When we picture our dream home, most of us conjure images of a beautiful space with room to breathe—one in which every bedroom has a walk-in closet, each room has floor-to-ceiling windows and 10-foot ceilings. Each room contains warm wood, bright clean walls, plush area rugs, comfy furniture piled with throws and cushions, and fresh cut flowers around every corner. In reality, the space is probably smaller than hoped and likely exploding with tchotchkes, old paperwork, and unfolded laundry. And, hey, it’s not like you don’t try! There may be flowers in one room and they’re sort of wilted by this point. Life is busy.
But organizing is something to make time for. Studies have proven time and time again that organization is the key for designing a relaxed home. With the invention of the KonMari method (created by Japanese consultant Marie Kondo), de-cluttering the chaos has never been more on-trend in the world of design and décor.
A LexisNexis study estimates that we only use about 20 percent of the stuff we own. While keeping beloved possessions is important—like that old concert T-shirt that gives you a great feeling every time you throw it on to have your Saturday morning coffee—getting rid of the stuff we don’t need, use or love is top of the list when designing a more relaxed space.
Clutter is the enemy, affecting us mentally and physically. It creates visual chaos, it affects our minds, stress levels and, ultimately, our overall health. And the number one reason for clutter is disorganization. A HuffPost survey found that worrying about home organization and cleanliness is the 5th most common stress trigger for Americans. And the size of your home is not always the main culprit: a spacious four-bedroom home will feel chaotic if every nook and cranny is filled with furniture, clothes, books, paperwork and sentimental items. But you can feel most comforted in a carefully organized, tiny two-bedroom apartment.
If you aren’t familiar with Kondo’s method, it’s pretty straightforward. First step is to tidy everything all at once, so set aside a full day (or weekend!) to clear things out. This feels daunting but the goal is to do as much as you can in one go to avoid letting the clutter build up between clearing days. Next, have a set goal in mind. Kondo asks us to “visualize the destination” but that essentially just means having a specific vision in mind as to what you want your home to feel like. As opposed to simply saying ‘I want a tidy space’ use clear, paint-the-picture wording like ‘I want to live in a harmonious, beautiful space.’
In order to choose what to keep and what to toss, ask yourself ‘Does this spark joy?’ If the answer is no, out it goes. Focus on what you love. Kondo urges us to tidy by category, not location. So, tackle your clothes—the ones in the hall closet, under the bed, the dresser and the standing hanger, not only the bedroom closet. She suggests going in this order: clothing, books, paperwork, miscellaneous (what she calls komono) and lastly the sentimental. And don’t be afraid to remove a piece of furniture or two (do you really need an end table on both sides of the couch?) since open floor space is a huge visual freedom.
Going through this hours-long process at least once has a multitude of benefits. In 2012, The Daily Mail reported a total of 3,680 or 153 days is spend searching for lost stuff over our lifetime. But sifting through unneeded clutter and creating a designated space for all your important items (wallet, sunglasses, keys, lip balm) you’ll be able to find them quickly. No more hair-pulling and rushing around to find your car keys and get out the door on time, just a low-stress morning where you grab those things from their usual spot and get in the car. Since 80 percent of healthcare costs are related to stress-induced illness, lowering tension levels is good for everyone personally and society at large. What’s more, a more organized, comfy home eliminates an estimated 40 percent of housework! So you truly will have more time to enjoy your home in peace.
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