'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up': 6 Things I Learned (and Loved!) From the Book

The Japanese art of not being a hoarder, demystified.

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Girl's Closet in White Bedroom with Yellow Rug and Chair

White Girl's Bedroom Closet with Yellow Accents

Organizing can be fun...really.



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.

Cutting Fabric for DIY Felt Tablet Case With Rotary Cutter

Cutting Fabric for DIY Felt Tablet Case

Craft supplies: Use 'em or lose 'em.

©Brklyn View Photography

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.

Muffin Pan With Office Supplies

Muffin Pan Organizer

Even in a junk drawer, everything has its place. 

Photo by: Heather Dutton

Heather Dutton

Even in a junk drawer, everything has its place. 

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.

Contemporary, Yellow Kid's Room With Orange Desk

Bright Yellow Kid's Desk Area

The dinosaurs definitely stay. 

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.

Conquer Kid + Pet Clutter

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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.) 

15 Things to Get Rid of Now

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