'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up': 6 Things I Learned (and Loved!) From the Book
Surely by now you’ve heard of it. The KonMari Method. The Marie Kondo book. The cult-like obsession that has thousands of people thanking their socks for their service and asking themselves if a colander sparks joy. Sound familiar? Well, here at HGTV Headquarters, we are not immune to this phenomenon. In fact, I have been working on KonMari-ing (totally a word) my home for the past 6 months. And I’m still not finished. But I have learned some valuable lessons and it truly has changed the way I think about my stuff. To wit:
Just because something was expensive/a gift/is valuable does not mean you have to keep it. This seems like such a no-brainer, right? But I would bet you money you have some things taking up space (in both your home and your head) that you don’t really like, but feel like you should keep. Marie Kondo gives you permission to get rid of it. Thank these items for their service and pass them along.
Brklyn View Photography
Craft supplies: Use 'em or lose 'em.
No, you aren’t going to use that for something one day. That fabric (I might need it for a Halloween costume!). Those corks (surely I can make something from these!). Those floral shop vases. Do I need to go on? If you haven’t used it in the 6 months since you set it aside for “one day”, you aren’t going to. And here’s a secret, if in a few years you DO need some fabric, you can buy exactly what you want rather than having something take up valuable storage space.
It’s easier to get rid of things if you know someone else will want it. A lot of what I purged was sent straight into the recycling bin or trash, I’ll admit. But I have also sold a ton of clothing on consignment and donated some great home items. Knowing that something you don’t need might make someone's day at the thrift store makes it so much easier to get it out of your house.
Junk drawer no more. I do not have junk drawers any more. And I used to have…3? That’s kind of embarrassing. But tidying up and having a place for everything has meant every item in every drawer has a purpose and place. And I’m proud to say, 6 months later, this has held true.
Does this spark joy? Possibly the point that resonated most with me, even if it sounds a little silly. But truly, if you hold EVERY item in your home and ask yourself: Does this spark joy? It suddenly becomes so easy to let go of things. That cardigan that is perfectly fine but not really my style? Goodbye. Food storage containers that have faulty lids but work well enough? Banished from my cabinets. Asking myself this one little question made it so easy to clear out cabinets and closets.
The dinosaurs definitely stay.
You CAN KonMari with kids! This is the criticism I’ve read the most: there’s no way this will work with children. And while Marie Kondo does not have kids (though she is pregnant now!), I still think her principles can work in a household with children. Even my 6-year-old daughter Lulu is able to go through her toys and give away the ones that don’t bring her joy. Once you have tidied your home it is so much easier to put away kids clutter, and I find that we have less clutter overall because the kids know where their toys belong. That said, I do hope that Marie Kondo writes a KonMari with Kids companion book once her bundle of joy arrives.
No need for a trip to the kennel. Constructed by Washington, D.C.-based Four Brothers Carpentry, this built-in dog kennel and spa is located in a spacious mudroom that includes the family’s laundry facilities. Two comfy cages hold large dogs. A bottom drawer reveals a hide-a-way bed for a tiny pooch.
Display books, knickknacks and other small items on this wired wheel from Restoration Hardware’s RH baby & child. Mount three horizontally or vertically for a dramatic, yet functional storage solution.
Laundry Room/Pet Center
Laundry rooms make good spaces for pet centers. The floors are easy to clean, a water source is nearby and most mudrooms or laundry areas are located near an exit. Tour this swanky pet area from HGTV Smart Home 2014.
Pet Feeding Station
Transform old crates, boxes, stools or other wooden materials into a feeding station for Fido. Use a jigsaw to cut holes the size of your pet’s bowls. Get step-by-step instructions for building this pet feeding station.
Free up garage space for your car and create a catchall closet in the house. Use any hall closet, empty pantry or old computer armoire to mount wall shelves and hang hooks. Store pet food and accessories, cleaning supplies and a large container to “catch all.” Then, shut the door on clutter.
Lowe's provides an easy-to-follow pattern for this DIY book tree. Customize to fit any child’s bedroom or playroom. Place small books and soft toys on limbs. Hang night cloths on pegs. Get step-by-step instructions for building this DIY bookshelf tree from Lowe's.
Window Seat Pet Bed
A cozy window seat with a pet bed below allows your furry friend to curl up near you as you take a break. It also keeps your pet’s sleeping quarters out of house traffic. Get step-by-step instructions for building this window seat pet bed.
Here's a simple multi-pocket solution for kids who like to take smartphone, computer tablet, book or favorite play toy to bed. Hung on the side of the bed, it provides a safe place for small electronics.
The verdict: I will admit I rolled my eyes a bit at tidying up changing your life. I thought surely this was hyperbole. But honestly, this book did change my life! My home feels less chaotic, I don’t find myself as overwhelmed by messes, and my closet has never been cleaner. I still have work to do, but I look forward to it, rather than dread it.
Ready to start your decluttering journey? Here are 15 things you definitely don't need. (Really.)
Expired or Unidentifiable Medication
Dispose of old prescriptions and anything you can't identify — but — because meds are considered hazardous waste, it's important that you follow the FDA's guidelines. Also, check with your local pharmacy or law enforcement agencies, many offer year-round or seasonal drug take-back days so you can safely drop off unwanted meds for proper disposal.
Last Year's Gift Wrap
You probably refresh your wrapping paper supply while Christmas shopping, anyway, so go ahead and recycle the old stuff. If you can't bear to part with it, try keeping it organized in a rolling mesh laundry basket. You can also turn last year's leftovers into festive decor.
Old Chargers and Cables
A friend or relative might be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger. Anything you can't give away can usually be recycled in electronic stores or online. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.
Properly sealed (read: air-tight) paint can last for up to 10 years if kept at an even temperature and prevented from freezing. However if, like most of us, you store leftover paint in the garage or shed, the temperature swings will cause it to break down much quicker. If you have old paint cans with bulging lids, leaky seams or, once opened, a thick layer of dried paint on top, it's time to give that can the toss. But, before tossing, research safe disposal steps by contacting your local household hazardous waste center. If the paint is still usable, you may even be able to donate it to a local charity, like Habitat for Humanity or even a local scout troop or school that could use the paint for crafts.