STYLE

Jill Pollack digs at causes of clutter, helps organize messy homes on 'Consumed'

05/29/2013 09:24 EDT | Updated 07/29/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Beneath the piles of discarded clothes, papers or toys which may be littered throughout a home, "Consumed" host Jill Pollack said there's likely a deeper root cause to the clutter that isn't visible amidst the congestion.

"We all have clutter...but when it's affecting your life in the way it is affecting the lives of these families on 'Consumed,' it really is often about something else," Pollack said in a recent interview.

"Is it about power? Is it about literally building walls —emotional walls, physical walls? What is this clutter doing? Why is this stuff literally in the way? And how is it wreaking havoc on their lives?"

On "Consumed," the organizational expert works with families whose homes have been overrun by too many items.

After removing the physical excess, they're left with the bare essentials to survive with over a two-week period as Pollack tries to get to the heart of their emotional connection to the goods. The host also helps them to assess what to keep and what to toss. Meanwhile, handyman Darren Doyle creates organizational systems designed to help make their spaces more functional.

The Season 2 premiere airing Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on HGTV Canada sees Pollack working with a husband and wife with four-year-old twins.

Bruce is addicted to hockey memorabilia and is keen to have his deer heads and bear skins mounted on the walls. Work-at-home mother Trish feels she's been left alone to deal with the clutter clogging up their home with her husband away at work as well as off on hunting trips and excursions. But Trish has tangible items of her own from her past she's reticent to part ways with as well.

The challenges confronted by families on "Consumed" are ones commonly observed by Pollack, whose client roster includes actresses Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman of "Desperate Housewives" fame.

Pollack recalled a client who was a former high-powered lawyer in New York. The woman had become a yoga instructor in Santa Barbara when the pair started working together. Despite having switched gears with her career, evidence of her past life lingered with the thousand-dollar Armani power suits she hadn't used in years and still had in her possession.

"They were outdated and didn't fit and whatever all else, but she wept when we got rid of them," Pollack recalled. "Even though she had chosen not to be that lawyer anymore, here was this passing of this chapter in her life."

Pollack said she always tells clients organizing their lives involves "taking inventory of the past, looking at your present and talking about where you want to go in the future."

"We hold onto these things as talismans for what we were, what we should have been, what we still want to be, whatever that is.

"Letting go of them... I think it's freeing because we can say: 'Who am I now and who do I want to be? And let me surround myself with those kinds of optics."

Whether it's an old cheerleading skirt or a yearbook, Pollack acknowledged there are select sentimental items which are good to keep and fun to peruse through. But she said there should still be limits on what to safeguard and what to discard. That means dedicating one bin to memorabilia and discarding clothes from your closet that no longer fit or are outdated, she noted.

"It's really thinking about where you are and where you're going and cherry-picking important things about your past."

Pollack said the thought of tackling clutter can be overwhelming. But for many people, issues with organization may stem from their inability to assign designated spaces for their belongings.

"If you don't know where to put something, then it just lives in and amongst you and the tables and the chairs and the furniture," she said. "We all knows where our toothbrush goes.... But for so many of our other items that we supposedly use and need and want, we don't have a place for it."

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