Tidying Magic: the KonMari Method

KonMari-makeup

Dear Cath

I clean begrudgingly but I love to organize. It feels like I’m putting in order the scattered contents of my brain. I know you like to do it just as much as I do, if not more so. It almost seems backward that I’ve read this book and you haven’t (darn that academic reading getting in the way of your magical tidying!).

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. That title sounds a little overblown, doesn’t it? Ignore the slightly-screw translations (Marie Kondo’s tidy-guru status is still mainly Japan-based), this book is awesome. Maybe it’s not as awesome if you don’t list toward Type A on the personality scale, but it all felt very right to me. I couldn’t put it down and felt bereft when I finished it. A nonfiction book! About organising! Compelling stuff. Really and truly. I felt like a zen monk when I read it — even the part where you anthropomorphize your socks (remember how I couldn’t throw away that laundry-basket full of slippers when I was a teenager because I felt to guilty about how lonely and sad they would feel rotting in a land fill somewhere?).

Don’t let the sock thing deter you though. This book will make sense even if you don’t attach human feelings to inanimate objects.

Here are the main tenets of the KonMari Method:

• Marie Kondo (KonMari is her nickname, hence the name of the method) doesn’t believe in tidying day in and day out. You do it all in an unspecified, short period of time and then you don’t ever have to do a massive tidy session ever again. In. Your. Life. Because everything you love and keep will have a place to go.

• You start tidying by categories in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental items.

• The method to tidying each category is as follows: discard anything that does not “spark joy.” Do not start putting things away or organise anything until you have picked up each item you own and felt if it either sparked or fizzed.

“Sparking joy” does seem really vague, and quite honestly I found this the hardest part to do. But it was really, really helpful to be forced to take out each object I own and really look at it and evaluate how much I love something. It turns out I do in fact love that ugly Columbia fleece jacket I have as well as my lemon juicer. And I got rid of some things that totally surprised me at the time because I used them a lot — and now I can’t even recall what they were (just 2 weeks after I sent them off to Salvation Army).

Tidying my flat

I don’t think you are meant to do the method in one weekend, but I was motivated by the fact that I have become quasi minimalist in the past few years. And because our flat is so tiny, there isn’t much room to keep . much. That’s not to say I hadn’t squirreled away a bunch of stuff. I donated 10 large bags to Salvation army and had about five bags of trash and recycling at the end of my tidy weekend.

In the images below the “before” pics show you the bedroom and lounge/kitchen with everything that I own pulled out of closets, drawers and cabinets. The “after” pics are what’s left once everything has been discarded or put away.

KonMari discard bedroom

KonMari tidy

KonMari discard

KonMari kitchen

Marie Kondo recommends a specific way to fold everything so that you can see everything you have every time you open your drawers: nothing should be stacked on top of each other. This totally surprised me, but even after two weeks (and a couple rounds of laundry later), my drawers still look exactly like this. It might seem anal, but having a place for everything actually makes it so much easier to put things away:

KonMari socks

KonMari folding

Every drawer, shelf and cabinet has been scoured and reorganized. I went through all of our papers (they now all fit in that grey box on the shelf in the pic below), photographs, cords and chargers. I’ve even been through all the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Done and done:

organizing shelves Organizing Organising

 If you are feeling burdened by the amount of stuff you have, do it

You know how people make ridiculous claims on QVC or cheap cable commercials? I truly feel like I could do that for this tidy method – except it would be sincere (no offense, Shamwow). Not only do I feel calmer and happier at home now, I swear it has helped with the impending winter doom that I usually feel. Who would have thought putting things away and getting rid of things could help banish the seasonal darkness? Maybe it makes sense why we always feel blue post-Christmas season. It’s not so much that the celebrations are over, but because we are left with so much more stuff. Stuff is overwhelming. And feeling more calm and surrounded by only the things you love totally works. All common sense really, but it helps to have it laid out for you KonMari style.

