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Your House Does Not Need To Look Like This

Back in July, a few weeks after Matt and I had moved into our new apartment, this was what was going on in my boudoir (aka the bedroom that also houses my $99 amazon vanity — fancy pants, you know):

old-vanity

There’s a teeny shallow drawer in the front of the vanity that housed all my make-up. I was so proud of my efforts to keep almost everything for my face and hair in the drawer or my storage ottoman that I use as a vanity chair.

I mean just look how clean and white and serene that all looks, right?

bedroom2-new

Okay, it actually looks a little too sparse in the above photo, but you can see the ottoman where my hair do-dads live.

I just loved the idea that most of my stuff was unseen. I don’t like the clutter of lots of little bits and bobs — especially all the different colored labels that come along with them and do not match my neutral palette (except for you, Aesop. You, you do can sit on any surface you wish!).

But you know what transpired after a few weeks of being settled into our new space? I noticed I was leaving all my stuff out — on the floor and on my vanity, sometimes my bed. Because in the morning, when I’m rushing out the door, the last thing I want to do is carefully wrap up my blow-dryer cord and open the ottoman to put it away. And my concealer? Brow powder? No time for putting you away either!

So even though all the beauty products I own can easily fit in my storage areas, it wasn’t working. My bedroom was only clean and clutter free when I had a moment to stop and put things away (you know, like that time when I took the above pics ;D) — and that rarely happened.

So that got me thinking.

As much as I want a space that looks like this:

dreamy

that is not how I live my life. I’m not saying things can’t be clutter-free, but I don’t want a space to not work. And it doesn’t work if you can’t use it the way you really use it.

So even though I initially thought — yeah I totes put allll my stuff away every single day. That was a lie. And I fought against it for months. I wanted to use my space how I thought it should look instead of how I really need it to function.

So I hushed my inner perfectionist (she’s so noisy and bossy most of the time) and decided to think about how I go about my day-to-day face painting and hair doing — and set up my vanity that way.

So now it looks like this:

new-vanity

Yup still neat and tidy, but much easier to have my skincare and most-used make-up items at my finger tips rather than under my bum (that sounds weird — I’m talking about my ottoman storage again).

This also helps me remember the bits and bobs I want to use up. They won’t get lost in the back of my drawer or bottom of the ottoman — which has recently lead me to buying way more overpriced skin serums than one person needs.

vanity-2

So even though it doesn’t look like I’m living with less now, I’m actually less apt to buy more stuff because I see what I have on a daily basis.

This goes back to the pic at the top of this post. I think it’s so lovely and serene, but apart form the obvious styling done we know even the most minimalist of minimalist don’t live like this. When real people sleep there (who are these fancy pants people, Architectural Digest?), they would have a bottle of loud-labeled hand-lotion on their bedside table and cotton balls scattered on top of that vanity (with the teeniest mirror known to womankind) and a pair of pink Target pjs that say “Turnip the Beets” strewn on the bed. Or, you know, the rich person equivalent.

Empties

Ever since I started this journey towards minimalism, I’ve been practicing this not-so-novel method: not buying replacement products until I completely run out of them. I know, it’s not groundbreaking, but for me it’s a complete mind shift – especially when it comes to beauty products*.

Pre-minimalism-journey, if my favorite foundation or cleanser was feeling every so slightly empty, I would rush out to Target/CVS/Sephora to replenish it. So for at least a couple of weeks, I would have two of the same product in my bathroom cabinet. I blame my dad for having this mentality. Growing up we never ran out of shampoo, nail polish remover, toothpaste, canned goods, paper products, body lotion, or any other number of products because we always had extra in the house. This was due to the fact that my dad would alway buy products that were both on sale and had a coupon regardless of whether or not we needed said item at that moment.

I’m sure he saved our family a lot of money in the long run, but with minimal storage space and a *ahem* slightly more expensive taste than my dad (goodbye Suave and VOL shampoos), coupon cutting and stocking up doesn’t work for me. Plus, the more I buy, the less I know what I have – stuff always gets stuck in the back of a closet somewhere and I never see it again.

