Marie Kondo in My Life


Sunday January 03, 2016   

Marie Kondo folding clothes

I’ve been asked for a while if I could blog about my experience with the whole KonMari method of tidying and decluttering my entire house. I don’t want to be some zealot pushing this approach onto uninterested people. Marie Kondo even states that only those who want to read her book should read it and buying the book for someone else is a bad idea. And it makes sense. Before you really put a lot of thought into the ways your life needs decluttered you too easily point to someone you know wishing THEY’D be more organized first. But in reading the book, and going through the process, you actually let go of how others organize their lives. You realize it’s a very personal experience; decluttering. And after you do it others will often approach you about it. But then some might take offense to something they deem as a “drastic measure.”

photo of a bookcase

In my office I cleared away all remaining Japanese magazines that no longer sparked joy. I went through each one individually and kept only the ones I cherished. There were hundreds to go through. I had to make a separate trip to the recycling center just to deposit them (as the library did not want them sadly.) This process was easier than I expected as I could remember my favorite issues by just the cover. I did sort them twice. I went through my “sparked joy” pile a second time just to be sure.

photo of a wooden desk with a houseplant and aya takano art hanging

I made the mistake of mentioning to my mother that we were organizing the house last September. She’s very sentimental and she’s aware that I don’t “hang onto things” (her words not mine.) It resulted in a very heated argument over the silliest things (that I shred old bills and other very random disagreements.) There’s a chapter in the book about not “letting them see.” The people in your life can easily take offense to even just knowing you may be giving away “perfectly good ____.” So… it’s a very personal journey.

For that reason I knew I didn’t want any before and after photos. There was no reason to compare the two. I wasn’t trying to “throw away the most stuff” or “develop the most creative stacking system.” I was simply trying to surround myself with only my favorite items. Things that… spark joy.

photos of my closet showing the clothing rack and makeup vanity

Before reading Marie Kondo’s book I was already doing some of the methods on my own. I’ve always been an organized person. Ultra-tidy; tad obsessive. But I also always hit brick walls. On days I was sick the house would fall apart. Some days I would just feel bummed entering a certain room even if it was neat and clean. I’d then turn it upside down trying to “fix something” but I never knew exactly what. I looked at my possessions in more of a “what can I get rid of” way. And this approach comes up in the book. I’ll be honest; many parts of this book really struck a nerve. The craziness and frustration I would sometimes feel… it was a relief to know I wasn’t alone.

When I started seeing my items, all of them, one by one as sparking joy or not it became much easier. I realized that many of my favorite things were hidden behind or next to some items I never even had feelings towards. So why was I keeping it? To take up space on my bookcase? Because a magazine somewhere one day said I needed this to “have a real home?” I’d get sucked into that nonsense pretty easily.

The clothes I keep hanging

I used to hang all my clothes but I actually prefer the method the book recommends. I’m able to get dressed so quickly now and I never feel I have “nothing to wear.” I hang all my skirts and a few shirts or tops that didn’t seem happy folded in the drawers (wrinkled too easily or fabric not suited to folding.)

The two items on the shelf are new from Christmas. I like to display new or favorite items until I feel ready to fold them up with everything else. I like walking in and seeing them there.

shirts I fold and keep in my IKEA shelving unit

I played around with color order but definitely got the best results from Marie Kondo’s advice to go from dark to light.

Socks and tights plus belts stored in an IKEA organizer and an organizer from Target
A wire basket from Target where I keep my 2 favorite pairs of shoes

I like keeping my current favorite shoes out both for easy access and to have them on display so I always feel like I have great options.

