Before I show you about how I’ve Kon Mari’d my space, I want to give you a bit of background on me. I think it’s important for you to know that I love and thrive in extremes. We’ve done Dave Ramsey (be debt free) and Whole30 (eat what your body needs, no sugar, no grains and no dairy for 30-days). We’ve had three kids in nine months (have I mentioned that? I don’t tell many people). Whatever I do, I do all the way and then I tell everyone I know about how life-changing that particular thing is.
I have to do something all the way, 100% in order to find the middle ground where I want to live. We don’t do Dave Ramsey 100% anymore because we’ve figured out how to live in the space between what ‘Dave says’ and real life. We aren’t always on Whole30, because we’ve learned how to eat so that we can feel healthy.We go all the way, then we back down.
I say this to tell you that Kon Mari is extreme. There is no gray area here. It’s “get you house in order and do it quickly and in this order”. With this type of method, I thrive because the “rules” are clear. Amanda is also Kon Mari’ing her space. She hasn’t read the book. She hasn’t even asked me for advise. She’s read couple articles online and she just doing it in her time and her way. Which is fine! To each his own. But my way is this: black/white, do it 100% then back down to normalcy.
When Marie Kondo talks about decluttering quickly, she says six months is an appropriate span of time. I have completed 85% of my house in 14 days. I did the first 65% in 7 days after finishing the book. I actually embarked on this when Andy was out of town: I skipped meals, went to bed late, woke up early, filled bags with trash, recycling and items to donate and prayed he would never see what left the house. Most women don’t want their husbands to see what they bring home from the store. I didn’t want mine to see what I’d thrown away. I’ve probably purged 15-20 large black trash bags of stuff in the last two weeks.
The only categories left are: Christmas decor, mementos and tools/garage. The entire first floor of my house is organized and contains only items that bring me joy. The tools/garage is an area that I am listing here, but it’s Andy’s space and the beauty of Kon Mari is that I don’t have to hound him to do it. He can do whatever he wants with his tools and garage. But I’ll tell you that making this life change for myself, has inspired him and he’s totally on board with no nagging!
My dad used to say, “There is place for everything and everything has it’s place”. Louie Trotta was the original Marie Kondo. The problem with the Louie method (and the method I used for years) is that the only one who knew where the “right place” was was Louie (or in my own house- me) AND the right place tended to be multiple locations. This does not work for a family of five. Everyone has to know where everything goes.
Which is why this method is so genius. When you store all of one item in one place (example- paper clips) then everyone in your family knows where the paper clips are- and where they should be returned to! So guess what, mom doesn’t always have to be the picker-upper. Everyone in the family is a picker- upper and everyone in the family knows where everything is, so mom isn’t always, “Hang on. Let me find that for you.” Or “Why didn’t you put that away??” We all know where the markers, paper clips, flashlights, batteries and simple tools are located, so we can all do the work!
Here are just a few photos of some areas of my house that now are filled with only things that bring me joy and which have been decluttered with the Kon Mari method. I know they don’t pack the same punch as if I would have taken before pictures. Sorry.
This bookshelf contains only books that bring me joy. The top shelf especially makes me happy. It has only things I love on it. The books are only books I love and cherish. Decluttering books was great fun! It let me look back lovingly on all the things I have been into over the years from marathon training, to emergency prep. This bookshelf had it all.
One of the most satisfying things was decluttering health and beauty items. Throwing away all hotel soaps was like purging blackness from my soul. I’ve had a lot of hair styles and I’ve collected a lot of hair products. They are all now gone and my linen closet has only stuff we need and use.
This cabinet used to be FULL of kids stuff. Papers, crayons, games and toys. It is now nearly empty. There are a few toys of Avett’s, but otherwise- empty. The basket to the left on the vintage school chair is our “this item is out of place” basket. We put everything that has been left somewhere in there and at the end of the day, anyone can put the items in their proper place.
This is the kid’s bookshelf. It is not perfect, but it is close enough. V & E are still kids, so I don’t nag about the condition of their room. Once a week or so, we get the place back in order and that’s that.