And there is an added bonus to waiting. Now that I’ve been using this method of only purchasing items when I’m completely out, I find that I can live without some products. I used to use a fancy toner. When that ran out, I spent a few days using witch hazel before rushing out to replace it, and found that witch hazel worked just as well.

So that brings me to the topic of this post – empties! I always like watching empty videos on YouTube because it’s so satisfying to see things that have been completely used up. For those of you who feel the same, here are my most recent empties:

Bumble and Bumble Dryspun Finish – This is basically the same thing as Oribe Texturizing Spray. It doesn’t smell quite as good, but it works just as well and I can get it at my local salon. I really love how it makes my hair look piece-y and it adds the perfect amount of volume. The main drawback is the price. It’s $31 and the bottle runs out super fast. I’m on my second can and I probably won’t repurchase it again unless I win the lottery or throw my budget out the window.

Bioderma – Lar got me hooked on this micellar water years ago when she was living in Scotland. I purchased this bottle a while ago in Canada. It’s available online in the states, but I don’t know of any stores that sell it (it’s available everywhere in Europe). It’s lightweight and non-greasy, but also really effective at removing makeup. Once I finished the bottle, I purchased Garnier’s michellar water at CVS since I didn’t feel like ordering a bottle of Bioderma online. It’s a nice dupe, but not quiet as good.

Korres Greek Yoghurt Primer – I go through periods where I try to purchase only all-natural makeup products. I grabbed this at Sephora when I was going through one of those periods and fell in love with it. It’s hard to describe the smell – yogurt-y, but in a good way and not overpowering – and it works just as well as other primers I’ve tried. I couldn’t find it the last time I was in Sephora, so I couldn’t replace it when my tube ran out – sob!

Pixi Glow Tonic – I don’t know why, but I feel like such an adult by upping my toner game with an exfoliating toner. Fancy-sounding, right? It’s not the cheapest skin product out there, but it’s available at Target and makes my skin feel so refreshingly smooth. I’m almost done with my second bottle and will repurchase it again as soon as I’m out.

Josie Maran Whipped Argon Oil Body Butter – I got this in a gift set. I loved the scent and it reminds me of a lighter version of the Body Shop’s body butters. The only downside is that I used it up too fast. I didn’t repurchase it because I’ve tried to be a little more money conscious and have started making my own body butter. More on that in a later post 😉

Holly Beth Organics Chamomile Cleanser – I love everything that Holly Beth Organics makes and it’s a local Atlanta brand – woohoo! The only reason I didn’t repurchase this is that I find foaming cleansers, no matter how gentle, are just too drying on my skin.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation – This is hands down my all time favorite foundation. It has a light-to-medium coverage, smells amazing, and never ever broke me out or felt greasy. I purchased this over a year ago in Scotland and I should have bought out the store’s supply. You can purchase some Bourjois products online in the states if you do a quick Google search, but you can buy directly from Bourjois’ website. So I’ll just have to stock up next time I’m in the U.K. If anyone knows of a good substitute or a reliable online store to purchase Bourjois foundation, let me know!

Acure Eye Cream – All natural, affordable, and easy to find (Whole Foods, Target, Earth Fare etc.). I haven’t repurchased it because it didn’t blow me away and I wanted to try some other brands. What I did like about it is the feel, it’s light and non-greasy, and the fact that it lasted forever.

*Obviously there are some products that this process doesn’t work for as well: toilet paper, dish soap, wine. . .

Unintentional Minimalism

Like Cath said in her last post, we did not mean to take such a long hiatus from AsianCajuns. While Cath has been going through a bit of a rough patch in Atlanta, we’ve had a steady stream of visitors to Seattle, packed and moved apartments, traveled to Vancouver twice, Edinburgh and Amsterdam, and D.C./Maryland.

But busy times, as fun as they may be, always leave me feeling discombobulated. I have a hard time settling down with my own thoughts and after living out of suitcases and boxes for a while, I start to feel really disconnected from everything — including blogging and trying to live with less.