It’s a daunting process that can take weeks. It’s done in stages. And I did everything. From clothes to bath goods, medicines, pots and pans, and even our food. Immediately after the process (which for me was like a high,) I felt both relieved and at a loss. Similar to finishing a long binge watch of a TV show. I somehow wished I could do it again but I couldn’t because it was done. Soon after living just became… easier. I got sick a month later and the things that usually fell apart didn’t. Laundry didn’t end up piling on the floor. I wasn’t behind on groceries or cleaning house or picking up. In fact “picking up” was no longer even a daily task of mine anymore. And that’s why I loved the book. My life truly is easier. It’s more at peace. I don’t feel like I always “need something new.” I’m still amazed when I go to find something and there it is in the spot it always is.

vanity area with lighted mirror and muji brand makeup case

I don’t even know how many times I purged my makeup stash in my life but it always felt like a never-ending process. I had to set a real vision of what I wanted from my makeup items before going through each item individually. It was harder than doing clothing. I ended up parting with expensive items such as Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette which never suited my skintone and always frustrated me when wearing.

But when you open a drawer and you only see your favorites… it’s an amazing feeling. Guilt-free mornings choosing what to put on was worth the process. Much of my makeup only sparked joy with the initial purchase while others were still sparking joy on a daily basis for me.

red drawer full of makeup including lipsticks and blushes

Shopping has become so much easier. I stopped “stocking up” on things. I have vastly diminished impulse-buy cravings. And I don’t feel guilty spending on something I want.

Looking at every single thing I own individually made me realize what I’m passionate about. It was akin to a journey through my life as well. I was surprised at some of the things I still had hanging around. I also got a better sense of what I enjoy and how I became the person I am today. In a way it helps hone your own personal style from clothing, to decorating, to even cooking. I couldn’t believe I’d actually have pots and pans that “sparked joy” but I did.

Bedroom
table in the bedroom I rearranged after tidying up to display some current magazines and flowers

Being able to appreciate the things that no longer make you happy and letting them go was key in a bedroom filled with an old broken alarm clock I never used and a TV that was more of an eyesore 90% of the time than useful. The TV was also a reminder for me of the times I spent in bed 2 years ago when I was too sore and in pain to even move. I hadn’t ever realized I had made that association until I had to truly consider whether or not that TV “sparked joy.”

corner of the bedroom with a lamp, clock, and candles

I’ve become extremely familiar with that initial “yes” feeling that it’s spread into my daily life. It’s given me better decision making skills. I suddenly had all this practice in deciding what I did and didn’t like that it was easier to tell when I was doing something for myself or out of pressures and guilt.

This book was the missing piece I needed for so many years. I needed to know how to part with things that didn’t make me happy. I needed this all encompassing process to achieve the sort of reboot I had been searching for throughout the years. I haven’t returned to any of my old ways. It’s too obvious after you complete the process which habits make you unhappy and which spark joy.

more photos and captions…


a glass jar with nail tools

One of the suggestions from the book I loved was that you likely have everything you need already to organize your possessions. You don’t need to run out to a container store and buy 25 different storage bins. I repurposed an old candle jar for my nail tools. The book suggests smart phone boxes make great storage bins and it’s 100% true. I, of course, had all my old iPhone boxes lying around. Now they’re organizing everything from baggu totes to beautyblender cleanser.



My cabinet used to be overflowing with skincare. Much of which I rarely used or didn’t even like using. Now I only have my trusty favorites. I do still buy new things and I keep it in a spot on the counter until I’ve made my verdict. If it becomes a favorite I find space for it. But oddly enough I’ve stopped frantically buying so much and don’t really have a space issue. Unlike before, if I’m not 100% happy with a product, I return it.

I used to keep my hair care and hair accessories in a bunch of different places. The book really reinforces centralized location for similar items and this has made my life a million times easier especially on mornings I’m running late and my hair is a mess. Now I always remember that I have nice accessories or dry shampoo when I’m rushing to get out the door.

I dedicated a basket to all “relaxing spa” items. A whole basket I can just pull out when I’m stressed and find something to treat myself.

I was skeptical about clearing off small appliances from countertops in the kitchen but it has worked out wonderfully. Pulling them out when needed and returning them when done has been easier than expected and it’s kept the counters from getting cluttered when cooking.

