Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, has taken the UK and the world by storm. The Japanese ‘organising consultant’ urges us to turn our wardrobes, bookshelves and kitchen drawers inside out and keep only items that are useful or spark joy.
Three million copies of the book have been sold and Marie promises that if we do it right and by her rules, we’ll never have to tidy again. So that means that thousands of UK women and hundreds right here in Manchester have permanently scratched ‘tidying’ off their to do lists, right? Er, maybe not.
I spoke to Trafford-based professional organiser Lesley Spellman, aka The Clutter Fairy, about the famous KonMari method, what she thinks of it, and whether it’s a sensation locally. Lesley has been helping clients from all walks of live organise and declutter their homes for the past seven years.
What do you think of Marie Kondo’s book?
LS: I love it and the holistic approach of de-cluttering the whole house in one go. But it is largely focused towards a certain type of person who’s not very cluttered in the first place.
Which of her methods do you agree with?
LS: I agree with pulling all the same sort of things out and clearing them together. For professional organisers it’s standard practice to take everything you’re decluttering out of its place, just like Marie Kondo advocates, and discard items before you put the ones you’re keeping back.
She recommends starting with clothes, then books, then paperwork, and finally ‘komono’ (small miscellaneous items). I agree with all that – but ‘komono’ is a huge section. A novice may think it sounds good, but how do you pull out all your little bits and pieces in one go?
So which methods are different to yours?
LS: Marie Kondo talks about having to change your mindset to keep a tidy home, but that is not an easy thing to do. It’s like trying to lose weight. It’s not the same for everyone, there isn’t a one-size fits all answer. People are often so overwhelmed, they don’t know where to start, and motivating someone to be able to change behaviours can take some time.
I focus on the personalities of my clients and work with them on what they want their homes to become. There’s no set formula. Every home is different, and every family is different.
Also, while tackling everything in one go sounds great, it’s not practical for many people. Your home has to be liveable and having all your possessions on the floor around the house while you are going through the process isn’t something everyone can do.
She also recommends that after you’ve decluttered you can focus on buying things that spark joy. I think after you’ve decluttered, buying new things will only take you back to square one. We all know that joy sparking/retail therapy is often a temporary fix.
I like Marie Kondo-style folding, I see this as micro organisation. It can work for people who have a lot of time to devote to perfection,
So what is your key to tidying?
LS: Getting rid of things and then making sure there is a place for everything. People tend feel guilty about the possessions they’re getting rid of. So they want to give it to other people. Or they want to sell it. But what’s your real goal: to declutter or make money? It’s a buyer’s market… things go for pounds. By the end of one of my sessions, all the decluttered items are out of the house. It’s a critical part of the process.
How much do your clients typically get rid of?
LS: My clients will get rid of between 30% to 60% of their possessions. Most of my clients are female. Typically they’ll declutter 50% of their wardrobe and more like 5% of the kitchen.
And where does it go?
LS: If there’s value, people will want to sell their stuff. I don’t advocate selling it yourself as it can become a barrier and will delay you achieving your goal. Donate it to charity shops – I recommend one charity shop to my clients that comes and collects. Or there are eBay sellers who will take your stuff away, sell it, and give you a percentage.
I get my clients to make a plan of where things they’re getting rid of are going to go. If you’re unsure of whether something should go or stay, it should stay. Never delay your decision making, and don’t have a halfway point like storing it in the basement for now.
Has Marie Kondo been good for business?
LS: It’s fantastic that she’s come along. She’s added a usp to standard de-cluttering and made it work. It’s very empowering and people are interested and doing it. All of a sudden the world is interested in decluttering!
But professional organising and decluttering was already growing in popularity. Numbers in our association have doubled In the past years. We’ve got really high calibre people coming into it now; previously it was often something people added on the side of another business, like coaching or cleaning.
Journalists and bloggers are suddenly very interested. Some people are trying Marie Kondo, finding it hard to motivate themselves, then calling on professionals. She won’t work for everyone. You have to find the elements you like and take these forward.