Even though I’ve lived abroad and traveled a lot, I am still, at heart, a nester and homebody. So I always feel more anxious and disconnected when moving and traveling, and Matt and I have crammed in all the above these two months.

Today is my first full day in our new place since we moved in three weeks ago. It’s still empty and not decorated — and very unintentionally minimalist — but do you want to see it?

livingroom-new

bedroom-new

bedroom2-new

vanity-new    kitchen-new  diningroom-new

I am honestly not trying to do the white minimalist trendy look. I do not think you have to live with that aesthetic to be a minimalist or when creating a life where you live with less. My true style is more squishy sofas and cottagey-sized rooms, but our nomadic apartment-living these past five years hasn’t really leant itself to my granny aesthetic. So, in the meantime, it’s simple and open (and easy to move) until I move into this dream home or apartment.

Minimalist Target Challenge

I just made up this challenge in my head this weekend (I’m trying to look defiant in the photo above, btw). I was thinking about how I need to save money and buy less, but how I also needed to make a trip to Target to get a lamp for my living room. Even though I love me some Target, I’ve been putting off the trip because I know as soon as I walk into the store, I start realizing all the things I “need” or get distracted by a cute bag or decide I must have the newest NYX lip gloss/stick/liquid goop there is.

Target_dollar_spot

I know I’m not alone. It’s scary how easy it is to walk into Target for one or two things and leave with twenty things. So I decided to challenge myself today and only purchase the items that were on my shopping list:

  • Table lamp for living room (must be under $50 including tax)
  • Shampoo
  • Bananas
  • Kind Bars

Yes, it’s a random list, but those are really the items I needed. To some, this challenge might seem easy or silly. I’m sure there are people out there who can resist the siren song of bright, shiny, perfectly-merchandised items, but that’s not me, my friends! Leaving Target with only four items is not something I’ve ever done, but I’m determined to stop buying mindlessly – or at least convincing myself that I need something when I really don’t.

Here’s how today’s trip went down:

Not surprisingly, I was tempted by many things.

Target_beautyaisle

See me pouting over not buying the NYX suede lipstick? I swear the beauty aisles are my Achilles heel. Over the past few months I’ve gotten so good at not buying clothes, but I haven’t worked on minimalizing my makeup collection yet and find it too easy to justify purchasing a lipstick when it’s under $10.

Then there were the super cute Bauble Bar phone cases – with faux marble! Luckily their $30 price tag tempered my desire.

I pretty much love everything that Nate Berkus has designed for Target. Gold vase thing with triangular arms? Uh, yes please!

Did you know Design Love Fest designed paper plates and cups for Target?! I started justifying my need for them as soon as I walked by the display: “These would be so cute for a future party I don’t have planned yet!”

Target_thingsIwant

Ah, the good ol’ book and magazine aisle. What is it about the printed word that calms me down and then makes me want to spend, spend, spend? Target has the newest Kris Carr book. I have all of her other books and love them, so why don’t I buy this one to add to the collection? Plus, it’s all about juicing, which means it’s healthy, which means it’s promoting self-care, which means I should buy it, right?!

Who doesn’t need another fake succulent in their life? This one was in the dangerous Dollar Spot section of the store, which slaps you in the face as soon as you walk into Target. I’m a sucker for all of it.

The Who What Wear collab is killing it these days. I legitimately need more work-appropriate tops, but this navy one had long sleeves, which is too impractical for Atlanta’s spring and summer weather. Plus, I didn’t have clothing on my list.

I’m a sucker for awesomely-branded, all-natural cleaning products. I’ve never heard of Common Good before, but the packaging is so fresh and minimalist and would look so good on my cleaning supply shelves!

So did I do it? Is the suspense killing you 😉 ? Believe it or not, after all those temptations (and there were more than I mentioned in this post), I succeeded. I only bought the four items on my list:

Target_checkout

Bananas, shampoo (all natural and sulfate-free), Kind Bars (dark chocolate sea salt in my favorite), and a French Bulldog table lamp that I already named Frenchie ($34).

