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Clearing the clutter


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POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

Step 1 in making order out of chaos is often the most painful: getting rid of all the junk. Especially when folks have emotional attachments to most of the stuff.

The Style Network's “;Clean House”; makes the culling process part of its home makeovers with a garage sale that's a staple of every episode.

The sale at the home of Aina Jones on Saturday drew throngs of the show's fans, many bearing leis, pineapples and other tokens for show host Niecy Nash.

Mary Sakai came to the event with four leis in hand, one for each of the four cast members. “;This is so thrilling”; she said. “;I watch this show every day.”;

Cliff Angelias visited the sale in hopes of picking up some unique odds and ends. “;I really enjoy the show. They expose people from all walks of life.”;

“;Exposed”; was a good description of how Aina Jones felt as 40 of the show's cast and crew members continually trotted through her home. Her consolation: “;I'll have a brand-new house in the same spot,”; said Jones. “;I'm hoping for a fresh start once I get rid of all the dead weight.”;

Aina lives with her elderly adoptive mother, Dorothy Kangas; her two adult sons, Thomas Purkiss, 19, and Ben Purkiss, 22; and her 9-year-old daughter, Janie Jones.

The night prior to the sale, the family had to decide what to give up, with the “;Clean House”; crew encouraging them to be brutal.

“;I know that we don't need four sets of dishes, but the sentimental stuff is going to be the hardest,”; said Aina.

Parting with her books was so difficult that the cast offered her new living room flooring to sell them. “;Clean House”; designer Mark Brunetz explained that Aina reads her books over and over as a means to escape her problems. “;It's easy to read a book and not have to live in the reality of life,”; he said.

“;They really need to deal with this clutter issue and learn to let things go. They also need to make organizing fun,”; added Trish Suhr, the show's yard sale diva. “;Otherwise, they are raising a 9-year-old clutterbug.”;

Once they started plowing through the mess, things got a bit easier.

“;It was just time-consuming. ... Once we started sorting through stuff, it was easier to let things go. The hardest part was giving up control,”; Aina said.

Her sons had no problem handing over their junk.

“;It was completely simple to put the clutter in a box and send it somewhere else,”; said Ben. “;It took us years to collect all this junk. We brought two full Matson containers when we moved back from the mainland (nine years ago).”;

“;The process was long, tiring and dusty. We were sorting and moving things out until 3:30 a.m.,”; explained Thomas.

Yard sale tables were filled with the usual items like books, DVDs, toys and clothing with a few pieces of furniture on the side. Among the more unusual items were a furry spider that Nash sold to a woman who planned to hang it in her bedroom and a “;to pee or not to pee ... that is the question”; framed poster that Brunetz sold to another woman.

All of the discarded items that were not sold at the sale were packed onto a charity truck following the closing of the yard sale. The proceeds made from the giant sale are matched—up to $1,000—by the show to provide the home with a much-needed makeover.

After a couple of days in a hotel, the family returned to their home and were blindfolded as they were led into the house for the big reveal. The entire family was ecstatic with the results of the makeover.

“;This was a good experience. ... The rooms were incredible,”; said Aina.

“;The boys' room is the size of a postage stamp. And, they are two adult boys. I needed to figure out how to accommodate both of them sleeping in there with some desks,”; Brunetz explained. They got a new divided closet organizer with shelving in the center with boxes for personal affects.

“;Organization is key. And, the design needs to incorporate multifunctional furniture. Everything needs to serve more than one purpose,”; Brunetz said.

“;I'm glad to have a bed. We had bunk beds, but they were being used like a closet,”; said Thomas.

The living room was transformed into a sanctuary for Dorothy. Her antique Chinese day bed had become a storage area and was lacking proper padding. Brunetz refurbished most of the old furniture in this room, providing a face lift that brought everything back to life. He also added gold foils on the cinder block wall.

“;It gives the effect of being in a Chinese lantern,”; he explained. “;I really hope it stays this way. Everything is so nice,”; Dorothy said. “;I'm just glad we got rid of that yellow shag rug from the '70s.”;

“;It held so much dust,”; added Ben.

The family room had a Polynesian/Asian vibe. The toys that were once scattered on the floor were given new homes in rattan baskets lined up on shelves.

“;I love the family room. It gives us a great space to hang out,”; Aina said, noting that was her favorite part of the remodel.

The experience has taught Aina the value of ending clutter. “;We need to throw things away that deserve to be thrown away,”; she said.

“;Clutter doesn't allow people to live in the present,”; Brunetz said. “;Space allows people to live comfortably in their own skin and environment.”;