The home trend that has nothing to do with decorating

There is a growing trend happening in home interiors. Shelter magazines, decorating blogs and news show are all abuzz over it. What is it you ask? It is the desire to free ourselves from excess “stuff” and simplify our life by decluttering or “tidying”.

In case you haven’t heard, this is the bombshell book that has rocked the world and caused millions to jump on the “tidying” bandwagon.

Tidying book image

Marie Kondo’s book came into my life at the perfect time because a diagnosis of Cancer has a way of shifting one’s mind set. I thought back to when my mom and also my husband’s mom passed away from Cancer and my husband and I were responsible for cleaning out two entire households of belongings. It took us years and years (over ten to be exact) to finally sort through and deal with everything. It wasn’t the furniture that was the problem but all the stuff (crap) that was stored in the closets, cabinets, bookcases, attic and basement. When I think back on all the wasted time, expense and energy we devoted to first moving then storing and then moving that stuff again, it sickens me. I vowed I would NEVER do that to my kids so if not now, when?

Now let me be clear, my husband and I are not striving to live a minimalist life style which is what Kondo’s book basically advocates. Instead, we simply want to unburden ourselves and ultimately our sons of way more stuff than we need or use. I believe her book has become such a phenomenon because the over consumerism that most of us have fully enjoyed due to cheap labor has run it’s course. Boomers are looking to downsize, gen X’ers are interested in locally made quality goods and millennials prefer spending their paychecks on experiences rather than cheaply made throw away items.

Kondo’s message is very powerful and after reading her book and then having my husband read her book, we decided we were ready to take action and purge or as Kondo refers to it, “detox” our home. Kondo’s process is not about deciding what to get rid of but rather what to keep.The criteria for keeping an item is to hold it in your hands and ask yourself does it spark joy in your heart? Is it useful and if so, do you use it? Rather than go room by room Kondo’s method is to declutter by category. Clothes first followed by books then papers, then miscellaneous items and finally sentimental items.

Since my husband was off work between Christmas and the New Year we spent a good chunk of that week beginning Kondo’s tidying process. Clothing was a breeze because I have very little attachment to clothes nor does he. The final clothing donate pile was four feet high and eight feet long. The photo below are just my husband’s donations.

clothing donation

seven large trash bags of clothes were donated

Books were a little more painful as I am a book lover. Nevertheless we let go of 8 big boxes of books. We spent two full days on papers and then moved to miscellaneous and started with kitchen items.

Until I actually touched everything we owned I had no idea how many things did not spark joy in my heart and how many things I no longer used or needed. I was surprised to see we owned four Pyrex measuring cups, twenty three sets of chop sticks (we rarely use chop sticks) and a waffle iron that I forgot I even owned.

kitchen clutter

Cuisinart, pots and pans and misc. items are just some of the kitchen items we purged

Interestingly, Kondo talks in the book about how this detoxing process can cause actual physical illness. A few days after we started purging my husband who very rarely gets sick had flu like symptoms. I didn’t get sick but that whole week I felt like I was coming down with something.

Our house detoxing is far from complete but we are making progress. One half of our garage is now completely filled with donations. I will admit that I had remorse several times over the monetary valuable of some of the things were we letting go but I stayed strong. Freedom from clutter that doesn’t spark joy is more important right now as I look forward to good health, travel, and eventually downsizing.

We still have many weeks of work on the miscellaneous items and then the really challenging work will begin…the sentimental items. Kondo says her average client takes about six months to completely detox their home. We are shooting for completion by Summer so that sounds about right.

Wish me luck and I will be sure to update you with our progress.


9 Responses to The home trend that has nothing to do with decorating
  1. Meredith Reply

    How inspiring! I confess that I am almost scared to tackle this in my own home, even though I know I must….it is so daunting at the beginning of the process, but your experience so far gives me courage! I am still going through the process with my parent’s things similarly to you and I certainly don’t want to do that to my sons either. I am going to keep reading about your journey and your success and try and stay strong. Thanks for sharing your journey, you are amazing!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Meredith. I can honestly admit I wasn’t ready to do this until now. Jim and I have talked about it for years but until my Cancer ordeal I just wasn’t ready. I am now. I’ll keep you updated!

  2. Lisa Mende Design Reply

    Awesome Linda. I am so proud of you and your journey! I’m working on doing this in my own home. It feels good doesn’t it. Cannot wait to see you in Vegas!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Lisa. I sure does feel good and the more we do the easier it gets and the more joy I feel!

  3. Jil Sonia McDonald Reply

    I’ve been doing the same thing over these last 2 months, I’ve given away so many items, sold lots and still have more to go. It feels so good and I’m thrilled to hear that you are doing this too – the house now actually “feels” good now!

  4. Ingrid Porter Reply

    This is so good, my client did this in the fall and now we are working on brining joy to her master bedroom. She lost her husband 2 years ago and now it’s her time for her to move on in her home to make it all hers. She has grace and courage, so this is really a special time in her life.

  5. Sue West Reply

    Linda, first, I admire your strength and courage for all you are going through. I do. It seems like your virtual world through your blog and the writing itself must be hugely supportive,too.

    I love that the book has brought attention again to our battle with our stuff (and our parents, aunts and uncles, grown kids!), because “too much” interferes with moving onto our next chapter after some big life changes.

    I’m an organizing and ADHD coach, so I live and breathe this topic, happily so. I t took several clients raving about this book before I sat down and read it (loaned by a client!). What DID resonate for people was asking about the emotional energy in an object (reminds me of Feng Shui in that sense). “Does this spark joy?” is a perfect question to ask.

    Some people have a more difficult time with “de-acquisition” (researchers do study this). There are myriad emotions, such as honoring a person’s memory or legacy, a sense of familial responsibility, certainly emotions as as we leave one chapter of life and move towards the next. It can be intellect and creativity which produce many ideas for the use of the item or its reuse. Or it’s something like ADHD, brain injury, PTSD. So talking about the ‘joy’ or other emotions can work well.

    What did NOT resonate for people was the “just do it” approach. Fix your house in a week by doing it all at once, etc. belies the many decisions involved. It is appealing, that in a week life will be less chaotic, with less stuff. But if there is a lot to go through, then it’s disheartening when a week’s time wasn’t enough. Or if you haven’t figured out why things got the way they did, then could this happen again? Overwhelm and fatigue set in, both physical and mental. Another “failure” in what may already have been several attempts. Affects self-esteem and more.

    The organizing part is easier for most people than the deacquisition or decluttering part. We often know the easy “keep” items. We know the “definitely don’t want or need that anymore.” The hard part is the gray matter in between. And especially if there’s some change that’s brewing inside our heads and hearts, or been going on in our lives.

  6. Judy Carter Reply

    Just recently got the book and it certainly is a game changer for me. I now see my stuff in an entirely new light and am sorting through it with the joy factor front and center in my mind.

  7. Kelly Reply

    I started this journey last year, just getting rid of stuff! So much stuff! Good to see others are doing the same thing. Think of you often. Have a great trip to Vegas!

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