairs bathroom doesn’t work is because the pipes are stuffed with pink clothes. And hair. All the girls have heaps of it.
The volume of clothes at the sorting hall is overwhelming. 12 bins of shoes sounds like a lot (and it is) but to be fair, there are 20 feet under that roof.
The whole top floor gets a reno and fingers crossed the bathroom up there is fixed so that mum can have a poo in peace. (Spoiler alert – it is)
Arielle’s aunt is the one who raised the alarm, and she is not afraid to roll up her sleeves, scrape off some wallpaper and frame supremum Arielle’s degrees and academic accomplishments. The woman has eight children and a PhD in clinical psychology for gods sake. I don’t even have the patience to read my two kids’ school reports these days.
Back at the hall Arielle is culling clothes like crazy and Peter points out that she certainly doesn’t have a hoarding mentality. It’s just lack of time which has led to her clutter accumulation. She has lost herself under piles of stuff. Pete urges Arielle and Mark to start prioritising themselves for a change. Pretty hard when you have been wiping bums and doing PhDs for well over decade.
Lucas is intrigued that the clan has 13 chickens – and wants to add a beehive into the mix. I’m sceptical. More mouths to feed. Lucas has clearly not been able to find any treasures amidst the Bratz dolls and Spiderman costumes, and has set his sights on beekeeping instead.
Peter does some kid-wrangling and helps the kids build their capsule wardrobes. Fantastic. They pick their faves which means they’ll be more likely to respect their clothes, and there will be less of it cluttering up the house.
The renovated upper level looks amazing. Like a hotel says Arielle. The bathroom will certainly take a load off, but let’s hope the hot water system can cope.
In this series finale of Space Invaders the team has outdone themselves, but I’d love them to return when all those kids are adolescents. Now that would be entertaining.
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 9
Maria and Josie
Downsizing is hard. The tenant has to commit to getting rid of a lot of stuff. But not if you are Nonna Maria. She was granted a tiny home in her daughter Josie’s backyard and brought everything with her. She didn’t want to make any sacrifices, not our Nonna. What results is a tiny home with a not-so-tiny amount of contents. Cabinets full of ornaments, benches full or stuff, sheets draped hauntingly over chairs and under the shroud of Turin sits a market-ready rack of baby clothes she has dutifully sewn.
Then there is also the back room, the metaphorical bridge between the two dwellings. It has been used as an overflow for Maria and a dumping ground for everyone. We all know that clutter attracts clutter, and when we see things dumped we subconsciously feel that we have permission to follow suit. Three generations’ worth of shite rub shoulders in there – bongo drums, old clothes, toys and paraphernalia. The camera pans across two boxed games of Monopoly Junior as an example of the redundancies in that room. I think my kids got in precisely two sessions with their Monopoly Junior before they graduated to the real thing, so this older family surely doesn’t need two sets.
Together, Maria and Josie endure the shame of the Great Reveal at the hall. Under Peter Walsh’s tutelage they have some decisions to make.
Maria is adamant she wants to sell the kids’ clothes she has made, and continue the cluttery craft which is contributing to their problem. Lace and teddy bear appliqués from the 1990s don’t come cheaply and Nonna digs her heels in. I get it Nonna, you want to be useful and have a sense of purpose. For Gods sake someone rent her a trestle at the Sunday fair.
The team doesn’t do that, but they do find a compromise. It looks like Nonna is going to get a spot in the loft, which makes me wonder about her going up narrow stairs when they were already worried about her tripping over an overlocker. It turns out her grandson Dante is in charge of retrieving the sewing gear every time she wants to thread up. He grins at the idea, but in his head he is probably wondering how many times he will be going up and down to get reels of cotton when he just wants to be playing Minecraft.
Also I am skeptical about this system, as it seems to pose a barrier. Nonna just wants to do a cheeky hem and she has to bother Dante. But on the other hand, sometimes it makes sense to have an over-flow space for surplus goods when you have a lot of supplies you can’t store at the site of use. Doesn’t everyone have their excess Who Gives A Crap toilet paper in the garage/laundry/spare room? Also I wonder if the team really just wants to hide those appliqués teddy bears – I know I would, they scare the bejeezus out of me.
The three kids are asked to sort through some toys, and are given one tub each to fill up. I love this, giving clients a boundary to encourage them to prioritise. Josie realises she is a bit resistant to letting go of items symbolic of their childhood.
Maria has a lot of sentimental items too. So it’s good to see her loosen her grip and shed crockery, ornaments and some Elvis memorabilia. Peter gets all techy and digitises Maria’s photo frames to put them in a device for a slideshow. I was skeptical of her uptake of that but the way she waves away her dreadful old furniture gives me hope that Maria has converted to minimalism.
