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Space Invaders TV show review – season 2

Click here for the Season 1 recaps.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 10
Michelle and Denis


The final episode of the season invades the space of Michelle and Denis. They reside in a compact two bedroom apartment with two pre-school aged children. It’s a squeeze. They can’t afford to upsize the space so they need to downsize the stuff. 

This is a reminder that space is a finite resource. We need to use our home as a boundary for our stuff, like we use all our rooms and cupboards as mini-boundaries. When your sock drawer won’t close, it’s time to cull some socks. When your filing cabinet won’t close, you need to go through your paperwork. When your apartment looks like Michelle and Denis’, you call in Space Invaders TV show (or a Professional Organiser in your area).

Michelle’s sister Melissa has blown the whistle and called in the team. Mel says Mich is organised but in chaos, while Denis says Michelle is a neat freak, which tells me Denis is probably the problem.

So let me spell it out for you.
Sister Melissa: irons her underwear and follows Marie Kondo on Insta. 
Michelle: has fallen into a hole and aspires to declutter
Denis: reluctant partner who thinks there’s no problem.

Isn’t it predictable that the responsibility for keeping house lies with women?  Most of my clients are women and it’s not because we are the messier gender. C’mon blokes, step up! Calling it a mancave does not justify squalor.

Michelle explains that she fell behind with her housework due to her dreadful second pregnancy. While she was vomiting in the loo, Denis was looking after the house and oldest child Monique. Oh, and stashing Transformer toys and action figures out of sight under the desk.  

The family needs a reset. Off they trot to the hall. It’s always amazing how much stuff even a small house holds. Michelle wonders how they lived with all this stuff. They need to get rid of 60% of it. 

The spotlight moves onto Michelle and her 1780 bottles of nail polish. She is agape at this discovery and has her hand over her mouth. Her hands have … bare nails! I guess she is still looking for that perfect shade. Maybe the 1781st bottle would have been the one for national television.

Michelle used to have a beauty blog, and the nail polish is reminiscent of that pre-child life over which she had control. Now, the poonamis and tantrums control her every mood. Michelle feels like a failure. This is a reminder of how much meaning and emotion are held in our belongings. And how much mum guilt can be held in nail polish.

I’d like to pour Mich a glass of wine, but Peter pulls her up by her bootstraps and they start to cull. That’s why he is top of his game. Not much room for tears in a 20 minute makeover show. And thank goodness for editing. Editing of stuff and editing of the show.

Peter is less interested in the nature of Denis’ stuff, and more in the fact it needs to be reduced. Denis clenches his butt cheeks. He is determined to hold onto most of it, and Pete is not impressed. It’s time for you to step up and release some of your clutter Denis, there is a show underway. No more toys under the desk. If you and Michelle stand on sharp objects in the night, you’ll want to blame your kids’ toys and not your own. Aside from anything else, those action figures are impossible to dust. 

Peter points out that everything signifies the past. However, if we don’t prioritise, we end up drowning in clutter. 

Denis finally takes the hint, and they start throwing clothes in boxes with renewed energy. Decluttering can be invigorating. And exhausting. An emotional rollercoaster really.

Cherie rips up the ‘dark’ carpet, in favour of light, noise-proof floorboards suitable for their upstairs apartment. Cherie thinks of everything. But then things go askew. First the tile delivery is wrong, and then the walls are being painted the wrong colour before Chez intervenes. I hope there aren’t tradies getting their heads flushed down the toilet over these blunders. There is another hiccup later on when Cherie decides her colour choice was a bit off. Good to see even the experts stuff it up sometimes. And that it’s not just me who finds choosing colour for a whole house from a tiny swatch very difficult.

The real estate agent nods and agrees with Cherie and adds very little substance to this part of the show, except a reminder of the polished effect of nice heels and lipstick.

Sister Melissa confirms that Michelle deserves this as she preps the tiles. Lucas has lost interest in Denis’ boy-toys and laminates some of daughter Monique’s artwork as mementos. It’s a weird concertina arrangement I have never seen before. Is it a book, is it frame? I have no idea. No doubt it’s coming to a Vistaprint near you.

The dynamic duo ship of 70% of their stuff off to the Salvos. According to Lucas, the donations will generate $31,248. I would love access to the spreadsheet that calculates all that for him. 

The not-for-profit Dress for Success donates the nail polish to women rebuilding confidence and looking for work. Hopefully it’s not all glugged up with those crusty bits around the lid. I hate when that happens. 

The reno is superb as usual. The random gesture of a pod machine and cups is questionable, but hey every show needs sponsors. Call me old fashioned but I long for the days when ads only happened in the breaks.

The vertical blinds are a surprise. Are we going there again? Brace yourself for this trend – I hoped it would stay in the 80s.

Dear little Monique loves her room. Now has a desk, a wonderful invitation for dirty cups and food wrappers.

Sister Melissa is rapt. Everyone needs a glossy-haired sister to dob them into a reality TV show for a fresh start. And I hope Michelle finally gets time for a manicure.

That’s a Season 2 wrap folks, now it’s time to crack onto our own decluttering projects. Or crack open another bottle of wine. Or both.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 9
Dean

Peter, Dean and Emma get sorting
Dean and the team are pleased with the result

Dean is a single dad of two boys, and like all Space Invaders subjects, he is struggling with clutter. And no it’s not all Lego and remote control cars belonging to his little lads, it’s mostly weird dad shite. There are sci fi items, collectible T shirts, souvenirs, gaming consoles and more than 600 board games. As the camera pans around and stabby shrill music plays, the video rests on a game called Horrified. And we are. 

Dean’s bestie Emma is supporting him out of this. She is probably tired of playing Monopoly with him while he trash-talks his ex, and wants him on the dating scene. She is right to be concerned. If I got an eyeful of that clutter on a Tinder date I would run a mile. Especially if he expected me to play Balderdash with him.

The horror movie music switches to smooth jazz as the Space Invaders TV show team saunters in to roll up their sleeves and get busy. 