It’s amazing how quickly I forgot about all of my non-purchases as soon as I walked out of the Target doors and into the sunlight. NYX lipstick? Didn’t even think about it until I started typing this post. I didn’t think once about the cute Who What Wear blouse while I was planning my outfit for tomorrow. And as much as I love Kris Carr, I don’t regret not buying her book because I still need to get through the recipes in her books that I do own.

I’m fully aware that this is a first world problem and am embarrassed over how much I do fall for great branding and “oh, I should just treat myself” thinking. This challenge is just a baby step towards buying less and living a more minimalist lifestyle. I want to be more disciplined and expand the challenge to other stores I frequent like Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, or heck, even Kroger.

What are your thoughts? Think you’re up for the minimalist Target challenge?

Does it spark joy?

One of the trickiest parts of trying to live with less, is holding on to stuff for the wrong reason. In the KonMari Method, Marie Kondo suggests holding each item you own before you decide to keep it or toss it. She says if it “sparks joy” you should keep it.

I totally agree with Marie on holding each item and not just standing back and looking at your stuff, but I think the “spark joy” tenet is a bit tricky to follow.

Very rarely do things like electric toothbrushes or spatulas “spark joy” but I do absolutely need both of those things on a regular basis. Another example of things that may or may not spark joy? Shoes!

Here are some of my shoes as an example. See those pretty Rachel Comey silver oxfords up at the top of this post? Those 100%, definitely spark joy all over the place when I wear them or just look adoringly at them in the closet.

But what about these (see below) less inspiring, 4-year-old tennis shoes? These definitely don’t spark joy. Usually when they are on my feet that means I’m sweating up a storm and extremely tired and cranky. So they don’t remind me of good times or give me a feeling of unstoppable effervescence when I clutch them to my bosom. In fact, I feel more “ugh/blegh” when holding them.

shoes--tennis

According to Marie, that means I should definitely keep the silver shoes and donate the tennis shoes. But I can’t very well wear the sparking-joy-shoes while trying to imitate Kayla Itsines (aka, pretending I can do burpees and comandos like a boss lady), can I?

So instead of holding each item and thinking “does it spark joy,” I suggest holding each item and giving it a little more of a think. For example, my poor maligned tennis shoes; though they don’t spark joy because of their utilitarian nature, I am so grateful to have shoes in my closet in which it makes it easier for me to (pretend to) do burpees and squats. If something does not spark joy, does it nudge your gratitude?

I mentioned this in my closet clean-out post, but another example of sorting practical, non-sparking items is my simple white cami. This cami does not spark joy as it is incredibly unflattering when worn alone, but the lacy top it allows me to wear sends off fireworks of joy, and for that I am very grateful. Thank you, cami.

A final example if you are still finding this whole getting-rid-of-stuff tricky, take these slim looking Gazelles (below). I bought them because I had visions of me looking very fashion-editor-off-duty in cropped pants and long wool coat. I bought them for a ridiculous sum and they hurt my feet worse than any pair of heels I’ve had to break in. But I persevered because Pinterest had me believing I too could look like this.

For many reasons, I did not look like that when I had the unyielding Gazelles on my feet (not least because I might have been grimacing in pain). And, more importantly, it didn’t feel like me at all. I love the a sporty trend, but not so much on me. So as hard as it was to let them go, I did – hopefully to find a home with someone who holds them and slips them on their feet and it makes them feel like magic!

Shoe-walkaway

How I clean out my closet

Okay, I know those two photos don’t look dramatically different, but I promise it made a huge difference to me! Also, for those of you that have been following AsianCajuns for a while, you know that I KonMaried last year (and Cath did too) and, in the past five years, I’ve moved overseas (and then moved back stateside). Both of those processes means that I have far fewer clothes than I used to – I had about five times the amount of stuff in 2010 than I do now.

So all of that is to say, please don’t be discouraged looking at these pics if you are thinking that your closet is so much larger and has so much more. I was there too! And you don’t need to move overseas or take six years to pare down your closet.

