WHEN IT COMES TO THE ART OF TIDYING, LESS IS DEFINITELY MORE
On how good it feels to de-clutter.
Life can be cruel. Just when I thought I had an underwear drawer that decluttering guru Marie Kondo would be proud of, I discover I’m committing a cardinal sin. I ball my socks instead of rolling them. So even though my drawer has the orderly precision of a Bento box, my socks are not so much sushi as gyoza.
Quite why sock-balling is such a disgrace is unclear, but who am I to argue with Kondo, a woman whose surname is already a verb? A rare accolade usually reserved for an appliance, like a Hoover. While the extremes of her peculiar zeal (talking to clothes, testing household items for their ability to “spark joy”) sound alarming, it’s maybe no real surprise that her tidiness crusade has made her a media and publishing phenomenon, with book sales topping six million.
Kondo lives in Tokyo, a city in which (as I recently discovered) there is no such profession as a residential interior designer, because homes are simply too small to warrant it. There’s little option but to be tidy. Think of the number of receptacles and vessels you counted on your last trip to a Muji store and I rest my case. But Kondo’s philosophy, arguably born of cultural norms in her homeland, has found global resonance, as more of us embrace apartment living and seek relief from the indigestion of technology and consumerism.As any good comedian will tell you, it’s all about timing and Kondo is a master. Plus, emptying out drawers and cupboards is a cheaper way to detox than a week at a spa.
Beneath the self-help psychospeak, Kondo’s method (called “KonMari”) not only makes sense, it works. Decluttering really does make life better.As readers of this column know, I recently downsized from an inner-city terrace on three levels to an apartment on one. My partner and I still have a long way to go, but boy, does it feel good to de-stuff. And I’ve realised I’ve been practising “KonMari” forever. My sock faux pas aside, I fold T-shirts the Kondo way (years in fashion retail will do that to you), colour code my shirts and jackets (yes doctor, really) and have been known to talk to my shoes. Dishcloths and kitchen sponges are banished from view and only things that spark joy are allowed. Bills, tax demands, parking fines… all gone. Kondoed away. Neale Whitaker is editor-in-chief of Vogue Living.