The KonMarie Spark Joy Method: You’ll Finally Tidy Your Home

The KonMarie Spark Joy Method: You’ll Finally Tidy Your Home

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By now, you’ve probably heard of the KonMarie method either due to the two books Marie Kondo published, or the Netflix series that has set Twitter on fire in 2019. Boy, Netflix really timed that series well, didn’t they? Everyone has New Year’s resolutions on their mind, and many people make decluttering and organizing New Year’s Resolutions.

We’ve documented the KonMarie process here so that you can get started on living a life that sparks joy.

What Is The Art Of KonMarie?

KonMarie is a decluttering and organizing method invented by Japanese tidying expert, Marie Kondo. In 2014, she came out with The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. The basic premise of the tidying method is to only keep items that spark joy. In Japanese, spark joy is the word tokimeku, which means flutter, throb, or palpitate.

There are 5 categories of KonMarie Organization:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Documents
  • Komono (bathroom, kitchen, garage, miscellaneous)
  • Sentimental

The Japanese people are one of the cleanest, organized, and polite culture I’ve met — I love visiting Japan. It’s fitting the only organizational expert I’ve heard of is Marie Kondo. Her book is #2 on Amazon right now!

The Three Steps Of The KonMarie Method

It’s important to tackle one category of items at a time. People usually organize and declutter by room, which isn’t a great idea because you often have multiple categories of items in different rooms. Instead, you should tidy one category of items at a time.

Step 1:

Place everything in that category on the floor or a flat clean surface. The purpose of this is so you can see how much stuff you actually have.

Step 2:

Hold each item in your arms and decide if it “sparks joy”. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t thank the item for its service.

Step 3:

Organize each section with boxes, special folding techniques, and other organizational methods. Check out our general KonMarie organization advice section.

The 5 Categories Of KonMarie

KonMarie’s 5 categories are done in this order is so you can learn what the spark joy feeling is. If you did it in backward order with sentimental items first, you’d probably keep everything even remotely sentimental. Work your spark joy muscle!

Before you start with the clothing category, kneel in a central part of the house and, close your eyes, and give thanks to your home for a minute. It’s a little moment of gratitude that helps you start the process. It sounds very odd, but once you do it it does feel special.

For the KonMarie method, there are 5 categories of cleaning that you do in order.

1. Clothes

2. Books

3. Documents

4. Komono (Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage)

5. Sentimental

Konmarie closet

    Not my closet, but perhaps I’ll get a gorgeous small walk-in closet one day.

Imagine What Kind Of Life You Want To Lead After Tidying

Try to imagine what kind of life you want to lead after you tidy your house.

In my case, I’m planning on hopefully traveling the world for a few years starting in late 2020. Thus, I need to downsize my items. I’m just 3 years out of college, so I’m totally fine with not having super nice things. I’m saving up for financial independence, so I can buy high-quality goods in my early thirties when I settle down in a nice house. I’m a big fan of the buy-it-for-life mentality and I’m happy to save money by not upgrading my items so that I can spend more a few years after my savings has compounded due to investing.

For 2019, I’ve made annual goals in various categories, and it would be immensely helpful if I organized my items so that it’s much easier for me to lay out all my exercise clothing, know where everything is in a kitchen, etc.

It also will knock off organizing off the New Year’s resolutions list, something that has been on the list for years.

KonMarie method in the kitchen
I’d like to have a gorgeous kitchen to cook in one day.

General KonMarie Organization Advice

Folding Clothing

The KonMarie folding technique is to fold items to fit in a drawer vertically. You’ll know you folded an item correctly when it can stand up on its own. This video goes through how to fold different articles of clothing. It has been a helpful reference to organizing my clothing!

Use Boxes

Use small boxes for similar items to put in drawers. Find boxes that spark joy. I use my old Birchbox boxes that are colorful and whimsical. For example, in a kitchen drawer, separate out the items into similar sizes and place it into boxes.

Get A Label Maker To Know What Is In Each Box

Buy a label maker so you can label each shoebox or storage container you have. You can also just write something on a piece of paper and stick it onto the shoebox or storage container, but if you’re spending all this time organizing and cleaning, I feel like it’s worth it to have a nice label.

If you have a box that isn’t very full, you can stick a label on the bottom of the box so you can read the label. For example, get a kitchen drawer organizer and stick a label at the bottom of each section so that when you finish washing your utensils and tools, you can put them back in the same place each time.

