The tidy gene is kicking in for thousands of people around the globe thanks to Marie Kondo and her fabulous books. But is it worth the hype and what does life look like after your decluttering journey has finished? Here is my home 2 years after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.
Decluttering with the KonMari Method: Key Concepts
If you’re not familiar with the KonMari method I’ll summarise. Instead of decluttering by room, Marie Kondo suggests decluttering by category and in a specific order: clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous and finally mementos and photos. Split each category into manageable portions based on how much time you have to dedicate to the task. For instance, instead of starting with all clothing you could choose t-shirts. Gather every t-shirt you own in a pile on the floor and go through them one at a time, holding each item in your hands. Keep only the t-shirts that ‘spark joy’ and release the rest.
When organising the KonMari Method recommends folding as much as possible and storing things vertically, as opposed to stacking. Items from each subcategory are stored together and in their logical ‘home’.
Did I Follow the KonMari Rules?
2 years ago I inhaled The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I was champing at the bit to get started. The promise of letting go of clutter was tantalising and spurred me on to be ruthless! If it didn’t resonate it didn’t stay. I re-homed at least two thirds of my wardrobe and threw out years of old University assignments, books and paperwork. Already my space felt considerably lighter. Before my KonMari journey I was struggling to keep my clothes from accumulating in a pile on the floor. You can see that my wardrobe today is worlds away from that! Bear in mind that I have a second hanging space full of jackets. Still, I agree with Marie that the space you save by folding garments and storing them vertically is incredible. I still fold everything from shopping totes to my socks and stockings.
I finished sorting, folding and organising the majority of my possessions within a month but the miscellaneous items took longer. And although I released a lot of memorabilia I never got around to my photo collection. I often use old photographs as painting references and I couldn’t justify throwing any of them out. Sorry Marie. I still can’t do it!
What Didn’t Stick?
If you’ve ever visited our store you’ll know that we are anything but minimal, in fact we love the eclectic look! So, my only reservation with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is that it implies that a minimalist space is the desired outcome. You could conclude that having anything left on your kitchen counter or bathroom sink is clutter which should be stored in a cupboard. Marie Kondo’s second book Spark Joy addresses this shortfall and recommends self-expression through displaying the items that spark joy. Now, surrounding yourself with all of the things that bring you joy is something I wholeheartedly agree with.
Be prepared to really nut out problem areas because half-hearted organising simply doesn’t stick. Only what I thoroughly worked on (both in the clearing out stage and then organising) stayed beautiful. And even then, some cases required trial and error before I found the perfect solution. Mums sewing draw, for instance, needed a second attempt with focused attention. The key is to store as much as possible vertically in the right sized boxes. Then it’s just a game of Tetris to fit everything in. Draws also need to be full or else the contents will roll around and get messy almost straight away.
Life Lessons Learnt from Decluttering
The biggest lesson I learnt is that it is OK to let things go especially when I’m only holding on in case it’s useful ‘one day’. Truly, I haven’t missed a single thing, and I released the contents of a whole room. This willingness to accept change has no doubt influenced other areas of my life.
I have found that when you keep only what resonates there is space for it to be in your home in a very harmonious way. Now, it is obvious when I have accumulated too much, because I can feel the heaviness as soon as I enter the room. Weird, I know!
The books also changed the way I shop. Everything that comes into my home has to pass the joy test. I’ve always valued quality over quantity but by really focusing on how an item makes me feel, the choice to buy or not is even easier. I’ve also ripped the labels off of everything in my pantry! It may have driven my partner mad, but the kitchen feels calmer and quieter and how I feel in my own home has become very important to me.
Two Years Later: Did I Relapse?
No, but I wouldn’t say I decluttered once and for all. My house still goes through bouts of untidiness. Returning home after a trip often leaves a few rooms in a mess for a solid week, or two. The difference is that I no longer feel the need for an overhaul. The process permanently set my standards higher and I haven’t slipped back into the piles of clothes I used to ‘find’ in my room. I simply don’t have as much superfluous stuff and anything out of place is now glaringly obvious. In photographing different areas of my home today I was surprised to find that only a few tweaks were necessary here and there before it was photo ready. Hurrah!
Was it Really Life Changing?
A few months after I ‘finished’ decluttering I moved out of my share house and into a gorgeous little 3 bedroom home with my partner. Was it KonMari magic at work? Maybe, maybe not – but I’m glad I moved AFTER I had already considerably lighten the load. It also cemented a new level of self-worth, because my happiness became more important to me than the strings attached to the possessions I was able to release. I now appreciate that there is immense freedom in releasing physical baggage as well as emotional baggage.
In a more practical sense – my wardrobe is beautiful and I can see everything at a glance. Packing for a holiday has become a breeze, and my suitcase has stayed tidy on all of my trips. Even though my home is fuller than it was after I KonMari’d it, I am happy to say that it is still calmer and easier to live in, and I have the perfect tools if ever it gets out of hand again. For me it seems that tidying up was indeed life changing.
So, I guess I’m a KonMari convert! I highly recommend Spark Joy and I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experience. Did the KonMari Method work for you?