Space Maker

“To say I had a tidy room as a child would be an understatement,” says Karen Law. Three years ago, she founded Contained Design to help others create more organized spaces. Law, who also works for a Twin Cities nonprofit, focuses on what simplifies her clients’ lives. Here, she offers advice on how to cope with too much stuff and not enough time—and when to just let go.
  • If you’re always looking for your keys, if you’re accruing finance charges because you can’t find a bill—that’s when you need help getting organized.
  • Be realistic about getting organized. Your clutter didn’t happen overnight, so don’t expect overnight solutions.
  • Start with a closet. An entire room can be too overwhelming.
  • Opt out of junk mail and credit-card offers to reduce the clutter that’s coming into your house.
  • Keep a tray or basket by the front door for the mail. Then, go through it while you’re watching TV.
  • Don’t put bills in the bedroom if you pay them in the kitchen!
  • Keep the junk drawer, but sort it. I had a client pay for my services with the money she found in her drawer.
  • Create a donation box and fill it with things you don’t use. Recycling or giving to organizations like ARC is a free and easy way to get rid of stuff.
  • Identify your shopping drug and don’t go there. I don’t go to Target anymore, just like people with a paper fetish shouldn’t go to Paper Source.
  • Before buying anything, ask yourself if you need it, if you have room for it, and if you can afford it.
  • Gingham-covered boxes might be pretty, but if they don’t fit on the shelf—they’re useless.
  • The garage was intended for your car.
  • Who are you honoring if the quilt that Grandma made is in a box in the basement? Display it, donate it, or pass it on to another family member.
  • If you are a collector, set limits.
  • Delegate your owl figurine collection to one shelf or one cabinet, so you’re not living in a museum.
  • Once you get into the mindset of letting go of stuff, you’ll realize that it wasn’t making you happy.

Learn more about Karen Law and her services at or call 612-865-8397. Law also recommends exploring to find a local organizer who’s right for you.