Use Clear Storage Containers To See Everything

Use a clear storage container to store things so you can easily see what is in each box. Make sure when you open a box, you can see everything that is in it. Put a label on the box in case you empty out a bunch and are unsure what goes where.

Store Toys In Slide Out Drawers

Konmarie kid's room

Have All Items Face Up In The Box Or Drawer

When you’re storing items in a drawer, have everything face up, so that you can see each item. Normally when you fold shirts and stack them, you can only see the item on top. If you place the shirts and other pieces of clothing vertically instead of just stacking them, you can see all the items.

Store Items In Clean Boxes Or Containers That Spark Joy

Do not store things in trash bags, because it might subconsciously make you think they are trash. Flat storage containers are great because you can stack them and easily pull things out.

How To Store Sentimental Photos

Storing photos in an album are better than in a box, because then you can enjoy the memories. Then store the albums into a box that sparks joy — go to TJ Maxx/Marshalls where they have super cute boxes for discounted prices.

Store Purses Inside Another Purse

When storing purses, instead of stuffing the purses with tissue paper, put smaller purses into bigger ones, kind of like a Russian nesting doll. Have all the handles be able to be seen, so you can tell which purse is where.

Neckties And Tops With Straps

You can either store neckties with a necktie holder or folding them and putting them in small boxes so you can see the pattern, then place them in a drawer. For tops with straps, you can get a camisole hanger.

Sort Papers By Three Categories – Pending, Important, Miscellaneous

Kitchen Storage

konmarie food
Organize your food in mason jars.

Organize your pantry by the type of food you have: carbs, cans, pasta, etc. Consider storing your snacks in a box so it’ll look more organized.

I store different kinds of carbs in mason jars because they’re pretty, with a chalkboard-based label.

Organize your shelves and pantry by the frequency of use. Keep items you use the most at eye or waist-level because that is the most reachable level for you. The more friction there is in getting an item (bending down or needing a ladder), the more unlikely you’ll use that item.

The Netflix Series (KonMarie) – Tidying Up

A few years ago, I read Kondo’s book, but it was much easier to watch the Netflix series so I could follow along, take notes, and actually do it this time. I’ve definitely read the book before and didn’t do the steps. I think watching the Netflix series on video and seeing others do it has convinced me that the process will actually work.

The Netflix series has 8 episodes, and if you don’t want to watch them all, I’ve summarized them below so you can watch ones with a similar family to yours. Each episode is around 35 minutes, so it’ll take 4 hours to watch them all.

Things I’d Love To See From The Show

Honestly, I’d love to see this be an ongoing series. I think it’s really inspiring to see people go through the KonMarie method. It would be really cool to see how these families end up years down the road. Does the cleaning and organizing take in the long run or do they revert back to their original unorganized and cluttered home? If it doesn’t take, what is the reason?

It’d be interesting to have a psychologist come along for the show in later seasons. Some episodes mention retail therapy or people who grew up in poverty and are scared of throwing away things, and it would be helpful having a psychologist help you figure out why so you don’t do it in the future.

Netflix Episode Summaries

Tidying With Toddlers – A couple with 2 kids seek to tidy their house. They want to teach their kids how to be organized and stop the on-going cycle of anxiety because the house is a mess.

Empty Nesters – A couple tidies a mountain of clothing (Marie says it is the largest pile she’s seen), Christmas decorations, and garage. If you have a lot of stuff, check this episode out because it is truly inspiring how much stuff they declutter — 150 bags of trash.

The Downsizers – A couple with 2 kids moves from a 4-bed to a 2-bed. The mom feels responsible for cleaning and her kids and husband have trouble tidying themselves.

Sparking Joy After A Loss – A widow tidies her husband’s belongings after passes away. This episode would be inspiring for those in similar situations.

From Students To Improvements – A couple that recently graduated is to declutter and make their home more fit for an adult. One person has trouble saying goodbye to paper documents.

Breaking Free From A Mountain Of Stuff – A couple with two kids wants to tidy their house so they can feel like they can handle a third child. One person really overcomes saying goodbye to things.

Making Room For Baby – A couple who is expecting a baby in 6 months needs to finish KonMarie before their baby comes. One person has a ton of shoes.

When Two (Messes) Become One – A couple with different tidying methods comes together to organize.