It’s revealed that about half of the games are still shrink-wrapped, so have never been used. As Peter says, clutter often comprises items we acquire but don’t use.

Dean’s living space looks busy, but most of the items are boxed and stackable – so it’s not the messiest Space Invaders room we have seen.

His bedroom looks pretty hectic though. With no partner for three years, chaos has spread like a cancer. Hell hath no fury like a single man who likes to game and shop. Dean is like the Cat Lady of the bachelor set.

At the sorting hall the boxes are unloaded. Dean is doing a lot of ‘keep, keep, keep’, so Peter calls in friend Emma to talk some sense into him. Again she mentions him dating, and we all know that his nest of creepy incel pastimes is not doing him any favours there. 

Dean says he wants to keep some games to encourage socialising with friends. However as Peter points out – having too much stuff creates distraction and keeps people away. Comfort shopping and aspirational clutter often promise good things but deliver the opposite. Dean agrees. The stuff has been padding for the pain of his marriage breakup.

Dean utters three magic words – I am enough. Go Dean! Giving the finger to a consumerist system that makes money from our insecurities. Once we realise how powerful we are, external validation from material stuff loses significance.

Cherie’s renovating team sets to work brightening the paint and finding leaks in the roof. They decide the board games will be assigned to the garage, in true mancave style. Tinder-users everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief. Meanwhile somewhere Dean’s ex is wondering how the Space Invaders TV show has quickly achieved what she could not.

But it’s not just the team – Dean’s readiness for change is integral. Peter’s heart swells with pride. 

Almost as impressive is the Salvos van reversing down a super-narrow brick laneway to scoop up the spoils – $30,670 worth of wares! A lot of the donated games are still shrink-wrapped, which means nice money-earners for charity. Much better for buyers than tattered puzzles inevitably missing a crucial piece which will be found in a couch decades later. Alongside toast crumbs and the missing remote of course.

Lucas takes the leftover paint to the Paintback program. I wonder what they do with it all? I hope they don’t mix it together to make a new shade. If having kids has taught me anything, it’s that if you mix paint to create a new colour the result will always be brown. 

Cherie’s renovation is well-received. The glass dining table is a bold move considering kids Caleb and Xander are so young, but I guess that’s why sippy cups are made of plastic. 

Lucas has made a gallery of Dean’s nerdy artefacts like dinosaur teeth and Titanic pieces. The boudoir looks amazing, and meanwhile I am sure Dean is wondering “but where the fuck is Balderdash?” No fear, the garage has been transformed into games heaven. 

Dean’s Tinder profile is being updated as we speak. I imagine Dean is not the kind of guy to be holding up a fish with a hook in its mouth in his profile pic. He’ll be wielding a gaming console instead. 

And the D-man will be quite the catch, with a $170,000 increase to his property value. His sons are thrilled also. Dice are rolled and it’s games time.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 8
Amara, Sokhem and Sokhey

3 sisters surrounded by clutter
Family of 5 happy with the transformation

Cast your mind back 40 years, when bubble skirts and stirrup pants were everywhere. At that time, a family of five fled war-torn Cambodia  to set up their lives in Australia. 

The three sisters in the family: Amara, Sokhem and Sokhey relished a life of relative abundance. Their scarcity mentality meant decades of comfort shopping and accumulating at home. Cos they could. And who can blame them?

But now here they are on Space Invaders TV show. Although the sisters have mostly moved out, the family home of parents Lina and Sokhert is still bursting at the seams. WIth their daughters’ belongings.

There is work clutter, grocery clutter and clutter clutter. It’s a lot.

Peter wants to know how the hell they have civilised family dinners. It can’t be easy. A few wines and some loose words can be enough to ruin any family gathering. Not to mention if there are teetering boxes and bunches of fake flowers at every turn.

Pete quickly determines that the sisters have run amok and taken advantage of their parents’ kind nature. Oops.

The house is cleared and Sheree is keen to modernise it for resale purposes, envisaging light and bright Hamptons style. Her plans are delayed by an asbestos discovery. It’s a blow to the budget but has got to be dealt with.

The three clutter bugs are shocked to see their life out on trestle tables. 248 boxes. One of the sisters quips that she doesn’t think it’s their stuff. Hilarious! Does she think Space Invaders is a reality show with a twist – in which contestants have to sort through other people’s stuff as though it’s their own? Nope, it’s just your junk ladies.

Sokhey’s floristry materials are tackled first. Surely that will be easy to declutter, right? Zero sentimental value and all that. Wrong! Keep, keep, keep. It is not what Peter wants to hear, and he is becoming surly. 

It’s a common problem when decluttering with clients. “Yes I want to clear this space out” Followed by “But not that. Or that. Or that.” Peter, and professional organisers everywhere hear this a lot. We try to keep clients on track to ensure their small decisions match their bigger goal. 

And in the case of these siblings, it is proving difficult. The ladies are snickering behind his back and Peter gives them an ultimatum. He threatens to load their shite back into the house and shut the project down. I don’t blame him. 

In a “wait ’til your father gets home” kinda move, he calls the parents into the hall. Dad Sokhert rocks some killer sideburns and a determination to declutter. They arrived in Australia with little more than the shirts on their backs and their adored daughters. So while it’s tempting to assume they want to hang onto everything they can, so they understand what’s really important. And it sure ain’t a dated dining table.

Cherie’s post-asbestos progress is more upbeat. For some cost-effective hacks she puts a thin layer of engineered stone over the kitchen benches, and vamps up a dated 70s wardrobe in the master bedroom. The built-in bookcase is not so lucky. The team rips it out completely, and is rapt to find the floorboards intact underneath.

Lucas pulls dad Sokhert and florist-daughter Sokhey aside to chat about an old cotton vest he found in the haul. In Cambodian folklore, the garment makes the wearer immortal. And also a little metal tube with prayers inside. Cambodian culture dictates that displaying these items would be considered boastful. There is immense humility and wisdom in this notion. And also contradiction, when you consider the excess that was in their house when the Space Invaders team showed up.

