While we're on the subject of Spring Cleaning, have you heard about the book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?" There's a lot of hype about it right now (it's a #1 New York Times Bestseller), and, according to author, Marie Kondo, her methods will keep your home clutter-free for life. My design assistant, Jillian, is reading it and starting to implement some of the techniques in her own home, and she says it's been a strange but helpful experience so far. Here are some of her thoughts on the book and the method:
Before I had a baby, I never really gave much thought to clutter. When company was coming, I'd sweep through the house, sliding piles of mail into drawers and scooping unfolded laundry off the guest bed. But most days, having some extra stuff laying around or a few unworn items in my closet was little more than an annoyance.
Then, my daughter arrived and, with her, came the baby gear: rockers and Boppys and stacks of muslin blankets. And the toys! So many toys. It seemed like every time I came home, there was another package on the front step with another toy from another relative. What do people do with all of these toys? Sit back and just let their houses fill up with BPA-free plastic?
Now that my daughter is two and VERY active, it seems like I'm constantly cleaning and straightening up, not just her toys but our clutter too. It feels like an enormous waste of time and energy every day, especially when I'd rather be actually playing with my kid or spending time with my husband. So, when I heard about Marie Kondo's book and its supposed "life-changing" effects, I jumped at the chance to try it.
One of the major differences between Kondo's "KonMari" method and others is that she advocates decluttering by category rather than by room. So, instead of spending the weekend tidying your bedroom, you would start with all of your clothing, on the floor, divided into subcategories, and go through each item piece by piece, holding it in your hands and asking yourself if it brings you joy. The items that do can stay, and those that don’t are thanked for their service and discarded immediately. (Yes, I actually thanked my low-rise, flared-leg True Religion jeans, circa 2002, before sending them off to their new, childless home.)
Kondo then has specific guidelines for how the remaining items should be hung, folded, and stored. Her promise is that, having an organized home filled only with things that bring you joy will affect you so greatly that you’ll never revert back to your cluttering, hoarding ways. It seems idealistic, I know, but I'm five weeks in, and my dresser drawers are still neatly folded (but, sadly, pretty sparse).
As a designer, I’m all for taking inventory of the things in your home and making sure you’re surrounded only by pieces you love. It’s something I advocate to clients every day, that everything – even your cleaning supplies and clothing hangers – can be beautiful as well as functional. While I’m not sold on the necessity of thanking your discarded clothes before tossing them into the donation pile, if that’s what it takes to make you feel better about passing them on, I say go for it!
It’s also important, though, to make sure that your home is actually set up to store the things you do love and decide to keep. Having a collection of vintage pottery is great, but if there are no dedicated bookshelves or cabinets to display it, it will only wind up cluttering your living space. That's where a professional designer and organizer comes into play. A big part of my job is helping clients create spaces that are filled with items that bring them joy but also provide the right amount and style of storage to allow them to actually live and function in the room. Because, in the end, it is such a satisfying feeling when everything comes together and is put in its right place. And I think Marie Kondo would agree!