I went through every single plate, bowl, and glass I owned. I used to have cabinets overflowing with dinnerware that never got used.

I forgot I had these Hello Kitty dishes. I never used them really. They’re from a gift set I was given while in college and seeing them really brightens my day then I realized I could use them every day for a multitude of things and not just for holding sauces. I use them mostly to hold spices while cooking and it’s made cooking a lot more efficient!

I did our food as well. Surprisingly quick and simple I found a few better ways to organize the food we eat and I have a better idea of what we have at all times now. I used to accidentally buy an item I already had over and over again. One time I ended up with 3 bottles of garlic powder at the same time. Not anymore!

I used a mixture of repurposed gift box lids and Target storage solutions. The bag I keep rice and potatoes in is a $3 burlap bag Target sells in their dollar area.

 

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51 Responses to “Marie Kondo in My Life”

  1. Hannah says:

    I am going through a process of what I call ‘cleansing’ my apartment. I have to do it a smaller periods because of how overwhelming it can be.

    There are some things I cannot ditch because they are a few things that I have left of my father.

    I applaud you for doing this! Hearing about your journey is inspiration for me to continue on with mine.

  2. Tiff says:

    Ahhhh I know what you mean by personal experience! I am a very minimalist person myself but my husband is a hoarder… It drives me nuts! I’ll declutter the home but then he’ll come around and clutter it up again… Argh :(.

    • jenny says:

      Yeah this issue with shared space came up in the book a lot. Like… A LOT. I’m lucky that my husband started reading the book soon after I did. Before discovering this process that was a big issue. He’d always have little piles of just STUFF all over the house.

  3. I have her book and have yet to read it because I’m afraid it will push my OCD button and I don’t have time to do such massive cleaning at the moment :( it’s such a horrible excuse i know! But every short free time I have in my bedroom, I ALWAYS reorganize my makeup collection. It makes me happy to put everything back in place again. I need to do it with my clothing and books though…then eventually the whole house :-)

    • jenny says:

      It definitely takes time so you have reason to hold off. I know I’d come home from work, cook dinner, then tidy until bedtime. It was tough leaving things a mess until I was completely done but totally worth it.

  4. Adrienne says:

    I love this post. I’ve been trying to declutter my life for the past few years. First with clothes and then skincare and now books and desk items. And I noticed it always comes down to the same conclusion you had. Do I use it? Do I love it? Does it make me happy? And once I figured that out, it made all the decision making a lot easier, and now I look forward to moving next summer, just to go through all my things and declutter again haha

    • jenny says:

      I found the “do I use it” question tricky for me b/c it would lead into the “what if I need it in the future?” question that used to make me hold onto stuff I really didn’t love. People already thought I was a minimalist before but I ended up with over 30 bags of stuff that didn’t “spark joy!”

  5. Amy says:

    Love this entry! I am about halfway through this book and your post made me even more excited about starting my own organization journey!

  6. Susan says:

    THANK YOU!

    I have been known to be a “neat-freak”, but after my cleaning, I would feel like I’m not completely done, if you know what I mean. I have also been told that there are several things I have in excess regularly (I stock up when I am about to run out of ____). I think this will work wonderfully for me!! Thank you for sharing!!

    • jenny says:

      I know exactly what you mean and half the book is Marie Kondo sharing those exact experiences she had in her life. That’s why I liked the book so much. It really addressed those unhappy feelings even if you had felt you were being productive. The book also addresses the “stocking up” issue that I too used to do on a regular basis! I’ve finally stopped and am soooo much happier for it.

  7. Megan says:

    This is a pretty personal post of yours so i feel kind of like a dick saying, “wow, your house looks beautiful!” first, but I’ll get it out of the way.

    I’ve seen you mention it before, and I’ve started trying to look more at all my things that way (joy/not joy), especially as lately I’ve felt a bit oppressed by having too many things around . I haven’t devoted a ton of time to it, but it seems to help! And like you mention, I do think the joy approach feels better than the “get rid of things!” one. It’s good to read this and know that it was such a happy making thing for you!

