SPACE INVADERS SEASON 4 EPISODE 1
Jo and Efrem
If you have just finished The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning on SBS like I have, you were thirsty for more televised decluttering.
Space Invaders Season 4 starts with Jo and Efrem and their kids. They are a close-knit family, but true to the story of each episode, there was a change in circumstances which kickstarted the clutter issue.
It’s a common clutter trajectory actually, and not unique to the show. A lot of clients tell me they were fine until Covid, or fine until someone they loved passed away, or fine until an injury or trauma. There is often a fulcrum to a descension into household chaos.
In Jo’s case, six months ago she shattered her kneecap, and I don’t know about you but any time someone uses the word ‘shatter’ in relation to a bone, it’s always bad. Jo became immobile and had to shut down her event staging business.
Cascade of clutter incoming. All of Jo’s work and staging props ended up in the garage and in Efrem’s music room. He says it makes the place look like a $2 shop. That’s not very nice Ef, imagine if someone said that about all your drums.
And for Jo it’s much more than cheap homewares. Her business was her life and her identity. If Jo gets rid of all the bric-a-brac, any chance of returning to her work and sense of identity, are gone. Shattered kneecap, shattered hopes and dreams.
The team arrives to check out the dreaded garage and Peter starts tossing cushions with abandon. Before he gets too excited and turns on the vases, the makeshift homewares storeroom is loaded onto the truck. Stuffed animals, statues and faux plants are marched towards the sorting hall where their fates will be determined.
At the hall, the couple is understandably shocked by the volume of stuff. Over 1200 candles and 200 cushions – I wonder who counts this stuff?
No wonder Jo can’t figure out what to do with her career, she has been drowning in clutter.
Meanwhile, Cherie and the team get to work in the garage. An existing bench is repurposed and pimped, and some sexy task lighting goes in.
Jo’s decision-making seems to be impaired. She wants to keep all the pieces. It’s a common response, related to the endowment effect and people’s general attachment to their stuff. And of course Jo’s sense of self.
Then the truth comes out – Jo loves shopping. Her staging business had been a vehicle for the dopamine hit she got from acquiring. An event staging company – the perfect smokescreen for a shopaholic!
Peter asks some good questions about the items Jo wants to keep, like “where is this going to live?”. They also workshop Jo’s packrat tendencies, and it turns out she wants to get married to Efrem, and has been feathering her nest for decades. Awww.
Ef has his own touching story – he has an unfinished chess table Angie will restore to honour his late father. Efrem has some other emotions float to the surface, including the passing of his first wife and some communication issues with Jo.
A man-hug from Peter and the couples therapy session is complete. We head back to the garage where we are expecting a lighter mood, but a looming storm threatens the project.
At the hall, Jo is looking at some high-end stock, and Peter suggests selling some of her wares. He offers 3 months of storage at Storage King, to give her the chance to make some cash. Peter insists this is not a procrastination tactic – it needs to be actioned. The idea puts a spring in her step, and she becomes more determined to declutter in the name of sales. Peter estimates the (new) value of her selling stash at $6800.
With my recent experience on Marketplace, I would whittle this right down to $1000, and hours and hours of answering ridiculous questions, being ghosted and having hopes crushed. But you never know, if the team takes beautifully staged photos and the listings are detailed and clear, miracles may happen. Good luck Jo!
The garage team starts bickering in a scene that was an interesting inclusion in the episode.
There is more cushion-tossing in the hall, and Jo is feeling as liberated as the stuffed tiger which sits atop the donations stack. It is pleased to be finally freed from the clutter pile.
The garage and music room look fabulous, ready for the couple to indulge in their respective hobbies. Jo is encouraged to get creative, and Ef has customised storage for his music gear. There is more music gear inside the house in the music room, and I’m starting to wonder whether Efrem needs to address HIS acquiring tendencies as well. A shopaholic partner – the perfect smokescreen for a man who keeps buying drums.
Now to hunt down Jo’s listings online to find me some discounted brass candlestick holders.
