nspired by a trip to Japan shortly before the arrival of her first child, Katrina Hassan came home with a new approach to keeping her home clutter-free and it literally changed her life. “Visiting Japan had a massive impact on me,” admits Surbiton-based mum-of-two Katrina. “I loved everything about the culture, especially the serenity and sense of calm. Soon after I returned home, I picked up Marie Kondo’s book,
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up,
and so it all began.”
Katrina and her husband embraced Kondo’s famous methods for decluttering your life and organising your home when they were preparing for the home birth of their son. Before long Katrina had given up her highachieving teaching job and enrolled on a course to become a certified Kon Mari consultant, currently one of only 16 in the UK. Now, she goes into people’s homes and teaches them simple, transformative techniques for a tidy home. I was intrigued.
As someone who considers themselves to be tidy (I admit it – I’m a neat freak), I’m not sure how much of a difference Katrina’s approach can make to organised (or disorganised) they may be. She’s also determined that the process will be extremely positive – less about what I want to chuck, and more about what I want to keep. “Kon Mari focuses on what you value and what’s practical in your life,” Katrina explains. “The method forces us to answer the question of which items you’re connected to, and whether they fill you with happiness. That’s where ‘spark joy’ comes from.”
Tackling items by category is one of the most important principles of the Kon Mari method, going against the idea of starting in one place or room. “You must tidy by category and not by location,” Katrina explains. “It’s a structured, clear system, which we treat almost like a tidying marathon where you work towards completing five categories in total.” The process begins with clothes. So, my overstuffed wardrobe is where we embark on our New Year clear-out.
The first step is auditing how much I actually own. Which means every single item of clothing, including all accessories, underwear, shoes, bags, coats being assembled in one place. Everything has to come out of the loft, the washing basket, hanging behind doors. Nothing at all is spared scrutiny. I am horrified at the amount, which is apparently the whole point. “It’s the ‘power of the pile’!” Katrina laughingly reassures me. “You don’t see
the extent of what you own in one drawer or cupboard, but consolidating it in one place is all-important in confronting how much you have.”
Next, we turn our attention to assessing each item. “I’m not here to cast judgments on what you own,” Katrina clarifies. She doesn’t act as a style consultant, but more a reassuring voice guiding me through this revealing journey. It’s true that we all have attachments to material objects, “We’re all guilty of holding onto things”, she acknowledges, “but actually the memories we hold are in our heads, not in the items.” So, one-by-one I take each individual item in my hands and decide: ‘Does this spark joy?’ The answer, I find surprisingly is often no, in which case it goes into an ever-increasing discard pile.
I become more ruthless as we go along, and find myself giving up things which I’ve had for years (some of them still with their original tags on). But at the end, I’m left with things I truly value. And it feels good.
On a roll now, Katrina explains the next stage. “Once you’ve decided what you want to keep, you find that thing a home. It’s that simple,” she smiles. Watching Katrina’s methods for how to store things efficiently is a masterclass. “I like to use some of the principles in retailing, then it becomes like ‘shopping’ your wardrobe each morning. Once things are easier to access and maintain, you start to see them with a new clarity,” she says.
I can understand now why Marie Kondo’s mesmerising Youtube videos on folding have been watched by millions; Katrina brings an impeccable structure and order to my wardrobe. At the end of the process, the idea is that you become more resilient to what you bring into your home and get a new perspective on how you shop and live. Katrina tells me we spend an average of 30 minutes a day finding things. “So it makes sense that a sense of order becomes quite addictive,” she adds.
Enthused by our session, I start to tackle the next four categories – books, papers, Komono (miscellaneous items, such as skincare and make up, electricals and CDS), and sentimental. Will this change my life? We’ll see but I can’t deny the satisfying sense of order it has brought and, let’s face it, my sock drawer has never looked so good!