Netflix wants to help you start your 2019 organized with Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. In the eight-part home makeover series, Kondo's KonMari Method will have you feeling inspired to tidy your own home. So Bustle spoke to the owner of Joyful Tidying and certified KonMari consultant Erin Steele (and, full disclosure, this author's sister) to get more information on the method. Because organizing using Kondo's method is about so much more than just a clean house.
Thanks to her books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, Japanese tidying consultant Kondo has a worldwide following. The KonMari Method outlined in Kondo's books helps you organize your home little-by-little to make a forever change. Beyond Kondo, there are KonMari consultants like Steele, who are trained in this specific method. They can come to your home like Kondo does in her Netflix series to help others achieve this level of tidying. And for people who fear that decluttering means getting rid of all your beloved items, Steele clarifies that's not the case. "KonMari is not about getting rid of everything — that's a common misconception," Steele says. "As long as it brings you joy and it fits into your life, then we will find a place to store it and display it, so that when you see it throughout the home, it makes you happy."
This idea of focusing on what brings you joy may be the number one thing that makes Kondo's organizing approach different from other methods since the KonMari Method has you discard items that no longer "spark joy." But there are other principles to the method. "There's a specific order in which the items are sorted and it must be done in this particular order to be successful — clothing, books, paper (every shred of paper in your home, for example, manuals, recipe cards, receipts, tax documents), komono [miscellaneous items from your kitchen, your craft room, the linen closet, etc.], and sentimental," Steele says.
Before going through your items with you, KonMari consultants will do an in-home interview with a client to understand what you want out of your living space, just like Kondo does in her show. "One of the main things we want them to tell us is their vision for the house. We'll walk room to room and have them tell us some of their hang-ups or if they'd like to use a room's space for something else," Steele says. Then this vision can serve as a reference as you begin to sort through your possessions.
Just like Kondo does with the subjects of her Netflix series, you then gather every object in a category in one place. "Everything in a particular category is gathered in a central location," Steele says. "So for clothing, if you have coats stored in one room or seasonal clothing stored somewhere else, you pull everything out at one time and make a huge pile where there's enough space to work, whether it's on the bed or on the living room floor." Steele adds, "The idea is to see this mountain of what you own before you get started and it allows you to not forget about stuff you have somewhere else."
From there, the person handles every single item individually. "That's when we ask, 'Do this spark joy?' And that's a physical feeling that you should get with an item if you really, really love it," Steele says. As viewers see on most of the episodes, getting joy from what most see as inanimate objects can be hard to do. How can a coffee mug or a sweater bring you joy? "To make that a little bit simpler, we would say, 'Look at this pile and pick out your favorite outfit.' And start that way because it gives them an idea of what they should be feeling when they address their other items," Steele says.
If you're struggling with whether or not to keep an item, consultants will do "joy checks" with you where they'll ask questions to help you make a decision. When you do decide to get rid of something, the KonMari Method has you show gratitude to the item before you discard it or donate it. Steele says the point is "to be grateful for all these things that even if they don't serve a purpose now, they did at one point. So you're saying thank you for what it brought to your life and sending it out to the world to bring joy to someone else." It's really about being as intentional as possible as you discard or keep things.
As Tidying Up will show, the method gives you a way to sensitively address items that may represent a particularly meaningful or painful time in your life. Steele also mentions that the KonMari Method helps find creative solutions to miscellaneous items that you don't want to get rid of, but don't know where to put them. For example, if you collect key chains, one of Kondo's suggestions is to drape them over your hangers in your closet. "Now every time you take out an outfit, you're seeing something that you bought on vacation and it makes you happy," Steele says. If your "junk" brings you joy, it's all about finding useful, simple ways to store it and access it, like the "treasure box" Kondo creates for one of the subjects in the Netflix series. Because nothing beloved should be buried in the back of a closet anyway. What fun is that?
Steele mentions how "your house might become a little bit explosive" as you go through the process, which Kondo recommends completing within six months. But the consultants help you find lasting solutions once you're all finished. "Things are always fluid into the very end until we've done every single category," Steele says. "Then we do one last walk-through and make sure everything is stored where it should be."
When you are finished with the KonMari Method, your living space should be transformed for good. "Other organizing methods you could hire someone every couple of years to come in and reorganize stuff for you," Steele says. "With this method, once everything has a home and you've adapted the mindset, there's really no reason you should fall back into complete disarray. Yeah, there are days when you're hectic, but once you've done this, you have a system."
As you'll see in Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the result of the KonMari Method is usually more than a clean home. "By the end of it, your home is going to be transformed, but it's more than just your home. Your whole attitude is transformed, some of your relationships are transformed, your whole mindset is transformed. So it impacts your mind, body, and physical living space," Steele says. Watching people achieve joy in those three realms sure seems like a worthy way to kick off 2019 — and just may inspire you to look more into the KonMari Method for yourself.