Western culture is all about excess and display, which is a stark contrast and also just as an aside, it hasn’t ended well for us or the environment.

At the hall, the daughters have redeemed themselves and Peter’s chest swells with pride. It’s bloody heartwarming. 93% of the detritus is cleared, and earns $4741 for the Salvos. Weird number to land on, but ok Lucas. 

Sokhey ends up with a storage unit. This tactic is not something generally recommended but if her floristry business warrants it, is a viable option for storage. Better than renting an office, as the little product placement states. And much better than cluttering up her parents’ house, since the cute couple are looking to downsize anyway. Thanks to Cherie and her minions, they have added $160,000 to Lina and Sokhert’s nest-egg.

The bathroom looks amazing. Sometimes I am sceptical of Cherie’s colour choices when she works from swatches, but it always pulls together. So many rooms renovated to perfection in a few short days. 

And that’s a wrap. It has been exhausting talking about a family of five, three of whom are named Sokhert, Sokhem and Sokhey. But the parents are so bloody cute (especially the dad Sokhert) that I will forgive them for that. 

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 7
Steve and Maria

The team discusses the patio clutter
Happy team after completion

Steve and Maria are fighters.

Maria has battled cancer and Steve an ongoing back injury. Their daughter Elana is brimming with praise for both of them, but not so much for the state of their cluttered patio. Their health problems, a failed business and a downsize have created a growing pile of stuff.

Or as Peter calls it, malignant clutter. This is a parallel to Maria ’s prior cancer battle, which is a major factor in the mess.

And where clutter accumulates, festive plate-smashing and seafood platters cannot. Steve is a keen entertainer and really wants to fire up the spit like the old days, the days before his patio got crazy. Now it groans under the weight of all those plastic tubs people buy to make their clutter more stackable – and then the lids break anyway.

Steve and Maria are Greek, and his cooking looks pretty good. Especially the sweet Greek pastries he is sprinkling with icing sugar in the footage. But we are not here for feasts (yet). There is clutter to talk about.

Maria’s cancer journey was harrowing, but as a side note she rocked a great buzz cut in the photos. It really suited her.

Peter reminds the couple that they need to move forward. What’s crucial is now. The past is important but we all need to remove the heavy shackles of yesteryear that weigh us down and prevent joy.

At the hall, S & M are confronted by their patio pile. On a distant clothing rack I spy a T shirt with someone’s face printed on it. Is it Maria? After several pauses and zooms I admit defeat. I will never know, but if so, it’s a very literal piece of Identity Clutter. I admire the effort.

50 pieces of furniture and 360 glasses are among the neat piles of laid-out belongings. Including one of those tempered glass outdoor tables in every share house from the 90s until now. I can picture it littered with bourbon and cola cans the morning after Elena’s 18th.

156 boxes were removed from the patio according to Peter, which is a bit meaningless because we don’t know the size of the boxes. And even if we did it would still be difficult, like when storage tubs are described online as 80 litres – it’s just very hard to visualise. I picture all those one litre jugs tipping in, and that’s not helpful either. But that’s my issue. What I DO know is that a cupboard, a room and a house can hold an incredible amount of stuff, as we see in every episode.

Steve wants to slide all of Maria’s stuff into the bin. Which is very understandable when it’s just a short push from the trestle tables. And he has cooking to do. But what Maria hears, is that he wants to dispose of HER. Peter approaches Steve with a harsh tone and a pointy finger. He asks: how would he feel if someone talked trash about his culinary offerings. Steve needs to dial down his cull impulse and respect his wife’s belongings.

Rightio. Onwards and upwards.

Lucas is interested in a solid timber dresser with inauthentic handles. I can see furniture restoration in his future. And plate smashing. He makes some smashable plates with Steve to christen the patio. Does anyone else get the impression Lucas is the only one excited by this idea?

Back at the alfresco, the tiles and deck look great and Cherie talks about the Rule of Three in relation to greenery for the patio. Nice interior design reference.

Peter stumbles upon Maria’s collection of shopping bags. These bags have a tendency to multiply. Online supermarket shopping is an evil contributor to this. Coles and Wollies if you are listening – can we please find a way for people to re-use their bags when they purchase groceries online?

Besides the bags which were hoarded for an unmet purpose, Maria has other unfinished projects. This Aspirational Clutter can be a big culprit which weighs us down. Peter reiterates that NOW is what’s important. Eckhart Tolle and the masters of Taoism would be proud that their wisdom has infiltrated a reality show about decluttering.

Cherie divides the patio into zones, which is a rule of professional organising as well as building design. Be intentional, zone and categorise. It’s the opposite to chaos and clutter.

Steve and Maria want to create a cohesive space for the family to gather. Contrary to her desire to feather her nest as a posthumous legacy, Maria realises that experiences are more important than stuff. If anything, stuff keeps people away.

Two key themes for this episode are.

  • Now is more important than past or future
  • Experiences are more important that belongings.

These ideas could be plucked straight out of a book about Zen Buddhism, and they definitely ring true.

Peter pops some jars and plates into boxes with happy abandon, and I wonder how well this kitchenware will travel to the Salvos. Is it another plate smashing reference?

Good to see Lucas explain that the dog-chewed couch is not donatable. And readers – for the record, nobody will pick it up from outside your house either, that’s just wishful thinking. I’d love to know how Lucas recycles the metal frame.

The family hands over $3000 worth of donations including the soon-to-be broken kitchenware.

The new patio area is great. $100,000 has been added to the value of the house, and I can almost smell the lamb on the spit. A huge dining table, a relaxing lounge and a re-styled pool area beckon future guests to this inviting entertaining space.

Included in the setup, is what any decent European host surely does not need – a Nespresso pod coffee machine. I know you gotta pay the bills Space Invaders, but pod machines often become clutter (especially when not purposely purchased). Also, they are bad for the environment (especially if they become clutter). AND Nestle is an evil company with a history of corporate greed, human rights violations and exploitation.

