The “organizing consultant” and creator of the KonMarie method, Marie Kondo has been a rising star since publishing her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in 2011. Her books sold over 5 million copies worldwide, reaching 41 regions and countries. It wasn’t until her recent Netflix series Tidying Up, however, that Kondo could claim the title of a social media phenomenon. With Kondo’s enthusiastic and warm presence Tidying Up inspired many to showcase their decluttered but well-loved home.
Tidying Up is a ‘shelf-help’ Netflix original with an intriguing premise: Kondo visits her clients’ homes and helps them get rid of items that do not ‘spark joy’. This concept can be difficult to characterise, but Kondo explains it as the feeling you gets when holding a puppy or wearing your favourite outfit.
Kondo makes tidying seem almost spiritual. When she first begins the process, she greets the house, thanking it for its support. She advises her clients to remember all the happy memories that their houses were a part of. Then, instead of focusing on a corner of the house to declutter, she advises dividing the process into 5 categories: clothing, books, documents, komono – kitchen, bathroom, garage, miscellaneous – memorabilia. Everything should be thrown into a pile and each item examined to decide whether it ‘sparks joy’ or not. Whatever does spark joy should be neatly organized: books stacked, clothes folded. Even folding clothes is meditative. She believes that folding is an important opportunity to comfort your clothes and to convey your love for them with your palms. Whatever doesn’t spark joy should be disposed of, but not before thanking it for its service. Kondo teaches you to quite literally kiss your unnecessary items goodbye.
The ultimate goal of Tidying Up is to introduce the KonMarie method into homes and help fill them with things cherished so that a family can achieve happiness. Kondo believes that if you turn a home into a space of serenity and inspiration, your mind and well-being will follow.
The process should be collaborative. With each episode, Kondo engages the families she works with to work together to make their space a space they can love. Kondo preaches that the only way to get started is to make a mess, which can be intimidating, but the worse that can happen is that you declutter your home, working alongside your family or enjoying your own company, and eventually you will finish.
Furthermore, Tidying Up is a very diverse show. It features black, Asian, mixed race, LGBT+, and young families as well as single women. Kondo herself has a translator, as she recently moved to the United States from Japan and is not yet fluent in English.
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