Those of you onboard with the capsule wardrobe mentality or fans of the minimalist ethos will probably be aware of Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying‘ which was released in 2014. I confess I bought the book for my husband as a half serious joke in order to try to deter him from leaving wet towels on the bed and socks around (but never in!!!) the laundry basket. Suffice to say it didn’t get read and there are still daily damp patches from sodden towels on my bedlinen. Grrrrrrr!
For those of you not familiar with ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’, the ethos of the self-help book (albeit a different kind) is the transformation of your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the author’s (Marie) KonMari Method. Marie is an expert declutterer who will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method.
To categorise the book as simply a tidying guide is shortsighted and actually a bit reductive; by applying the lessons that the book has to offer can transform the way you see your possessions. I was intrigued enough to buy the book but I never quite got around to perusing its delightful pages so when Lauren mentioned that Spark Joy! was on the list for the next round of RMS’ book club I jumped at the chance to review it.
To put it simply, ‘Spark Joy’ is essentially an illustrated guide of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ with the book split into master tips and an introduction to the KonMari method to begin with before launching into part two; the tidying encyclopaedia. If I’m honest, it was the second part of this book that I was initially most interested in since I was keen to get down to the nitty gritty of how to store everything from clothes to credit card statements to makeup and greetings cards. There is even a section dedicated to tidying sentimental items something I’m horrendously guilty of hoarding in mass.
The most important trick that Marie Kondo claims is the successful application of the KonMari method is to ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” for everything around you. If it doesn’t, you should feel free to donate, sell, or dispose of it. EEEK! Easier said than done.
As I’m beginning to go through the numerous boxes of my belongings currently in storage at my mum’s house before moving them all into our new home it seemed a perfect time to start practising Marie’s method – something she agrees with. ‘Don’t leave tidying up until after moving‘ she states, along with ‘if you haven’t found a new house yet then start tidying right way because it’s the house you live in now that will lead you to your next house‘. You have been told.
So I began.
Accompanied by Spark Joy I began discarding (something that needs to be rigorously followed otherwise there’s a chance of relapse), and then began tidying (back into boxes I should add) by category rather than location (think clothes, books, papers rather than living room, dining room, bedroom). This apparently prevents you shuffling things round from room to room and actually makes you tidy. Being presented with a huge amount of the same thing makes you more inclined to discard and treat your belongings appropriately.
I have to agree. I confess I felt a bit sick when I realised that I had five long black cardigans which pretty much looked identical to one another and a quadrillion pairs of black court shoes and that’s just the start.
Once I’d ‘discarded’ I turned to Marie’s beautiful yet simple line drawings which illustrate her origami inspired folding method as it applies to shirts, trousers, socks, and jackets (yep even parkas!) right down to odd shaped tops and hair accessories, as well as images of properly organized drawers, cupboards and rooms. Marie also adds in-depth advice on moving, packing and dealing with necessary objects that may not spark joy thereby answering all the questions she’s received since ‘The Life-Changing Magic’.
The book essentially provides a more coherent, informative up to date version of ‘The Life-Changing Magic’ complete with handy guides that may have been difficult to follow in the written form but which are easily depicted in drawn formats.
So what did I think. Generally I liked the book. It helped me enormously with my tidying exploits and definitely made me more ruthless when approaching the storage of my belongings. At times she made me laugh with her anecdotes (which actually are enormously helpful when illustrating a point) and her comments such as ‘store bras like royalty’ are simply Queenlike!
But then there are times when I simply have to disagree. I’m not, for example, going to remove all the garish labels from the bottles of cleaning products to increase the ‘joy’ factor. I simply do not have enough hours in the day to do so and if I did then that time would be best put to use elsewhere.
Some of her philosophies are also in sharp conflict with my control-freak desires to hold onto things I might need “just in case” (which you’re actually advised to get rid of) and her approach to books made me gasp in horror ‘if you believe that books are one thing that you can’t possibly do away with…that’s a terrible waste‘. For me pretty much every book I’ve read has and continues to spark joy so it would be nigh on impossible to part with them.
But then perhaps that says more about me than Marie. Perhaps I’m not a true convert to the method. For those of you looking to embark on a true overhaul or at their wits end with the amount of stuff you have then I would definitely recommend this as an excellent starting point.
SO have you read ‘Spark Joy’? What did you think? Were there any lightbulb moments for you? Anything you disagreed with? We’d love to hear all about it…