Why I Haven’t “KonMari’ed” My Home (and Probably Won’t)

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You might have noticed a book with a pretty blue cover taking over Facebook feeds, people’s closets and basically the world. It is entitled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The book boasts a unique method which clears a house of clutter once and for all.

The Life-Changing Magic is a helpful, enjoyable book. I’m grateful to have read it and certainly recommend it to anyone who could use guidance in how to start purging their home and organizing the items they choose to keep. Many friends of mine are using the “KonMari” method which the book describes to clean and organize their houses.

It is fun to see how the KonMari method of “tidying up” is opening people’s eyes to the clutter they own and directing them to rid their homes of unwanted items indefinitely. When people ask me if I have KonMari’d my home, I usually cite the whole 4-kids-five-and-under thing as why we haven’t completely reorganized our belongings according to the book. Because even if I wanted to I wouldn’t be able to complete the process as fully/easily/quickly as I’d like due to my already-overflowing daily lists. But that’s not the point.

The truth is that I haven’t KonMari’d our house because I’m not sure I really want to or need to. 

Allow me a few paragraphs to explain some very positive things about the book and some limitations to the KonMari method, which I believe minimalism can perhaps improve upon. 🙂

(+)  Positive Aspects of the KonMari Method

  • The method of “tidying up” (which is really a severe declutter) makes a lot of sense. Author Marie Kondo suggests cleaning your home all in one go or as swiftly as possible, with the goal of being completely finished within 6 months or so. Of course attacking clutter for a few months with the goal of eliminating perpetual mess is appealing.
  • Asking “Does this (item) SPARK JOY for me?” is the main test which the KonMari method uses to decide whether an item should be kept. I’ve found this question to be extremely helpful in determining physical possessions’ actual value in my life. It’s so simple and yet so profound—the things we keep around ourselves should bring us a measure of joy. Otherwise they simply add to clutter-stress.
  • Another principle of the KonMari method is keeping the same item grouped all in one place. Pens, all in one drawer and only that drawer. Shoes, one closet. Tools, one bin. This point is key to the clutter never building up again. It makes sense that if items only belonged in one place and only that place, they wouldn’t end up on counters or tables waiting to find a home.
  • Following closely on the heels of the previous point, the KonMari method demands that when you’re finished using something, you always, always put it away exactly where it belongs. Ahhhh. Now this is where it all comes together. Kondo goes so far as to suggest emptying your purse at the end of each day and hanging it up in the closet, but if I tried that I’d certainly forget the essentials which are meant to stay in my purse. 😉 This concept might be toddler-level basic, but it’s amazing how often we don’t actually put things away where they belong.
  • Folding Method. I would be doing you a disservice by neglecting to mention Kondo’s awesome clothes folding method. It’s one of the great gems of The Life-Changing Magic. Kondo explains that her method of folding clothes is influenced by the ancient Japanese art of Origami. It’s basically genius and will rock your tops drawer.

 

(-)   Limiting Aspects of the KonMari Method

  • It is not realistic for our current stage of life.  My daily to-do lists are often overloaded. Also, since we moved last year and cleaned out our entire storage unit, we’ve already been through every item we own with a fine-toothed comb. (We do have several boxes still to sort through comprehensively, but we’ll get there eventually. 😉 ) I consider the question, “Does this spark joy?” when I come across an item that either doesn’t have a home or I feel isn’t necessary, but the idea of overhauling my entire living space is something that cannot happen right now. 🙂
  • The “Spark Joy” concept could still result in an overwhelming amount of clutter. If you’re a sentimental person and most of your stuff truly does spark joy, then to declutter you might need a different method. I’ve gotten rid of many things which actually do spark joy for me—travel trinkets, notes from friends and the like, but hidden away in boxes they don’t actually add value to my everyday life.
  • It doesn’t account for necessary everyday items. Screwdrivers, dustpans, toothbrushes. These everyday needs don’t spark joy for me; however we need them so we have them in our house.
  • It doesn’t account for replacement of items. Half my closet does not “spark joy”. I am not going to get rid of those items because it’s not in the budget to get a whole new wardrobe all at once, and it wouldn’t be responsible to simply toss items without thoughtfully replacing them. I wear what I have until it needs to be replaced, then I’ll consider the items which will round out my closet for maximum flexibility.
  • Keeping items in only one place. There are some items that I simply like to keep in a couple places. Although we live in a small home and it would be easy to keep writing utensils in just one place, I LIKE having pens stashed away in every room. If have a thought and need to get it on paper that. instant. before I loose it, I need a pen to jot it down. We also keep diapers in a couple different places because many times there’s a kid sleeping in the room where the diapers are kept. And poop happens.