SPACE INVADERS SEASON 4 EPISODE 2
Ben, Carla and Christine
30-year-old Ben lives with his mum Christine in Sydney’s west.
He has a flamboyant alter ego – drag queen Carla from Bankstown. Ben has always been messy, but Carla amplified that. Think makeup, statement coats, rows of shoes, mounds of wigs and all the things that an Instagram celebrity needs and wants to maintain their persona.
Along with the rise of the star has come the rise of the clutter.
It has spilled from Ben’s room into the living spaces. Christine is feeling trapped. It’s hard to sit down, let alone entertain guests.
Having an adult child at home can be hard, and Christine has both Ben and Carla and all their stuff to contain.
And of course, there is a back story. Ben was relentlessly bullied at school for his weight and his sexuality, and his only solace was his mum Christine, and then his alter ego Carla.
And his Crocs. Even after Carla rubs off her makeup in the first scene to reveal Ben, he is sporting a flashy pair of pink crocs. And who can blame him – comfort and style all in a shoe. The Crocs with heels add a touch of class.
On the reno front, Cherie has an additional challenge. This is a rental property, so structural change is out of the question. The suburban 80s brick archways will need to be covered to separate Carla’s private glam room from what will become a dining space.
At the warehouse, Ben steps up (in pink Crocs of course) out of Carla’s shadow to confront all the clutter that has been clogging up their home.
The footwear range includes no less than 35 pairs of Crocs – and I LOVE the gold glitter pair. There are clothes aplenty, bags, wigs and also loads of DVDs, games and collectables.
Christine wonders how they lived with it all, and Peter notes that they were not living, only surviving. Sharing your space with that much stuff is overwhelming. And it’s always confronting to see the contents of a cupboard or house laid bare. Our cupboards and surfaces are great at containing and concealing the volume that we own.
Cherie heats up the wallpaper in Ben’s room to strip it off cleanly, and images of peeling off sunburned skin in the 80s come to mind. Around the time of the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign. The removable wallpaper she finds as a replacement is a great rental-friendly solution, and it promises to come off even more easily.
Ben starts culling shoes but he is barely scratching the surface. Peter uses tape to mark out the floor of Carla’s room, as a reminder that space is a finite resource. There are only so many feather boas and sequinned dresses one can comfortably store. As it turns out, due to a 75kg weight loss, many of Carla’s clothes are too big.
This is the opposite of many cluttered wardrobes, which contain clothes that people want to shrink back into. I call this aspirational clutter.
As a segue, a diet company pokes their head in to offer what seems like unsolicited advice on how Ben and Christine can lose even more weight. But heck, bills have to be paid and temporary walls need to be constructed.
Angie takes control of the wig storage. A standout – the yellow mullet wig. Meanwhile, the glam room is looking fit for a queen – a drag queen. The team is separating Ben’s chill space from Carla’s dressing and livestream room.
Some Kmart AR (Augmented Reality) software for furniture placement is spruiked, and it looks like fun.
At the warehouse, Peter delves into the family dynamic. Ben and Carla’s stuff has smothered Christine in her home for years. Christine has protected her son from bullying for so long, that she has felt unable to set boundaries. But with Peter’s coaching and some uplifting music, this is changing, and the decluttering project accelerates as belongings slide into donate boxes with ease.
Now for the fun part – Cherie starts styling. Floor lamps. House plants. Slightly tacky placemats.
The donate pile is hefty, and someone in Sydney’s west has happily enlarged their collection of Crocs and sequins. Actually Ben has bequeathed a selection to Twenty10, a charity which benefits the queer community. The rest goes to the Salvos, and let’s not go there with the history of transphobia and homophobia and the Salvos – something the church has scrabbled to rectify in recent years.
Onwards and upwards – the results are stunning as usual. The dining room is bright and welcoming, and those white placemats don’t look so bad after all (until they inevitably get a dollop of spaghetti sauce on them in the future). A games cupboard promises to promote family unity even more.
