Marie Kondo in My Life
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
I played around with color order but definitely got the best results from Marie Kondo’s advice to go from dark to light.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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…
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.
Branching Out with Candles
So for many many years I only bought Bath & Body Works candles. The 3-wick ones because nothing else was strong enough for the open design of my house. But that also meant stalking the store for their 2 for $22 sale over and over coupled with their limited fragrance selection. After receiving some candles from Catbird as gifts I started shopping around for woodsy-based candles and saw Target had gotten these large, inexpensive, soy candles in simple glass jars.
The black orchid and amber is fantastic. If you’ve ever liked those woodsy teakwood candles found at Madewell (or UO) this is 3 times in size and easily the same price or cheaper. It fills a large room with fragrance as well.
The sparkling yuzu is nice but subtle. I was surprised to see yuzu as a fragrance but it’s really more mellowed in this candle than I was hoping. Probably wouldn’t get this one again.
Also I’m not usually a fan of Yankee Candle except for the fresh cut roses. It has a really nice pure rose fragrance. No musk or added florals just roses.
Lastly I picked this one up at Anthropologie on clearance. It has a nice marine fragrance and I like the design so much I might keep it for holding tea light candles.