This is Marie Kondo.
Kondo has written two books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, in which she describes her unique Konmari cleaning method that has taken the tidying world by storm. Kondo also has a new Netflix show called Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, where she enters a messy, cluttered house and turns it into a joyful, tidied home full of zen and perfectly folded clothes.
I watched the first episode where Marie transforms a young family's home and helps the couple deepen their relationship. I was intrigued by her method and thought it would be fun to try it out. She's also one of the happiest, smiley people I've ever seen, so I figured something must be working for her!
I'd finished an okay clean on my room a few days, so I thought I'd tackle an arguably even more daunting task: my closet.
I wanted to try to have the most authentic Marie Kondo experience possible, so I decided to tidy in the same order they do on the show: assessing the damage, thanking the room, clothes, books, and sentimental items. Also, I normally listen to an audiobook or some music while I clean, but I noticed they didn't do that on the show. As I was researching for this blog post, I looked up what other people listened to while they were Konmari cleaning. I found this discussion and it seemed like people didn't listen to music during the decision process, but some put on some classical music as they folded or organized. I decided to start out with no music on, but decided that if I get bored or sleepy, I might turn on some classical music. Kondo also mentioned that you should "purify" your space (aka making it feel open and peaceful). I opened my shade and let the sunshine pour in. Seeing a bright, snowy day did make me feel happier! Another thing that makes me feel tranquil is candles, so I lit a Yankee "Vanilla Cupcake" candle, which smells so good! She didn't recommend this, but I also popped a bit of chocolate in my mouth before I started, because that makes me happy :). Let's go ahead and jump right in!
The first thing I'm going to do is take a really good look on the area that I'm tidying. Right now, it's my closet. This is what my closet looks like right now:
As I was taking some pictures of my closet, I realized that that was where I kept a lot of sentimental items. I have all my dolls from when I was little, memorabilia from when I went to the National Spelling Bee, tea sets and toys I used to play with . . .
I feel like sentimental items is going to be a hard category for me. I think it's so fun to keep objects that remind you of the past, but it's going to be tough sorting through and organizing all of the belongings I've saved. For clothing, I'd like to go ahead and give away those items I no longer wear or need.
Hopefully organizing my remaining clothes in a way in which I can find them easily will help my closet look less cluttered and help me have less trouble trying to figure out what to wear. It might also give me room for new clothes, which is a plus! There's a storage organizer in there as well, which I'd like to make better use of.
For my birthday last year, I got a new bookshelf, which I set up in my room. I organized it to look beautiful like these bookshelves and I think it's a really nice addition to my room. I have more books than what can fit on that shelf, however, so I kept this one in my closet. It's pretty messy, so I'm hoping to be able to give away some I don't read anymore and organize them in categories.
As you can see, there's also a good bit of storage above my clothing racks. Hopefully I can order those in a way that looks good - not like I just shoved them up there!
Thanking the Room
A unique thing that Kondo does before she tidies is thank the room. During this process, she sits in a spot in the room and thanks it. What I did was just sit quietly for a minute or two and thank God for giving me this room that holds my belongings, keeps me safe, has things that remind me of treasured memories, etc.
People on the show acted transformed when they did this, but I didn't feel a massive revelation. I do think that it put me in the right mindset though. I felt more on the side of gratefulness and wanting (dare I say it) to clean my room than dreading it and thinking of it as a chore.
For the clothing section, I pulled out all the clothes in my closet and set them on my bed. Wow! I remember seeing this section on the show and thinking, Oh my gosh, these people have so many clothes! They must shop all the time. When I set out to complete this challenge, I definitely did not think I would have as many clothes as them. But when I set everything on my bed, I was so surprised! It felt like a mountain of clothes and I still had some sitting in my dresser. I blame it on my sister's hand-me-downs. The woman in the first episode remarked that she was amazed and felt almost guilty for having so many clothes. I think the step of putting all your garments in one place is an important step. It puts things in perspective and shows you that you definitely have room to be generous; you don't need all these clothes!
The "spark joy" sorting process was interesting for me. Some items I held up just made me want to smile - they sparked joy! I have a tendency to hold onto things I don't need, so I tried to force myself to follow a rule. If I found myself trying to talk myself into keeping clothes, like I don't really love this, but maybe I'll need it later, I gave it away. It's a tricky rule to follow though, because it has some exceptions! Maybe there is a shirt that doesn't spark joy for you, but you need to keep it because you need to wear it to certain events, like a school uniform or a shirt for work. Keep those! Only throw items out that are optional for you to keep but they don't spark joy (like make you feel warm and gooey inside, or make you want to smile). If you're still having trouble, imagine seeing that item hanging up in a store. Would you gravitate toward it and want to try it on? Or would you finger it and then walk away? If your answer is the first one, keep it. If it's the latter, give it away. Don't forget to thank it! It makes you feel peaceful and helps the letting go process be much easier. Like Marie Kondo says: "Is this piece of clothing something you want to take with you into the future?"
My younger brother Dawson reading as I sort through my books
Marie Kondo actually received some backlash, if you can believe it, referring to her method of tidying books. Avid readers told Marie to "back off" and "keep her hands off" their books, claiming that their books were very different from other household items and were fine chilling on their shelf, not in a Goodwill box. As someone who loves books and has a lot of them, I questioned skipping this step. However, as I was researching for this blog post, I stumbled upon an interview where Marie Kondo explained her stance on books. She said that if they sparked joy, keep them. I agreed with this mantra much more strongly!
I pulled out all of my books and placed them on the floor, then sorted through them. Eventually, I ended up giving away exactly zero books and simply re-arranged them on the shelves. I decided that it wasn’t important for me to cut down my number of books because I read them all often, so they were used on a regular basis, and they brought me joy. Isn’t that the point of this challenge? To give away what you don’t use and cherish what makes you happy? Maybe books aren’t like that for you. Maybe you collect letters from loved ones, photos, or paintings. If your collection is organized, you love all that you have, and you feel joyful looking at it, I’d say you’re good to go!
As you can see from the pictures in the assessment section, I have a lot of sentimental items in my closet. Dolls, pictures, trophies . . . you name it. For this section, I sorted through all of the objects and decided which ones sparked joy. Then, I placed all of the things that I liked and wanted to keep into boxes (because we all know Marie loves boxes) and placed them above the clothing racks or in my organizer. This category was tough. I didn't realize how much stuff I was hoarding! I had huge recycling and trash piles when I was done, but it was worth it!
The Konmari method is no joke! The whole project took me about a week to finish, but I didn't work as much as I would have liked on some days because of school and other activities. I let go of a good bit of items, and I'm happy with how my closet looks now. I can actually walk into my walk-in closet now!
It's nice knowing that everything is in its place. I don't have as many clothes, but I like all of the pieces that I kept, so I think it's actually easier to pick out something to wear. The floor is now clear (thank goodness!) and I was even able to create a little reading nook on top of one storage container. Overall, I really enjoyed this experiment. It wasn't the most fun thing I've ever done, because it involved cleaning, but Marie Kondo's method was more enjoyable than cleaning my room normally is. I would definitely recommend it to others!