Odds are good you’ve heard all about Marie Kondo, whose 2012 best-seller, “The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up,” sparked a frenzy of decluttering around the world. Now, you can watch this Japanese organizing expert work her magic on “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” an original series that just premiered on Netflix,
And not a moment too soon! Now that 2019 has officially begun, maybe you’ve vowed to finally organize your home. If carving out time to watch Kondo’s show is too hard to muster, our recaps (which we’ll run throughout January) can help you bridge that gap, breaking down Kondo’s tips into bite-size, actionable advice.
In the first episode, titled “Tidying With Toddlers,” Kondo helps Rachel and Kevin Friend, a couple with two young children, organize their home so “they have more time to focus on their relationship as a family.” Currently they spend the majority of their free time either looking for lost items or feeling guilty about not doing more cleaning.
“My mission is to spark joy in the world through cleaning,” Kondo says, which may sound a bit ambitious at first, but know that there are no magic wands or mystical Zen mantras. Kondo gives practical suggestions (often through a translator) that are easy to understand and apply.
Here are a few tips that made a huge difference for the Friend family:
Marie Kondo and her assistant/interpreter show up at a client’s home.
Clean by item, not by location
Rather than starting with the closet or the kitchen, Kondo advises dividing items into five categories, then organizing the items within each category:
- “Komono” (kitchen, bathroom, garage, and miscellaneous items)
- Sentimental items
Get the kids on board
The Friend children are toddlers, and Kondo understands that kids can be unmitigated mess machines—she has two of her own. But she tells the couple to teach their kids to clean by example.
“Mine watch me have fun tidying and want to do it, too,” she says, as we see a clip of her adorable children folding their clothes (Kondo is a bit of a folding fanatic). Parents have been advised for generations to make a game of chores, so this makes perfect sense.
‘Choose the things that spark joy’
Kondo starts with clothing, asking the Friends to empty their closets and drawers in one big pile (a marked difference from the closet organizers who advise simply tossing anything you haven’t worn in a year or more).
Once that’s done, she advises Kevin and Rachel to hold each item, one by one, and pay attention to how the item makes them feel. Keep only the ones that “spark joy,” she advises, explaining it should feel “like when you hold a puppy or wear your favorite outfit.”
Anything that doesn’t give you that warm and fuzzy feeling, you should thank (yes, she suggests thanking those old cargo pants for their service). Then gently fold that item and put it in a pile to be donated. The couple note that this practice inspires a sense of graciousness and gratitude in general.
Organize kitchen drawers by size
When they get to the komono part of the organizing process, Kondo sends Kevin to work on the garage, while she coaches Rachel in the kitchen.
“American kitchens are so big,” Kondo exclaims when she sees the couple’s kitchen, which is average-sized by U.S. standards. But the extra space in U.S. kitchens allows for the collection of more useless items.
As they did in the bedroom, Rachel empties out all the drawers and cabinets, and decides which items spark joy, and which items to get rid of.
Once that’s decided, Kondo instructs Rachel to “keep like items together by size,” using small boxes within the drawers to contain objects and gadgets of a similar size. Doing so keeps smaller objects from getting lost amid the bigger ones, as they tend to do when they’re all heaped together in a drawer.
Store everything so you can see it
In the garage, Kondo gives Kevin all sorts of great ideas for getting rid of the old, unused stuff that’s been thrown into boxes and stored over the years. But one of the best organization tips she dishes out is to store everything where you can see it.
Transparent totes work well, and items should be positioned within so that “when you open them, it’s apparent what you have and how many you have,” she explains.
Kevin notes that he, like just about everyone else, buys extras—lightbulbs, Post-it notes, trash bags, etc.—when they’re on sale, and doesn’t remember that he already purchased those same things the last time they were on sale. This way, he knows immediately what he needs and where he can find it.
Does Marie Kondo spark joy in this household?
Once the Friends’ home is Kondo-level decluttered, they say it has changed their lives.
For one, they’re actually saving time, because they’re not wasting it looking for things. They’re also saving money—now that they’ve scaled back their belongings and everything is neatly organized, they’ve actually let their laundry person go.
But best of all, they say they now bicker less about who’s doing what and pulling their weight.
“We’re happier—we’re more at ease now,” says Kevin. “Our belongings aren’t taking away from our lives.”
As Kondo concludes, “couples can deepen their ties through tidying.”
Who would have thought an organized home could actually improve your relationship, too? Tune in next week for our next Kondo show recap and what we learned.