World-famous organizing guru Marie Kondo comes across a lot of, shall we say, excess baggage her clients need to unload. But in the second episode of her new Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” we think she’s truly met her match!
In the “Empty Nesters” episode, we learn that Wendy and Ron Akiyama have lived in the house they inherited from Ron’s parents for more than 20 years—and raised three kids there—so the house has accumulated three generations’ belongings. Now that the couple are empty nesters, they believe it’s high time to make the place clean, calm, and cathartic.
Step No. 1? Wendy follows Kondo’s advice to empty her closets and drawers, and pile all her clothes on the bed. To everyone’s astonishment, the mountain of apparel is twice as tall as Kondo herself—the top can be reached only by a ladder!
“I’m going to be honest with you,” Kondo tells Wendy. “This is the biggest pile I’ve seen of all my clients.”
And that’s just in the bedrooms (Wendy’s wardrobe will not fit in just one closet). When they go down to the basement, or “rumpus room,” they find the place looks like Christmas exploded: There are decorations on every surface. Using the pool table for its intended purpose would be impossible, because there are mountains of decorations piled on its surface. Kondo has her work cut out for her!
What’s the tidying titan to do? Dig right in, of course, with her unique brand of organizing expertise. It’s a daunting task, but as Kondo weighs in, the rest of us get some great advice for organizing our own homes. Here are some of the best tips.
Think about the future
Wendy’s pile of clothing is so massive, Kondo adjusts her typical advice of holding each piece of clothing and figuring out whether or not it “sparks joy.” Instead, Kondo asks Wendy to “decide what’s truly necessary for you.
“What I really want you to ask yourself is if it’s something you really want to take with you into your future,” she tells Wendy.
When Wendy thinks about it that way, the clothes that no longer fit or that are dated or damaged are much easier to toss out.
For many a family, photos are prized possessions—that is, the good ones. As for the dupes and extras with pink eyes or wonky smiles, Kondo urges the Akiyamas to let them go. Once you’ve done that, Kondo says to take them out of their envelopes or random boxes where they’re rarely appreciated and put them in photo albums. These can be stored on coffee tables or bookshelves, for maximum accessibility and enjoyment.
Sorting holiday decorations
When surveying all the decorations she owns, Wendy admits, “I realize I was a little overboard.” It takes nearly three rooms to accommodate all her decorations when they’re not in use.
Kondo comes to her rescue, advising that if the family is involved in decorating together, the family should participate in the ritual of deciding what sparks joy and should be kept, and what doesn’t inspire anything one way or the other. (Hint: If it’s broken, faded, or chipped, it’s not going to spark much joy.)
Kondo then shows an adorable clip of how her children help decide what they like and want to keep, and what they’re indifferent about, as they clean up every year.
Store stuff in clear containers
First piece of advice: Don’t keep decorations in trash bags! It makes them look like gomi, the Japanese word for “trash.” Kondo suggests using clear plastic boxes or totes, so you can see what you have.
When she can see all the decorations she possesses (e.g., an entire large tote full of nutcrackers), Wendy says, “I realized I don’t have to be that extreme. I’m going to change the way I decorate next year.”
If clothes and Christmas decorations are Wendy’s weaknesses, Ron realizes that baseball cards are his. Boxes and binders full of them spill out of the closet, take up one wall of their bedroom, and creep into other rooms as well. He’s been collecting for over 30 years, and hasn’t done much curating during that time.
Kondo encourages him to keep only what has value to him, and to discard those that have no worth. Ron admits that when you have fewer cards, there’s room in your life to enjoy those you decide to keep even more. The excess is no longer a burden.
Does Marie Kondo spark joy in this home?
The cleaning/organizing process takes about six weeks, during which the Akiyamas discard a whopping 150 garbage bags full of gomi.
Once it’s over, they are able to fit both cars in the garage where they couldn’t even fit one before. Two spare bedrooms that once served as storage rooms are now an office and a guest room. And they can once again play pool.
“I can feel a change in the atmosphere of the house. It feels lighter and more positive,” says Wendy.
“And now we know there isn’t anything we can’t do together,” says Ron.
One of the happy side effects of the KonMari method of tidying is strengthening family ties. Tidy your house, tidy your relationships.
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