How to Kondo Your Home
Learn how to organise your home with Marie Kondo's organising principles, which principally revolves around only keeping items that “spark joy”.
Discover how to transform your home into a calm sanctuary by embracing Marie Kondo’s simple tidying principles.
Marie Kondo believes we’re drowning in clutter. The Japanese organisational expert and author of the breakout book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising is on a campaign against too much stuff.
The philosophy behind her method is simple: hold each item and ask yourself if, in Kondo’s words, it “sparks joy”. “This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge,” writes Kondo. If it doesn’t spark joy, it goes. If it does, it should be treated with respect, which means storing it neatly or displaying it proudly.
Kondo is a phenomenon. Her book has now been published in more than 30 countries and she was previously named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. In January this year (the traditional month for making big changes), Netflix released a series based around the book and starring Kondo herself. Her name has even become a verb – Kondo-ing, the act of tidying according to her methods.
According to Kondo, your home is ground zero for decluttering. “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past,” she writes.
Victor Wong, Senior Associate at Mirvac Design, agrees. “Our possessions are closely connected to who we are and what is important to us. They are like an extension of our personality. The art of Kondo-ing – as a celebration of what we love – should be embraced, not seen as a mundane chore.”
Much of the hype about Kondo-ing portrays the activity as a full-scale cleanse. This needn’t be the case. If you’re feeling nervous about taking the plunge with a large-scale clean-out, start small.
“Kondo-ing may not be for everyone, so it’s a good idea to test whether you are compatible with this approach,” says Wong. “Start with smaller categories such as specific items of clothing or stationery – items that you enjoy and treasure – and then expand.”
Lucy McCabe, interior design editor for Belle magazine, has styled thousands of homes and through experience has learnt that some homes lend themselves more easily to the Kondo process.
“As our lives become busier and the line between our work and domestic spaces is increasingly blurred I think people are craving the efficiency of a home that’s neat, orderly and easy to maintain,” says McCabe “Efficiency of space and good design is definitely important when Kondo-ing. It’s harder to Kondo in a home without great storage options.”
McCabe suggests using a spreadsheet to help keep you organised. “This list will allow you to keep track of everything in the one place and indicate whether you want something to stay or go,” she says. “Adding up the items you have sold will be an incentive to cull more!”
At the same time, there’s no rule that says you have to follow the Kondo method to the letter. Instead, embrace the parts that serve you best.
Wong explains, “To be honest, storage and organisation are not new trends. At Mirvac we have long recognized the importance of storage options. But we also recognise everyone has different needs. We believe creating flexibility within the different parts of the home is key, allowing the owner to personalise and customise the storage space to their liking,” says Victor.
1. Get smart with storage
Organisation is key to Kondo-ing and organisation means storage. “Storage is a very important attribute of a successful home, be it apartment or house,” says Victor. “It is important that when you implement the Kondo trend that you have generous areas to allow you to either display or conceal various items as you choose, and to suit your lifestyle.” Happily, he adds, Mirvac apartments are built with lifestyle considerations like this in mind: kitchens in the stylish Waterloo complex The Finery not far from Sydney’s CBD, have wall-to-wall built-in cupboards, giving you attractive and practical storage options.
2. Treat items with respect
The Kondo method is rooted in Shintoism. This ancient Japanese religion holds that everything around us has its own spiritual energy and is worthy of respect. When you look at it that way, thanking your favourite T-shirt for its years of faithful service doesn’t seem so crazy. Kondo has her own signature way of folding clothes that’s closer to origami than laundry, and makes for storage spaces so neat they’re practically works of art. Folding this way also means you maximise space and everything is visible at a glance – so no more rifling through overstuffed drawers and cupboards. Kondo also warns against mindlessly stacking items in piles, as it’s easy to forget what’s on the bottom as the clutter accumulates. The apartments at Yarra’s Edge in Melbourne, for example, have been designed so that you can make use of the extra shelving tucked in along the side of the kitchen island to store items in a more orderly fashion.
3. Make sure everything has a home
“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong,” writes Kondo. “Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.” It’s something we keep in mind in all our developments. “Mirvac properties have clever, built-in storage solutions that encourage you to keep things organised behind beautiful joinery that’s incorporated with the apartment design,” Lucy says. At cutting-edge Brisbane development Unison, smart spaces give you a place for everything. The apartments are designed with practical, space-saving areas, like this study nook (pictured above) that make it easy to stay organised. Place a desk here and you’ll keep your laptop and work papers off the dining room table (a notorious clutter magnet).
4. Show off your treasures
Kondo’s approach isn’t just about throwing things away. It’s also about displaying those items that bring you joy. “It would be nice to make these pieces a focal point within the space and environment that they dwell in,” says Wong. “Treat each item as a piece of art and experience the joy from the visual or intellectual connection derived from the display.” The high shelves in kitchens such as those at the Claremont in Perth, give you an eye-catching place to put your favourites on show while still keeping the bench clutter-free.
Think of your belongings as your own private ever-changing art collection. Key pieces of furniture which allow for storage – such as consoles and entertainment units – can also double as display galleries. “With a clean canvas and plenty of storage, you can display your favourite accessories and objects on rotation,” McCabe says. “So your home brings you continuous joy!”
Mirvac acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands and waters of Australia, and we offer our respect to their Elders past and present.
Artwork: ‘Reimagining Country’, created by Riki Salam (Mualgal, Kaurareg, Kuku Yalanji) of We are 27 Creative.