If it doesn’t spark joy, be gone with it. That’s the Marie Kondo method–a now universal technique where the Japanese organization expert teaches people around the world to rid their homes of clutter and thus, rid themselves of the burdens of excess. Kondo's best-selling book, (published in 2014), motivated people around the world to live more thoughtful, mindful lives by means of purging their homes of the things that do not spark joy. She introduces the KonMari Method, which focuses on organizing your home by the categories of items as opposed to by specific rooms. The categories are: clothing, books, paper documents, sentimental items, and “Komono,” (miscellaneous). Kondo may be the first-ever de-cluttering celebrity, and she has mainstreamed her method even further with her new Netflix series, .
The petite, stoic, almost ethereally composed woman enters the overstuffed, cluttered homes of families across the country, bringing her radiant positivity and spiritual approach to tackling the problem of messes. There’s no shame, no exaggerated shock, no “how on earth do you live like this” attitude from Kondo–she brims with compassion and understanding, an appropriate foreshadow to her unique methods. She starts by asking clients to “greet the home” with her–Kondo, sitting on the floor, eyes closed in silence, as she cleanses the home with her presence. Then, she proceeds to tackle each category of clutter, making the client completely remove everything from their respective spaces, separating items that clients will keep (the pieces that spark joy), and those they will part with. When one does decide to relinquish an item, Kondo encourages the owner to thank it for its service before passing it along. Marie Kondo can inspire even the tidiest of homeowners to reassess their personal items and work towards a more meaningful, clean, and organized life (and mind, for that matter).
Keeping this principle in mind, we invited Kondo to stop by the ELLE Decor offices to share her top home organizing tips for 2019.
ELLE DECOR: When it comes to organizing a home in 2019, what's one thing people should consider?
MARIE KONDO: The first thing is to visualize the kind of life you want in the coming year, so you have a clear idea and a vision. If you have a clear goal, then the motivation that comes with starting the KonMari Method changes because you have an idea of where you want to be and what you want to attain at the end of the steps.
ED: Once you've pinpointed your vision for the new year, how do you get started with organizing?
MK: Once you have your vision, review what you own and what those items mean to you. You can start with clothing. Bring them into one space, pile them up, and then take each item in your hand and think about how it fits into your goal for 2019.
ED: This process might be overwhelming for some people. Is there a way around that reluctance to part with certain items?
MK: If you have too many things and think it might be too overwhelming, then each time that you are going to do this, start with a certain category. One day you can only look at tops or trousers, for instance, and that can make it less overwhelming.
ED: Do you have any tips on organizing small spaces?
MK: I started my work in Japan where the spaces are small, so it's best to keep similar items together in one space. And if you are going to use a drawer, stand items up vertically so you can see them. It also gives you the most space within that space.
ED: What's your approach to handling high-traffic areas like entryways, kitchens and bathrooms?
MK: First, think about the condition that will allow you to put things back in an orderly manner. For example, with the bathroom, you wouldn't put items around the sink, because if they get wet, it wouldn't spark joy. Try to keep that area decluttered, so it's easy to clean. With bedrooms, the bed is always the focus. Make a habit of making up your bed when you first wake up. If you don't, your bedroom won't feel organized. Kitchens tend to have a bunch of tiny things that take up space and don't really fit together. The best thing I can advise, especially for drawers, is to use them to their maximum potential. Keep things categorized, so they aren't just in a messy pile in a drawer. For an entryway, have a set space for your keys, sunglasses, or whatever it is, so your things always have a home.
ED: What's the top request you're now receiving from clients?
MK: They tend to have things that were popular two years ago but are no longer in style, and they need to have some assistance in getting rid of them. Also, in the past, most of my clients were interested in organizing. Now, my clients are mainly interested in a life that is more centered around mindfulness and wellness. For me, wellness and mindfulness are about having an understanding of what sparks joy in your life and makes you feel the most happy. Once you obtain this level of understanding, even when it comes to food, you'll know what your body needs and what sort of exercise your body wants. This leads to the overall wellness of a person's life because they become aware of what they need to be themselves.
ED: What would surprise most people about your home?
MK: I don't have a particular decorating style, but one thing that I like to maintain in my house is to have a very purified environment. Every morning, I open all the windows in the house and I burn incense to purify the space. I let the old air out and allow the new air to come in. I also like crystals and place them in different parts of my home. They help to purify the space.
Another thing I do, which is a Japanese tradition, is put salt in different places in my home. Salt has a purification property in Japanese culture. You can put it in any place that feels very muddled or heavy. People tend to put it in the bedroom or entryway, but it can really be placed anywhere that needs more clarity.