Do you think I’m nuts? I can help you KonMari-ify when I’m home this summer. You’ll be done with classes by then and freeeeee!

Love you like my socks love being rolled (not folded),

Lar

 

54 thoughts on “Tidying Magic: the KonMari Method”

  1. I am so, so, so impressed! Even though you showed me via skype all of your work, reading this post and seeing the before and afters just blows my mind. I totally get how much joy you have now that there’s a place for everything. I must read the book – as soon as classes are done. Since I’m saving as much money as possible this holiday season, it’ll be nice to focus on getting rid of stuff instead of accumulating more stuff.

    I’m sure non-type A’s might not totally get this, but I definitely don’t think you’re nuts and I don’t think Marie Kondo is either – weird sock ideas and all!

    I bet when you come back from your trip it’ll be so lovely to come back to such a wonderfully organized flat. I still can’t believe that you had enough room in your teeny tiny flat to give away 10 bags of stuff. Sheesh! Makes me scared to think of how much crap I really have in my house. Please help me when you come home for the summer! And teach me the ways of sock rolling!

    xoxo, Cath

  2. I’ve been hearing about this method more and more. I’m definitely a lover of getting rid of things we do not need. As soon as the stuff goes into a bag for donating it’s so relieving. I’m keen to read the book.

    1. Hi Kelly Rae

      Definitely give it a shot! Like you I’d been doing a lot of different give-away/tidying solutions before I read it and it kind of felt like it gave me a good head start. Hope it’s inspiring for you!

      x Lar

  3. Yes yes yes! When I first heard about this book (via the NYTimes Home and Garden section: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/garden/home-organization-advice-from-marie-kondo.html?_r=0 ) I squealed! Then I immediately thought of you two. Lar as the blossoming minimalist and Cath as the new home owner with a fresh space.

    I’d love to pour over the book and take on the task in my own house. But I guess I need to get my house habitable first! Maybe I’ll give myself this book for Christmas. Then I’ll go hog wild on all of those unpacked boxes of stuff, stuff, stuff.

    Cath– maybe we could be tidy buddies?? New house, tight budget, supah busy tidy buddies. 😉

    Lar– I am so impressed! I’ll keep looking to you for miminalish living inspiration.

  4. Whoa, this is like Type A personality/organizational porn. I’ve always been an “Everything in its place” sort of gal and seeing stuff out of place around our condo gives me anxiety (as does my fiance’s habit of just leaving stuff on the floor), but I don’t think I could ever minimize to the point of making the KonMari method work for me. Mad props to you!

    1. You probably aren’t too far off from the KonMari method if you’re move of a type A personality already. Isn’t so hard to keep a house clean when you’re living with someone else? It’s like, “Why do you leave the dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is completely empty?! Why?!” 😉

  5. This is very inspiring. I’ve been feeling a bit claustrophobic–four people and a dog and all the accompanying stuff in a small apartment, so this is great timing. And I’m particularly not looking forward to the impending winter doom.

    Although I recently did do a round of getting rid of some stuff where I kept this in mind: “Do I love it?” (a version of “sparking joy”), this book sounds perfect right now. I also love a system where I can see things right away and not stacked on one another–such a hassle.

    Your place looks great!

    1. Doesn’t her place look amazing?! You apartment never feels claustrophobic to me, but I think all of us Americans can totally do with some (ok, a lot) of tidying. Plus, i always think tidying has to be a million times harder with kids – they have more stuff than adults!

  6. OH MY WOW! I am super impressed, Lar! I especially love that you killed it all during ONE WEEKEND. I think I’m gonna try to do the drawer method (no stacking) this long weekend and see how that works for me!