Besides the sponsorship fail it’s a shame that Steve and Maria’s two sons who recently flew the nest, don’t return for a cheeky bit of plate smashing. They probably had plans which were derailed due to Covid, like everyone at the moment. Oh well, I guess it’s more dolmades and souvlakia for the team.

Lucas says the refurbed dresser is now worth $1800. Has he ever tried to sell on Marketplace or Gumtree? It’s hard to get that kind of money out of anyone, unless you are a seasoned scammer – and there are plenty of those online. He would either have a few failed interactions and delete his selling account, or resign himself to selling it for $100 including delivery. It looks great though! The dresser is headed back inside which has me wondering what inside the house looks like. It’s probably a tad untidy, to say the least. Oh well, it’s one space at a time. The show is called Space Invaders, not House Invaders.

Now I am contemplating getting a buzz cut in the hope my hair grows back as thick and lovely as Maria’s grey layered do. She really does have good hair.

Adio folks! It’s Greek for goodbye.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 6
Caroline and Adrian

Caroline and Adrian's cluttered space
Sorting memorabilia at the hall

Caroline and Adrian live in the burbs with a babe-in-arms, an infant, and a silky black labrador. Without even peeking in the door we know life is gonna be hectic. Juggling the demands of two young sprites and a dog is never easy. And labs eat everything. The family is probably visiting the vet every month to have bits of Lego cut out of doggo’s digestive tract.

Then there’s the stuff. With kids come toys, books, and prams that are impossible to fold up without an engineering degree. 

The house is bursting at the seams, to the point that this vibrant, sociable couple with great teeth have stopped inviting their friends over. It could be easy to assume Caroline and Adrian have chosen their stuff over their friends, but often the stuff chooses us. It accumulates and sneaks up until we are just too overwhelmed to deal with it. 

The master bedroom is a kaleidoscope of fabric. Caroline has been unable to part with her beloved pre-baby clothes as they represent a carefree time in her life before the traumatic birth of Ayla (now 3). Throw in a period of postnatal depression and then baby number two on top of that, and Caz’s mental health has not quite been the same since. She and Adrian have been in survival mode for a few years.

And Caroline is a sentimental soul. We all do it – hold onto items which link us back to special times, memories and people. But in Caroline’s case there is just too much, and it’s time to prioritise. Not just with her stuff – she and Adrian need to put themselves and their relationship on top again.

Peter is determined to get the duo decluttered and sleeping in the same bed again. 

At the warehouse, their belongings are laid out like a market stall. Caroline is finding memories everywhere. Everything Peter asks about, belonged to an old relative since passed, and his patience is wearing. 

If everything is important, nothing is important – so again it comes down to prioritising. 

Also when dealing with keepsakes from dead people you love, you have to ask yourself, would they want you to be held back by their belongings and the obligation to keep it, or would they want you to be happy? Holding on to everything they ever touched will not bring them back and only creates challenges which pile on top of your grief. We need to retain the love and still move forward.

C and A admit they have used shopping to pacify Ayla, and the results have been suffocating them. Peter brings the young lass into the hall and it quickly becomes clear that Ayla doesn’t even need it. She shows the grownups how to declutter, quickly plucking out her faves without fuss. Her spectacular effort gives the parents (Caroline in particular) a confidence boost. Peter gives Caz permission to let her clutter go.

I don’t know who needs to hear this – probably all of us – but You. Are. Enough. Without all the stuff. 

In fact decluttering makes things so much better.

Invigorated, the couple flies through the clothing cull and Adrian is looking forward to moving his clothes back into the master bedroom.

Back at the house, Cherie faces a couch problem which would send most of us back to Harvey Norman to buy a new one but Chez solves it by moving a doorway. What a woman! I love a problem-solver.

Caz’s bestie Jen helps Cherie assemble some furniture. Everyone needs a buddy who can read an Ikea instruction sheet and use an allen key.

Lucas has his attention on a shiny BMX frame he is restoring. His comment, that the bike will be suitable for their baby son Austin in 14 years makes me wonder – why not their daughter Ayla? Girls rule, boys drool. Surely Lucas has seen BMX bandits with Nicole Kidman? Pfft.

The clutter is finally reduced by 72%, meaning a mammoth donate pile. It’s time to reverse up the Salvos truck, for this $10k haul. Again I would love to know which op shop is taking this huge volume of stuff. The Salvos must have a big outlet somewhere in the burbs which can handle it.

I often drive around to several, only to find donation bins pulled inside and staff looking exhausted. Some op shops have taken to employing a bouncer to check what’s being dropped off. “Sorry luv, not taking toys today.” And to be clear I do not blame them. The poor staff have spent countless hours sorting through garbage bags containing the disappointing contents of people’s junk drawers. Painstakingly folding fitted sheets only to find them torn at the edges.

Broken Tupperware and stained clothing cannot be resold. It becomes landfill and the store has to pay for disposal. The naughty donaters who kid themselves that their (actual) trash is someone else’s treasure, have ruined it for the rest of us. There is just … a lot of stuff in the world. 

Let’s try and buy second hand as much as possible folks, so the op shops can shift some units and keep stock moving. Better still dear readers, turn off the tap dripping into your home and stop buying all together.

Back at the love shack, the big reveal is heartwarming. I must admit I was skeptical about a Hawaiian themed reno. One doesn’t normally equate Hawaii with cutting-edge style, but Cherie’s pale rattan furniture and tropical features work. Cos of course they do. $150k increase in value according to the real estate agent. Great work fam, as usual!

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 5
Rob and Sharon

The storage garage packed with clutter
The family is elated with the renovated space

Surviving cancer has inspired Rob to live in the moment. He doesn’t want to waste a nice day cleaning and tidying. That’s good, right?

Yes! But sometimes no.

Clutter has accumulated in not one but two garages. Camping gear, paperwork, keepsakes and unfinished projects are piled up. Did I say unfinished projects? This family specialises in them, constantly closing the door on clutter rather than dealing with it.

No judgement here – it’s completely relatable. Junk drawers, craft rooms, spare rooms and garages often house evidence of this.