But a Nonna is always a Nonna and no doubt she will be calling on her grandkids when the digital photo frame gets to 0% charge. Which if it is like mine will be in about 90 minutes.
Renos are done! Cherie has made the back room light and bright, and zoned it into music, sewing and relaxation. Zoning is such an important tool in organising because it makes storage, use and putting away of items intuitive. The idea of making the whole room a bridge between Nonna and the house works seamlessly. It’s a great example of integrated styling.
Nonna’s Tiny House is looking superb and Cherie is proud as punch. Both of them are so goddamn adorable basking in the afterglow of the reno.
Meanwhile Lucas has been resurfacing a little Queen Anne table. I don’t think it suits the new decor but Nonna is rapt and getting ready to have a cuppa on it. And that’s the main thing.
As usual, items have been decluttered, tiles have been jackhammered, tensions have been smoothed and the kettle is on. Job done!
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 8
Harry and Anna
Harry and Anna have three kids and a hectic life. The home office has gone rogue, and is the family-of-five’s dirty little secret, tucked away from an otherwise-pristine home. They haven’t been able to get in there for four years. It’s a classic example of clutter being the result of deferred decisions. Busy? Can’t deal? Pop it in the spare room, shut the door, carry on. We’ve all been there. But for Harry and Anna it’s time to sort it out. They want to use the room for its intended purpose – a study.
The kids get busy decluttering, carting boxes and hauling rugs through the window which makes me want to get the Space Invaders team to my place not to declutter but to motivate my children to get off the couch.
The room of doom is unpacked into a local hall, and its contents are equivalent to a Kmart. Toys, furniture, toiletries and books. While the delightful and ever-smiling Anna is keen to cut through the clutter, Harry looks less enthused. He gets all funny about a metal shelf and it’s clear that this is the tip of the clutter-berg and he’s going to be the resistant one.
Meanwhile Cherie and Lucas set their sights on a bathroom and vintage car respectively. Cherie spruiks the wonders of saving time by putting new tiles over old, and I’m wondering how small a room could get if subsequent renos followed this logic. Surely this shit wouldn’t fly on The Block? Nevertheless if Cherie says it’s ok, it’s ok. She’s awesome.
Back to Harry who as predicted, has the decluttering brakes on. He is wanting to hoard some cookbooks even though there was barely access to them in the spare room anyway. Do you know that most of us regularly use only a couple of recipes from each book – if we’re lucky. But for Harry it’s more than that because as a chef he has personally met some of the authors. He name-drops a few but Peter simply won’t have it. As Professional Organiser to Oprah, Pete is not going to be swayed by mention of Jamie Oliver.
He points out that just as good, balanced food is crucial for his family, so is a healthy home. The kids should not be living admidst all this stuff. Boom, Harry’s grip loosens and the cookbooks are released. Peter has struck again with the truth bombs. Nobody wants to be called a bad parent on national television.
The Mustang vintage car guru Alan, sashays in driving a (you guessed it!) Mustang. He reports that Harry’s beloved car is worth exactly the same as what he paid for it a while ago, which makes me wonder why the car is even a focal point here. Oh I know! It’s a bargaining chip between the couple. Peter makes Harry promise to a nine-month restoration deadline for the car. Fair point, less talking and more restoring please Harry! We all know where procrastinating gets us – literally nowhere. Is the nine months symbolic of a kind of birth, highlighting the fact that Harry called the car his ‘fourth child’?
Who knows, but while I am psycho-alalysing, I think poor old Haz has been villainised a bit here. If I hear Lucas repeat the words ‘mould’ and ‘under a tarp’ one more time I’m out. The guilt-tripping about the car and Harry’s book-clutter has been intense. Usually women are depicted as the troublemakers, so this has been a confusing yet refreshing side-plot.
Nearing declutter completion in the hall, and the Keep and Discard piles look suspiciously small compared with the laid-out trestle tables before. Has the team done some late-night shopping and helped themselves to some face creams and a bathroom vanity? Nobody asks.
Who cares anyway, cos the new office and bathroom look amazing.
Lucas delivers the news-that-isn’t-really-news to beleaguered Harry – he has treated his car like shit and yet it’s still worth the $30k he paid. I’d love to know if he ever declutters the garage to fit the Stang in there and hit his nine-month goal. I’ll be holding out for a follow-up episode.
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 7
Bill and Fiona
Three generations under one roof and a spooky doll collection – what could possibly go wrong?