    1. I hoped it turned out well for you, Laura! My drawers are still stacked and I feel like I know exactly what I have so much better.
      xoxox,
      Lar

    1. You welcome, Katie! I know I thought the whole thing sounded a bit silly at the beginning, but I’m still following the KonMari method now and it really does help keep everything way more clutter-free!
      xoxox
      Lar

  7. I love your photos, they’re so inspiring! (Also, to be picky: it’s “main TENETS” not “main tenants.”) Love your site, I’ll be back!

    1. Thanks, Missy! And thanks for letting me know about using the wrong word – ha! Now you can read about the main “tenets” of KonMari, though I’m sure the tenants would have been inspiringly clutter-free.

      xoxo,
      Lar

    1. Hi Peggy

      Marie Kondo doesn’t go into detail about this in her book, so I’ve just been following her idea of figure out how each item wants to be folded. So for ankle socks I usually put one one top of the other and then fold the toes in and the ankle part in so it’s folded in thirds.

      Cheers

      Lauren

  8. I’m about to start the clothes projetc next weekend. What do you do with shoes that you want to keep? What is the recommended storage solution?

    1. Hi Kelli

      I hope your clothes project went well!

      The shoes that I kept are now all in my wardrobe/closet at the bottom except for my boots when are displayed in my bedroom (it does add a wee bit of clutter, but not too much as there is nothing else on the floor).

      Ideally I’d love to store my shoes in their own cubby hole in a nice large closet, but I share a very narrow wardrobe with my husband. Laying them out on the floor of the wardrobe has worked though — I’m never tempted to pile them. They each have their own spot and I but them back there after being worn.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers

      Lauren

  9. I do NOT think you are nuts. I’ve been applying the KonMari Method to my home, and it’s fantastic.

    Like you, I chronicled some of my work, and it was astounding to see how much I owned — in spite of having decluttered many times in the past!

  10. You impress me with what you’ve accomplished! It must feel so good and give you a spark of joy.
    What is the brand of the cosmetic/toiletry organizer that is pictured?
    Where can it be bought?
    Keep up the KonMari method.

    1. Hi Caroline!

      Thanks for reading. If you are still looking for a cosmestics organizer, I got mine from Muji.

      x Lar

  11. I’m feeling inspired. I’m going to try this at home. We’re always threatening to clean up, but when we do, it seems to fall apart after only a few weeks. Enough of clothes drawers that are crammed so full that you need to pat things down in order to close them, and enough of kitchen drawers that look like complex art installations. I’ll report back.

      1. The clothes drawers exercise worked a treat. I can now find what I want every day!

        Other parts of the house . are a work in progress.

  12. Hi Cath,

    Your home’s photos are really impressive: very clean, neat, light in white and pastel colors, it’s just like rooms in interior magz.

  13. I enjoyed the way you write!. I’m almost finished with the book and have started going through my clothes. I’m very excited about it.

    1. Good luck, Susan! It really does make me feel calmer living a tidier house. After six months in, it’s still been working!

  14. 1/ Wow. Just wow.

    2/ I came here looking for a rational way to organise my pantry. While I love what you have done, and especially love your ‘forest-glass’ roemers (so medieval), I can see you must have more food somewhere else (flours for baking, canned goods, oil etc. etc.)

    Could you tell me the categories you Konmaried your pantry into, please?

    No need for a picture. I feel rude even asking, but you have done such a sensational job of organsing what you have uploaded, and your food shots show you do know how to make a small kitchen really function for you.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Tarn

      Thanks so much for the encouragement!

      As far as my pantry and kitchen cupboards go, it might be a bit different from what most people have when organising their kitchens. I live in a tiny flat and my kitchen has no pantry, one small drawer and just a few cupboards. So I do actually keep most of my food in that cupboard. I have another cupboard about half the size of the one pictured full of tea and spices, oil, sauces and a few more glasses. I keep other spices and root vegetables in two baskets I have on a tiny troller next to my counter. My rice, oats and other grains I keep on top of the fridge or on the (limited) counter (space) in large tins.