I’ll walk you through my process of cleaning out my closet, and I followed these same steps when I had five times the amount of stuff. The biggest difference is that now I’m a pro at following them. So, these steps seem like common sense (and they are), but I’ll give you my tips and tricks along the way that make things so much easier. 

(p.s. Before I started to tackle my closet, I spent a week daydreaming and pinning my ideal closet – read last week’s blog post here. This really helped keep me focused during the day I sorted through all my stuff).

Mound-of-clothes-v2

Closet clear-out steps:

  1. Take everything out of your closet and lay it on your bed (so you might have to clear your bed first — I did) and on the floor. I put all my clothes on the bed and my shoes and purses on the floor.
  2. Give your closet a good dusting and vacuum or sweep the floor.
  3. Now let’s look at our ginormous mound of stuff spread out all over your room (don’t panic — I promise it will get better before we’re done). I started with the stuff on my floor because I couldn’t comfortably get to the bed without tripping over my shoes and purses mound.
  4. Now here’s a great trick from the Kon Mari method. Hold each item in your hands and really look at it. I know that sounds silly or unnecessary, but I swear this makes all the difference. Because there is so much stuff on your floor, you will be tempted to just glance at stuff and say “oh I know I want/wear/love that” or “I’m gonna just toss all this stuff.” Rash decision making, my friends. Don’t be tempted. Hold each thing and give it its due. This totally changes how you think about your stuff. Marie Kondo suggests to ask each item if it “sparks joy” but I don’t think it has to amount to joy. I think of each item and how it makes me feel. Even if it’s a boring white cami that I have no attachment to, I know it goes under my favorite lacy white blouse which I love, so it feels perfect (but does not strike joy on its own). I’ll be doing a post next week about the idea of “sparking joy” because I found that the hardest of Marie’s tenets to follow.
  5. After you hold each item and really evaluate it, put it in one of three piles: keep, donate or maybe. Holding each item and really thinking about, should keep your “maybe” pile pretty small, but if you need to come back to an item because you’re truly conflicted, that’s what the “maybe” pile is for.
  6. Like I mentioned, I started with all my stuff on the floor first, made my piles, and then started putting the “keep” pile back in my closet. I still had all the clothes on my bed to sort, but I find breaking up the process helps prevent decision-overwhelm. Once I had put all my shoes and bags back in my closet, I had a break. Breaks are important. Don’t let that scary mound of stuff on your bed make you rush through. The more thorough you are and the less hangry you are, the better decisions you’ll make. So take a break, eat a snackypoo and guzzle some water — preferably in another room where your mound-o-stuff can’t watch you.Floor-v2
  7. Okay, watered and fed, let’s tackle the bed! You know the drill now: hold each item and sort into your three piles. If you haven’t done so already, put all your “donate” items in a large bag so that you don’t mistakenly mix your piles. If you need to take a break part way through, definitely take a break. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed again, remember to think back to your ideal closet/wardrobe. Refocus on what you want and how you actually live your life now.
  8. Put all your “keep” items back in your closet. I highly recommend grouping things by color and type. I know that sounds really anal, but I swear both steps make such a big difference when getting dressed in the morning. I hang my clothing mostly by height going left to right: skirts, tees and blouses, dresses, sweaters and jackets.
  9. Now, let’s look at that “maybe” pile. You’ve given these guys some time. Hold each item again and now you must chose to put it in the keep or donate pile. My maybe pile consisted of one item (in the past, there have been much larger maybe piles), a very sensible black cardi that was Cath’s. It’s great for layering and more importantly I hate to give anything away that was Cath’s (because she lives so far away and I miss her — sob!), but I didn’t really like the way it looked on me or made me feel. I felt frumpy and rumply. So ultimately I shushed my sentimental mushiness (it likes to rear its head whenever I do any sort of clear-out) and the black cardi went in the donate pile.
  10. Any items your kept from your maybe pile, put those in their proper place in your closet. And guess what? You’re done! Pat yourself on the back, do a happy dance and plop yourself down in front of your closet and gaze in disbelief at the serene scene before you.

