There’s been a major change in my home of late.
It is in part fueled by pregnancy hormones, which have me performing the mammalian version of a bird gathering twigs and grass for its eggs as I anticipate the birth of baby number two, who is due in May.
But it is also due to a small, hard-covered book called — not hyperbolically — “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” This tome has inspired me to undertake the gargantuan task of what it calls “putting your house in order.”
The 204-page manifesto had me tossing dusty costume jewelry, donating bags and bags of ill-fitting clothes and passing long-unused appliances on to my coworkers.
And it all felt so, so good.
Author Marie Kondo’s methodical and totalitarian approach to discarding items that do not “spark joy” claims to offer permanent results for those who follow her program.
One month after attacking my home and ruthlessly downsizing my belongings, I’m here to tell you she’s right.
After embracing Ms. Kondo’s method, which encourages starting with clothes before working your way to books, miscellaneous items, papers, mementos and photos, I am left with a well-organized closet of about 30 pieces, including dresses, dress shirts, sweaters and short-sleeved blouses. My jeans, T-shirts and undergarments are all meticulously folded and color-coded in their respective drawer spaces. My hall closet now contains about 10 winter and fall jackets for our family of three — down from two to three times that number.
I recommend following Ms. Kondo’s guide as strictly as you can. If you can learn to let go of old letters and never-used gifts, domestic harmony awaits you.
But on top of the clutter reduction come a few unexpected improvements.
All of my home’s remaining items have been vetted for joy-sparking and I’ve purchased some beautiful new objects that complement and enhance its décor. I’ve added houseplants, replaced a pair of plain black lamps with some flashy, shiny, blue mosaic-tiled light fixtures (why shouldn’t a girl have a little bling?) and added some statement wall pieces.
The result? My home has become a source of pride rather just a place to collapse on the couch and binge-watch TV after work. That might be common sense for many of you, but it took a lot of discipline and some help from Ms. Kondo for me to get here.
The purge has given me a new respect for my surroundings, which translates into taking better care to keep everything tidy during the week. Clean clothes don’t sit in the hamper for five days, empty seltzer cans don’t pile up on my nightstand and the bed gets made every morning.
I say this without a shred of sarcasm or exaggeration — the change has made me a genuinely happier person.
The life-changing magic is real.
Here are three other suggestions not included in Ms. Kondo’s book that I would recommend.
1. Standardize your hangers
You know all those dry-cleaner wire hangers and the clear plastic ones from the store that are cluttering your closet? Get rid of every single one of them. Instead, replace them with a uniform set of hangers.
I bought about 30 wooden suit hangers from Walmart and it made my closet feel much neater. Somehow, it also makes my wardrobe seem more respectable.
2. Baskets are your friend
HomeGoods is the spot to get the best bang for your buck. I suggest buying some pretty containers (ones that spark joy, of course) and using them to corral items under your bathroom sink, organize the mail that piles up on the counter, and a big one to hold the throw blankets in your living room.
3. Bring in the green
When Googling how to care for a hanging plant — something I have never done — I wound up on a few message boards, where many commenters thought a Boston fern dangling from your ceiling is a look about 30 years past its prime. Nonsense! While succulents and hanging terrariums dominate the style of the day, a well-placed spider plant cleans the air and makes a room feel alive. I have one in my bedroom placed in a very ’70s-style macramé hanger, which I purchased on Etsy. I suggest you do the same.
Last month, nearly 40 people attended a discussion at Riverhead Free Library about Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Here’s what participants had to say:
“I decluttered a big closet that I had been wanting to do for a very long time. I thought it would take me days or weeks, but I was surprised — it only took a few hours. I’m shopping less now because I know what I have. I found a few things I could use. I had a whole bunch of blazers that I totally forgot about.”
—Theresa Markel, Riverhead
“I actually started [decluttering] at work in my office and my work life has improved tremendously. I realized there was a lot of stuff I was holding onto that I didn’t need, like car reports from 20 years ago. I realized, ‘It’s in a computer someplace else. Why am I keeping it?’ The attitude of my co-workers is remarkable when they come to my cube. It’s sort of a new and improved John K.”
—John Krakowski, Flanders
“Tidying up and organizing has always been a bugaboo. I’m going to work through it and see how I can unclutter. My goal is to not have all that weight weighing me down. I want to travel more. I want to be able to come home and relax.”
—Dale Jacobi, Riverhead
Compiled by Rachel Young