As Peter rightly notes, “later” is the best friend of clutter. When we procrastinate, our unfinished business leaves a legacy. That legacy is clutter.

Rob says he finds it difficult to part with his beloved keepsakes. But as Peter proclaims, in that case why doesn’t he treat his stuff with the corresponding respect? Again, it’s a procrastination issue.

We have two themes for this ep:

1. “Later” means clutter. Don’t procrastinate.

2. Don’t mix your treasures with your junk. Doing that devalues everything.

Classic line from Rob early on – “the house isn’t big enough”. It’s a common misconception. People think they need a hugely expensive renovation or relocation, when they really just need to declutter. Or at the very least, declutter first to see how much space you really need.

Ask yourself – how much are you paying to store your stuff? Whether you are:
– tripping over boxes
– buying duplicates of things you own
– unable to find your belongings
– not functioning well in your home
– upsizing or renting a storage unit,
your items are always stored at a price. Is your stuff earning the space it is occupying? I’ll bet some of it is not.

Sharon admits she has been feeling the strain of living with clutter on one hand, and not wanting to whinge on the other. Especially since Rob narrowly dodged the Big C. She wants to support him but also put order into their lives. Unfortunately Shaz, this encompasses the paradoxical demands placed on many women. Be a people pleaser but also a domestic goddess. “Don’t be a nag mum, but also where is my lunchbox?

Thankfully, Rob and Sharon’s three bonny daughters are old enough to deal with their own stuff now. They have piles of clothes to go through. 87 kilos are quickly separated for donation, and just like that the ball is rolling.

Lucas stumbles across a stash of alcohol and the twinkle in his eye tells us he has found some liquid treasure to weave some magic with. Talk of Driveway Beers has him concocting a portable bar.

At the nearby warehouse, the contents of their lives make Rob and Sharon gasp. Rob wonders why the hell didn’t we throw that away?” The answer – “later” rears its ugly head. There is theme no. 1 again.

A travel bag from a big trip where the couple first met evokes huge nostalgia, and as Pete points out, THAT is what’s important. As is Rob’s precious memorabilia from his deceased dad. There folks, is theme number 2. Mixing trash with treasure might be ok at a market, but don’t do it at home.

There’s grief, guilt, and a promise to get things in order. That’s what we are here for! Not the broken camping gear and unused toilet seat which Peter throws over his shoulder.

100 caps/hats feature strongly in the keepsakes collection. Rob has a story for all of them. They represent everything from favourite cocktails to cancer battles. Nearby is a photo album that tells the tale of his tumultuous cancer journey. It’s an intense reminder of how transient everything in – our stuff, and also life itself.

Rob reiterates that he wants to be out there creating memories rather than tidying up. But he also realises that maintenance is a necessary tax on a well-lived life.

Crucially dear readers, having less stuff means less maintenance. Clutter is a sneaky intruder, stealing not only our space but our attention and energy – and we often don’t even notice it. Declutter and stop consuming – and you will save So. Much. Time.

Back at the shack, Cherie is keen to plumb and weatherproof the main garage before it rains. She lays down an amazing deck which uses recycled materials and is partly synthetic, so doesn’t need oiling. Loving that idea!

But the skies cloud over quickly, and it is a huge scramble to prevent her remaining building materials from becoming damaged. Is this the proof our government finally needs that climate change is real? Nah I didn’t think so.

Rob’s daughters do the obligatory soft-toy cull. Honestly those things just multiply. A nostalgic favourite contrasted with a cheap and cheeky poo toy highlights theme no. 2 again – keep your treasures away from your crap!

The grand total of donations this week is $1700, which seems a bit low compared to recent episodes but I guess second hand caps and poo toys don’t fetch much.

Lucas finds some retro cassettes and a yoyo for the family to sell on Marketplace. I want a catch-up in a year’s time to see whether this box is destined to become a new ‘later’ pile. Old habits die hard but Rob and Shaz seem pretty determined.

The main garage has become an amazing retreat and living space. The interior designer has done an excellent job with colours and cushions. I am not sure about the Comic Sans-meets-Papyrus font on the personalised file holders but maybe that’s just me. The real estate agent is not deterred by the cringeworthy typeface and sees a $130,000 increase in value.

The second garage is now a designated storage zone. It holds everything not culled – some outdoor stuff, luggage and no doubt the Marketplace To Do box for completion by 2042.

Lucas has polished up a vintage bag and the pièce de résistance – his portable bar is rolled out for neighbourhood sippers. I hope Rob has a Dark and Stormy to match one of his favourite caps.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 4
Gary and Neriezza

Peter makes a game of decluttering for Gary
Relatively tiny keep pile

Neriezza has moved back into the family home to care for her elderly dad. You see, 74 year old Gary has a physical disability and is confined to a wheelchair.

It’s wild to think that the home of a disabled person would be haphazard and cluttered. You’d assume Gary would want to roll around, be as independent as possible and pop a wheelie in the lounge room if the urge takes him. 

Alas, clutter has a way of accumulating in the background like a cancer, and the problem becomes too overwhelming to solve.

Gary has been adapting to his surroundings for so long that he has put holes in the walls trying to manoeuvre around. The place looks like frat house meets hospital ward. It ain’t pretty.

And Gaz has found it difficult to part with his lifetime of things. That’s another sneaky thing about stuff – it comes in easily enough, but parting with it is difficult. Look up The Endowment Effect. Humans are weird.

Thank god the Space Invaders TV show team is ready to set things right. As they discover, the spare room has become a dumping ground. While the camera pans over some ancient wedding presents belonging to one of Nez’s brothers, I wonder if he is sitting at home cringing. Wringing his hands and hoping Aunt Pat doesn’t see the yellowing box of salad bowls she lovingly chose from the gift registry in 2012.

Gary’s hospital bed is in the living room, and his bedroom looks like a gymnasium. It’s a maze of mobility bars but the irony is, he can’t even get in there any more. 

