Interior design magazines should come with a warning label: Objects in the photo are not how they appear in real life.

Just looking at all those neat, tidy rooms could lead to discouragement or depression.

Professional organizer Alyssa Trosclair advises all her clients to forget those immaculate houses and focus on creating a functional home for an active lifestyle. 

"You have to set up what is real for you," Trosclair says. "You don't have to live in a magazine. You don't have to do what your neighbors do."

Trosclair, operator of Centsibly Organized home and office organization service in Baton Rouge, utilizes a few simple principles of organization, both with her own family and her clients, who need a little assistance to tackle large projects. 

“The only way to keep organized in your home is to keep clutter down," Trosclair says.

To start, Trosclair recommends these steps to begin organizing: 

1. Set goals. Decide what room needs organizing first and decide what works in that space and what doesn't. Don't lose focus and begin working in a separate room. "See it through," Trosclair says. "Most of my clients don't follow through."

2. Purge. Consider your possessions like the people in your life — friends, acquaintances and strangers. Strangers are items you didn't even realize you had. These can go to the secondhand store or the trash. Your friends are special, and you would never get rid of them, but you only occasionally need acquaintances. 

While sorting, ask yourself, "Is this beautiful, useful or loved?" 

"If any item in your home doesn't fit one of these three, what is the reason for having it?" Trosclair says. 

3. Group. Once you have purged the unneeded possessions, take stock of what is left by placing the items into groups. How you group them only matters to you. Sort them by size or by age. Group them by the room where they were found. 

"These categories don't have to make sense to anyone but you," Trosclair asks. 

4. Purge again. How many pairs of scissors do you own? How many half-burned candles? "When it's all grouped together you might see how many duplicates you have," Trosclair says. Assess what you need and eliminate duplicates. 

5. Dedicate space. Find a permanent home for each item you plan to keep. In closets and on shelves, place the things you use most often at a height between your knees and your eyes. Objects that see less use get stored higher or lower. 

Trosclair is realistic. She allows "dumping zones" — spaces where you put down the armloads of things you carry home at the end of the day. "I know my clients aren't going to come home from work and organize everything," she says. "But you need to attend to it." 

6. Contain items. Now that you've thinned the junk in your home, don't just start tossing the surviving stuff back into closets. Use jars and plastic and cardboard boxes to organize. "Containers help subdivide the space," Trosclair says. 

Containers with labels will help others keep the space organized — or at least it will give them no excuses for leaving the area a mess. 

7. Maintenance. "It has to be an intentional act," Trosclair says. "It is not going to happen on its own."

Organizing help

Alyssa Trosclair's free seminar

WHAT: Gaining Control of Paper Clutter

WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday, April 3

WHERE: East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd. 

INFO: or

DETAILS: Trosclair will teach how to organize your papers, from vital records that need a safe home to what needs to be junked. And she will focus on how to establish a system to take care of paperwork as it comes into the house.

Follow Kyle Peveto on Twitter, @kylepeveto.