    (also, your makeup table is at one end of your walk in closet? good idea! *takes notes for future house*)

    • jenny says:

      Thank you. I just wanted to share what’s been working for me in hopes maybe it could help others figure out what works for them. My biggest issue was getting over the guilt of letting things go. Because I could easily point to the things I LOVE but always thought that keeping just those wouldn’t be enough. But boy I was WRONG. I have just the right amount I need these days :)

  8. Xin says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post! I have always been loving personal post from you. Actually the very old ones, that nearly seems to be a journal. I have been ‘KonMari’ through the appartment the last few weeks myself and actually got in a big fight with my fiancee. He has always been a person, that couldn’t let ‘things’ go. So when he saw what dinnerware I gave away, he couldn’t take it anymore. So that’s why I could totally understand, why you shouldn’t let other people see, what you declutted. On the other side dinnerware are things that we both are using, so I should have been more considerate what he thinks about it… as mentioned in the book anyway. Cloth and make up wise I can totally feel the difference… but it is really much more… it’s a change in the thinking of your life. LOVE this post!

    • jenny says:

      YES! Wow, I can so relate to this! I was really lucky my husband wanted to read the book too and then do the process and then LOVE the process. Because before we would fight about this stuff.

      I will admit that I did the kitchen solo 1 day. I asked what sparked joy for him in there but he forgot there was a pan he loved using & I didn’t and I tossed it. Ended up buying a new one we both liked!

      I really needed that shift in thinking though. Being frustrated by the things around you so much was such a waste of energy.

  9. veronica says:

    Love this post! Book marking!!

  10. Annapearl says:

    OMG.
    Buying.
    Book.
    Now.

    Thank you!

  11. ashlyne says:

    haven’t really commented in a long time but I want to say that I really love this post! trying to go through decluttering as well and you inspire me to pull up my socks and continue on with the process. and i must say that your house is beautiful!

  12. Angela says:

    your home is so beautiful, i’m not usually a fan of yellow but i just adore your room. i’m glad you’ve found something that works for you! i tend to flip flop between wanting to just keep or bin everything, and it gets exhausting. i think i am a little bit of a hoarder though, eep! sadly i’m in a flat right now that does not spark any joy for me, but maybe one day when i live in a nicer building with a bit more control over my surroundings i will give this method a go.

    i really like your pamper basket though, sometimes when i am stressed from work i want to relax but the thought of getting everything together just seems like too much effort. i think i’ll make my own!

  13. Marleny says:

    I remember a good friend in my past letting me borrow this book. It put into words the “relationship” I strived to have with my possessions, but more importantly, the relationship I wished to have with myself. There’s a lot more I have to do to cope with my ptsd diagnosis in healthy ways, but this book made me realize how much of those coping methods are tied to the home. Glad the book inspired you, as it did for me :)

    • jenny says:

      Beautifully put! Her childhood memories coincided with mine so much. It was really refreshing to read! It helped me let go of “perfect” which was really holding back my happiness. And the weight of all the memories around me that I needed to let go.

  14. chocoNIKKI says:

    This post has come at such a coincidentally good time!! Since coming back from my trip to Europe a little over a week ago, I began to go on a frenzy of cleaning and purging – similar to the Marie Kondo method I guess, but without realizing it. I have to say cleaning and having less things really makes my life feel soooo much easier – I used to get anxious whenever I had to work on assignments at home… I would have to frantically tidy before beginning, maybe having too many things was part of the reason? Also I love your house’s new look Jenny, super simple and refreshing. ^^

    • jenny says:

      I was definitely guilty of “tidying” as a diversion from an important task. When everything is in its place, and you love it, this is literally not an option for your mind to give you and you’re forced to face your challenge!

