Today’s Netflix darling is a tiny Japanese woman, Marie Kondo, who “loves mess”. She specializes in coaching families through the tedious task of culling their home of needless clutter and an overabundance of stuff that serves no purpose.
Her credo is to keep only that which you absolutely need and brings you joy. No purpose? No joy? Toss it.
But first hold each item for a moment, thank it for its presence in your home, then utter a short eulogy before dropping it into a bin destined for Goodwill, a garage sale, or the garbage.
Kondo advises first sorting and discarding before beginning to put anything back. In a bedroom, she will take out every garment hanging in the closet or stuffed in a drawer and heap it all on the bed. Garments that no longer fit, have gone out of fashion, or for any reason no longer suit your lifestyle are first to go.
One mother of two toddlers whose closet was jammed with a random assortment of garments she no longer wore ended with 200 empty clothes hangers and ample space for the clothing she did choose to wear frequently.
Clothing is hung in closets longest to shortest, dark colours to pastels. Small items like socks, underwear, and scarves are rolled and lined up side by side in drawers so everything is visible at a glance.
Kondo methodically tackles one category – clothing, books, kids’ toys – or one small space like a closet or drawer rather than a room at a time, taking before and after photos to savour the improvement.
Over the years I’ve read – and tried to follow – articles suggesting keeping only three empty pizza boxes, plastic peanut butter jars, sturdy cardboard cartons that might come in handy to ship a Christmas gift, or empty metal coffee cans ideal for storing pot barley or other grains in case a mouse invades my home. Still my horde soon bulges and must be trimmed again.
This Lilliputian guru’s tenets snagged when she said no one should keep more than 30 books. Talk about protest! What avid reader is content with a mere 30 books? We may have that many near our bed, never mind on bookshelves, the coffee table, a corner of a desk, anywhere there’s a level surface. And we don’t share willingly. Nor do we give our books away.
Her simple method of sorting useful possessions from meaningless stuff has caught on, until she is teaching New York courses in the art of decluttering. Next she will add an online course to train more coaches.
Everyone benefits from a more organized living space, but seniors downsizing after decades of living at one address may need help deciding what to keep.
According to a New York Times article, the process of seniors moving to smaller dwellings, assisted living facilities or retirement homes has expanded the “senior move management industry”.
“These move managers usually charge an hourly rate, typically $50 to $125. They spend time with clients, helping them sort through years of accumulated possessions and make decisions about what to dispose, what to donate to charities, and what to try to fit into their new living spaces.
“Final costs of the service, which may also involve an estate sale, can be $2,500 to $5,000 or more, depending on the size of the home and the density of its contents.”
To minimize expense later, buy only what brings you joy, not useless stuff.