 

So there you go. My home probably won’t be KonMari’ed anytime soon, and that’s OK with me.

Jesus sparks joy, not stuff. I’d rather continue to look for the minimum level in my belongings, knowing that the less I’m attached to physical stuff the more my eyes can be focused on the eternal. I suggest that if that KonMari method helps you with that, go for it. 🙂

Jesus sparks joy, not stuff.

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Did you KonMari your home and what did you think about the method?

Chime in below; I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂 

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36 Comments
  • Carrie
    April 21, 2016

    “These everyday needs don’t spark joy for me; however we need them so we have them in our house”

    I read both books, and in the second one she explains this point a bit more. Things that are useful and that you use, whether they’re lovely or not, DO spark joy. For example your toilet bowl brush or other purely utilitarian items – because they serve a very useful function and help you do things easier/faster/better, that’s a kind of joy isn’t it? And it that item needs to be replaced eventually, the book gives you permission to buy something that IS lovely to you as well as useful – something that diehard frugal types like me need to hear. Sometimes I have the hardest time parting with money even if doing so would make me feel better. I recently splurged on glass cleaning bottles and I swear I clean more often now because they’re a joy to use! Cleaning feels elegant. 😉

    I did get a lot of value from the books. The second one is more practical and leaves out a lot of the Eastern thinking that left many Western readers scratching their heads.

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Carrie! Thanks so much for your comment. It sounds like the second book definitely deserves a spot on my reading list. 🙂 And YES I’m totally with you on the useful things sparking joy, now that I think about it. Clean floors are what perks my mood up, and so you’re right: my swiffer helps usher that enjoyment in. I appreciate your thoughts!

  • Jodi
    April 21, 2016

    This is the only NOT raving review of the KonMari method, and I just want to say thank you! I am slowly decluttering my house and get much better at not bringing unnecessary things in, but that book simply just did not resonate with me. I thought the same as you, that some things don’t spark joy but are necessary. The majority of my clothing doesn’t “spark joy” for me, but I’m just not that into clothes. They serve a purpose.

    Again, thanks for the honest review!

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Thanks for chipping in, Jodi. It’s fun to have you on our intentionally living small journey! 🙂

  • Jill Foley
    April 21, 2016

    I loved her books and got a lot of inspiration from them, but did not “kon-mari” my home. I guess I tried, but it’s so easy to lose steam after a few days or weeks.

    One of the biggest take aways for me was the idea that some unused items have already played a role in your life – for example, I had a pile of books that I’d had for about a year with the intention of reading them. They were all parenting/motherhood books. I’m a big reader, so it wasn’t that I didn’t have the chance to read them yet, it was that I chose to read other things. I was able to recognize that I didn’t want to read this type of book and they had served their purpose in that realization. I was able to let go of them without guilt.

    Love your quote…”Jesus sparks joy, not stuff”. That’s going to stick in my head and make me smile all day.

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Jill! You know, that was one point that helped me too. I was able to donate books and papers that I had already assimilated the information as much as I was going to. Thanks for commenting! … your photography is beautiful. 😉

  • sunny
    April 21, 2016

    I bought the book. Had questions. Started clothes. Never finished.
    Bought the second book. Aaahh. questions answered! Makes so much sense.
    Look around my 1 bedroom condo and realize it really wouldn’t take me that long to do it.
    End up watching episodes of NCIS on Netflix and keeping up with the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.

    Then I read this from a KonMari facebook page called KM Straight Up and I want what it’s talking about. (for me too though, Jesus sparks joy! Great line!) I’d like to KM my condo, but if I don’t, then at least I do have the filter of “does this spark joy?” – which helps.

    *komono = miscellaneous catagories

    The testimonial is below:
    ********************************************************
    “Having completed komono a couple of weeks or so ago we are really starting to feel the benefits. Because the house is in order, paperwork is in order and tidyness happens as we go so our minds are clearer and more able to see what else needs doing.

    Yesterday the three of us re-painted areas of our fencing which were a little weathered, this lead us to massively trim back a huge honeysuckle, this then lead to my husband today wire-brushing and painting the caps on our front walls which DESPERATELY needed doing, this then inspired me to buy plants for our pots and the window box outside my counselling room which I always fill with bright petunias as a welcoming sight for my clients (they truly are the gift that keeps on giving right through the summer!)

    It all looks sooo much fresher and none of those things were the huge, energy sapping tasks we’d imagined they would be, we’re actively taking pride in our home.

