Home. It is our sanctuary. A place we dwell that is safe and personal, uniquely ours to control. We go there to escape the rest of the world, a gentle reprieve from the day-to-day hustle and noise. It makes sense because the home is such a sacred space, we want it to be stress free.
At the beginning of 2019, Netflix released the 8 episode series “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo. I swear I heard the phrase “spark joy” in nearly every conversation in the weeks following. By now, we have all heard of Marie Kondo, the decluttering guru from Japan. I’ve been loosely following her KonMari Method for years and am pleased to share with you how I’ve used it when working with clients in their homes.
Most of the concepts and practices I use with my clients revolve around creating space that suits their lifestyle and energy. Interior design is, in its own way, a type of reorganization and tidying project. We analyze the space and edit accordingly, declutter and simplify. When first working with a client on their space, I ask them to imagine their perfect room. What does it look like? How does it feel? Describe it in high definition. Be specific, to the smallest detail. We know that the perfect room is not achievable, at least not by real world standards, but using that model to get to the heart of what brings happiness is an excellent place to start. Once we have a standard to build off of, we move into the project.
Make the Commitment
It is important when stepping into an organization/design project to make a personal commitment. The biggest ask is that you enter with an open mind and best foot forward. As you work through your belongings, there comes a time when frustration is so thick it would seem easier to quit. If you push through it, just on the other side is breakthrough, the sense of accomplishment and great things happen in that space.
The basic idea behind the KonMari Method is to begin by assuming that you’re getting rid of everything, so when you go through and handle each item, you make a conscious decision to keep only the items you truly love, that “spark joy.” This is, by far, the biggest takeaway I’ve had. Our emotional connection to the items in our home is a massive driving force and provides significant insight into who we are as people. The majority of us hold onto items that we don’t care for or would never select for ourselves because there is an emotion tied to it. The concept of spark joy puts focus on what makes us happy and helps sort through all the “stuff” to find the gems. I think all these personal items project noise, some is static and some is song. When we discover which pieces spark joy, we can pull them together to form a symphony. Once you remove the static noise, all you have left is a melodic, beautiful harmony that boosts and evolves the energy in your home.
Everything In Its Place
When I am working with clients, organization plays a key role in the success or failure of a project. While we don’t actually move through all categories of the KonMari Method, we do tackle books, kimono, and mementos. For each category, I ask that they gather everything in a central space and encourage a thorough vetting of existing stock. Books are sorted by purpose/function, kimono by subcategory. What I’ve discovered working with clients throughout the years, is that we all have a LOT of stuff. It clutters our homes and subconsciously creates chaos in our brains. Sorting through these items will help eliminate the visual clutter that occurs from years of gathering and tailors down to items that are happiness embodied.
It’s important to keep in mind that a clean, decluttered home is a thing of beauty but it doesn’t mean a sterile home. Your house is not a museum, but a living, breathing space and a destination for family, friendship and happiness. A little clutter, especially in the form of plants, can greatly benefit the environment, both literally and figuratively. KonMari is there to guide you in organizing the day-to-day clutter so that the things you really love can shine.
The category that people find the most challenging is mementos. It is difficult to let go of things that you may be sentimental about even if it holds no joy for you. Guilt or a sense of obligation are strong drivers for keeping an item much longer than you would like. I recommend trying to sort alone, if possible, to avoid the influence of someone else’s opinion. If you are finding it too difficult to move through this step or cannot discern the difference between sparking joy and obligation/guilt, take a break from sorting or reach out to someone you trust to be unbiased. They can help walk you through emotions and let go of items that are not true happiness makers.
Once we’ve worked through all categories and have a clean slate, it’s time to decorate. Everyone’s space is different and it can be challenging to know where to start, so I have 5 quick design tips to guide you through decorating with purpose.
• Have intention. Be thoughtful about placement and pairing.
• Everything has a home. Whether it is on the shelf or in a box, everything has its place.
• Group it together. Layering adds warmth and depth to a room.
• Nurse your green thumb. Plants add life and function as accent pieces as well.
• It’s okay to be bare. Not all walls, shelves or surfaces need to be filled. It’s a refreshing break for the eye to have blank space.
The moment finally arrives, all the sorting and cleaning is done. You are placing that final piece and everything falls into place. Taking a step back to savor the results of your hard work is so satisfying. Whether it is a one room styling project or a complete home overhaul, this method and the results are always the same – overwhelming joy and gratitude. Now, about those window treatments…