I'm sure by now you've all heard of the KonMari Method for decluttering.
It is from the book called The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing, written by Marie Kondo (that's an affiliate link, btw You can read my full disclosure policy here.).
But, can we thrift store shoppers, estate sale lovers and yard sale enthusiast do the KonMari Method successfully?
Is it just in our nature to be packrats?
Or can we Lovers Of Thrifty Treasures learn a new trick to make our lives more organized?
I set out to find the answer.
So let's start with the very very basics of the program. Marie Kondo wrote a whole book about the process, so I'm just going to summarize a few key points for you in case you haven't read it, before I get into how I made her plan work for me.
Key KonMari Principals:
Tidying up all at once will have a much larger impact
"If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind set. The change is so profound that you will feel like you are living in a totally different world." - Marie Kondo
The idea is to do this thoroughly and all at once and bask in the huge impact it makes. This will cause you to totally change your thinking and not backslide.
You will NOT have to declutter yearly, it's a one and done type of thing. Can I have a Hallelujah on that!
Sort by category, not location
"Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake." - Marie Kondo
You really have no idea how much stuff you own until you gather it ALL together in one place at one time. So you are not going to purge and organize the bathroom and then go on to the bedroom etc.
You will tidy up in 5 different categories, starting with the easiest category and ending with the hardest category (and Boy, is #5 the hardest).
The 5 categories of KonMari:
- Miscellany (called Komono)
Discard first, then organize
"Do not even think of putting things away until you have finished the process of discarding." - Marie Kondo
Only after you are done discarding can you get on to organizing what is left. Trying to organize while discarding will get you off track and pretty soon you will be wondering how you can store all this stuff, where can I buy cute storage containers and what's for lunch. And you never return to your original task - discarding.
Remember, your goal is to get rid of this stuff, not find new ways to store it.
Only keep items that spark joy
"We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of." - Marie Kondo
To decide what to keep and what to discard, you need to gather all your items in that category from all over the house (let's say clothes) into one area and dump them into a pile on the floor. Then pick up each item, hold it in your hands, examine it and and if that item sparks joy you will keep it.
If not, you will thank it for its service and discard it.
You want to surround yourself with things that make you happy and you honestly want in your life. Why surround yourself with things that give you negative feelings or you are holding onto because you think you have to. Basically if it doesn't make you happy, it's outta here!
How the KonMari Method transforms your life:
Now supposedly by doing this not only will you declutter and organize your home, you will ultimately change your life.
You will have more confidence in your decision-making skills and gain confidence in life. You will lose weight, your skin will clear up, you will find a new career and husband and live happily ever after.
All because you have surrounded yourself with only the things that make you feel happy.
I do have to say that it is a little freeing to let go of stuff. I can remember as a child when my mom would help me spring clean my room once a year and we would clean and organize the room from head to toe. It was such a great feeling to walk back into that room and see it so organized and tidy.
So I do think she has something there, but she just takes it a little too far down the crazy train with the weight loss and all that.
Now here comes the problem we have as thrifters. EVERYTHING bring us joy!
How I adapted the KonMari Method for thrift store shoppers, estate sale lovers and yard sale junkies:
I shop less
I know you didn't want to hear that, but the truth is that the less I shop at thrift stores, the less I bring home.
Sometimes the thrill of the hunt is enough
When I'm out at a thrift store and see something I would have bought in a hot second before I read this book, I now take a step back. I will pick it up, hold it for a few minutes and decide if I really really need this in my life. Does it bring me joy? Is it something I will use long term in my home?
If the answers are yes, I will buy it.
But a lot of the time, I find that it's the thrill of the hunt that I enjoy. I get a kick out of walking into a thrift store, finding something unique that really shouldn't be there and seeing that ridiculously low price. That's what is sparking my joy, more than the actual item.
So in this case, I'll thank it for the thrill it gave me and put it right back on the shelf so it can give another shopper that same thrill.
Organize that thrifting stash
I have a shelving unit (OK, 2 of them) in my basement where I store home decor pieces and thrifted items that I'm not currently using.
A lot of times I will buy something, use it in a vignette, then put it away in the basement when something else catches my eye at the thrift store. I don't want to get rid of the item at that point because I still like it, it's still sparking joy and I may use it again soon. I just don't have room for it right now, so off it goes to my holding area.
Occasionally I'll go down to the basement to bring it back up for another area in the house. And then sometimes I realize I probably won't use it again.
Either way, it's nice to have it all in one area so I can quickly
inventory my stash see what needs to stay and what needs to go.