Peter promises the team will redesign Gary’s bedroom, the spare room and the living space – to make a welcoming and functional home for G and his fam.

Poor Nezza feels guilty that shit got so crazy and Peter assures her she’s doing great. After all, where are the brothers? They dumped their salad bowls and bolted, now watching sheepishly as Nez takes the heat. 

Cherie is going to have a field day removing the mobility bars. I really hope the frilly curtains disappear as well. Lucas is excited, wondering how many treasures are in a 74-year-old’s hoard.

For some reason a real estate agent pops in after the belongings have been moved offsite to do a before-and-after property appraisal. An interesting new addition to the show, and I am all ears. (Spoiler: the team adds $80k value to the home)

At the hall, admist the organised chaos of the house laid bare on trestles, are 50 bags and suitcases. I hope they are empty, because a lot of people see bags as a receptacle for … more stuff. I don’t know who needs to hear this but if you are going to use suitcases as storage, please be intentional about what goes in and label accordingly. Having cobwebbed suitcases in the shed full of random collections of mystery items is not helpful. “I’ll remember what’s in there” I hear you cry. No. You really won’t. 

Of course the team doesn’t dwell on the suitcases because there are problems to solve and decisions to make. Decisions that as Peter points out, have been neglected by Gary’s kids over the years and now here we are. Again I picture Nez’s brothers at their respective homes watching Space Invaders TV show munching popcorn with blank looks on their faces, oblivious to their part in this mess. 

Peter calls bullshit on Gary’s desire to keep all his high visibility clothing. Pete probably has that sinking feeling Professional Organisers get when we realise almost everything is a ‘keep’. And yes we are good at organising but too much stuff is always Too. Much. Stuff. Decluttering thoroughly has to come first, so that we can help you to curate your possessions.

But Gary knows what Space Invaders is all about. If he wants the nice reno with the glossy white grab bars, he’s got to purge. And he does – phew!

That is until they talk furniture. Gary wants to hang onto some glass-doored display cases which are really just clutter coffins if you ask me. And the footstool covered in gaffa tape – what the actual? Again Gary yields under the skilled tutelage of master declutterer Peter Walsh.

I imagine there are some executive decisions made by the Space Invaders team behind the scenes. The owner (Gary) could not possibly make a decision on every single item they own in just a couple of days. Readers, don’t be disheartened if it takes you all week to do one cupboard. It’s bloody hard work.

While waiting for the tradies, Nez’s husband Sid helps rip up flooring. I guess the tradie shortage affects all of us, even in TV land. Cherie mentions the Paintback program for their leftover paint. Love this – my local tip participates in this program and it’s super-handy. I also take tech waste, batteries and a whole range of other recyclable materials to the tip at the same time.

Lucas sets his sights on Gary’s spoon collection but I wonder if he was hoping for something a little more exciting. Wait – he also finds a projector and some slides. I spy a 1970s bride in one of the shots – was that Nez’s mama in the frilly veil? 

We don’t find out, but back at the hall 139 boxes become just 15. Wow. The mountain of stuff is now a neat collection, and Gary has downsized enough to fit into a tiny home. Interestingly his high viz clothing has pride of place in the curated remainders.

It’s an 89% reduction and $3,555 of value for the Salvos. The Space Invaders team does a great job of rehousing all that gear. But in some ways they are perpetuating the idea that op shops are busting to get their hands on our discards. In my experience they are quite choosy, often putting the equivalent of Fuck Off We’re Full signs out the front to halt donations.

And rightfully so. There is just too much stuff in the world, and the secondhand market is limited to high quality and on-trend items. Gone are the days when a Salvos truck would eagerly collect your stuff big and small. No Salvos in my world wants those green couches in Gary’s giveaway pile. The op shops tell me there is a post-lockdown glut (people shopped but couldn’t donate) but I don’t think the problem will disappear any time soon.

Of course please give all your local charities a call to check, and if they can’t take it, try Facebook Marketplace and freebie groups. Anything is better than leaving it out in the rain in the vain hope that a passerby will pop a massive ole worn-out couch in their car. But don’t expect that your trash is always someone else’s treasure. Cutting down consumption is a great take-home message from this.

And shoutout to Savers who accepts pretty much everything – even electricals. Not technically a charity (it’s a Not for Profit) but keeping items out of landfill is a big win. (Side note, they still wouldn’t want Gary’s green couches)

The big reveal at the house is heartwarming. What Cherie saved in tradies when she put Sid on the tools, she used for a high tech mobility bed which freed up the lounge room to look … like a lounge room. Lucas has digitised Gary’s slides and lo and behold the brothers finally turn up to see all the hard work they didn’t help with.

Seriously, they all seem like a lovely family as testament to Gary as beloved patriarchal figure. The mother of the family remains a mystery. There is nothing but a fleeting image on an old slide to have me wondering who trekked across Australia with Gary and his high viz all those years ago.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 3
Sally and Mark

Sally and Mark's clutter collection in the garage
Sally and Mark are pleased with the new space

Garages can hold a lot of stuff. Especially if you are Sally and Mark. They met each other later in life, had cherubic two-year-old Austin and set about making a nest. A full one. They built a dream house in the burbs, and Sally filled it with her clutter. Her ‘collections’ are weighing heavily on their relationship.

Sally is nervous and that’s understandable as she admits she has trouble letting go. She relocated a large quantity of boxed up belongings from a previous residence, shoved it in the garage and shut the door. She had ambitions to go through it but it hasn’t happened and no bloody wonder – it looks like a huge task.  She feels ’stuck’ which is pretty common when clients accumulate to such an extent they just don’t know how to tackle it. 

Even Peter is stunned at how much stuff there is and calls it a 15 out of 10. Let’s not clutter-shame our clients now Pete.

He also makes a throwaway comment that even the mice are hunch-backed which is huge dad-joke territory. And also a bit ableist tbh.