Widower Bill, daughter Fiona and her daughter Bella are a closeknit family. Bill’s wife and Fi’s mum Bev has died and left behind some heartache and a rather alarming array of dolls. All shapes and sizes including a witch, a Lady Di number and ample DOC (dolls of colour), which are a bit um, questionable in 2021. Eight-year-old Bella is not fond of any of them and in her defence, these are definitely not the kinds of dolls little girls want to own. There is no brushing of their hair, no dressing them up, no unrealistic body proportions to aspire to (I’m looking at you, Barbie).
Lucas is freaking out too, which adds a level of difficulty to his treasure-hunting. Sifting through peering eyes and bendy necks is not where he thought he’d be at this stage of his career. Meanwhile Peter astutely notices that Fiona’s work-from-home Zoom background while she is on her computer is you guessed it – freaky dolls. Again, not a career highlight.
While in the study Pete pulls out about 10 empty product boxes – iPhones, cameras etc, which reminds me that most of us do not know what to do with this kind of clutter. Do the original boxes add $50 onto the resale value? Answer: No not really, especially since most of us don’t resell our phones in a reasonable time frame, if at all. It’s aspirational clutter at its best. And also I don’t know who needs to hear this but we need to value space. It’s worth more than empty cardboard boxes. Put THAT on an aspirational quote board.
Logically Fiona knows that the dolls are not her mum, and that removing them doesn’t diminish her mum’s legacy. But still. She and her sis Mel have never seen the house devoid of the porcelain collection, so understandably emotions run high. Bill chimes in with a few tears as well. But the dolls have to go. Bella deserves the right to enter the living room at night without being gripped by sheer terror.
Cherie heads up the removal of the wallpaper which turns out to such a headfuck that they stick a fake wall on top of some of it. Love it. Sometimes it’s all we can do in life. Put a mask over it and carry on.
Chez also declares she is filling in a huge doorway, which to me is a baller move, cos I am not a renovator.
1000 dolls is the final headcount, and there is a heap of other clutter. The camera pans across cassette tapes, souvenirs and bric-a-brac. A framed photo of Bev and the two sisters wearing blue taffeta looms in the background and smacks of 90s glamour photography, an industry which still lurks in the depths of some suburban shopping centres.
Bill starts back-pedalling about letting things go. He mentions storing his stuff in the garage for a while. It’s a pretty common comeback when clients get scared about saying goodbye to a lifetime of accumulation, but really it’s just a deferred decision. Peter calls him out on it. The time is now, he tells Bill.
Lovely Linda the doll expert enters the scene, and I’ll bet she didn’t envisage THAT being her job description as a kid (or maybe she did!) but here we are. She swoons over a Giggles Doll who has lost her giggle and a Bionic Man doll who has lost his shoes. Which says something to me about the beauty of imperfection. We are all worthy even when age and circumstance have wearied us.
The Mission Dolls Linda sets her sights on are incredibly collectible she says, which makes me picture another house full of dolls in another city which the team has to tackle in five years. 1000 Mission Dolls is still too many dolls. Where does it end?
During the great doll declutter, Peter points out that it’s not always about what you throw away but what you keep. Among those chosen few, Bev’s circle of life is represented by the first and last dolls she acquired before cancer got her.
And the good news is that Lady Di and her porcelain head get to stay. She’s one of only 12 keepers, which is quite the achievement.
The dolls go to the cancer fundraising op shops. Well played, team.
And of course the house looks amazing. In a subtle nod to the 90s the vertical blinds remain. A select handful of dolls, the original floorboards and those blinds. Awesome.
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 6
Faye and Maddison
Marriages break down all the time. Some of us drown our sorrows with gin, some jump straight onto Tinder for some dating therapy and others indulge in some cheeky hoarding of sheet sets.
Faye is in category number 3. She isn’t coping after her marriage of 30 years ended and her daughter Maddie has reached out to stem the rising tide of self-doubt and manchester.
The Space Invaders team arrives donning (drumroll please) Different Outfits. Finally, a costume change! Lucas has refused to let go of his signature black, but we can’t blame him. It is slimming after all, and the camera adds kilos.
Enlivened by their new look the trio conducts their obligatory Tour de Clutter. During a sunroom inspection a tarp is lifted to reveal a standard pile of clutter accumulation. Books, cushions, a lone Japanese doll. Then there is a peek at a very sombre bedroom, which is symbolic of Faye’s failed marriage.
Her self esteem has taken a blow, and has been insufficiently buffered by lots of crisp sheets still in their packs. Peter wants her to spill the tea about how her cupboard came to look like an Adairs sales outlet, and he starts throwing the packs around. It’s a surefire way to get the tears flowing.
Lucas froths over an old surfboard and the glint in his eyes tells me (a) he may have surfed once, and (b) Faye’s ex-husband is about to see his unclaimed gear triple in value after being polished up by Lucas’ hanky.
