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QUESTION: What is your guidance around completely emptying the room? Always? If you are focusing on just one section of it, per client request, i.e. one table of papers stacked, I am assuming you don't always need to empty out the furniture and all, but.....I am thinking of two scenarios:

1. The thought for one client, of completely emptying out her kitchen and starting over, FREAKED her out, so I tried to work within/around it.....thankfully I was volunteering....it went ok/not great....

2. A different client.....HOARDER to the hilt......we started in the kitchen (stuff in boxes, she had moved and due to a huge accompanying life transition - divorce etc., she had been unpacked for months.) The only place available to even start sorting through the boxes (stuff all thrown in there to move quickly) was the front yard, there literally was not adequate room to sort inside because every room was a disaster. She did not want to do this, so I made due with this very uncomfortable tiny space and somehow did manage to get the kitchen pretty squared away......but had to move and remove stuff out of my way.....wasn't enjoyable.

Do you find clients hesitant on this? I guess underneath my questions I am struggling with when to take charge and when to work with the client and their emotions and requests, and how to smoothly orchestrate the dynamics and power in the situation when conflict arises....

ANSWER: Emptying a room is the ideal. No, it does not always work, for the very reasons you stated. If you can point out to your client what you see as the benefits of emptying the room they may be more willing for you to guide them.

If a room is not available you could use a yard space as you suggested, their driveway, or their patio or deck. I often use hallways and stair landings because that is the only space available. In some cases (such as rainy Portland, Oregon) PODS (portable on demand storage) work well for larger rooms, garages, or a large amount of "stuff" to sort.

You should always be the one in charge, not the client. To help them feel in control review their goals with them and your process for achieving their goals.

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