As she prepares for her first home, Jenessa Williams learns the life changing magic of tidying up
As I write this, I am mere weeks away from completing on my very first flat. Through meticulous saving, budgeting and working myself silly, I’ve managed to achieve the impossible and claw my way onto the housing ladder at 25 while still enjoying the occasional avocado, and the feels are real – pride, gratitude, and a hefty dose of panic – just where is all my stuff going to go?
I’m no trust fund baby, so in deciding to become part of the mortgage club, I had to make some serious compromises. My new flat is lovely and in a great area but definitely tight on space, and whilst I tried to pitch the idea of turning the second bedroom into my personal walk-in wardrobe to my boyfriend, let’s just say he wasn’t buying it.
I want my new home to be more Pinterest, less Pileup, but where do I start?
Like many millennials, I have read about the overwhelmingly positive effects of minimalism, but have never thought of it as something I could do. My sentimentality is both my best and worst trait – lovely when it comes to documenting nice memories, but bloody awful when it comes to hoarding. Books, magazines, the dress I wore to my graduation but never again…if there’s a story behind it, I can normally justify keeping it ‘just in case’.
Years of renting whilst working in fashion and beauty have left me somewhat over endowed with possessions, and it is now, in this new chapter of impending adulthood, that I have finally had enough. Quite frankly, I’m sick of owning so much stuff – it’s been proven to be bad for mental health, it’s a money suck and makes it near-on impossible to keep things tidy. I want my new home to be more Pinterest, less Pileup, but where do I start?
My challenge to eradicate clutter is an intimidating one, but I have a system. As with all self-help actions, there is one key read, and it’s one you’re likely to have spotted on your Instagram feed - Marie Kondo’s The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. Based on notions of the Japanese culture of decluttering, it promises that I will feel lighter, happier and more productive by the time I’m through. Buying another material possession in an attempt to get rid of stuff feels a little contradictory, so I borrow a copy from the library, and begin my study.
Step one is to pile up all your stuff. The book’s ‘KonMari’ method does not work by delicately tackling one room at a time. Oh no – you have to pile up ALL of one type of item, shame yourself at the sheer quantity, and then take each piece in your hands and ask – does this spark joy?
My wardrobe (and accompanying floordrobe) is undoubtedly the worst offender, so I set to work scaling my own Mount ASOS, with an accompanying hill of vintage. Seeing everything in one place was all the motivation I needed – I consider myself a fairly ethical shopper and buy most things second hand, but there was still something pretty gross about looking at just how much I had when others had so little. Into charity bags went items that no longer fit, things I hadn’t worn in years and garments that simply weren’t ‘me’ anymore. The KonMari method is ruthless – if in doubt, chuck it out. Several hours later and five bin bags down, and I’m feeling fantastic, unburdened and high on the idea of giving these clothes to better home. Even better, my drawers are looking neater than ever, as I have utilized Kondo’s vertical folding technique, which allows you to see what you have much more easily than the traditional stack.
According to Kondo, so many of our problems with clutter stem from never correctly allocating items their place. I’d fear for the poor love if she ever saw my magazine collection – filling shelves, overflowing racks, and often unceremoniously dumped in strange places, they are the bugbear of my partner and an easy aspect of my life to identify as somewhere I can make significant change.
It’s interesting to note that the KonMari method is not designed to deprive you of what you enjoy. There are no specifics numbers encouraged for how many books you should keep, or glasses stored in your cupboards – the book’s wisdom is that you will know when you reach ‘enough’. I’m a journalist, and reading is who I am – it is unrealistic to suggest that I get rid of all my inspirational mags, but I must impose a system. I part with issues that are overly dated or no longer contain useful inspiration, and instead of keeping full, bulky tomes, start a neat clippings folder for particularly great articles or things that I’ve written myself. I spend a wonderful evening reminiscing, and feel much more in control – it’s great to know exactly where things are when I need them.
I’m yet to tackle my cookware, general knick-knacks or paperwork (oh the dreaded paperwork), but with two sections down, I’m already a convert. The process may be laborious, and requires making quite the mess before you can see the finished results, but I’m already feeling the positive effects of the KonMari method. I’ve fallen back in love with the items that have survived the cull, and no longer feel like I’m living in a museum of my own memories. Day-to-day decision-making seems a whole lot easier, and I’ve been able to identify genuine gaps in my wardrobe now that it isn’t overflowing with non-necessities. With my moving date looming closer, I feel confident that I won’t need three removal vans to get everything out – heck, I might even be able to do it myself.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is available now.