Cherie sets her sights on the leaky tiles, which turns out to be nothing some good grout and more product placement can’t fix. She also rolls out some stunning wallpaper and replaces the old marital bedhead which is ceremoniously smashed by Faye in a badass symbolic gesture. If Faye does resort to coping mechanism no. 2 and ends up with a Tinder date in her boudoir, she’s ready.
Speaking of beds, did someone say 120 sheet sets? The moving crew gets all her clutter offsite and the pile of bedding therein represents a mountain Faye needs to climb. Peter gets the ball rolling by surfing that pile of linen like a man who wants to make a point. He’s all about the physical gestures our Pete. Climbing, throwing, tossing.
We can’t always control our marriage but sheet sets are a stable, soft landing. An insulation from pain, both emotional and physical. (Poor Faye has sore joints too) Why buy one leopard throw when you can have three? And why set them aside for donation when you can toss them over your shoulder for dramatic effect?
Apparently the Handbag Slide is known in the Professional Organising industry but it’s a first for me. I guess I have been living under a rock. Nevertheless I am enjoying seeing Faye propped atop a trestle table like a queen on her throne. Yes this is an overly dramatic TV flourish, but it also yells loud and clear that we should control our clutter rather than let our clutter control us. Be the boss Queen Faye!
Handbags slide. Clothes are culled. Also Faye’s hair finally comes out of that tight bun and she looks ready to conquer.
During the great reveal, the aforementioned surfboard takes pride of place in the sunroom displayed for all to see. And I mean ALL. So that any shifty board collector within 5 kms of Faye’s house has pricked up their ears. As has her ex, who didn’t think to include the dinged-up board in the settlement and was planning to pick it up some day. He now wants it back more than ever. And let’s face it, Maddie is never going to use it. But she sure as hell isn’t going to let it go now.
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 5
Sharon, Darren and Zara
Suburban parents with matching names, an adorable 11 year old and a clutter problem.
Sharon, Darren and Zara have a garage stacked floor to ceiling. It’s a Jenga of furniture, sporting goods and household wares. The trio is literally scared to enter the site in case they get a suitcase to the head.
Kudos to the Space Invaders team, who embarks on the household equivalent to dismantling the Fukushima nuclear plant. Initially they are quietly optimistic when they are welcomed into a pristine, minimalist home. “How bad can it be?” they wonder. Then the garage door is opened to reveal a classic case of out-of-sight-out-of-mind clutter. It’s a wall. The camera fleetingly shows a mattress atop a pile so high that it’s Touching. The ceiling. I’m guessing it’s not an easy grab if your friend has had too many drinks and wants to sleep it off.
In a move that would make any OH&S officer twitch, Peter does a cheeky bit of clutter-surfing and realises that he just can’t scale a clutter wall like he used to.
Dazza’s dream is to be able to drive his car in, and we already know what the final scene is going to be.
We head down to the sorting hall where 220 bins and boxes have done a technicolour clutter-vomit, and it’s apparent there is a lot of stuff. Daz and Shaz find it confronting, understandably.
Peter addresses the mountains of clothes that have languished amidst moisture and rats and are no longer fit for donation. Sharon tries to claw stuff back and talks about selling some mouldy ballet clutter on a Facebook page. Teachable moment here – selling stuff is great, but a lot of the time it’s not really worth it. Clothes don’t sell well unless they are immaculate and a good brand. And even then you will not get your money back. Not even close. Amazon, Kmart and the mass production they represent are contributing to a culture that wants shiny new things for a low price. So you can’t expect $50 for your second hand blazer or stained blanket. Learn the lesson, stop hoarding and move on.
Rant over, back to the show.
But kind of related, Peter advises being realistic with aspirational-project clutter. The optimistic accumulation of clothing that needs mending, items that need selling, chairs that need re-upholstering. Do it or lose it people. And if you have Netflixed your way through a Covid lockdown and didn’t do the project then, it ain’t going to happen.
Peter implies the clothing fabric is going to be recycled and not made into rags, but I’m not convinced. I use the SCR bins for miscellaneous fabrics and their website states that rags and biofuels are often the fate of unwearable clothes. And I’m ok with that, cos rags are people too. Also I’d love to know what Pete thinks is going to be made out of Shazza’s mouldy leotards.
And I think he’s a bit harsh on her anyway. He obviously doesn’t have a Google Review profile to protect cos there is no way I would chastise a client like that.
The mood lifts when Lucas rifles though Sharon’s collection of old cash. A glimpse at the pre-plastic notes from yesteryear reminds me of a bygone era, when a birthday present from nan was a $20 note taped to a Toblerone. It turns out later that due to the age of the notes, the value of the money has multiplied x 5. Beats the hell out of interest rates at the moment.
