Can you find the bed underneath all that clutter?
It's there, at the end of the hall, tauntingly filled with boxed ornaments, folded tablecloths and holiday-themed towels: The dreaded guest bedroom, holder of all things leftover and misplaced.
With the holidays approaching and guests arriving, it's time to clean it out. Where to start?
"The first step is not to necessarily take everything out, but to take out the things that you know have other places to go," says Jennifer Snyder, a professional organizer and founder of the Waco, Texas-based company Neat As a Pin Organizing Experts. "Then, you're left with the things that live there."
By "things that live there," Snyder means the items that were originally part of the room that can be incorporated into the decoration scheme. Craft projects and wall hangings are perfect buried treasures that can be re-purposed for visitors.
"A lot of times, the things that we accumulate are our passion," Snyder says. "You're adding an element of yourself. Even half-finished craft projects are endearing in their own right."
So leave those personal items in the guest room -- as long as you don't have tools or equipment lying around.
Snyder also suggests breaking the room into "zones" as an organizational aid. "Ask yourself, 'Where would I look for it?' Then put items in logical order according to that," she says. "Assign a purpose to everything, even the closets, the drawers and under the bed."
She suggests drawing a map of where things go, if that helps.
For future reference, this all might be easier if the guest room never got too cluttered in the first place. Jodie Watson, who has been called "L.A.'s Most Innovative Organizer" and is the founder of the professional organizing company Supreme Organization, suggests actually using the guest room for something during the year.
"It can double as an office, or a craft or exercise room," she says. That alternative use provides a reason to stop clutter at the door.
No matter how you end up using the room, Watson says to keep the room "guest-ready" 24/7 by making sure the bed is made, the floors and surfaces are clear and that there is space in the closets and drawers.
"Just be sure that what you keep in there doesn't exceed the limits of the storage space available," she advises.
If you do leave items in drawers, make sure there's nothing confidential. "When people come into your house, they open cabinets, they open drawers," Snyder says. "We all do it, so be careful what you keep in there. Don't store anything you wouldn't want someone to look at."
And what about all of those holiday decorations that gather dust in boxes under the bed? Jane Carroo, a certified professional organizer and founder of Clutter Coach Company, says to first and foremost get rid of things you no longer use. Gift the stray items to friends or donate them to charity.
If there are important personal items that don't have a place elsewhere in the house, try turning them into holiday crafts.
"Consider having a wreath in the room and decorating it seasonally so that you're working off one piece," Carroo says. She also suggests making homemade disposable items like Thanksgiving napkin rings. Watson recommends reusing tucked away holiday cards by cutting them out, putting them on cardstock and turning them into new cards.
If it's clothing that's taking up space in the room, Snyder has some simple advice:
"If you're saving it for when you lose weight or whatever, you're just going to buy new clothes anyway. Let them go."