Sally says she has no idea what is in the boxes, and how could she? They are Not. Labelled. Labelling dear readers, you never regret it. A part of me says “if you don’t know what it is, surely you don’t need it”. But on the flip side there is always a fear of discarding something valuable you have forgotten about. Needless to say Lucas is excited about what treasures could be lurking in the mountains of unmarked cardboard boxes.

Peeking out from them appears to be – a tractor? Mark explains he lost a kidney from cancer and bought a fixer-upper Land Rover to take its place. Mark wants to have a tinker on his truck but it’s covered and surrounded by clutter.

Next stop: Sally’s wardrobe. It’s a technicolour vomit of fabric, and as she reveals, symptomatic of an OCD diagnosis which has her shopping and acquiring as leisure. Aah ok, neurodiversity is a common friend of excessive clutter. Sally has nice taste in clothing and I wouldn’t mind finding out which op shop her stuff landed in.

If that was her clothing volume I would love to see her Tupperware stash but sadly the team doesn’t go there. They have enough on their plate.

As Mark’s precious truck is carted off to be stored, a Storage King message pops up onscreen. It says “consider storage as a short term solution when de-cluttering”. I will overlook the fact that they hyphenated de-cluttering (it’s not wrong, just … unattractive) and say yes, that is an apt statement. Were they forced to write that? It’s like mandated health warnings on cigarettes. Don’t lean too heavily for too long on storage companies my friends, or you will suffer a steady leak in your finances – often just to store things you don’t need.

At the warehouse Lucas starts fossicking and discovers some boxed-up model cars that inspire a chuckle. It turns out they are Mark’s and belonged to his grandfather.

Sally and Mark are shocked by what has been unpacked. At 366 boxes it’s a mammoth, record-breaking volume and the first time even they have seen a lot of it.

Sally is embarrassed and Peter reminds her none of it really matters. If there was a fire it would not be a priority. Time to get culling.

Sally wants to hold on to 60% of her clothes and Peter is justifiably concerned. 60% of a shiteload is still too many garments. Come on Sally, pull your socks up! And then donate them.

Because the house is new, the renos team don’t have to waste time patching up dodgy holes or ripping up ancient carpet. However they can’t help themselves and Cherie hacks off some tiles for a seamless finish.

The Garage Flex team is obviously a big sponsor of the episode and I gotta say their sliding cupboards are pretty nice. But I’d be very nervous about the long-term durability of panels that bear a lot of weight hanging off them long term, with age, dust and moisture in the mix. Can we check back in ten years crew?

Sally’s donation racks are heaving, and many items still have tags on. Whoops. We’ve all been there. But Sally starts on Austin’s clothes and she clams up again. All will be well of course, as this is telly and they have a result to achieve within 20 minutes. 

But I do think Sal needs a cuppa. This decluttering process involves a lot of decision fatigue. Also, in her case she has the scarcity mentality often seen in clients who grew up a bit poor. It’s a cocktail of exhaustion, shame and fear. Pete gives her a couple of positive mantras to repeat and they start sliding books into a Donate box with renewed vigour.

I am relieved she quickly dumps the clothes and accessories which were stored in the garage. Obviously this second-tier selection of clothing went to the garage to die and was never meant to be resurrected. We often relocate clutter in the home rather than remove it completely, because we all like to avoid tough decisions.

85% of Sally and Mark’s hoard is donated – wow. That’s $69,950 in value according to Lucas. Weird figure (round it up for god’s sake) but ok. Some of Sally’s amazing clothing donations are going to Dress for Success who help dress women for job interviews. The Salvos get the rest. Imagine all the time wasters on Facebook Marketplace they avoided with this bulk donation!

Needless to say, Sally and Mark are thrilled with the decluttered garage. Sally says she wants to declutter further, to make room for more things and for each other. I love that! Fetishising stuff is often done at the expense of relationships. The most important thing in their lives is each other. Aww.

Mark is busting to reverse his Land Rover into the fresh mancave and start tinkering with it, with his adoring son Austin looking on. Aus is too young yet to be at the developmental stage of eye-rolling his dad’s hobbies and ambitions. Just in the nick of time team, kids get scornful so young these days.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 2
Carolyn and Lee

The family is shocked at all their clutter
The family goes through their clothes with Peter

Carolyn (yes I googled the spelling of her name) and Lee have managed to fill every square inch of their home. With stuff. Including mystery moving boxes still taped up. C and L have been a bit busy to unpack. Which is not unusual on Space Invaders TV show or in general. Being busy is a part of modern life.

But you see, daughters Ellacoco and Zahra are both on the Autism spectrum and have physical impairments. Therefore, there have been a few medical appointments. However with their visual processing limits and mobility issues all this clutter is the last thing they need, so shit needs to change.

Then a truth bomb drops – Carolyn’s parents were ‘hoarders’. Hoarder is a term which is often overused and even if there is a diagnosis in place I prefer to say Someone who Hoards, but that’s a discussion for another time. Either way, Peter seems shocked and slightly delighted by this. He ponders whether Carolyn’s Clutter Blindness is the result of an upbringing swimming in stuff.

We are about to find out.

All their crap is boxed up and carted off. The blokes in high viz even pick up the piano, which impressed me. I thought only a specialist certified by Tafe in Piano Removal was allowed to pick up a piano.

Carolyn grew up in a family that held on to everything. How is she going to cope with seeing her clutter laid out like a market stall? She says “I think we need a bigger house”. It’s a common misconception. No hun, you need less stuff – that’s why cherubic 16-year-old Ellacoco dobbed you in and applied for the Space Invasion makeover in the first place. We are all essentially goldfish and we grow to fit our space. Fact.

Peter starts with the bedding. Lee is keen to cull but Cazza’s clutter blindness means she wants to keep everything. It’s a rocky start. Usually linen is not sentimental so Peter knows he is in for a challenge. Lee quietly disappears for the rest of the episode, he’s either bored, terrified or just edited out.

The renos team is dealing with bricks and mortar which is easier in many ways. No pesky emotions to get in the way. But buildings DO harbour cheeky secrets like the broken wall behind the splashback, as Cherie discovers. It’s a fly in the ointment to be sure but we know she’ll pull the team through.