KonMarie: Practicality Vs Sparking Joy

The KonMarie method won’t work for everyone. For example, when I was a student in college, I would have never done this. I didn’t have much extra money, didn’t have duplicates of items, and never knew when something would break. I needed backups for practical reasons, even if they didn’t spark joy.

Getting your finances in order can take a few years, but starting now will give you a huge leg up in just a few years.

I’d argue for being in a financially stable situation before trying out the KonMarie method. Get 3-6 months of expenses saved up in an emergency fund, make sure you are getting your 401k match, have started investing for free, etc.

Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Which Items Are Important

The KonMarie method faced backlash on Twitter from book lovers, who often seemed to miss the point.

If your books spark joy for you, keep them! If they don’t, say goodbye.

As a person with a massive library, I love my books, both for their decoration on my shelves and for their knowledge they impart. That being said, I do plan on donating some books I know I’ll 1,000% never read. I love self-development books, and I want to keep them for future reference.

This process is personal. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t keep. Something you love may be something no one else wants and that is perfectly fine. It’s your life, not anyone else’s.

Konmarie for books and records
Books and records galore!

Putting Money In Your Pocket With The KonMarie Method

While the book suggests donating your items, you can choose to sell your items so that you can pay off debt, save, or invest.

If you’re looking to sell female clothing, check out Poshmark, eBay or your local consignment store. If you have too many electronics, try out Decluttr. Too many books? Send them into Amazon for an easy trade-in or see if there’s a second-hand book store in your neighborhood.

If you want to sell things in person, host a garage sale!

KonMarie ‘ing My Own Home

I haven’t started the process yet, but I’m hoping to do one category per week for 6 weeks. Since the Komono category includes both the kitchen and bathroom I’ll do them on separate weeks. Thankfully my tiny NYC apartment doesn’t have a garage. I’ve been forced to downsize since I’ve lived in NYC and haven’t collected a ton of stuff. Since so many people have been talking about this show and process, I figured I’d put up the blog post explaining the process and update it later when I finish!

In the show, people transform their home in a month, but I’d assume anywhere between 3-6 months is what it would take, depending on how much stuff you have. The few bloggers I’ve asked who have gone through the process have said about 6 months, but they all live in LCOL cities with larger homes. If you live in an HCOL shoebox, it might take closer to 3 months.

In the meantime, enjoy these KonMarie experiments that other people did. I love seeing the before and after pictures.

Have you tried the KonMarie method? How did it go?

Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

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11 thoughts on “The KonMarie Spark Joy Method: You’ll Finally Tidy Your Home

  1. Nice summary Olivia! 🙂 good luck on your journey to 2020 lol. Visit Thailand! I’ll give you my aunt’s beach bungalow resort she just opened up in Khao Lak when you’re ready, she can give you discounts 🙂

    1. Haha, same! But it’s part of my New Year’s resolutions so hopefully I can finish it this year and get on with other ones!

  2. Good luck! Mrs. RB40 read the book, but she didn’t go crazy afterward (Thank goodness.) It just seems extreme to me. I’m comfortable with a little clutter. 😀

  3. I loved Kondo’s book and the one episode of the Netflix show I have watched so far. For the show, I loved in particular how the people did the work themselves, unlike some other reality shows where a team comes in and does the work, so the results aren’t as hard-earned. I found Kondo’s book very helpful, particularly the order of what to organize (I found it true for me that doing the easier stuff first really helps with momentum). I also liked her suggestion of getting everything together in one pile — all the clothes together, rather than organizing where things are stored. Seeing how much I had in total made it much easier to make decisions about what to keep and give away.

    1. Me too! I think it’s a great organizational strategy and crazy how we haven’t come up with a good structure to do this until now! Sometimes genius is simple!

  4. I guess I’m a pack rat because Kondo’s stuff just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m okay going through and decluttering stuff I don’t use, but if I do use it, I don’t care whether it sparks joy. I’m going to keep it. Regardless, I think it’s great that Kondo is helping so many people take better control of their lives, which is what decluttering often accomplishes, it seems.

    1. I think there’s a practicality factor too, maybe your cleaning supplies don’t give you direct joy, but they do spark joy when they actually clean things!

  5. Like Angela, I have not read books on this or seen the show yet, but I keep learning about this method from excellent posts like yours. I like your final point about not letting others dictate what “should” spark joy for you or not.

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