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DIY Decluttering: How to Marie Kondo Your Home

Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo

What better time than Autumn to make a change in your life. Right now, is the perfect opportunity to take the time to re-evaluate your home and declutter your life. Before you start getting trigger happy and throwing out old magazines and half-used candles, there is one person you need to consult: Marie Kondo.

spark joy by Marie Kondo
spark joy by Marie Kondo

Her revolutionary ‘KonMari’ tidying philosophy, made famous by her bestselling books and popular Netflix series, focuses on mindfulness and gratitude. Her science to decluttering will completely change the way you think about your possessions and the things you buy. Better still, if you continue to adopt Marie’s way of cleaning, she guarantees you won’t have to tidy again! Now, that’s the kind of cleaning we can get on board with.

To help you on your decluttering journey, we’ve pulled together some of the tidying queen’s top tips along with our pick of organising must-haves, so you can ‘Marie Kondo’ your home and life.

The KonMari Method Essentials

Although it can seem a challenging task, the art of decluttering is made simple with Marie’s six basic rules for tidying.

1. Commit yourself to tidying up

Don’t let yourself procrastinate over the important task ahead. And, without sounding like your mum, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish. And make it fun. 

Like Marie explains, "tidying is a special event. Don't do it every day." 

Add music, snacks and even a cheeky drink to help you sort through boxes of knick knacks and the dreaded kitchen ‘junk drawer’.

2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle

Is your disorganisation cramping your style? When preparing to declutter, you not only need to think about how you want your home to look, but how do you want your life to look? How do you see yourself living in this space?

"Think in concrete terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space." 

Visualise your ideal lifestyle. Your home should reflect all the things you want in life, so really think about what that is, and start to picture it. 

“When you imagine your ideal lifestyle, you are really clarifying why you want to tidy and envisioning your best life. The tidying process represents a turning point […].”

3. Finish discarding first

Don’t count your eggs before they’ve hatched. Equally, do not pack your clothes drawers while your year 10 formal dress hangs in the wardrobe. As Marie puts it:

"Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding." 

The MariKondo method is all about tackling clutter head on, and not leaving anything for tomorrow. 

"Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first."

Importantly, you should go through all the rooms of the house discarding items before organising and storing the items you are keeping. 

4. Tidy by category and not location

Like most of us, it makes the most sense to go from room to room and start organising all your bits and pieces. Instead, think of your home as one large room and start organising your items by type. For example, if there are books scattered in various rooms around the house, collect them all before re-organising them. This is another way to help you understand how much of everything you currently have.

5. Follow the right order

Marie is very specific about this, and it should not to be messed with. To help you shift all your unloved and unwanted items, you should follow this cleaning order:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (Miscellaneous items like cleaning products and kitchen accessories)
  5. Sentimental items

"If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you'll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after." 

6. Does it spark joy?

Something that has propelled her to fame is the way she connects tidying and mindfulness. As we clean, we should not only be measuring each item by its function and service, but also its ability to spark joy in our lives.

To put simply:

"Take each item in one's hand and ask: 'Does this spark joy?' If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it." 

How to Kick-start Your KonMari

Thank your home

To start the process, make sure you first thank your home. I know, it sounds cheesy and weird but let us finish. In Japanese Shintoism the belief is that all objects have souls and their purpose is to serve you.  It’ss important to acknowledge the service your home has provided you with gratitude. In the same way, as you discard each item in your home you should also individually thank it for its service to you. This level of mindfulness will help you think about the items you decide keep. 

Pile things up

As you begin with your clothes, pull each item out from every room and pile it up together. This method allows you to understand exactly how much you have of everything in a very real and tangible way. It also provides you with a complete reality check of how much of the things you don’t remember owning and hence, don’t actually need. Keep in mind:

"We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of." 

Therapeutic and terrifying at the same time, let the enormity of the task consume you before acknowledging the most important fact…

It will get worse before it gets better

Like most things, decluttering your entire home will look and feel worse before it changes your life for the better. Don’t get down on how much there is left to go, acknowledge how far you’ve come and everything you’ve been able to achieve up to that point. If you’re like us and tend to start a few different things at the same time, remind yourself of the process and just continue to focus on tackling one category at a time. 

"If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mindset." 
Give every item a home

Once you’ve finished up on a category, the next important thing is giving each of your joyful items a loving home. This should be done with the aim of knowing where everything is in your home, at all times. 

A daunting task, yes. An impossible task, no. 

The one major takeaway from Marie’s entire tidying method is mindfulness. A big part of this is being connected with your home and all the things that occupy it. The important things you want to keep are the items that are essential to your life and, for this reason, should be given a space that allows them to enrich your lifestyle.

The best way to achieve this is to keep things as simple as possible. Store things where they make most sense, use labels where necessary and make clear storage boxes your new best friend.