Peter gives Sharon permission to let go of all the stuff she has surrounded her family with as a kind of protection for precious Zara. Ironically Zara was the one who enlisted the Space Invaders team to begin with. She recognised that drowning in clutter and scrabbling for stuff in a precarious garage is not conducive to good family time. She later says that in the future, if something goes into the garage something has to come out, which is a key principle in declutter maintenance. Yes girl! That Zara is a peach, and meanwhile I can’t even get my own kids to tidy their room.
But really, losing the clutter we have padded ourselves with can make us feel scared and vulnerable. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it!
Sharon goes on to explain her guilt about letting all this stuff build up. But was it ALL hers? I see a few golf bags that scream Darren, while he lurks in the background and his wife takes the fall for him. An old photo of Darren reveals that he has aged well, and we know why. Slipping under the radar is great for the skin.
Reviewing their bag collection, they keep 18 out of 220, which personally I think is still too many. What are you, an octopus? How can you use that many bags?
Lucas sets up a shop in a storage locker. I’m not convinced that the rent of that locker will be covered by selling some old childhood books, and it just smells like out-of-sight-out-of-mind clutter taken to the next level. I like the idea though, and so does Storage King, whose logo takes pride of place.
The garage reveal is as exciting as you can imagine, with Dazza’s golf clubs getting a prime position. Yet again, the man dodges the bullets and comes out on top.
Until next week.
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 4
Cue All the Single Ladies by Beyonce.
42 year old executive assistant Jaime is living the life. Entertaining, reclining on leopard print, chinking glasses on her inner city balcony and … indulging in some light hoarding. I have no idea how she has people over actually, so kudos to her for that. Understandably her bestie Naomi is worried. Concerned that Jaimes is going to drown under all her clutter – or not find room on the couch to have the girls over for champers. I am not sure which.
Bright and bubbly J likes to numb her existential angst via retail therapy, She reveals to the team that she has lived in her city pad for 19 years – so that’s nearly two decades of comfort shopping and the accumulation of shoes, handbags and judging by her living spaces – everything else really.
Lucas is horrified by Jaime’s badly stored alcohol in the kitchen, but wait there’s more! Wine under the stairs, champagne in the living room, and whiskey everywhere. While the team is rummaging Peter pulls out a random fork, his litmus test for chaotic individuals. He ain’t seen nothing yet though, the upstairs floordrobe awaits. Jaime declares that the problem is, she just hasn’t put away her laundry yet. I marvel to myself “but where on earth it would go?” Certainly not under the bed, which is home to 300+ pairs of shoes.
J lets on that all her stuff simultaneously reminds her of her youth, and taunts her that it’s slipping away. Oof. Ain’t that the truth. The paradox of hoarding. As Peter explains later, she has built a wall of stuff to plug emotional holes but it is preventing further growth. Better off plugging those holes with whiskey, which is where Lucas comes back in. He continues frothing over Jaime’s grog collection, and proceeds to turn an ottoman into a fluffy booze box.
He is also impressed by a mid-century mirror and we can envisage him polishing it up later with a bit of spittle and a rag. Go Lucas!
In a whimsical yet alarming touch, Jaime is led to the hall of doom via a winding trail of her ample shoes. Her trip down footwear memory lane comes to an abrupt ending when a wall of clothes dramatically parts and she is confronted with trestle tables laden with all her shite. And worse still, a cold sore has popped up on her lip right on filming day. Even television makeup has its limits. I know I’d be bummed.
Now let’s talk baggage (both literal and emotional). Pete decides J has only two metres of handbag space available at home, and has to cull. Meanwhile as a professional organiser I am wondering how he calculates that so confidently, and would love access to his algorithm.
He introduces her to the one-in, one-out concept, which is a key post-declutter maintenance tip.
And so is the coat-hanger trick that he goes on to explain. Turn all your hangers to face the wrong way. After each item is worn, correct its position. After 12 months all remaining garments on back-to-front hangers go bye-bye. It’s a classic decluttering technique.
When Lucas tells Jaime that the stuff she is culling is worth nearly $20k I wonder whether she wants to back-pedal and sell on eBay, but she probably realises the fees and annoying questions from buyers are just not worth it.
Cherie gets renovating, and extra storage is installed in the apartment. Let’s hope Jaime doesn’t fill it with more hair straighteners.
There is much hand-wringing when a junior carpenter sticks on a big mirror crooked and it can’t be removed. Cherie is quietly pissed and we never do find out what happened to that noob with the poor sense of symmetry. In an act of genius they decide to stick another mirror on the top. I wonder if this is the mentality that led to layer upon layer of wallpaper in the share house I used to live in.