      In the other few cupboards we have, I have two sauce pans, a larger shallow pan, a small frying pan, two large baking dishes, a large cookie sheet. and a few pieces of tupperware. We do cook almost every night and somehow we manage on just those few things. I don’t often bake so I don’t keep large bags of sugar or flour or necessary baking equipment like a stand mixer and cake pans.

      We do live fairly minimally and it really does still amaze me how little we can live with (though a real minimalist would probably laugh at all we do have ;D).

      I plan to do an update pretty soon on how I’ve been fairing on the KonMari method six weeks in and I can include more kitchen shots.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers

      Lauren

  15. Wow! I am so excited by this.I have just discovered KonMari, online. I’ve read a few things and watched a few videos. I have already organized my underwear and sock drawers, and find that I can get all my trousers into one drawer instead of two. I have ordered the book and can’t wait to read it. I am by no means a type A, but this is tremendously appealing.
    I never knew that folding socks could be so satisfying.

    1. Hi Ingrid
      Good luck with your tidying! I felt the same way after reading her book and getting her folding technique down. I find it soothing now!
      Cheers
      Lar

      1. Does she ever get around to the kitchen?Also Im reading the book and want to get started.Should I read the whole book first?

        1. Hi Mel

          She doesn’t really go through specifics of the kitchen but I would recommend reading the whole book first. Once I finished, even without the specifics, I felt confident enough to go through all the rooms in my house. Hope your tidying went well too!

          x Lar

  16. Stumbled on your blog after googling KonMari. Have just finished reading it and I did a huge closet and bookshelf cleanout this weekend. I was so surprised as to how much was tossed or donated! I’m a bit of a clean freak anyway, but as I applied KonMari, I saw how much I was holding on to out of habit or guilt. Books that I liked, but didn’t really use anymore. Same with shoes and some clothes. I’d also fallen into the trap she described of getting more containers and storage items instead of tackling the source. I’ve got a bunch of plastic boxes that will likely end up donated. This has really re-programmed my way of thinking, and I think just might break my shopping habit. There’s no need to get more when 1) I don’t have space and 2) I already have what I enjoy. Now I can focus on more important, creative things. Tackling kitchen ware next!

    1. Hi Trish

      I totally felt the same way pre KonMari: I was pretty neat before and didn’t have too much stuff (or so I thought). But guilt and habit often got me too! I also liked a trip to the Container Store or Muji! Good luck with your kitchen and thanks for reading!

      x Lar

  17. While I did not read every post what I did read inspired me enough to leave a post. There is something that clicks when you read Marie Kondo’s book. And it’s an excited, mega watt lightbulb of understanding Over tidying The hook is the creativity possibilities. It’s not about things at all. It’s about knowing yourself. Taking the time to focus solely (pun anyone?) on what makes you feel joy and making more room for happiness. Having a goal of happiness and being shown how to achieve it is very difficult to resist. I just got the book this week and I am very nervous at the thought of getting all my clothes in one place, at one time. I will need a very long weekend of working full days 🙂 I will do it! Bye now. Karen

    1. Hi Karen!

      I know what you mean about it clicking. I felt the same way after I read the book too! Since tidying my flat months ago, it has really stayed very tidy and it’s so nice living with less. Hope your tidying is going well!

      xo Lar

  18. Well said – that the book will give you confidence to tackle every room. I’m still on clothes and will soon move on to the next category.

  19. Love your post! And your photos! I’m totally in love with that book. I’ve done a first round through my house, did a really good job on my clothes, books, bathroom but still not pleased with my kitchen and entertainment center (which holds all my photos/scrapbooks that I really need help with!!) How did you sort through your photos & mementos? My other problem area is my husband & youngest daughter as they are nearly hoarders. I have two pieces of furniture I hate that are only taking up space & performing no function but my husband insists that he loves them & we NEED them. Ugh! But I follow Marie and leave the stuff alone. I really love your kitchen, it gives me more inspiration!

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