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The top 10 tips for decluttering your home, according to KonMari

  • Decluttering craze sparked by Japanese 'organising consultant' Marie Kondo 
  • Her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying has sold more than 2m copies worldwide
  • Stack items in drawers vertically and fold don’t ball your socks 
  • Keeping things ‘just in case’ is a false economy 

By Zoe Phillimore

Published: 06:43 EST, 10 October 2015 | Updated: 08:41 EST, 10 October 2015

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A month ago I married a hoarder. When he said those vows - ‘All that I have, I give to you’ - I inherited his tower of never-worn hats, drawers of receipts and racks of dodgy jumpers. 

The morning we arrived home from our honeymoon, I did what any new wife does: vowed to change my husband’s ways.

I needed to be brutal. The ‘dressing room’ in our bijoux North London flat is crammed to the rafters - we even have fancy dress outfits from our student days. The space would be so much better used as an office or as an actual dressing room. 

Hard task: According to the KonMari method, you should attack one section at a time, pulling out everything you own in that category and blitzing it

Hard task: According to the KonMari method, you should attack one section at a time, pulling out everything you own in that category and blitzing it

When encouraging my husband to throw stuff away in the past, I’ve tried the gently‑gently approach. It doesn’t work. His version of spring-cleaning is shifting never-used possessions into piles that he promises to take to the charity shop, then squirrels away.

So that same morning, I headed to Waterstones to pick up a copy of Japanese ‘organising consultant’ Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying

It’s sold more than two million copies worldwide. Her systematic method of decluttering, dubbed the KonMari method, is said to be foolproof. It sounded perfect for my husband.

The KonMari craze has been (literally) sweeping the world. The result? People’s lives have become streamlined, more fulfilling and happier. Bloggers and lifestyle consultants are hooked.

So KonMari? It’s the process of going through everything you own and asking: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If the answer is no, then the item is binned. Startlingly harsh (and a bit crackers), but I needed something drastic.

After you’ve dumped most of your worldly items, you’re meant to put back in an ordered fashion all the things that survived the cut.

TOP TEN TIPS FOR DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME 

1. Think about why you want to have a tidy home. This will help you visualise what you want your space to look like and help to achieve your goal.

2. Stack items in drawers vertically. This way you’ll see everything easily, rather than having to sift through piles. 

3. Fold don’t ball your socks. Folding socks makes them last longer. 

4. Empty your handbag once a day and take out unnecessary items. 

5. Avoid using stacking storage boxes - they encourage hoarding. Drawers and cardboard drawer dividers for socks etc are the answer. 

6. Don’t have lots of bottles around your shower and bath. Only get out what you need and put it away again after you’ve used it. 

7. Build up to decluttering your sentimental items. This is the hardest category to blitz, so tackle lessimportant items (clothes, books, etc.) first.

8. Don’t tell all your loved ones about your decluttering plans. It might make them worry and they might even try to put you off - especially if they have hoarding tendencies themselves. 

9. Keeping things ‘just in case’ is a false economy. In the meantime, they’re causing clutter and stress. Just let them go. 

10. Purge items that you have no need for, but you keep because you’re attached to them, e.g. souvenirs. KonMari advocates celebrating the present.

There’s a system for everything, from filing to organising your wardrobe (longer items should be hung on the left, gradually getting shorter to the right) and even how to fold your knickers.

The KonMari method suggests you attack one section at a time, pulling out everything you own in that category and blitzing it.

The idea is to work quickly through the categories in a process that, she says, should take only six months. The book instructs you to start with clothes and work your way up to more sentimental items (Kondo doesn’t state when that might include husbands).

Diligently, we take all our clothes out of drawers, off hangers and dump them in a pile. If you forget to add any item in this process, KonMari dictates that it goes straight into the discard bag. We immediately feel panicked and tearful at the pile in front of us.

Decluttering tips: Emptying your handbag once a day to take out unnecessary items can help

Decluttering tips: Emptying your handbag once a day to take out unnecessary items can help

We set to work in determined silence (KonMari insists on no background music), holding items and pondering if they spark joy.

My discard pile is huge, my outfit options dwindle. It feels wasteful to throw clothes out, but Marie Kondo says you should thank items for their part in your life, then bite the bullet.

I fill two giant sacks with tops and trousers alone. And when I carefully fold all my remaining items and put them back in their drawers, everything fits beautifully.

I pat myself on the back and let the calm wash over me.

After clothes come books. The bookcase is overloaded, so with a heavy heart I part company with some of my beloved novels.

The next thing to attack is paper documents. 

Never mind my husband, I have reams of the stuff - it comes with the territory of being self-employed. Kondo suggests throwing everything away. This is impractical.

 My accountant would have something to say about me binning all my receipts, invoices and P60s. So, despite good intentions, I just can’t adopt the KonMari method with my life admin.

After doing KonMari for several weeks, I feel lighter, more positive, better organised. It’s a relief not wading through piles of debris to find what I’m after.

And now that I can see all my clothes at a glance, putting together outfits in the morning is easier. I like everything I own.

Getting my husband on-board has been a challenge. We have shared items, which means I don’t have 100 per cent jurisdiction on the binning process. And the book seems to be written for women, which doesn’t help to convince my grumbling husband.

We do, at least, agree on one thing — we’ll never get rid of our his ’n’ hers Christmas jumpers with pom-poms.

 

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