Jaime adores her new space and Peter hopes maybe she’ll be able to entertain not just downstairs but erm, in the boudoir, and much laughter ensues.
During the big reveal Naomi with the fabulous eyebrows comes for a peek and the camera pans over a humble bottle of Aldi vodka on a display tray on the bench. Amidst all of Jaime’s posh spirits this is a surprising centrepiece, but I guess they’re all keeping it real. Either that or it’s yet more product placement.
I’ll drink to that! Until next time. x
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 3
Siddarth and Kashmira
Kashmira has a heart of gold and likes to cook. She also likes to collect, which is a low-key word for hoard.
Their daughter Anu has spotted the red flags nestled within 20 spatulas and wants to get mum off this one-way road to hoardesville. Good call Anu, good call.
The Space Invaders team arrives and comments on the blood red kitchen, noticing how neat and yet weird it seems. Then they head into the garage. Aka ‘the warehouse’. It seems that Kash is a classic closet case who tucks her clutter away out of sight like my dog hoards bones.
Except my dog actually uses the bones later.
Peter dusts off an ice cream maker which Kash points out is not the same as the other four ice cream makers. This my friends, is classic packrat talk right here. No they are not the same, but that doesn’t mean you need them all.
Back in the kitchen Peter wonders how Kash has been using a spatula with the tag still on it. (spoiler alert: she hasn’t) She laughs it off but the vibe quickly turns to horror when they end up in a hall with all her shit laid out like it’s a $2 shop from 1990. Lots of kitchenware and multiples of all kinds of products. I mean how much shampoo can one family use? They do have great hair by the way, especially Anu. The product placements for Storage King and Beaumont Tiles (among others) did not go unnoticed, but as an aside I was more interested in what haircare the clan was using.
Now for the food. Kash has a whole lotta recipe books. Do you know that on average most people use only a couple of recipes per book? Thankfully she decides to cull the lot and hang onto a tiny collection of family recipes complete with memories, food stains and a connection to her heritage.
Meanwhile Lucas earns his keep by polishing up a chrome light shade from 1967 with his hanky. He promises it will sell for over $1000. #winning
Peter starts tossing suitcases like a man possessed, then delves into Kash’s relationship with Siddarth who so far has not said a word. Pete accuses Kash of throwing out side eye and diversionary tactics and we know there is a big emotional bombshell brewing. It turns out Kash is scared that Sid will die and she is sitting on a pile of products to compensate. All her stuff represents food, family, love, and security. And inanimate objects don’t get old or go anywhere. They are one of the few things in life we can control. #truthbomb
Kash admits that guilt has also contributed to her reluctance to let go of her collection. It’s a common dilemma – we have spent hard-earned money on all our stuff and it feels wrong to bin it. Unfortunately there is no turning back time. We can return an ice cream maker to Kmart but not when it’s 10 years old and dusty. Let’s just ease up on the retail therapy from now on, shall we?
During serious cull time, spatulas are thrown violently. Tears are shed. Kashmira touches on how the decluttering process has made her think about more than just her kitchenware. Her life, her demons. Thankfully the episode ends before she has a full existential crises and also before she sees another ice cream maker on sale. Good luck Kash! Make good choices.
Lucas’ online-selling and photography advice is solid. However the reality is, the Home & Co waffle maker they painstakingly photograph was probably only $10 brand new at Kmart years ago. Fun fact: Home & Co and many other Kmart ‘& Co’ labels were replaced by the Anko brand (named as a take on &co – say it aloud and you’ll get it).
Trivia aside, good luck with that Anu. A $10 item with no warranty and aged packaging with bad fonts does not equate to much now. The Marketplace masses will wear her down by asking her repeatedly where she’s located, even though it’s written in the listing. Then they’ll haggle her down to $2, ask for her address and never show up anyway.
Aaah online selling, it’s like a bad lover. It treats me poorly and ghosts me constantly but I still go back for more. See my post about online selling here.
The garage cleans up a treat and still works well as the overflow storage Kash had gone way overboard on. Just a tidier version. Be-gone $2 shop from the 90s and enter a sparkly Daiso.
Hey by the way, has anyone noticed that the Space Invaders team wears the same clothes every week? Cherie’s pink overalls are pretty cute and I don’t mind Peter’s plaid shirt but I think they are taking minimalism a bit far if that’s all they own.
Speaking of apparel, next week fashionista Jamie has to kick her shoe fetish (you’re welcome). It seems she deals with tricky emotions by shopping and let’s just say she’s not alone there. I can’t wait to see Peter make her throw her shoes through a hula hoop or something.
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 2
Liza and Fletcher
Admin assistant Liza and her 15 year old son Fletcher need help. Although she will try and deny it later, Liza is overwhelmed, and her parents have reached out to the Space Invaders transformation team. As expected, their house is a bit on the hectic side.
