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Every year around this time, our clients naturally tend to shift their attention to spring cleaning. A seasonal declutter or even deep clean is great, but every now and then you need to go even further.  

Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing hit home with so many people, she’s taking her show on the road, building a cadre of instructors to help clients around the country. But if you’re not ready for personal coaching, we’ve got you covered.

The TLDR version can be distilled into one powerful sentence:  If an object in your home does not spark joy, it’s time to let it go. But we’ve fleshed out a few more central points, because while the book is ostensibly about “tidying,” all of her lessons hold true for your décor as well. After all, what good is great design if it’s hidden by all that clutter?  

“We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”

Change the question, and you’ll get a new answer. It’s a documented psychological fact that we tend to overvalue things we already possess. Putting yourself in another mindset helps reveal the tricks your mind plays on you. Examine each item and ask yourself whether it is something you would choose to buy today. If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, it’s not something that needs to occupy precious space in your home.

“Clutter represents indecision.”

If your house is a mess of too many things, the problem isn’t that you’re not cleaning enough; it’s that you’re not thinking enough. Things tend to build up when we haven’t decided where they really belong, so they remain wherever they happen to land or get tossed into a pile. If you value it enough to keep, it should be worthy of its own designated spot in your home. And if it’s not? Toss it. Just imagine how much easier your weekly cleaning is going to be! 

“The true purpose of a present is to be received.”

We often hang on to gifts that, truth be told, we really don’t love. The board game we’ll never play, the whimsical vase we received when our taste is super modern, or the sweater that’s just a shade brighter than we’re comfortable with.  Whether from feelings of guilt or a genuine appreciation for the thoughtfulness someone put into selecting a present just for you, there’s no need to cling to the object itself. It’s not the gift that carries the sentiment; it’s the act of receiving that does. So consider yourself liberated, and make everyone happier by passing that gift along to someone who might actually use it.

“No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past.”

Just like gifts, we tend to keep remnants from days gone by far longer than we should. We should surround ourselves with things that suit our current lifestyles — both functionally and aesthetically — not the lives we once led. No longer in that corporate job? Time to toss all those suits. And the monkey-adorned lampshade? Maybe it worked in your college dorm but not in your contemporary condo. No matter how much it reminds you of a happy time, if it’s not well suited to your current life, it’s time to move on.

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”  

This should be the principle that guides all of your decorating decisions. What you put in your home doesn’t just reflect who you are, it helps shape how you act and who you want to — and just might — become.  Keep this tenet mind, and you’ll be sure to curate a home that sparks joy.

What do you think? Have you read the book or applied its principles? Let us know!

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