  15. M says:

    I am SO glad to see that you made a post on this! I love this book so much because it helped me realize that all my “stuff” contributes to my (severe) anxiety. I am super prone to clutter and much too sentimental, so letting go of things is hard for me. Realizing that having all of these “things” surround me does not bring me comfort or make me feel safe, and actually makes me uneasy, was revolutionary for me. I am not nearly done with my KonMari process, but I already feel so much lighter.

    • jenny says:

      It makes me so happy to read this because it’s a lot of what I went through as well. I think that’s such a huge lesson from the book! Your attitude hasn’t already shifted so much that I know you’ll finish your process in time!

  16. Thao says:

    Even the physical book itself brings me joy. The cover is just so beautiful. Although I feel like I need to reread the book and take notes or bookmark things because you mentioned tips that I had forgotten about. ^^;;

    And thank you for sharing how you’ve implemented this throughout your house. Usually, I only see closets but it’s so nice to see how it’s applied to the bathroom and kitchen.

    • jenny says:

      I featured the areas where changes really occurred. Two rooms were not “mine” and the living room & a few others didn’t really change because I already had those pretty close to settled before. I know; when I would google for other people doing the process I almost always just saw closets too. To be fair it /is/ the first step but I think a lot of people just wanted a quick fix for their closets. Plus the change is usually pretty obvious lol. So I wanted to share different spots of my home that really changed dramatically.

  17. Trish says:

    Oh goodness, this post gives me life!

    I absolutely agree with decluttering being a personal experience. In my case, my grandmother was a MASTER HOARDER, attaching sentimental value to literally everything. We couldn’t throw anything out (magazines, clothes, you name it). Her home was always organized clutter, but clutter none the less.

    Now, cleaning and reorganizing are practically cathartic! I’m definitely checking out this book! Wonderful post. So glad I found your blog!

    • jenny says:

      If you pick it up I hope you like it! My Mom is a bit of a hoarder. She’s gotten much better over the years but mostly because my Dad is such a minimalist. I have my Dad’s minimalism taste with my Mom’s sentimental tendencies. So while I always purged stuff I still felt bad about it. This book REALLY helped me drop the unneeded guilt over that process!

  18. Aireen says:

    I loved this book! & it really is life changing. Thanks for sharing your space, very inspiring :)

    I have the same make up vanity & im curious as to where you got the red trays in the drawer from, I’ve been looking for something that fits! Thank you!

  19. katalin says:

    I just found your blog through Bloglovin’ because I’m sick and tired of people always photographing products to offer me to buy next time I’m out, shopping.. I love reviews of course.. but I’m missing those real stories, personal journeys that blogging is use to be about! I’ve red enough stories about concealers and essie nail polishes.. so to find your blog is truly refreshing! I was so inspired by this post that sparked my interest looking into: who the heck is Marie Kondo and what is the KonMari method..? Your photos are truly inspiring, worth much much more than any photo in home style magazines, as we all know, those “homes” have nothing to do with real-life, everyday living. So your home… How is this even possible?! And so thank to YOU I did buy the Magic of Tidying book and wow! Now that’s a way to start a new year! I just want to write you, thank you for the inspiring photographs, and that you taking the time to write down your journey and experiences and I cannot wait for myself to be a more organized person by following your footsteps! Thank you for inspiring! <3

    • jenny says:

      I’ve lamented over “the death of blogs” as well. I hardly read blogs anymore and the ones I do (outside of tumblr) are usually by some company. I miss the blogs of 5+ years ago. So I truly appreciate you taking the time to comment on mine.

      Home magazines! They can be both a source of inspiration and frustration. Or when you do see a lived-in home it’s usually someone in “the industry.” I will never have the same home as an artist or model or musician. I’m a web developer; I want to see more web developer homes and then some haha!

      I really hope the book is a source of inspiration for you and a great start to 2016!