Ella says it like it is – the family tradition is to cling onto their things but it’s not healthy so they will need to be pushed to make some tough calls. The gals have over 180 stuffed toys to wade through (relatable) and 12 year old Zahra finds it hard.

Lucas is champing at the bit to see what treasures are in the taped-up mystery boxes. He claps his eyes on an old Roald Dahl first edition book and a cute little Swiss wooden music box. And thank god Caz has the key for that. It’s not uncommon for keys and boxes to become separated in cluttered homes, but not here – phew! There is a range of jewellery as well, and Lucas in totally in his element with his diamond detector. I reckon he is even having more fun than when he visited the watchmaker last week. Another fab day at work.

Watching wallpaper go onto Zahra’s wall is an ASMR experience.

And so is seeing the massive clothing cull. Carolyn even has an old baby jacket of her own, and Pete chastises her for not framing that important piece. It’s ok Caz, having two girls who are neurodiverse and physically challenged is busy. Caretaking has taken priority over taking a ratty jacket to the picture framers, and that’s understandable. Let’s be honest, are we ok with framing garments? Cos for me it’s a Hard Rock Cafe vibe that doesn’t work in most homes. We all have a relative with a framed footy jumper in the study. Yuk.

The family heirloom table is pored over next and Carolyn reminisces about some coloured bowls. She has a common concern – how do I let go of the item and still hold the memory? Peter mentions a ‘hierarchy of value’. In other words Caz has to prioritise. Space is a finite resource.

Lucas calculates the value of the donations at $3500 and I’ll bet the fam wishes they’d had a garage sale. But let’s face it they never would have. It’s hard work seeing your neighbours haggle over your stuff. It is even harder than Gumtree where you get weird What’sApp messages from strangers asking whether you can post a dining table.

The newly vamped up light and bright space has a home for everything and inspires calm and style. I love the reading nook. Also there is soft lighting, some stunning pastel artwork, a pop of colour on the front door, and carpet underlay from 99% recyclables. Winning! Silent hubby Lee makes a reappearance for the great reveal, I think he has spent the whole ep hiding behind boxes wishing the experience away.

But WTF is with the Nespresso machine the fam is gifted – all the good work of the recycled carpet underlay undone with a pod machine. Surely we are done with those in 2022? Ah well, sponsorships – what can you do.

And that’s a wrap, I really hope they can maintain it. Another lovely family gets a chance at a fresh start.

SPACE INVADERS TV SHOW EPISODE 1
Lisa and Jason

Lisa and Jason's clutter is huge
Lisa and Jason sort through their clutter

Harried working mum Lisa has been in a demanding family caring role, and she is done. The house she shares with hubby Jason has suffered. It is groaning under the weight of tonnes of clutter. Daughter Willow just wants to have a birthday party without piles of clothes toppling onto the birthday cake. Fair enough.

Lisa and Jason’s situation is classic – stuff comes in, nothing goes out. Then things build up and they look around and realise the volume is beyond their control. Relatable.

The Space Invaders team has their sights set on a retro dining table, and Lucas is delighted at some wooden boxes. May the fun begin.

Meanwhile Peter notices the house gets darker and more oppressive as he walks through the rooms. Lisa admits the clutter has correlated with high stress, weight gain and even a fear of dying in her sleep. Yikes.

With that revelation Pete gets an express delivery of additional boxes and little Willow is ready to donate. Aw bless. They start boxing up all the crap to take it offsite.

Once unpacked, the warehouse is looking like a huge charity store. It is even signposted with the relevant departments as though a browser could pop in for a spot of shopping red basket in the crook of their arm.

Homewares, toys, books, clothes … and more clothes. The Space Invaders crew has painstakingly unpacked and filled these categories. There are also designated zones for Recycle and Donate which according to Pete, need to fill right up so that Lisa and Jason can live a lot lighter.

The fam has been drowning in clutter, and emotions are running high when they see it all laid out. Lisa takes the heat for it so she’s probs been doing a spot of retail therapy between stressing over her sick mum and nan.

Back at the pad Cherie’s eyes sparkle at the retro decor she is planning. But as part of the usual narrative arc there is trouble afoot. This time it’s revealed that Jason has done some hoarding of his own – of bricks. He slacked off and covered his sketchy flooring attempts with a rug. Oh dear. Cherie gets on the tools. Is there anything that gal can’t do?

Over at the hall Peter puts on his therapy hat and declutters Lisa and Jason’s relationship. He tells Jase not to be a cuck and then they get to work discarding.

Soft toys are thrown into boxes and handfuls of plastic kid junk is swept into a box. Colourful dolls, bits of Lego and five years’ worth of party bag detritus goes in. Have you ever tried sorting through that crap? It’s enough to make any op shop worker cringe. Lucas says the donations are worth $3300. Alas it sure as hell doesn’t go to the volunteers who are a bit tired of lifting books and sifting through Reject Shop rejects.

And believe me, nobody wants that spindle of blank CDs I spotted being put into a donation box. Pop them in a time machine and send them back to 2006.

Lisa and Jason are culling like crazy, highlighting the fact that when you remove the junk, the true treasures can shine through. Yay team.

Cherie is working her magic and I love her cost-saving hacks. This time she does a thin stone slab to spruce up the kitchen bench. Lucas pops into a watchmaker for some valuations and they geek out on an old Omega which still ticks. The watchmaker’s Euro accent and monocular add credibility. Love that.

Post reno, Peter shares a great tip, that storage tubs are a fab way to organise food in the kitchen. But please Pete get rid of the brand placement sticker and label what’s in each tub. Grouping like with like and labelling accordingly means not only are things easy to find, they are easy to put away. But I know I know, brand placement = paying the bills.

Enter the nervously happy family. Lisa looks fantastic with her signature 50s look including a great frock and red lip. It completely works with the retro aesthetic being unveiled in their shiny new pared-back home. Willow does a happy dance and let’s hope there will be many clutter-free birthday parties to come.

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