    We have friends popping over tomorrow and there’s no crazy dash to prepare the house.

    I’m realising how I was carrying around the weight of knowing there were a million areas within our house that needed attention, that weren’t in order, and this impacted on my motivation to tackle very much as it seemed never ending and overwhelming and dare I say pointless. Now there is very little on my to-do list and I think once sentimental is done I’ll feel completely free to be ‘in the moment’, seek out fun stuff to do as a family, book some time off work and go on holiday. The house feels serene and I feel so much lighter heart emoticon heart emoticon heart emoticon

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Sunny! Thanks for your comment, and for sharing that quote. It sure sounds lovely! 🙂 I also could get totally lost in all the pretty house pictures on your blog. Heart eyes! 😉

  • Hannah
    April 21, 2016

    These were my thoughts exactly! The folding method was pretty much the only thing I took from the book. Everything else I pretty much already knew/did, only I organize areas when they need them. Personally, I love to organize so I don’t want to be done once and for all! Besides, as families grow and seasons change your needs change and that calls for reorganization.

    Your last point was my favorite – Jesus sparks joy! Amen! 🙂

    PS I’ve been following your blog for a few months and I really like your posts and your spirit. 🙂

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Hannah! So fun to “meet” you. 🙂 Thanks for commenting. I smiled when you said you love to organize. Haha– thankfully there’s always something to organize as a family! I popped over to your blog… congrats on the new baby! 🙂

  • Jenifer
    April 21, 2016

    So, after moving overseas, then moving back stateside, then moving overseas again, we have this opportunity to start from the ground up other than clothes.

    It’s been quite a process of really *choosing* items. Yes, some things have been generously gifted (and will be used until worn out), but when you get to choose, it’s really strange.

    It’s strange because I find myself not purchasing things that I need because I haven’t yet found the right one. But on the other hand, when you do find the right one, as long as it’s affordable, I buy it. For example, we needed a broom, so I bought a beautiful, traditional, hand-made japanese one that I just happened to find at a local shop! But, I need bed frames, and the ones that I really, really want are too expensive or out of stock (the one in my price range)! OMGoodness! LOL

    I don’t really need to KonMarie my home, because it’s pretty empty. But, I feel blessed by that.

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Jenifer!! Are you feeling pretty settled there? 🙂 I’m glad you brought up that point. Two of my fav bloggers to follow– Erin Boyle of Reading my Tea Leaves and Carmella Rayon of Assortment both talk about choosing the pretties/most pleasing of items, even the very basic such as toothbrushes or brooms. I love the idea, but most of the time I’m too impatient to search for a gorgeous wooden toothbrush or Japanese broom! I should work on that…. 😉 Thanks, as always, for commenting!

  • magnoliachica
    April 21, 2016

    You have written essentially what I would have written! I had many of the same thoughts, both positive and negative (particularly related to the practical and the replacing of items). I also love that you recentered it on Christ. I find that decluttering can become an end to itself, and I’m certainly guilty of wanting to CLEAN UP NOW instead of just be present to my children. but it is also true that we can let stuff get in the way of living our lives for others. So decluttering can be a way of having just what we need (“live simply so that others may simply live” to some extent) and spending our time focusing on living out our lives in love.

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Wow. What a beautiful way of wrapping up the whole general decluttering thought! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Tatiana Soper
    April 21, 2016

    I read the book and although I initially liked the folding method I found it way too time consuming and would often end up with a pile of laundry on the bed because it took too long to fold it! Now I fold it the way I used to but still make it into rectangles so it fits in the drawer the same way as her method. However, my toddlers drawers are too shallow and I found it irritating to fold his clothes her way because they would always get stuck in the drawers, he doesn’t have a lot of clothes anyway so I just use the traditional stacking method that most people are familiar with. I also found the spark joy question difficult. I don’t actually think any of my clothes “spark joy” even though I love to wear a lot of them. Things that spark joy are my little boy’s smile, when he asks for a cuddle, my husband holding my hand, my dog running up to me lovingly after we’ve been apart, a flower growing in the garden, the birds singing, etc. I don’t think an article of clothing could ever compete with that kind of joy and unfortunately nudity isn’t socially acceptable anymore 😉

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Bahahaha! My husband would agree with you that NO clothes sparks joy. 😉 Hah. You know, my kids’ drawers are super shallow too and Marie’s method always gets them stuck. I’ve ended up perfecting my own method called the “roll-and-stuff” when I’m in a hurry! 😀

  • Robin
    April 22, 2016

    Evelyn,

    I really like your points! I felt the same way. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Dawn
    April 22, 2016

    We had a dinner with a friend the other night and she exclaimed how she had indeed KonMar’ied her house and how awesome it was, and I was really glad to hear that it had worked for her, but she also doesn’t have little ones. For me it was a slower process, I went closet by closet, dresser by dresser, there was a method to my madness, it just took a little longer, and that is ok! Great points!

