Select items that bring joy
Marie Kondo chats about, among other things, how to have perfectly organized closets, drawers and kitchens.
Q Help! I have too much fabric and I need to store it. Currently, I have the fabric folded in plastic bins but it’s a lot of work — and a mess — to find the fabric I want. I’m considering buying foam-core boards, cutting them in thirds lengthwise and wrapping the fabric around the boards — similar to the way the fabrics are presented on bolts in a fabric store. What do you think of this idea? Do you have other ideas?
A Wrapping the fabric into bolts sounds like a great idea, especially if it makes it look like a store display and sparks joy for you.
Another idea you can try is to store your fabrics vertically, rather than horizontally. This will make it much easier for you to see what you have.
Q What are your best tips for keeping the toddler chaos at bay? Our 15-month-old loves pulling out his books and toys, and isn’t much help at cleaning up yet.
A Rather than fixate on having a perfectly tidy home at all times, I show my children how happy I am while tidying. This helps encourage their interest in tidying, too.
Q I’ve never taken the time to be truly tidy, but I will be retiring soon and have lots of time to make a positive change in my environment. What’s a good first step? Should I do a massive decluttering of the entire house or take it one room — or drawer — at a time?
A A good first step is to imagine your ideal life after you retire. Visualize what your house will look like and how you’d like to spend your time in your home.
When tidying, I recommend tidying the whole house in one shot as much as possible. If you commit five full days to tidying, you should be able to finish it all in that period.
Instead of tidying by room, try tidying by category. For example, tidy clothes one day and books another day.
Organizing items by category allows you to learn more about yourself because it gives you an opportunity to discover what you’d like to keep in your life.
Q I have tried for years to come up with my vision for my ideal life and home. It just won’t form in my head. Any suggestions?
A Start by making a habit of writing down what you respond to when looking at interior magazines or when visiting a friend’s house. You might notice particular colours that you like or plants that make you happy. When woven together, these elements will create your ideal life and home.
Q My mother passed away two months ago and while we’ve had no problems cleaning out her stuff, I am now having trouble cleaning out my closet at home. Everything reminds me of her. How do I declutter when everything is tied to a memory of her?!
A If you do feel compelled to tidy, I recommend beginning with items that aren’t sentimental, such as clothing, books and papers. The KonMari method will help determine the categories of items you should tackle and in what order. If you encounter any item in one of these categories that brings back a memory of your mother, set it aside as part of the sentimental category.
By tidying non-sentimental items first, you will give yourself time to sort through your thoughts and emotions before tackling the more sentimental items.
Q If the item no longer sparks joy and you are trying to sell it for financial gain, at what point do you donate it so things don’t pile up in the house?
A Set a clear schedule and assign a date. For example, tell yourself that in one month, you will have a garage sale or go to a specific donation centre. If something does not sell within a specific window of time, it is time to donate it. Give yourself a strict deadline and stick to it.
Q How can I downsize 20 years of souvenirs from our militarylife travels? When I want to get rid of some souvenirs, my husband reminds me how much we paid for them. And with my children’s items, I get sentimental about giving them away.
A It is very important to organize the items that belong to you before you tidy the things that belong to the whole family, so make sure you take care of your personal items first.
As for your children’s childhood treasures, if they make you happy every time you look at them, then keep them proudly.
Q When working with small budgets, what do you suggest people spend their organizational budget on — especially if they can’t afford new closet configurations?
A For the KonMari method, you do not need to purchase anything in particular to get started.
The first step is to reconsider your belongings, select the items that bring you joy and let go of the items that don’t. So the only item you really need is a donation bag.
The second step is to consider your storage. Once you have pared down your belongings to only those that spark joy, decide what needs to be addressed in your home in order for you to get closer to your ideal vision and focus on the spaces that are important to you.
If your kitchen is your favourite space in your home, that might be an area worth spending a little money to upgrade your organization.
Q I have tackled everything but just can’t face my six large trunks of photographs. How can I get started?
A If you have gone through the KonMari method — which it sounds like you have — then trust in your sensitivity to joy, which you’ve honed during this process. Believe in yourself.
Going through six trunks of photographs is a monumental task, but you just have to get started.
It will take a while to go through them all — maybe three full days — but I think you will be surprised that it’s not as difficult as you think.
Professional organizer Marie Kondo suggests storing items such as bolts of fabric vertically to save space.