The Anti-Hoarder

local organizing expert lends her tidy advice

Scott Morfitt

THERE AIN’T NO JUNK DRAWER HERE. Nancy Rothwell of Straighten-Up Organizing tackles all sorts of jobs – even one that landed her on the TV show Hoarders.
THERE AIN’T NO JUNK DRAWER HERE. Nancy Rothwell of Straighten-Up Organizing tackles all sorts of jobs – even one that landed her on the TV show Hoarders.

Well Chippewa Valley, spring is just about sprung. The river is flowing and so are the sidewalks. For those of us with dogs, children or, well, feet, this can mean constant clean up.

But cleaning floors and windows is never the biggest spring cleaning project. The big one is the behemoth of containers, promotional items and random other items that we hold on to because they are free or cheap. My recycling guy knows what I’m talking about here.

Straighten-Up Organizing is a local business run by entrepreneur Nancy Rothwell which helps people beat back the clutter behemoth. The business is a decade old and has helped hundreds of individuals and families get their homes and businesses in order.  

Among the things Rothwell helps people organize are garages, kitchens, offices, toy rooms, craft rooms, closets, attics, photo albums, paper areas and purses (hmm, I know a local contributor’s mother that might want to check that last one out).

Rothwell is so good at this that she has gotten some national TV attention. Last August, Rothwell was featured on TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive. In the episode, Rothwell helped Kathy, a local homeowner diminish her clutter. She not only hauled out trash, she also helped sort through boxes to make final decisions about what was trash and what was treasure, while making sure the client felt comfortable with the whole process.

For those of us not looking to have this process be part of reality TV, Rothwell offers the following advice, “We need to walk through our homes searching for stuff we don’t need. You’ve possibly heard the phrase that clutter takes on a life of its own, well now it is time that you give clutter a life far away from yours.”

Once the clutter is identified Rothwell suggests taking four boxes for the clutter and labeling them as trash, give away/sell, storage and put away in her publication, Organizing --the Method which is available for free on her website.

“Trash” is described as, “...any item that you do not need or want, and would not be worthwhile to donate or sell. Damaged and broken items should be included in the trash if they are not worth someone buying it or repairing it.”
Rothwell describes the give away/sell category as, “Think[ing] about the uses someone else might get out of the items vs. the use it gets in your home buried in cabinets or closets. Consider the financial benefits of selling your stuff at a garage sale/ebay.”

Then there is storage, which is not another place to just stick junk. Rothwell says, “Put items in here that you cannot part with but do not need on a regular basis. Group similar items together and label the box. Remember one good way to clean out closets is to store out of season clothing.”

Lastly, we come to the put away category. Rothwell says, “These are items that need to be out on a regular basis. Monitor yourself by determining if you have a place for each item. If the items in this box will not fit into your home without cluttering an area up, try to reassess if you really need them. If you do need these “essentials”, try to come up with a storage solution that fits into your home.”

If this decision making process still seems daunting, Rothwell is available for in-home consultation and she even does presentations for the community.

Her website,, is a wealth of knowledge for those of us who are looking to downsize but not get rid of those things that are really important.

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