Goodwill-bag

My Book Clean-out

I love houses filled with books. As a kid, I always dreamed of owning a house with a two-story library. Up until I started grad school, I would have considered myself an avid reader. Then grad school started and I was so burned out with school work that it would take me at least six months to finish a non-school-related book.

Now that I’m done with grad school (woohoo!), I want to get back into my reading habits. But I also want to have a more minimalist home. So that means cleaning out my current book collection and spending more time at the local library.

So last weekend I bit the bullet and went through my books:

pileofbooks

I gathered all of my books and put them on the dining room table. Most of my books live on the bookshelf in the my dining room, but I had some scattered throughout the house. Having just moved a year and a half ago, I really didn’t have that many books – at least not by my someday-I’ll-have-a-two-story-library standards. So I started this process thinking that I really didn’t have to cull through much.

shelfbefore

With that attitude, my first book culling was a fail. I only got rid of books that I absolutely knew I was never going to read or had already read and didn’t have an emotional attachment to. So my book collection shrunk by 15%. Not much.

Then I turned to Marie Kondo’s book, which Lar and I have talked about nonstop, and reread the chapter on books. I was doing it all wrong – not asking if the books sparked joy and not owning up to the fact that I wasn’t going to read any of the books that I had owned for years and never picked up.

So I went back to my pile of books with KonMarie determination and reduced it by (roughly) 65%. Here’s what my bookcase looks like now:

shelfafter

Part of me is terrified that I now live in a house where all of my books can fit on ONE bookcase with plenty of room for other things. But the other part of me thinks that first part is just ridiculous. It’s silly to have books that I’m never going to read or don’t have any purpose. I would rather someone else enjoy those books instead of having them collect dust in my house.

Instead of giving the books to my local charity shop, I’ve been adding them to the local free little libraries around town. Also, someday I’d like to replace the bookcase with something better nicer more stylish else 🙂

Cath’s Inventory

See Cath’s closet inventory here.

Sheesh! I thought after my ruthless KonMari-ing last summer that it’d be easy to take stock of all of my clothes (plus accessories). Writing everything down has been an eye-opener. I was being all smug thinking that I had a pared down closet, but I clearly have some work to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m much further along than I was a year ago. I pretty much wear everything that I own, and no longer have a summer/winter clothes box. Nevertheless, there’s still room for improvement and I’m going to use this online list to stay accountable.

Over the next year, I’m hoping to make the following adjustments:

• Purge some of the tops I don’t wear often or don’t fit well
• Replace my worn t-shirts slowly with a few Everlane t-shirts
• Save up for better quality blouses for work, get rid of cheap ones that aren’t holding up in the wash
• Purchase some more bottoms: long pants for work, another pair of black jeans, gray skirt
• Cull through purses and necklaces again
• Purchase two more t-shirt bras (nude and black)
• Purchase camel or gray cardigan
• Find replacements for Feiyue sneakers (they’re falling apart)
• Purchase a winter wool coat (wait until winter sales)

Apart from the winter coat, pants, skirt, and cardigan, I won’t be adding anything else to my wardrobe – just refining it. I should be able to get rid of a few shirts without replacing them with something else.  And if I add any other item, I’ll get rid of an item – one in, one out. I love the idea of having a more monochromatic wardrobe than I currently do because I think I’ll save money in the long run by being able to mix and match more. My biggest downfall is that I always gravitate towards black when I’m shopping. Soon I’ll just be one giant black blob. So I need to work on adding some other neutrals to the mix.

Lar’s Inventory

Cath and I are both making long lists of what we currently have in our closets. It’s a way for us to see how much we already have and to evaluate if there is anything else we might need.

As we’ve mentioned in this post, our goal is to learn to live with less and switch out quantity with quality.

We know that looking at itemized list of what is in someone’s closet isn’t the most thrilling read, so we aren’t including the lists in our posts, but we do have them on a separate page on the site. We’ll be updating the inventory page as we subtract and add (a wee bit) to our closets.

There are many areas of our lives that could use pruning, but we thought it would be easiest to concentrate on our closets first.