Oh and it's important to say (can't believe I almost forgot this), I limit myself to those 2 shelving units. If I bring something downstairs and there is no more room left on the shelves, then something has to be taken off the shelves and put in the donate/sell pile before I put that item on the shelf.
Thrifted items are temporary items
Not only do I rotate my items from the upstairs to the basement storage area, I also tend to rotate my thrifted home decor items in and out of my life.
As long as I haven't spent more than a few bucks on an item, I don't feel guilty sending it back off to the thrift store or yard sale pile if I'm done with it. These things are meant to be loved and have joy sparking all around them, so let them be free and run wild in someone else's home for a while.
Disposing of your discards:
I got very, very nervous when I kept reading Marie Kondo discussing all the garbage bags of belongings she removed from people's houses. Eeek!
I have a vision in my head of mounds and mounds of perfectly usable "garbage", piled 200 foot high, clogging our landfills.
There are better ways.
Ways to responsibly deal with your discards:
- Sell - ebay, etsy, consignment shop, yard sale, Half-Price Books
- Trash as a last resort
Now, I bought this book over a year ago. Yes, you heard this right, I've been at this for 1 YEAR and I'm just getting around to telling you about my experience.
Basically, because I find it takes a good year to do the process, live with your new setup and then find out if you can stick with the program. I didn't want to be like the girl who loses 100 pounds and then in 6 months gains that amount back plus 20, but she's still talking about Jenny Craig.
Have you tried the KonMari Method? What are your thoughts on it?
I love thrifting for mid-century treasure and enjoy organizing my space. But even before this book came out, I knew I had a problem even though I'm always donating outgrowns, kid toys, etc to thrift shops (and then going right back into the thrift store for the thrill of the hunt).
The problem was that it's simply too easy to acquire mid-century treasures. I had vintage Pyrex (way too many nesting bowls taking up space), milk glass, a massive collection of Franciscan dishware, vintage ephemera, a beautiful and unique framed crewel needlepoint from an estate sale, and on and on.
I had run out of space. Also, as the owner of a tiny home (hey, it's Silicon Valley, we all bought $1M+ small, ugly homes with no attics or basements), I have little space to display my treasures and didn't want my place to look like a garage sale.
I could have opened my own Etsy shop or had a stall in a cottage shop! But nope, instead, I did the unthinkable and gave all but my most treasure pieces away to Savers, the Discovery Shop, etc.
Didn't sell on Craigslist or eBay, just made 15 trips to these thrift shops and gave it away. I saw some of my former things at a shabby chic shop nearby the following day.
What remains, I highly treasure and use all the time. Less stuff, more joy! I think I will still hunt at thrift shops but I will be a lot more selective. It's more about the experience of the hunt than it is the bringing home of more treasures to my too-small home.
I don't do this with knicknacks but maybe I should. When I go shopping (although usually AFTER shopping), I find the things in my closet that I like the least. I don't let myself buy more hangers, so whenever I buy new clothes I have to get rid of the old ones.
If you have a tendency to collect thrift store decor, maybe try coming home AFTER you bought things and make yourself get rid of the same number of things you bought. I appreciate the KonMari method but for me, asking myself "what do I hate the most of my stuff" or "what do I like the least" makes it easier to get rid of a few things at a time. And I feel less guilty about making new purchases!
kathleen s holmes
I Spy a Terrier Statue on your shelf, think it needs a new home? I Do! Just seeing it sparked Joy in me. I discovered Kondo on Netflix and have watched each segment. Some curious ideas yes, I do not fold my socks but do touch my books to wake them up. If you would like to sell Terrier just email, I can always love more Terrier pretties!
I just finished reading both her books that I took out of the library. I had already been working on cleaning out as I retired a couple years ago from my full time job and had worked part time since retirement and now I am not working at all so have lots more time on my hands. I have taken her methods into consideration and it has helped. I find I am not running out to the stores just to look as much, and if I go to the thrift store i am very careful about bringing anything home. Recently I bought two cute little glasses with summer motifs on them. Now I'm working on all the piles of papers and it's something I've put off for years. The KonMari method is what has kept me on task, otherwise I would have given up. When I was working full time and our four kids were involved in all kinds of activities I would just move piles of papers aside to take care of sometime. I enjoy your website on thrifting and your thoughts on the KonMari method. I have vintage Pyrex that I received as wedding gifts and use everyday, a vintage thermos that we just owned for years, a vintage Smith Corona that was mine and my Mother's in the crawl space that eventually I will bring out into the open and use as decor like your pictures. I've also saved my vintage Kodak cameras and when I finish cleaning out I will bring those items out and use in my decor like you have.