Decluttering and Organizing the Marie Kondo Way

What is the one thing that almost every seller tells me at the first meeting to list their home? “I need to declutter and organize!” It seems like most of us (myself included) have way too much stuff. I thought I had purged a lot when I sold my last home, but I look around my house now and realize that I still have quite a few things that need to go. It sounds strange, but I love to organize. I always have, even when I was a kid. So when I heard people talking about “The Marie Kondo Method” to organization, I thought it would be fun to check out her book and see what the fuss is all about.

Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant who travels all over the world training people on her decluttering and organization method. She’s a bit different than most home organizers in that she does not suggest decluttering one room at a time. She thinks the best thing to do is declutter by category because she thinks that you need to see everything that you have. The premise behind her method is only keeping things that bring you joy. If you have an item that someone gave you as a gift and you don’t really like it, you need to get rid of it because the gift giver never wanted to burden you and wouldn’t want you keeping it if it doesn’t bring you true joy.

Marie is not a sentimental lady. She doesn’t think that you should keep things stored in boxes just because you once had or have an attachment to these items. If you truly love something, it should be displayed. She and I will never see eye to eye on this one. I have a storage room in the basement filled with boxes of things from my childhood- sticker books, report cards, and notes that my friends and I passed around to each other during class in high school. I open the boxes from time to time to look at these things and laugh and laugh at these notes. It was basically our version of group texting before texting ever existed. I guarantee you that there would NEVER be an appropriate place to display these papers in my home. In fact, I hope that my kids don’t dig through my old boxes as teenagers someday and realize the warped things my friends (you know who you are) and I joked about. But I will never get rid of them despite what Marie says.

The first category she suggests starting with is clothing because most of us have too much of it and it’s not something that most people have an attachment to. I’m fine with that. I can’t say I enjoy shopping for clothes and realize that I pretty much wear the same things over and over. I am happy to get rid of the things that don’t fit or are out of style. Kondo suggests putting everything article of clothing on the floor to sort it.


See this pile? It’s every piece of clothing I own. I confess that a good bit of it was already on the bottom of my closet floor. Marie Kondo feels it is important to handle each piece of clothing. If it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s done. I had to be a little loose with this whole “bringing joy” thing. Some of my items are just okay, but I’m not looking to go replace my whole wardrobe. If you haven’t worn it in forever, it has to go too. I mostly followed this rule, but did keep a two items that I feel like are still in style, but haven’t worn them lately. I discovered that I had a whole drawer of clothing in the spare room dedicated to “painting clothing.” I’m not a professional painter, so I was happy to toss most of this.


See this dress with the tags on it? I purchased this when I was 19 from a Victoria’s Secret catalog. I am almost 42 now. I’ve owned this dress for half of my life. It’s been through a college graduation, 7 different addresses, a marriage, and 2 children. Definitely donating this now vintage dress because if I haven’t worn it by now, I never will. And most likely, it wouldn’t look as good on the 42 year old me as it would have on the 19 year old me. I wasn’t going to depress myself by trying it on and confirming this theory.

Marie is not big on hanging things in closets, but likes everything folded into squares so it stands up and is not stacked on top of each other. This way you can see exactly what you have. I have a pretty nice sized closet which I refuse to waste. So I hung up all of my dresses, dress pants, and any shirt nice enough for work. Casual pants, shorts, and t-shirts all went into drawers.


Here’s my folded t-shirt drawer. Notice they are not squares, so I don’t think Marie Kondo would approve. There is something soothing about folding, but I certainly didn’t have all day to perfect this. Rectangles it is!


It took me about an 90 minutes from start to finish. I got rid of every out of style item, things I haven’t worn in ages, and things that no longer fit. Here’s the pile of clothing that was still nice enough to donate. It looks small in the picture, but it filled 2 garbage bags! I filled another garbage bag with clothing that needed to be tossed out because it was stained or had too many holes. It’s nice to be able to see what I have in my closet and drawers now. If I’m following Marie’s method, my next step will be sorting my books and then on to cosmetics and toiletries. My goal is to do those next week when my kids are back to school. With any luck, I’ll be decluttered by the holidays!