My closet is nothing short of beauty for me. Every piece of clothing I own- winter, summer, swimming- it’s all in there. I took the doors off and moved the dresser inside because I had plenty of room. The top shelf has scarves, bags, hats and boots. But it’s all there and I love everything in it.
My bedroom is a complete and total sanctuary. I’ve tripled my floor space. There’s room for the dog, Eloise when she can’t sleep in her own room, a chair (not pictured) and a laundry basket that brings me joy.
Now that you’ve seen what brings me joy, I do have a few tips of my own to add to Marie’s method. Because she is clearly single and not an American, there are a few things I think should be noted.
Tip #1: Involve your kids
When Andy was out of town, I took the opportunity to do all the kid’s stuff with Vaughn and Eloise. We went through every piece of clothing, every game, every paper they ever took a pencil to and asked each other, “Does this bring you joy?” Everntually, all you could hear as we quickly sorted through books and miscellany was, “Joy, Eloise?” “Joy, Vaughn?” I fully let my kids be a part of this and I wouldn’t have dared tackle it on my own. I learned a lot about them as we sorted through their few belongings. I learned what books they love and why, what mementos they keep and why and what toys really bring them joy. It was a great experience to go through this together! The beauty for me with involving my kids is that I no longer have to fuss when something is out of place. Now I calmly say, “I feel like you are disrespecting the hard work we did by not returning this item to it’s proper place.” The kids get this and it’s not me vs. them anymore; it’s us plus hard work.
Tip #2: Work as quickly as possible; results beget results
As I said, I love extremes. When I set up to do this, I ensured I didn’t have much else going on (like I ever do?). I knew I had a couple of slow weeks in which I could get as much done as possible. Because I am not a hoarder and because I was already “organized”, this really didn’t take too long. But start with your clothes as she says, because when you can look at your bedroom and suddenly it’s a sanctuary, you’ll keep going!
Tip #3: Don’t try and sell anything
I always have a box of stuff that is for the garage sale I’m
going never going to have. The last time I had a garage sale was two years ago. So, I always have a box of shit that I am not going to sell or use. It’s pointless. As I sorted through my stuff, I did have a few moments of regret for items which I paid top dollar and am now donating. But I let my heart be glad that someone else will have that stuff. Once I decided that I was doing this, I HAD to get all the stuff that didn’t bring me joy out of my house. If you have an ample amount of space and you want to dedicate a room for stuff you’ll sell, great. But I just don’t recommend it. I think it impedes progress. It’s easier to just sort by “trash”, “recycling” and “give away”.
Tip #4: Save any IRS papers or anything related to an official legal matter
Marie’s take on papers is very simple: “Rule of thumb- discard everything”. I actually laughed out loud at this and how forward and frank it was. I loved the sense of freedom encroaching on me as I imagined dumping bin after bin of paper into the recycling bin. But, it was not to be exactly that way. Apparently, the IRS can ruin your life in one fell swoop. So, we kept the past tax returns. We’ve also adopted internationally, which means if there was ever some kind of dispute about anything, we’d really need documentation. So, we kept all our adoption papers. Other than that, we did dispose of lots of papers. We’ve downgraded from a filing cabinet to one of those little boxes that I think college students use for their papers. So, no filing cabinet and small storage for papers= no hanging onto papers!
Tip #5: There are some things you just need to disregard when you read the book
I didn’t thank a single one of my belongings as I was disposing of them (and I certainly didn’t get offended at her suggestion to do so- to each his own). I did thank God and I did try and remember why I bought that or when it did bring me joy. But, I disregarded her tip that you must thank each item. I didn’t quite get if Marie wanted you to finish your whole house before you put things away or finish a category and then put things away, but I couldn’t have finished my whole house and then put things away. As I did each category, I put it away items where I wanted them to go. This made rooms clean up really easy and quick even though I was sorting by category.
In part 3, I’ll share about actual internal changes that have happened in my life because of this method.
If you missed part 1, read it here!