Closet Makeover: the KonMari Method

Although our new bedroom was almost done, one major thing left on my to-do list was to purge and organize my closet. It just seemed like a daunting task, so I kept putting it off. This weekend, I finally decided to tackle my closet and about 3 hours and 2 large trash bags later, I happily crossed that chore off the list.

You might have heard about KonMari, since this decluttering method has been all the rage in the blogosphere for the last several months. My sister lent me the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and although I never would have believed that a book about cleaning could be an enjoyable read, much less life-changing, it really is!

Nothing in this book is entirely new or mind-blowing, but the author, Marie Kondo, has a way of putting things that just really makes sense and helps to provide that little push to get rid of those but-maybe-I’ll-need-it-somehow-someday things. She promises that one proper and complete cleanout is all you will ever need to become and stay organized for the rest of your life. Since starting her book (I’m only about halfway through now), I’ve thoroughly enjoyed applying the KonMari method in every nook and cranny of our apartment. We’ve made numerous trips to drop off donations, we had a massive yard sale and we’ve filled bins and bins of trash and recycling.

I literally KonMari’d my “craft closet” into a single small craft supply box. I downsized two tool boxes to one. My piles of papers have vanished. And most recently, I cleared out an entire dresser and at least half of my closet. With every load I haul out of my apartment, our space becomes lighter and more comfortable. I didn’t realize how suffocating my stuff was until I got rid of it.

People joke that KonMari is a cleaning cult, and when I found myself raving about the KonMari method to friends over brunch this weekend, I knew I was completely and happily brainwashed.

kon mari closet makeover

This weekend, as I cleaned out my closet, I leaned heavily on these three principles from the KonMari method.

1. Take everything down.

This one is huge and its importance cannot be overstated. The KonMari method requires that you take down all the items and put them on the floor. For example, take all the books off the book shelf, all the dishes out of the cupboard, and all the clothes out of closets and drawers. As I got started on my closet, I gave this principle a thought and decided, “That just makes so much more work. Is it really necessary?” YES. Yes, it is. See that picture above? That’s my closet after I ignored KonMari’s rules and pulled items I wanted to get rid of off the hangers. See that pile? Not bad, right? WRONG. At this point, it occurred to me that if I was going to do this, I should do it correctly. She has these instructions for a reason, so I decided I would just trust the method and see what happened.

So I pulled every item off its hanger, every piece off its shelf, and every article from its drawer. And I get it! Making the decision to keep an item is entirely different than making a decision to get rid of an item. When a perfectly good shirt is hanging comfortably on its hanger, it’s easy to let it hang. When you pick that same shirt out of a pile on the floor you’re not just simply deciding if you want to leave it be. You’re forced to actively decide whether to keep it or not.

See those large bags below? That’s what I was able to eliminate using this approach. Compare that to the tiny pile above. Once I tried it, I got it.

kon mari my closet

2. Put everything in one place.

KonMari strongly encourages you to collect all like items in a single place before starting your purge. This is another principle that kind of had me saying, “Why bother? I know what I have.” Here’s the thing though. Imagine you’re clearing our your kitchen junk drawer and find 3 highlighters. You might decide to keep 1 or 2 of the 3. Then on another occasion you tidy out your office and find another 7 highlighters. So you keep another 2 or 3. Then another day, you’re cleaning out purses and book bags and come across a few more (I’m a researcher and spent a lot of time in school, so I’ve accumulated highlighters, ok?). Individually, you’ve done a great job of purging, but you still end up with 10 highlighters when you only needed a couple. That’s the importance of gathering all like items.

My closet and dresser are located in our home gym (Mike uses the closet in our bedroom). But we also added small 3-drawer dressers as nightstands when we redecorated our bedroom, with the plan that we’d eliminate my dresser in the gym. I use the top drawer of my nightstand dresser for my makeup (since I got rid of my vanity), so I wasn’t sure how I’d possibly downsize from my overstuffed 5-drawer dresser to 2.

But KonMari insists that you’ll always have exactly the right amount of storage once you have exactly the right amount of stuff. So I went ahead. I gathered all the items from my closet, my gym dresser and my bedroom dresser. I pulled the jackets off the hooks on the backs of doors and sweaters off chairs, and coats from the hallway closet. Then one item at a time, I started to go through my giant mountain of clothes.

kon mari my closet

3. Hold each item in your hands.

As a professional organizer, Marie Kondo is in a bit of a love affair with items. She whispers sweet nothings to them and thanks them for their service. I haven’t gone that far, but I’ve taken to heart her requirement to hold each item in your hands before making a decision about whether it should stay or go. I’ll give an example. I looked at a particular sweater in my pile of clothes. A light knit, pink, with white polka dots. I’d worn it often enough this past winter and it was in perfect condition. I’ll keep it, I thought. Then I picked it up. And with it in my hands, I immediately recalled how I felt when I wore it. It was a tad bit short, slightly itchy, and I just didn’t really love it. So into the ‘donate pile’ it went. That was the magic of holding each item. I didn’t try anything on as I went through this closet cleanout, but as I picked each item up in my hands, I was easily able to decide to hang it back up, slide it into the drawer, or say goodbye.

I now can easily see everything hanging neatly in my closet and my clothes have room to breathe, avoiding wrinkling. And I did manage to clear out that entire dresser, reducing to only two drawers in my nightstand with room to spare. And that’s the magic of tidying up!

Have you tried the KonMari method? Is your closet due for clean out?

9 Comments

  1. I’ve done this too and it feels amazing!! I love having everything beautifully organized and I agree, her book is such a gem! Btw: Love your new bedroom photos. Kisses, darling.

  2. OK….this is amazing! Good for you doing this, dear Jill. So far, all I’ve done with the method is fold some tops her way. Still need some commitment to DO this!

    • Yes, I’d been folding tops her way for a couple years now, so I had that routine down, but now I’ve even folded my socks her way rather than balling them up. Sort of solving a non-existent problem, I think, but my drawer does look neater!

    • I like that there is specifically a section about older sisters dumping ‘stuff’ on younger sisters.

  3. Wow it sounds like you’ve done an amazing job! My brother started using this method when he was sorting his room out for the billionth time, so I’ve only heard about it recently. It sounds like it really has worked for you, I’m terrible at throwing stuff away as I think things will always come in handy or I think I will wear it one day. Also I’m incredibly sentimental, especially when it comes to my relationship so I’m terrible at getting rid of things. I keep envelopes he’s sent me cards in and it took me six weeks to get rid of an empty box of chocolates that he had given me for Valentine’s Day, yes I know I’m crazy! XxxX

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *