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How to declutter every room in your home, the Marie Kondo way


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In the last year, Marie Kondo mania swept through Japan, then basically everywhere else in the world (thanks to her defining tome, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), inspiring clutter-free, happier homes everywhere.

Now, the Head Mistress of Mastering Mess is back with an even more detailed how-to, Spark Joy: an Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. If there was ever a time to drop everything (in a not-to-messy pile, of course), it would be now.

Spark Joy book decluttering your home the marie kondo way
Photo: Marie Kondo

All of the big rules from Kondo’s signature “KonMari” method are here, like “Tidy by category, not by location,” and “Follow the right order.” (That’s clothes first, then books, papers, Komono, i.e. random odds and ends you seriously don’t need, and, lastly, sentimental items, BTW.) There’s also Kondo’s game-changing mantra: “Keep only those things that bring you joy.” And if something’s gotta go? “Don’t forget to thank it before saying good-bye,” Kondo writes. Which is really just a lovely way to tidy up, no?

But she also focuses on the small details, like how to fold a parka, why you’ll want to re-organize your bathroom cabinet, and the ways that you can finally have an office that sparks joy.

Here’s how to put the method to work in five of the most important rooms in your home…

Get Started
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Organize your living room like Marie Kondo
Photo: Unsplash/Andrew Welch

The living room

Living rooms are all about company and togetherness—and those feelings should influence how they’re arranged. Furniture shouldn’t just look good; it must, wait for it, spark joy, Kondo says. A good test? If you touch something and feel a little thrill, even a bit lighter, bingo! It’s a joy-sparker.

pro tip:

Have a fixed place for the remote, Kondo says, and for magazines. But don’t feel like you have to get rid of decorations that make you happy, like plants or framed photos. Instead, make room on a shelf to display them in a thoughtful way.

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Marie Kondo kitchen organization
Photo: Stocksnap/Jordan Sanchez

The kitchen

Clean, clean, clean! It’s so crucial in the kitchen, Kondo writes—and moisture and oil are the enemies of clean. Don’t store stuff on the counter near the stove or sink, and take advantage of vertical storage options for food.

pro tip:

Fun should be the focus when it comes to kitchen decor, because you really want to the act of cooking to be an enjoyable one, Kondo says. So feel free to include photos, plants, and other objects that make you feel happy in the space.

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Marie Kondo bedroom organization
Photo: Stocksnap/Annie Spratt

The bedroom

Your bedroom is an area to unplug and recharge, so the lighting should be soft and glowy. And you should think about incorporating scents, from natural candles, for example, that make you feel happy and peaceful, Kondo says. Think spa-like, but personalized.

pro tip:

Wash your sheets and pillowcases frequently, Kondo urges. (Thanks, mom.)

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Marie Kondo bathroom organization
Photo: Unsplash/Dan Watson

The bathroom

Yes, even a bathroom can spark joy if it’s well thought-out, and the key is, once again, cleanliness. Keep your tub and counters scrubbed, and only take out what you need, then immediately put it away, Kondo advises. Keep asking yourself, “Is this the kind of place where I’d want to unwind and take a long bath?”

pro tip:

The toilet is literally your home’s detox area, Kondo says. “It’s important to keep the energy flowing through, so keep it uncluttered,” she says. That means stashing the 15 natural cleansers and 7 facial oils you’re hoarding out of sight, and storing essentials like toilet paper in a basket.

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Marie Kondo closet decluttering
Photo: Stocksnap/Milada Vigerova

The clothes closet

Reserve that top shelf most closets have for bags, hats, off-season clothes, and sentimental items, and hang the clothes you need now. If you have too many, fold them in a set of drawers. (Kondo has a distinct folding method, that is basically like wrapping clothes up into little packages, then filling drawers 90 percent of the way, but never more.) If you’re lucky enough to have a walk-in closet, really try and think of it as a beautiful room. One of Kondo’s clients covered a portion of hers with wedding photos and memorabilia. Nope, not jealous at all.

pro tip:

Organize your dresser from light to heavy. Shirts go in the upper drawers and bottoms down below. Same goes for materials: Light materials, like cotton, go up top; heavier ones down below. It’ll leave you with what Kondo calls an “uplifting set of drawers.”

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Marie Kondo Power Space
Photo: Dominik Martin

Your “power space”

“Be sure to make a place in your home that is just for you, your own personal space filled only with the things you love,” Kondo writes. If it’s a whole room, great. If it’s just your bedside table or your desk, awesome. The key is to create a space that makes you smile. A Kondo client who spends a lot of time cooking made a cork board display of photos with her kids, which she hung in a corner of the kitchen, for example. It made her love cooking even more. In other words, she wants you to have your own personal altar.

pro tip:

Having a hard time thinking of what your spot should look like and contain? Imagine would make you feel warm and happy after a long, tiring day at work, Kondo recommends. Then make that happen.

Have we mentioned that decluttering might help you save money? Because it did for our writer.