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Dawn, that’s an incredible feat! Way to go. Did the “spark joy” baseline help you in your organizing?

  • Megan
    April 22, 2016

    I love this! I’m just starting the book and have been anxious, having a toddler and infant, as to whether or not I’ll be able to do it. Much as you have, I’m hoping to glean what I can from the book but leave the unnecessary at the wayside.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

    • Evelyn
      April 22, 2016

      Hi Megan, I’m sure you’ll be able to pick something up. From what other readers have shared, it seems like the second book has great practical points too. Thanks for saying hi! 🙂

  • Clearwing
    April 23, 2016

    I had so much trouble getting into this book and appreciate this post summing it up for me. I think my difficulty stems from the fact that I have way more things to get rid of than a typical person would, so little rules about the exact method to do things ie folding or hanging seem cumbersome and trivial rather than helpful. To be fair, the book is about her method…it is just not a method that seemed to work for me. Give me a few years to take care of the mountains of stored clutter (categories? I don’t even know what is in the garage at this point) and maybe this book will be helpful.

  • Dan Leeman
    April 24, 2016

    Jesus sparks joy, not stuff. Absolutely awesome 🙂

    I think with minimalism in general (KonMari or not) there are different stages and places that are appropriate depending on where you’re at in life.

    I read lots of the “Living Minimally out of a Suitcase with my 10 Things as I Travel All Over The World”-style posts, and know it won’t align with the needs of my family (6 month infant). But it’s great to learn from one another. The times will change 🙂 Someday with kids out of the house, I might be traveling the world, and the early 20 somethings will be parents scrambling to take care of their children!

    • Evelyn
      April 25, 2016

      Great point, Dan. Life stage has so much to do with needs! Thanks for commenting.

  • Rachel
    April 26, 2016

    Thank you for this post. I wondered if I was the only one just picking and choosing what works for me and discarding lots of other ideas. With a somewhat large family, we keep far more than if I was single or just a party of 2 here. We save things to hand down and they do end up being used. I’ve been on more of a slow decluttering path for about the last 18 months, selling stuff as well as donating. While the spark joy question has changed how I evaluate if new things come in, I find it less helpful for the stuff we already have. It seems wasteful to rid everything that doesn’t spark joy but is still perfectly usable. Because of my frugality, I find it difficult to part with things that I might need to replace later. Does it spark joy to save shoes and clothes from kid to kid and have some extra clutter around in the meantime? Not really. But why not reuse the things we’ve already purchased or been given? We live on a small budget, though all of our needs are met. I read an article recently (maybe even linked by you) that brought up the issue of wealth, noting that it is more difficult to part with stuff if you don’t have the means to replace the items with something more joy-sparking or appropriate. It is easier to part with the excess and items we no longer use or enjoy. I have done the KonMari folding in my own dresser and like being able to find what I’m looking for at a glance. I’ve tried to get my girls on board with it, but the system hasn’t been maintained. I’m not gonna sweat the small stuff.

    • Evelyn
      April 27, 2016

      Super points, Rachel! Thanks for taking the time to share such a well-thought out comment. 🙂

  • Aunt Marion
    May 8, 2016

    Dear Evelyn,
    I believe moving every few years would solve the problem. I now have over 30 years of “stuff” and my children and family do not want to add to their “stuff”.

    • Evelyn
      May 9, 2016

      Hi Aunt Marion, Haha! That is quite possible. I know many military families that use their 3 year moves as purge opportunities. 😉 Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Jen
    June 3, 2016

