Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

Tag: closet

Spark Joy: KonMari & Organizing My Wardrobe

Marie Kondo has a new book out, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, that serves as a deep dive into the KonMari Method and aims to explain all of the questions left by her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m only a few chapters into it, but I’ve happily discovered that she does explain many of the confusing aspects that I’d wondered about after Life-Changing Magic.


On the Necessary Stuff that Doesn’t Spark Joy

For example, “What do we do with the stuff that doesn’t spark joy, but that we NEED (like a funeral suit or a screwdriver)?” The answer is keep the item, but thank it often for the service it provides. Appreciation helps you get over the fact that you dislike it — at least until you can replace it with something you love.

On Starting Over

I still haven’t finished discarding my sentimental items, but I’m starting to see new things creeping into the other categories (like that new T-shirt I got from work that I’m pretty sure doesn’t spark joy). I was starting to wonder if I had to start over. Kondo answers that question too and the answer is no. Keep going and when you organize you’ll naturally cull the new items that don’t spark joy. (Although, since I know that T-shirt doesn’t spark joy, I should probably walk right into my bedroom and throw it out right now.)

On Organizing Clothes

I liked how most of my shirts were organized in my closet, but I think Kondo is right about folding them. I was so inspired by her illustrations of how to fold clothes that I was dying to try it. So I did!

Spark Joy - KonMari Drawers

KonMari Drawers

Spark Joy

Folding my clothes DOES take longer and I’ve often found myself annoyed when I have a pile of them waiting for me. That feeling disappears when I get the clothes in the drawer. It is easier to pick them out because you can see each and every one. It is also a nice way to know when you’re accumulating too many clothes again. When the drawer feels stuffed, it’s probably time to consider whether everything in there sparks joy.

I thought this method might fall apart in a couple of weeks, but it’s been 1.5 months and I’m still using it. My underwear looks really nice all folded and lined up from light to dark. I actually have matching pairs more often than not because I can see all the options. (My husband likes that. Could that be one extra benefit to the KonMari Method that Kondo doesn’t mention in either book: improved marriages?!)

Have you organized your clothes KonMari style? How’s it going?

Manage Clutter: Limit Toy Storage Space (Quick Tip)

Now that we’ve gotten toys down to a manageable number, we still struggle with the flow of new toys into the house, especially at birthdays and Christmas. However, there is a neat trick that helps us stop new toys from completely taking over ours lives:

Limit toy storage to a confined space.

This is a fantastic tip from Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker. When that specific, confined toy area fills up, that’s it. No more toys. If a new one arrives, an old, underused one should go.

Good Toy Spaces

Good confined spaces are closets, a toy box, one set of shelves, under a bed, or a couple of tubs. Ideally, this is somewhere that you can close off so you don’t have to look at the toys all the time.

Limit Toy Storage Space

Toy Box Storage

Our Toy Spaces

We’re still trying to find the right amount of toy storage space in our house. We’ve started by confining the toys we have to the corner in the living room, the living room bookshelf, the toy box, the guest bedroom and both girls’ closets. We found the corner is not confined enough because it’s hard to define where a corner begins and ends or when a corner is “filled up”. My goal is to eventually confine the toys even more to simply the toy box, one or two bookshelves and a couple of tubs in the girls’ closets. The tubs are for rotating the toys and the toy box/shelf are for the toys we play with every day.

Limit Toy Storage Space

This tip offers a few other nice side-effects beyond simply having a manageable amount of toys. It:

  1. Keeps the house cleaner.
  2. Allows you to easily experiment with finding the optimal volume of toys. For instance, if you confine the toys to four tubs in a closet, but you find that the kids only play with the toy-equivalent of two tubs you can de-own the extras and reduce your confined space.
  3. Helps you and your kids know when it’s time to do another round of purging. When the confined space feels cluttered or full, it’s time to de-own again.

Quick Tip: Clear Closets with the Backward Hanger Trick

If you use hangers, there’s a really easy way to figure out what you’re not wearing.  Take everything in your closet and flip your hangers around (the hanger opening pointing toward you).  Once you wear an item, put it back in the closet normally (hanger opening pointing away from you).  In six months to one year take the items whose hangers are still pointing backwards and donate them.

Backward Hanger Trick

My closet one month into the backward hanger experiment.

I usually post the date I started this experiment somewhere in my closet or leave a reminder on my calendar so I don’t forget to follow-through.  After a couple weeks it becomes really obvious which items you’re not using often.

I can’t remember where I first heard this trick, but Oprah’s on board and since it takes two minutes to start the experiment, you should be too.

Weekend Project: Cleaning the Smallest Closet

Throwing away ten things a day is really eye-opening. In two weeks, I’ve thrown away far more than 140 items. Still, it seems like I’m continually chipping away at the tip of an iceberg. It’s time to start systematically going through the house to create minimalist-approved zones.

I could have started with a single drawer, but I had a couple of hours last weekend and took on a slightly bigger project: our linen closet. My daughter and I went shelf by shelf and made decisions quickly. The whole closet took us less than an hour to sort, clean, and reorganize.

Linen Closet Before & After

Before & After

Mission accomplished! It doesn’t look like a lot changed until you concentrate on what’s NOT there. I removed a stack of items to donate…

Linen closet - donations

….a surprisingly large pile of garbage…

Linen closet garbage

…and a stack of old sheets and towels. Part of me wants to get rid of them right now, but since old sheets and towels have so many uses, I put them in a box downstairs with the date on them. In a year, if I haven’t touched them, then we’ll throw them out.

Should these have a second life?

This is the smallest closet in the house, but I feel like we’ve made a big difference. Plus, it got me energized for the next project!

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