Ben and Carla both get perfect rooms. Texture and style for Ben, glamour and colour for Carla. Ben sheds tears of joy, then transforms into Carla who is exultant. Makeup and outfits are sorted meticulously, and I can see lots of batwing eyeliner and sparkles in her future.
Organising is all about categorising, and it’s interesting that Peter has categorised Ben and Carla’s stuff into each persona. It makes perfect sense and the whole family is thrilled.
They even declutter their bodies a bit more, and shed some more weight. Winning!
This episode was sponsored by Crocs (joke).
SPACE INVADERS SEASON 4 EPISODE 3
Simon and Karisha
Simon and Karisha are proud parents to six kids, but with all the housework and running them around, things have become chaotic.
As a self-confessed dance mum, Karisha says there are no less than 1000 dance costumes and yet little space to dance.
The laundry looks like a technicolour vomit, and the lounge room is littered with dance costumes, toys and games.
The master bedroom has piles and tubs of clothes on the floor. I’ll bet the cupboards are full too. It’s not conducive to romance or relaxation.
Clutter has spread across every surface, stifling family time and couple time.
Simon laments the lack of any system. Belongings are shoved in the corner, nobody can find them again and they are repurchased. Rinse and repeat. He is bummed about the expense and the waste, and implies his wife is a spend-thrift.
The team’s goal is to unify the family and make space for them to gather, rather than the current fragmented situation where they are dodging clutter and each other.
At the warehouse, there are 4000 items laid out, including a whopping 50 laundry baskets! This goes to show that buying more tubs and baskets does not solve the problem of Too. Much. Stuff.
Peter pulls a literal lever and reveals a theatrical shower of socks. Who the heck is going to pair them all? We never find out, as instead the attention turns to the dance costumes. Simon is salty about the time and money spent on this hobby, and the fact that Karisha makes all the decisions about it. Who knew that tulle and sequins could cause this much tension? Peter puts his relationship counsellor hat on and tells them a team effort is crucial.
He also talks to Karisha about the one-in, one-out method to maintain the space. There are concerns that she’ll be reaching for the credit card as soon as their backs are turned.
Cherie rips out ceiling fans and cornices, and Angie gets busy making over the dance studio. A home cinema is planned, and there is feigned distress at a too-big TV just purchased. Surely it can be returned. Where did you guys buy it – at a garage sale?
Peter teaches the kids how to sort laundry, and the avalanche of socks reappears. The idea is to take some of the load off Karisha, but let’s hope that won’t give her more time to shop.
It turns out that clothes were a way for her to connect with her mum who has since died, and Peter reminds her that stuff and memories are different. “What would your mum say about this?” Pete asks, which is a great question. Stuff does not replace a loved-one, and staying cluttered helps nobody.
With renewed vigour, clothes are culled as well as 280 pairs of shoes, and countless DVDs and homewares. The keep pile still includes two big tubs of socks, paired by a sock angel somehow. Shoutout to the behind-the-scenes team of Space Invaders, pairing socks, loading trucks and laying out clutter on trestle tables since 2021.
Kmart gets a good mention this series, and we even see Peter perusing the aisles for laundry storage ideas.
At the big reveal, the marital couple gasps at the sight of their bedroom which looks like a boutique hotel. Karisha implies there will be romance.
But even more of a turn-on is Peter’s laundry sorting station, which puts some responsibility in the hands of the kids. Each child is assigned a cubby in a cube unit, where their clean, folded clothes end up for them to put away.
Personally I would like to see tubs in the cubbies so they can be taken to the respective bedrooms. I also think maybe a laundry hamper in each of the kids’ bedrooms (especially the older sprites) could work. The small Kmart Lights and Darks hamper ain’t going to cut it for 8 people. But we didn’t get a peek into the kids’ bedrooms, so I guess the team just worked with the rooms they were assigned.
The dance room is fit to inspire anyone to do a routine, and the lounge has been configured for movie nights and family gatherings.
Seeing them all milling about admiring the renos, reminds me that they have six children. SIX! Honestly guys, get a room. Wait, they did! But please no more kids – there are only six cubes in the laundry unit.