The crew strolls in with their usual air of authority. Peter says he smells clutter – hopefully not literally. He pulls back a shower curtain and I am almost expecting a dead body but phew – it’s just more clutter.
The camera heads into the Room. Of Doom. But again it’s nothing the team hasn’t seen before. Manchild Fletch’s bedroom is a heady blend of infant toys and teenage ephemera. Fletch admits he has accumulated and not discarded. Yep, Don’t we all! The poor dude feels completely responsible for the state of his stuff. It’s a good reminder that kids don’t always have a good system for managing their belongings. It’s yet another thing parents have to keep an eye on, as if we aren’t busy enough.
All the detritus of their lives is boxed up and taken to the sorting hall. The unpacking and categorising reveals that Fletcher’s impressive stash includes 150 hats among other things. It’s amazing how much stuff can fit in one cupboard, let alone in one room. Thank god nobody let him continue for another decade or he’d get lost in there.
Cherie cracks into the renos and finds horror of horrors – someone has painted over wallpaper. She will later go on to paint the laminate – which to me is kinda the same thing, but what would I know. Anyway, wallpaper is the least of their troubles, as she then chats to Fletch’s grandad who admits that the kiddo misses his dad. Yet again we see that the accumulation of stuff can mask a hole somewhere else in our lives.
Lucas is fawning over an antique rocking horse and throws out a juicy figure of $16,000 to keep us interested and flex his knowledge of antique rocking horses. He also sets his sights on a timber military chest and his delight implies we will be seeing both of these items again.
Back at the hall, Peter taps into Fletch’s interest in the military to ask how he would declutter to live in a submarine. Nice angle! Pete then drills down on Liza’s reluctance to sort her shit out. She quickly feigns interest in packing DVDs in a box but PW isn’t fooled and tells Lize she’s awesome but needs to step the hell up as a parent. Parenting – is there anything we don’t get blamed for? Also I would like to see the team track down Fletcher’s dad who seems to be in Tasmania shirking his parental responsibilities altogether, while the teen indulges in some light hoarding to compensate.
Fletcher’s clothing racks show some alarming traits and I’m concerned about all the camouflage but Peter is more interested in the fact that Fletch is clinging to an infant knitted jumper with soldiers on it.
Then at the house Grandad gets his mitts on the staple gun and I’m a bit envious because I love using staple guns (note to self: get a staple gun).
Lucas’ amazing chest-oration (you’’re welcome) means Fletch gets to hide his gear in a military crate. Ticks all the boxes. Antique restoration, clutter concealment, military awe.
Lize agrees to take a picture of a big piece of memorabilia and turf the original. It’s a great memorabilia decluttering trick and never gets old. Meanwhile I just want to ask her how her hair is so glossy and where she got her glasses.
Under Peter’s tutelage Fletcher throws his stuffed toys through a hula hoop. I sense a pattern emerging whereby Pete uses frivolity to distract someone from the pain of decluttering. Shoe hockey one week, plushie-throw this week. What’s next – kicking Ooshies through a goal? We can only hope.
The Salvos reverse their truck to load up the 70-something boxes and bestow a nearby suburb with 130 hats and a knitted jumper with soldiers on it.
The house presentation reveals a rocking horse whose mane restoration would rival anything I’ve seen done for male pattern baldness.
It does occur to me that Liza and Fletch are renting and I really hope the landlord lets them stay for long enough to enjoy the incredible makeover. Cos rental stability is not always the greatest. But heck, if they have to shift at least these guys will be 70-odd boxes lighter.
SPACE INVADERS EPISODE 1
Julie and Peter
As the first in the series, episode 1 gives us a taste of what’s to come. Like a warm hug, it ticks all the reality show boxes. It tugs on your heartstrings and put you on the edge of your seat. Moving music, a loving family, the dulcet tones of a Voice Over Man whose face we will never know. And a problem. Wrapped up and solved by the Space Invaders team in the allotted timeframe.
Julie and Peter enter stage left, a pair of empty nesters with hearts of gold. They are living amidst a lifetime of memorabilia and household goods accumulated while rearing their children. Now it’s just the two of them. And a spooky dead-eyed doll in the spare room atop a pile of junk. Oh, and a whopping big pianola that no longer works, but more about that later.
Julie and Peter (let’s call him Clutter Peter to differentiate him from Peter Walsh) are symbolic of a generation who were brought up to value their items. Because back in the day there was no Ikea or Aldi Special Buys, and Kmart only sold daggy things like deodorant and school skivvies. Nice things were expensive and supposed to be kept. The result is full cupboards and full rooms, groaning under the weight of all that stuff. There is no putting things in their cupboards any more. They were full years ago.
