Japanese Decluttering : The Marie Kondo Tidying Technique

DeclutteringIt has taken me all 39 years of my life  to realise that not only do I never put anything away but I also don’t know how to fold things properly. That was until I recently when I downloaded the amazing Marie Kondo book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter foreverIt is quite simply, amazing.

My love of creating nice spaces to live, eat, work and sleep in my home is hampered by constant tidying up – literally to the point of total life overhaul every other day, it is exhausting to say the least. I don’t remember now how I came across Marie Kondo but the Virgo in me longed to escape my own chaos and now I’m besotted with her ingenious folding, organising and tidying techniques. You see, I love a neat and tidy house but I just can’t keep one. I’d like to blame this on my hairy mountain dog, small sticky fingered child or husband who seems to dress and undress from his place on the settee but actually, I am equally to blame – nothing in our house has a proper home.

Marie Kondo talks about how she was drawn to housewife magazines, styling rooms and tidying things away from a young age but was plagued with the tidying up issue. I was just the same, unlike most kids who hated their parents making them tidy their room, I loved it. I looked forward to Sunday night room inspections, I’d create displays, fluff cushions, move lamps around and designate new areas to read or draw. This later led me to paint and decorate, rip up carpets, re upholster chairs, spray paint skirting boards ( not such a good idea ) all before sitting my GSCEs, I think it’s fair to say I have a passion for changing spaces and sometimes they even look quite nice. But, like Marie Kondo, I have always spent a LOT of time tidying up while doing this. I simply never seem to get on top of it. Most weekends, I move vast areas of crap from one place to another, beautify one place only to make total hell of another and the cycle really annoys me! So, when I discovered her book I thought it had to be worth a try. Here she is talking about her famous Konmari technique

Isn’t she adorable? I’m a massive fan of the clever designs in IKEA kitchens and bathrooms for small spaces and I figured that someone there must have reverted to the Japanese art of tidying up and organising too. Maybe you are one of the clever ones who already knows where everything is in their home, but if, like me you haven’t a clue then you’d better read on.

Here are 5 things I learnt from reading Marie Kondo’s book, I’ll start with the clothing dilemma. We seem to live out of a wash basket most of the time, don’t you?

1. Not feeling the Joy? Allow someone else to…

I actually could not bear to do this in one go but Marie recommends tipping all the clothing you own, EVERYONE’S with no exception into one gigantic pile to start the thinning out process. She recommends you picking up, feeling and thinking about each item before deciding whether it brings you joy and ultimately whether to keep it. Her theory is that in keeping well chosen items you will organise them nicely, take better care of them and cherish them. Pass the unloved things on and allow someone else to love them like you didn’t! Interestingly enough, trying to tidy room by room is one of the major issues that stops us from effectively tidying. instead, Marie suggests tidying by categories i.e books, clothes, records etc. and then it’s as though each room magically tidies itself – what could be better than that I ask you?

2. Learn the Marie Kondo Folding Technique

If you take nothing else from this clever little book then learning Marie Kondo’s art of folding clothes is life-changing in itself. Here is a little video demonstrating how to do it, I couldn’t get my head around it from the book alone either! She actually encourages you to hang up only those items that really need to live in a wardrobe, like jackets, suits and dresses. Everything else can be folded and stored neatly in a chest of drawers. I have a weird obsession with this now…I’ve started folding pants?

Here’s us having a go…ahem.

Learning the Japanese Clothes Folding Method Marie Kondo Folding T shirt method Japanese clothes folding

The idea is to get each piece of clothing to stand up on it’s own so you can flick through them like the spines of books.

3. Keep shoeboxes as dividers to create drawers within drawers

Jewellery all piled up in a heap? I’ve got enough scarves to weave a technicolour dreamcoat and possibly enough necklaces to start a jewellery store. Creating neat spaces to hold smaller items within your drawers keeps everything to hand. Marie doesn’t recommend buying loads of new storage boxes, just use what you have to arrange things beautifully. Even t shirts sit well in drawers within shoe boxes. Unfortunately I just recycled a load before I got the book. One of the many pitfalls of having a clear out unassisted!

4. Respect shelf life

I’m not talking about the edible kind here but every item in your home has its own shelf life. Some are infinite, those things you absolutely love and cannot live without because of the joy they impart on a daily basis, others are just items, material possessions you acquire along the way. In carrying out the tidying up procedure, I have to say I was guilty of hoarding lots of sentimental items that I never ever look at. It’s harsh but, if in doubt, throw it out. Your truly precious keepsakes will become even more treasured by thinning them out.

5. Display Favourite Items

Glass Display Frames

You know how homes with a well travelled feel have such an interesting air about them? Along with treasured books, items, gifts and ornaments, you can create a home that truly tells your story. Our generation is constantly searching for the forever home to fill with memories. In actual fact, some lovely frames, shelving and organised keepsakes can bring a whole new feel. I love these glass frames from John Lewis. I recently dried a flower from a special bouquet to display in here and I’m now keen to get a few more to show off achievements, beautiful laughter-inducing photos and hand written lovely words from friends.

To get the full story, you really need to read the book cover to cover. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever Amazon sell it and you can get many tips from Marie Kondo’s website too. The one true lesson I take away from this incredible book is that by arranging all your possessions and clothing in a logical, organised way you can really learn to love the things you have rather than wade through them all like a hoarder every day! It’s like wiping the fog from your tired eyes and allowing you to see all the things you own in beautiful technicolour. This process has a strange and instant effect – you honestly will start to feel great about tidying up almost immediately.

Marie Kondo Tidying Up

Life-changing Tidying Up?

There are many, many positives to adopting this way of living. Actually, the best part of it is you don’t feel the need to splurge on half as many new things, you can see what items of clothing you have and how you might put an outfit together and also discover the items of clothing you definitely DO need in the future. Clothes once again look beautiful, like they do in a shop when you first fall for them, they seem somehow neater, nicer and more appealing to wear. The same within your home, having less is happiness inducing, it makes you feel free and appreciate the things you have. That must be why a great holiday home revives and uplifts you, it’s minimal and not brain fogging by being full to the rafters of someone else’s tat! I loved this book and totally recommend it, so here’s to a good old tidy up. Christmas with a house full could be so much more fun with a bit less stuff. Don’t you think?

Are you a tidying up fan? Ever tried the Japanese way?

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  1. Pingback: It's #Friday! Scrumptious Things to Eat, Bake, Buy & Try This Weekend - Love French Style

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