Surrey Life - - Interview -


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!

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