Enter stage right Peter Walsh, who rubs his hands with glee. He declares that there is a lot of stuff, which is bit daunting to hear but builds tension. Surely PW has seen it all. But has he ever removed a man’s undies from a living room drawer with a pair of tongs? Well he has now. Peter Walsh quickly deduces that Clutter Peter started storing his clothes in the living room many years ago when he was rising early to slink off to work. Bingo!
At this point the household of stuff is transported to a local Scout Hall, where Scout flags hang symbolically above the trestle tables of belongings. The Scout motto is “Be Prepared” and Julie and Clutter Peter sure as hell have been. A little too prepared in fact.
I must admit as a Professional Organise I am a little jealous. Oh how I would love the resources and budget to get everything categorised by a team offsite where we could look at it objectively. Like customers of a trash and treasure where our very own items are up for grabs. Because in this setting we get a birds eye view of how junky all our stuff really is when it’s outside its natural habitat. With the Endowment Effect weakened, we can be more impartial and realistic. What would we really take home?
Hopefully not the nine racks of clothes and three tables of shoes that Julie is forced to confront. And a toy bike which thankfully, we don’t see again. Nor do we see that horrid doll. Peter Walsh declares that he needs to remove at least 75%. Julie says the classic line “I am going to need a bigger wardrobe”. Um no Julie, because it’s not more storage space we need – it’s more space to live.
But then the truth comes out. A lot of the stuff is a shrine to a former life that burst with youth and happiness. Cue the tears. “I miss the kids” Julie says. It is at this point that we are reminded that stuff can represent memories, loved ones and a version of ourselves. There is fear that if we let go of the items we lose all of that. Julie’s dewy-eyed response is poignant.
And Clutter Peter nails it when he says that nobody knows what’s sentimental to people except the people. Any Professional Organiser worth their salt needs to tread lightly here. But PW missed that memo, as in a moment of either whimsey or insanity he proceeds to have Jules play what he calls shoe hockey with her footwear. I was totally there for it.
Shoe hockey aside, clothes are often more personal for women than for men. Clothes can represent who we are. Sex appeal, size, fashion – it all resides in our wardrobes. The way she projects herself to the world is who she is. She likes to have a choice of what to wear depending on her vibe for the day. But as Peter Walsh points out, trawling through two tonnes of clothes every day to find your vibe is not realistic.
Then Peter Walsh drops another truth bomb: Clutter is anything that gets between you and the person you want to be. Say it Pete!
The camera pans around a much emptied scout hall. Julie says she can’t even recognise what’s missing. That’s what we like to hear!
Next we go to trash and treasure expert Lucas Callaghan. His role on Space Invaders is to address a common concern held by the declutter subject – what if my clutter is worth money? His passion for vintage instills trust in his subjects. If Lucas says it’s not worth keeping, we trust him. He pulls out a 24 carat bracelet like a needle from a haystack. He identifies that the pianola is fabulous but not worth fixing. Then he claps his eyes on the sewing machine and it really sings to him. (sorry I couldn’t help it, yes it’s a Singer)
Meanwhile reno queen Cherie Barber does her thing and spruces up the now-empty family home. Be gone, dark blinds. Be gone, tags that hang off the dining room chairs because Jules thought it added to their value (bless). And the Deep Clean team enters with some spray and wipe. I always love to wipe as I go so that part is deeply satisfying.
The show moves onto the discard pile, which is another rewarding scene. Knowing that all of these things are being donated and not added to landfill strikes a cord with Clutter Peter and Julie.
Then the Big Reveal. Like a holiday house they say.
I take comfort in the fact that the Space Invaders team use a similar formula to most of us in the Professional Organising industry. Remove, categorise, declutter and return. Also let’s face it, there is a little of Julie and Clutter Peter in all of us.
That’s a wrap, until next week when the team tackles toy clutter with the Room of Doom. 58 boxes of kids’ clutter and a mum who feels that she has enabled it. Bring it on.
SPACE INVADERS INTRODUCTION
Peter Walsh was ahead of his time. He was talking about clutter in the early 2000s before it was cool, and way before Marie Kondo had roll-folded her first organic cotton T shirt. Peter’s best-selling books, TV shows and the attention of none other than Oprah Winfrey propelled him into the public eye way back when we were wearing low-rise jeans with G-strings and listening to our iPod nanos.
It was Peter who created a language around decluttering and organising. He gave words to the exhaustion felt by a culture drowning under decades of conspicuous consumption.
Fast forward to 2021 and Pete is heading up a team including renovation queen Cherie Barber and king of trash and treasure Lucas Callaghan. Together this ragtag bunch organise the spaces and lives of chaotic Australians.