  20. butakimu says:

    What a great post! Everyone I visit your site I learn something new! I’ve been wanting to clear out my junk but haven’t been able to do so. Gonna go check out Marie Kondo now :)

  21. winn says:

    This was really interesting! I heard the name Marie Kondo a few times here and there but I never really read into it/her. That part about your mother finding out reminds me of a time I was trying to sort out old clothes to donate because my mom asked me to… She ended up taking most of it back because they were “perfectly fine” ide.

    • jenny says:

      This story with the clothes is literally in the book too! My Mom is a total sentimental junkie. A few xmas’s ago my grandmother gave me her old wooden ornaments which I LOVED. But because I had to fly home I ditched the original huge box they came in and packed them in a smaller box. The next year I’m at my Mom’s… there’s the old ornament box! She saw it in the trash and pulled it out! I said I don’t need it, I have them stored at home with my others. She said she would hang onto it in case I ever changed my mind… it’s still in their house, empty, useless.

  22. Mina says:

    Way, what a great post. Also, can I ask what is the name of your makeup mirror? I have been looking for something that size for a while?

    • jenny says:

      It’s the Zadro Dimmable Florescent Dual-Sided Mirror. You can find it on sale at Bed, Bath, & Beyond or Amazon! I got mine at half price so definitely look around before purchasing full price if you decide to get it!

  23. Moni says:

    I love this blog post! I can practically feel your contentment (relief?). :)

    I was skeptical of Marie Kondo at first, but the bits I got from you and another friend convinced me that this was a viable way to let go.

    I may pick up the book for organizing tips. I am really particular about the way my environment looks and where things are placed or arranged, but I find it hard to actually achieve what I want. I’m also on a tight budget, so I’m especially pleased that the book tells you that you likely already have what you need.

  24. Rei says:

    How wonderful! Thank you so much from this post. I’m currently undergoing psychotherapy and this strikes as a very therapeutic book to transition from the management of my hoarding symptoms to actually making my home a relaxing environment.

    My bedroom and studio currently inhabit the same space (frustrating right?) and my simple aim is to prevent my work table from becoming cluttered with bedroom items everyday, so much that my mornings are spent tidying and reorganising or worse I feel hopeless and spend all day on my computer.

    Would you recommend Spark Joy or Life-Changing Magic? Also I love that your office is bright yellow!

    tl;dr: Thank you for inspiring me with this moving personal post :)

    • jenny says:

      I’m currently reading Spark Joy but it’s a tiny bit repetitive after reading Life-Changing Magic. I think those who just want to learn “how-to” only that Spark Joy is good BUT I cannot recommend Life-Chnging Magic enough! I think you might enjoy reading Life-Changing Magic a lot more.

      For me it was very therapeutic. Marie Kondo explains her emotional days with “tidying” as a child and young adult. I found those stories in the book extremely helpful (paralleled my experiences) as it felt like a truly emotional journey after reading it. Spark Joy is just the facts. I’m reading it for further tips but there’s no emotional connection in the book.

      • Rei says:

        Thanks, Jenny! I’m a few chapters into the Life-Changing Magic audiobook and I’m really enjoying it; Marie’s childhood stories are so relatable, as you say.

        It’s already been a week and I have 3 bin bags of clothes I need to detach myself from but I have high hopes for this method.

        Really appreciate the time you took to share your experience.

  25. dish says:

    Wow! I’m so impressed with how strictly you followed the book! I read it and really enjoyed the things she had to say, but I still haven’t been able to fully follow the method. I really hope to find the ability to follow through like this. Your house looks great! It must feel amazing to be surrounded by only the things that bring you joy.

    • jenny says:

      Thank you. For me the book aligned pretty well with how I already organize and perceive things but I think it’s OK if you have to find your own way of doing things too as long as it gets you to the same goal!

      Some things I tried but didn’t work for me. Like removing everything from my work bag each night. I ended up forgetting things and it would cause me to be late. But because I carry the same things with me every single day I think it’s better for me to just leave them in there as long as they stay organized. So I found I had to tweak some of the suggestions.

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