    So I decided not to buy the book after I looked at lots of the before and after images on Google with the KM method.
    I have spent my last 22 years of married life decluttering and organizing with four children living in a condo. By God’s grace my youngest and oldest are 20 years apart and we have moved to our current home three years ago – still a smallish home but now we have a back yard.
    I am so tempted to give the KM method a try without reading her books first. But in the end, I decided I will just borrow the book from the library, which has a waiting list of about three months, instead of buying one and here is why – I am eager to start re-organizing our new (to us) home but knowing that my children will not be with us long and before I blink, we will be empty nested, so I want to focus our time and attention to our youngest. There’s a lot to have to go through with four kids’ memorabilia.. Organizing and decluttering have been my “middle name” since we got married as we have been a single income homeschooling family. However, the condo was well kept, thanks to many organizing books I was able to borrow and read from the library. We are more comfortable now but some of the frugal habits I still use even today. Flylady was the main one I followed (not to the T, mind you) her shinning sink motto sparks joy to me. 😉
    All in all, I think there will always be a new writer out there every now and then that has great ideas to motivate the reluctant home-makers but I truly believe it is an heart issue we are dealing with. If we have the desire of making our home a safe and joyful place for our family to be in, the Lord will show us a way. Without that heart desire, even the best tidying-home writer’s effort is in vain.
    Thank you for writing this post. What timing! I just found your blog through Intentionally Simple (which I also just discovered as well) so I will be visiting both of your ladies’ blogs soon.
    God bless! 🙂

    • Evelyn
      June 5, 2016

      Hi Jen! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts. I agree that organizing sometimes seems like a full time job! I borrowed the book from my library and I was very glad to not have bought it. 😉 I’m so glad that you found Smallish and Intentionally Simple. It’s fun for me to hear from someone who also has four kids but has been at this mom/homeschooling/single income thing longer than we have. You’re an encouragement!

  • Olive Lankin
    September 16, 2016

    The only thing I haven’t yet seen addressed by the book or the articles I’ve read so far is the issue of disposal/donation/sales.
    After skimming KMs book I have come to the realization that about 70% of my belongings need to be removed from my home. However, I live on the 3rd floor of a 3 floor walk up and have back, knee, and ankle pain issues. I have purged in the past using non-KM methods, and it generated so many garbage bags that they ended up sitting on my kitchen floor as I can only take out about 2 a day. So instead of clutter hidden behind closet doors, it’s now on my kitchen floor for me and everyone else to see! Not to mention the “sell on ebay” pile of $300 handbags and the “donate to charity” piles that also clutter up the house. Even if I went in the order KonMari recommends, I’d have to pay 1800GOTJUNK to visit me every weekend – they’re not cheap!
    Anyone have any suggestions for me?

    • Evelyn
      September 17, 2016

      Hi Olive! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. You bring up one of the hardest points of purging:: the actual getting RID of the stuff. It is a struggle for me too, because we have a perpetual “to-GO” pile. In our home now the pile lives in bags in our laundry room, which is out of the way but I see it often enough that it doesn’t get forgotten about. 😉 I love the idea of selling things online to try to make some extra cash, but honestly in my experience it isn’t worth the money. The hassle of taking pictures/ loading them up on a site/ then getting to the post office just isn’t something I can put up with these days for the little money it usually yields. But you’re right– calling a company to come get it is too expensive! So, off the top of my head, here a couple suggestions::
      1) Can you do one huge purge for the year, get as much as you can out at once, and use a junk company to collect it one time to save costs? 2) Or, on the other hand, try not to do it all at once. Despite what KM says, you might not have the ability to do your whole home at once. So go room by room or just closets only or whatever works, then get that stuff out and move onto a new spot. Taking it slowly sounds like it would be a better fit for your situation and stairs. 😛 3) Do you have family or friends in town who can help you collect donations and just get them to your vehicle? Or maybe a church nearby would have some teenagers who would available to loan their extra energy to help collect the purged items? 4) At times our purge piles live in our car until I happen to drive by a charity center. Take items out just a few small bags at a time and that way, they’re out of the house. 🙂

      Thanks for bringing up this very important piece of purging! In my opinion, actually getting the stuff out is definitely one of the hardest parts. You’re on the right track, though. Keep up the work and you’ll get there! <3

  • Cindy
    February 7, 2017

    I did the konmarie method when we were still in our townhome and it took me 6 to 7 months. I figured at that point we weren’t going to be moving and it was my last ditch effort to make more liveable space for our growing girls. Not only did it free up space so we could have a usable home office, den, and playroom(the finished basement up to that point was just a storage room full of boxes) but our closet areas became less cluttered too! And I found stuff I truly did cherish buried in boxes and the new spaces I created helped me to display or keep on hand those items. A year later we found ourselves needing to move for work and packing was a lot less stressful because we werent bogged down by tons of useless stuff. I don’t do her folding methods-but I do ask myself what sparks joy before making a purchase, or going through inevitable relapses of clutter!

    • Evelyn
      February 7, 2017

      Hi Cindy! Wow! I’m so impressed with you. It’s hard to do the KonMari method in one 6-month go! Well done. 🙂 I’m so glad that the purge deemed useful for the future more. You sound so peaceful with your belongings now. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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