Review of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I picked up Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last summer, read it and plunged into tidying the KonMari way. She has a particular method that she insists works for all people and as long as you follow her method, you will have a clutter-free home and a changed life. Hmm… I could use a clutter-free home whether or not it changes my life. I figured it was worth a shot.

She insists on starting with clothing, specifically your sock drawer, move on to underwear and other clothing. Then do books, miscellany and momentos last. I feel like she leaves out big sections of the modern North American home (like the basement, movie collection, kitchen stuff, outdoor clutter, etc) but since she is based in Japan, I am assuming that these aren’t big categories there and to her, all this stuff would fit under miscellany.

I did do my sock drawer first but I didn’t really take pictures of the process so we are going to look at pictures of my makeup collection being tidied.

The Method:

So, as a (part-time) makeup blogger, you would expect me to have tons of makeup. Well, I think I fall in the middle. I have lots of makeup, more than the average person, but not as much as the average beauty blogger. I kept the majority of my makeup in the top dresser drawer of my husband’s dresser but it didn’t all fit inside the drawer and was always spread all over the top of the dresser in a big mess. The goal was for all of my makeup to fit inside the drawer.

I did Marie Kondo’s first step: find all the similar items from around the house and spread them all in one place. In this case, the floor.

I tried to group them by item: brushes, palettes, lipsticks, eyeshadow singles, blushes, sponges, eyelashes, etc. There was a big mess in the middle-right where things didn’t really have a category so mascara tubes are mixed in with concealer and foundation and primer.

The easy part was then to throw away anything that was broken, almost empty or not useful. Next I took each item in my hand and carefully measured my reaction to that item, looking for items that “spark joy”. This is the part that sounds totally hokey when you read it in the book but when you are doing it, it makes a lot of sense. You can tell when you hold something what your emotion is about it. Excited, wonder, exasperation, disgust, guilt, anxiety… it’s kind of amazing how many emotions you have about the stuff in your home. Then, based on my emotional reaction, I sorted the items into two piles. If my emotion wasn’t a positive one then I put the item in one pile. If it was positive, I placed them in another pile.

To decide my emotions about each lipstick, I did swatches on my arm and sorted according to my reaction to the colour. Daughter was super pumped that we were playing with lipstick and also did swatches on her arm. I can’t remember why I didn’t take pictures of that as it was adorable.

Initially I didn’t think my giveaway/discard pile would be that large but I was pleasantly surprised to see two small MAC bags bursting with beauty items to give to my friends.

I then sorted the items I decided to keep further into categories to decide how best to store them. I put the drawer on the floor along with some Ziploc reusable containers and a couple small glass candle holders that I had re-purposed into makeup or brush holders. Within a short time, the items easily fit into the containers and started to make sense in how they would go into the drawer.

Eyeshadow palettes, on end on the left; eyeliners in a glass jar; mascaras in a glass jar (because I use minis/deluxe-sample-sizes, they stood up easily, this didn’t work for full-size mascaras); lipsticks and glosses together in another glass container; the two boxes in the middle are a mis-mash of items, concealer, foundation, primer, sponges, samples, false eyelashes, unopened items, etc; the big container on the right bottom was eyeshadow singles; above that was MAC pigments; above that was blush and highlighter singles. My brushes continue to stand in two glass containers on top of the dresser but they are the only items whose “home” is on top of the dresser. Everything else has a space inside the dresser drawer and while it can get left on top of the dresser occasionally, it now takes less than five minutes to put everything away in it’s place.

Things I love about the KonMari Method:

  • I enjoy the new concept of discarding that she provides, that items should be discarded if they don’t bring you joy even if they are still useful. I was able to get rid of items that I had been previously hanging on to because they of possible, future usefulness. Now I understand that if items aren’t useful to me then maybe they can find a new home to give someone else joy.
  • Marie Kondo doesn’t encourage buying organizational or storage items. She believes that most people have already bought enough storage items and you can usually use something around the house to store the items after you have finished discarding.
  • I really love how the few areas in my home that I have used the KonMari Method to tidy make me feel when I look at them. My underwear drawer is literally a heart-warming place for me. My sports bras are separated from my everyday bras and my full-coverage panties are separate from my thongs and there is even a place for all of my swimsuits. I can open the drawer in the dark and still find the type of underwear I am looking for.

I’m happy to report that this drawer still looks like this and it’s been six months. I don’t think I will ever go back to the mess that was this drawer before.

Things I don’t love about the KonMari Method:

  • She constantly talks about throwing things away. It wasn’t until the end of the book that she talked about giving away things in a positive manner. She makes an excellent point about not pressuring relatives and friends to take the items as then it is likely that the items will not bring them joy. Perhaps in Japan they don’t have the same kind of second-hand economy that we have in North America? I’m not sure. While I threw away items that were not useful to anyone, I did sell some of my clothes to Plato’s Closet, put items in the Salvation Army bins, donated old books to the Children’s Hospital book drive, and took my bags of makeup to book club to be picked through by friends. While throwing out things would’ve been faster and easier, it was much more rewarding to find new homes for the items.
  • The way she recommends folding clothes is really smart. She teaches you how to fold all clothing items so they are small rectangles and can be stored on their side so you can see all your clothing items at a glance in the drawer instead of piled on top of one another (pick up her second book, Spark Joy, for a more indepth guide to folding). The storage of clothing I really love…. the folding is another story. Don’t get me wrong, the folding isn’t hard. What is hard is that I have folded my clothes the same way for more than 25 years. I can do it watching tv and not even really paying attention to folding. Consistently using the new folding method is hard. I have to pay attention to what I am doing and it takes much longer than my old method. It’s getting easier the more I do it but I still grump every time it’s folding day.

Overall, I give the book two thumbs up and have already recommended it to friends. I am currently re-reading the book to help motivate me to continue with the KonMari Method for other areas of my house. She recommends spending six months discarding and tidying your items. While I started this method just over six months ago, I am still far from completing my house. Writing this review has reinforced the memory that in the areas of my home that I did the hardwork and took the time to use the KonMari Method either still look perfect or are less than five minutes from perfect (and one of those places is under my bathroom sink!).

Have you read this book or tried the KonMari Method? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment. Happy Shopping!