A heads-up on my list, over the past five years, I have gotten rid of most of my wardrobe. I had roughly three times as many clothes in my closet in my 20s than I do now. And this process didn’t happen overnight. I’m a pack-rat at heart and sentimentalize everything — even a pair of socks. But once you start, I promise that it really does get easier.

One thing that did surprise me, was how long it took me to write an inventory of every piece of clothing I own — stuff really does add up and the process makes you realize how much you already have. If you are joining Cath and I on this journey, let us know how your inventory goes and if it’s an eye-openner for you. I think it works as a great cure any time you get itchy shopping fingers. Just look back at your inventory list or start one, and your credit cards will let out a sigh of relief.

I plan to go through my closet this weekend and see if I can whittle any more bits out of it as well as figure out what I need (if anything). I’ll be posting updates in the following weeks, so stay tuned if you’d like to know my closet-clearing process.

Cath already has a plan of action for her closet — check back this afternoon to see her post.

closet

The KonMari Method: My Closet

Konmari_method

After visiting Lar in Scotland last month, I was so impressed with how organized and spacious her 550 square foot flat felt. It’s all because of her devotion to Marie Kondo’s “life changing tidying-up” techniques. Read Lar’s original KonMari post if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. So I decided it was high time for me to jump on the tidying-up bandwagon and get started with the hardest category (for me, at least): clothes.

I’m totally embarrassed to show these before photos, but without them, you wouldn’t get the full “life changing” feel. So, here you go. My “closet” before:

Before_Konmari

before_hangers

My house was built in 1947 and has teeny, tiny closets by 2015 standards. Troy uses the small closet in the master bedroom and I use the second bedroom as my closet. I always imagined getting built-ins one day, but not anytime soon. So my closet consisted of two Ikea clothing racks, a Target cube storage unit and piles of shoes. Yes. I was ashamed of my closet.

before_drawers

So I spent one Sunday sorting through all of my clothes category by category and deciding which pieces “sparked joy” and were worth keeping. Marie Kondo believes that you have to sort through similar items all at once. So that means going through every item of clothing in your house – winter/summer clothes, coats, pjs – everything. It was pretty overwhelming to see exactly how many tops, pants, bags, scarves, jewelry, shoes etc. I had.

before_bottoms

Before_bags

It took at least five hours: sorting everything, deciding what to keep, bagging up everything to give away, deciding what to fold and hang, folding almost everything (another Marie Kondo technique), reorganizing, and putting everything away. I gave away over nine trash bags full of clothes, shoes and jewelry to Second Life, my local thrift store. And after all of that, this is what I have left:

After_konmari

The photo above includes all of my clothes (minus jackets and coats), shoes, and scarves that I currently own and it feels amazing! Everything except some blouses and four dresses are folded KonMari style:

KonMari_folding

Including my socks and underwear. Yep. Underwear gets folded.

after_socks

The fascinator is the only hat I kept and out of 20+ scarves, I only kept three:

Konmari_hairpoducts_scarves

Apart from five rings and three bangles, this board contains all of my jewelry:

after_jewelry

And these are the bags that I kept:

after_bags

Part of me can’t believe I gave away so much and the other part of me can’t believe I kept so much stuff for so long. It’s been a week since I’ve done my big clean-out and I still feel great about it. The only items I’m missing are a good black cardigan (the one I owned got a lot of use but it didn’t spark joy because it was shapeless and worn-looking), another pair of jeans (I only kept one pair!), and a winter coat.

The best part was that I didn’t buy any new organizational items. I used all the furniture I already have. Yes, someday I would like to own a proper dresser, but I’m fine spending my time saving up for something I really like. Until then, the Target cube unit will do just fine.

If you want more KonMari inspiration, read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, peruse Lar’s KonMari purse post and follow my friend’s KonMari-devoted Instagram account. Also Goop has a pretty great KonMari folding guide complete with videos.

Sorting through my clothes is only the beginning. I’d like to spend one to two weekends a month tackling different categories. I think books are up next followed by all of my papers. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!