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A (Clutter) Bug’s Life

Local HGTV host helping people get and stay organized
Author: Jen Brignall-Strong
Photographer: Trevor Booth
1 year ago
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As a self-proclaimed “recovering super slob turned organizing expert,” Lakeshore local Cassandra Aarssen knows the struggles of keeping a home tidy…and she’s here to help.

Cassandra is the creator of Clutterbug™, a community dedicated to helping people discover their unique organizing style. For over a decade, she has helped hundreds of thousands of families from all over the world de-clutter and organize their homes with her proven systems for success. The mom of three offers advice and support through her YouTube channel, podcast, books, and her HGTV show, Hot Mess House.

“It’s kind of how I got started; I’m not an organized person at all,” she laughs. “It was really eye-opening to learn that I could get organized if I just did it in a different way.”

Tired of living in clutter, one day about 13 years ago Cassandra she decided to try again; venturing off to the dollar store to purchase containers to help sort through her mess.

“I was like, ‘I need a less organized approach to organization,’” she recalls. “I knew I couldn’t do this really detailed system because it would just get messy again. I was really shocked at how when I took a more laid back approach, my house started staying tidy.”

Feeling inspired, she began reaching out to friends and family who also struggled with clutter and assisted them with their organizing efforts. Soon, word caught on.

“Eventually, I was getting referrals to clients I didn’t even know and before I knew it I had a little organizing business that I did not try to do,” she says. “That’s when I realized there were four different organizing styles. I would go to someone’s house I would say to them, ‘If it doesn’t stay organized for 30 days, call me and I’ll come back and do it for free’ and some people were actually calling me back.”

Perplexed, Cassandra says she began looking at why some people could stay organized and some were falling back into old habits.

“I really had to figure out why it was working for some people and not others,” she explains. “That’s where the four organizing styles came from; I realized that when I could identify someone’s style before I even started organizing, I wouldn’t have to go back and reorganize it; it stayed tidy.”

With a proven method and plenty of tips and tricks, Cassandra began recording videos and uploading them to YouTube.

 As her YouTube following grew (she now has over 700K subscribers), executives at HGTV took notice. Someone from their team had seen Cassandra’s channel and approached her about a TV series. “Hot Mess House” is now in its second season of taking people from chaos to clutter-free.

“I was just sharing my message and all these things came out of that,” she reflects. “I feel so lucky. You find something in life and you say, ‘Wow, this is so fun’ and if you keep working at it, it really can turn into an amazing career.”

Cassandra now classifies her organizing styles into four, bug-inspired categories: bees, crickets, ladybugs, and butterflies. Each has their own unique traits, quirks, and sorting preferences.

“I’ve worked with thousands of people and through that I’ve noticed patterns,” she says, sharing that bees and crickets tend to be planners and very detail-oriented individuals, whereas butterflies and ladybugs are more impulsive and laid back.

“I’ll usually be able to tell a person’s style just after a five minute conversation with them,” she explains. “It’s been fascinating for me to see the correlation between someone’s organizing style and their personality traits.”

But it takes more than organizing skills to keep a home tidy, says Cassandra. The first step is getting rid of everything you don’t need.

“I think the biggest organizing lie is that ‘Everything in my home will fit if I just get organized,’” she says. “We can’t solve the issue of too much stuff by throwing more stuff at it, so buying bins and baskets is not the solution.”

She says it’s important to remove items from the home at the same rate new items are coming in.

“I’m really passionate about people throwing things in the garbage or donating what they don’t need,” she laughs.

While her HGTV series in filmed in New York, Cassandra continues to help local families de-clutter. Once a month, she and her team pick one household in the community to assist and donate all the supplies. She also offers a plethora of free resources on her website and social media accounts, but she reminds people that no matter how much clutter they have, to take it one step at a time.

“I wish more people would just be honest about the fact that they’re struggling with clutter and organization so we can all be a little kinder to ourselves and to each other too.”

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