In January, I peeked in on my husband watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix and I was immediately intrigued by the KonMari method. I’ve only watched the series (haven’t read the books) and it is exactly the kind of content that makes you turn the TV off and try to replicate that gorgeous “After” photo.
So I did. Stephan and I KonMari’d our dresser drawers, our bedroom closet, the linen closet, the kitchen drawers (including the Junk Drawer!), the countertops, the sun/storage room. He snagged a kitchen utensil organizer from Amazon.com. Michaels had a sale on storage containers, so I bought baskets. I have a few other things to tackle, but it was a huge start that took us about three weeks to do.
WE LOVE IT.
It feels so good to open a hidden space and be met with calm instead of chaos.
It was easier than I expected to toss clothes that didn’t meet Kondo’s “spark joy” rule. I knew from the moment I touched a garment; my face would grimace or frown. I threw out the things that made me feel negatively. After pregnancy #3, that was just about half of my clothes. 😂
I acknowledge KonMari isn’t meant to solve all your organizational or material problems, even as it’s done wonders for mine. Every human philosophy has its limit. But the discovery of where I cannot apply Kondo’s philosophy instead led me to a truth I wasn’t expecting.
A (personal) downside to the KonMari method
One mundane item showed me where I (and perhaps others) could not use Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” imperative in every facet of my home life. It came down to my sheets, ya’ll. I realized that none of my sheets spark joy. NOT. A. ONE. Whether it’s because I’m over their prints/colors, or because the (cheap) fabric is worn, I could easily throw out all my pilling linens. Except…I can’t. Because then I’d have to replace them. I’d love to go buy some better thread count sheets so that they can spark joy longer than a year, but I can’t afford to do that.
KonMari trains you to look at your possessions and interrogate how they make you feel, if there is still a place for them in your home, heart, and hearth. The practice brought keenly into focus all the things I want to toss—not for the purpose of decluttering, but for upgrading or updating 😭. Is it really a decluttering if you only throw things away to go buy something new? In that regard, I think I have failed at the spirit of Ms. Kondo’s method, rather than it failing me.
I love the idea of having a clutter-free home where every item is there because I deeply enjoy it. It’s a worthy goal to strive for. But KonMari inadvertently showed me how much I walk around trying to ignore the irritation I feel when I’m unable to replace old, worn, and unloved essentials. I wish I could thank it for its service and move on to new, better. That would bring me joy.
Looking at “spark joy” as a tool for cleaning vs. a mantra
There are great many things I kept that do not spark joy. The 12-year-old couch I’m sitting on is one of them. The matching pillows sag with the most pitiful lumps. But what of usefulness without joy? Can you replace joy with contentment in utility? I am happy I have a place to sit even though the taupe microfiber is worn black in the shape of my butt. I keep practical, ugly, joyless things when I need them and balance their mundanity with the items that make me twirl. It works for me.
The mission to fill my living space with joy has both a micro and a macro application. I narrowed my focus while cleaning drawers, cabinets, and countertops, but made sure the collective felt harmonious to me. I do think certain aspects of aesthetic minimalism require you to replace quantity with quality. Less is more only if the remnants of your winnowed life are worth more (to you). Otherwise, less is just less.
Given my limited experience with the KonMari method, I’m definitely open to being wrong. But I also don’t think there’s a “wrong” to be had. People should do what works for them and toss what doesn’t. But all in all, after having sifted through much of my belongings using Kondo’s suggestions, I am pleased with the outcome. KonMari for the win!
I’m also upgrading my bedsheets. Spark deez.