The Simple and Effective Guide to Decluttering


JLife consults the experts to find out how a little bit of decluttering magic and some easy-to-do changes around the home can transform our daily spaces…

Marie Kondo, a Japanese organising consultant has caused quite a stir. Ever since the publication of her book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’ and the release of her Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in January, a decluttering of the home seems to have swept the globe! In fact, following the series, John Lewis & Partners has reported record-breaking sales of storage and organisation products, with storage boxes soaring by 47%, and baskets also seeing significant sales uplifts.

Spring and Passover time has always been a popular time for reorganising the home, but with over 50,000 #declutteryourlife posts on Instagram, along with Kondo’s stripped back aesthetic, the demand for solutions to help reassess the functionality of our ever smaller homes has increased beyond expectation. A recent survey of UK adults conducted by household appliances e-tailer revealed that the nation spends a staggering 7.45 hours per week on average tidying their home.

Four Things We Have Learned From Marie Kondo!

Don’t Tidy Room by Room

Marie Kondo’s first rule is to tidy by category. For example, deal with your books at once, otherwise you’ll never rein in the clutter.

The ‘KonMari’ method recommends that you follow this order when tidying up: clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous items and mementos. The first step in the KonMari method is taking all of the clothes you own and making one big pile to sort through.

Respect Your Belongings

This might sound strange, but stick with us on this one. Kondo asks that you consider your clothing’s feelings – are they happy being squashed in a corner shelf or crowded onto hangers? Are your hardworking socks really thrilled to be balled up?

If you’re a classic hoarder and struggle to throw things away, this may help you. Marie tells her clients to pick up each item individually and see how it makes you feel. If it’s an item you love, have fond memories of or it ‘sparks joy’ you can keep it. If not, say thank you to that item and get rid of it.

Be Grateful

It’s all too easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than all that we do, but Marie encourages readers to be grateful for their possessions – even the ones they no longer want or need. Before discarding anything, Marie says thank you to it, which may make you feel silly but is a sweet way to make tidying up a more positive experience.

It’s OK to be Nostalgic

Many organisation gurus might tell you that junk is junk, and it’s not worth holding onto items for sentimental reasons. But Marie doesn’t pass any judgment on what you decide to keep. Kondo shows that it’s perfectly fine to hold onto these things, but only in a way that brings you joy, of course.

Change The Way You Fold

If your drawers are filled with t-shirts, socks and jeans stacked on top of each other, you’re going to want to try Marie’s genius way of folding your clothes. Rather than organising clothing into piles, Marie has a special method of folding that allows you to store items side by side, better utilising the space and meaning you don’t forget about that once-loved t-shirt that has been left at the bottom of your drawer.

Sian Astley, a property expert for the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show at Birmingham’s NEC, is currently project managing 16 home renovations for BBC Two’s Your Home Made Perfect. Sian tells us how to use moving house or a major renovation as an opportunity to declutter your home…

Start Early

Often renovators or movers begin well, packing neat tidy boxes according to rooms and then they run out of time and it all becomes a bit haphazard with things flung into cardboard boxes randomly – think bread mixer with bras, TV control with towels! Start packing away items weeks in advance and get plenty of decent boxes to hand.

Have a Cull

I mean it. You’re going to create a fabulous new home – do you really need those broken toys, grey undies and unused kitchen appliances in it? As Marie Kondo says, filter your belongings for the ones which bring you joy before you pack them away and ditch the stuff which already looks grim in your old home, never mind your new one.

Getting rid of items before packing them ties into the KonMari’s two-part method – discarding items well before the renovating starts and planning storage solutions around what you’re actually going to keep makes sense. This way the perfect amount of storage is planned and built, ready for all your “joy-filled” items to be organised into it when you unpack.

Remember that cutting down on items to pack could well mean less storage to pay for, less fuel to transport it around and less time carrying boxes, meaning pennies saved for your renovation.

Marie and I aren’t really on the same page when it comes to books (I love them!), but it’s probably true that unless you have the space for a personal library, a paper cull can reaps rewards if you’re tight on space. Do you really need to plan in for 15 shelves of books you’ll never read again?

Focus on the End Game

I like the KonMari idea of launching items on a new journey. As we renovators launch ourselves onto our journeys of transformation, it’s the perfect time to declutter, reassess and clear out, ready for the new.

Just think about the day you unpack, when you’re weary from all the work and managing builders and making decisions. When you open up the boxes and everything is neat, ordered, clean and simplified. Now that’ll be a joy!