The Magic Art of Tidying-Up

Before & After Tidying | Photo from Lisa Tselebidis

Before & After Tidying | Photo from Lisa Tselebidis

Before I moved from New York, I had the opportunity to have my friend Lisa Tselebidis, a Certified KonMariOrganizing Consultant, help me “konmari”the heck out of my apartment. If you are unfamiliar, the KonMari Method is a decluttering and organizing approach created by Marie Kondo -a Japanese professional organizer who wrote a best-selling book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". The suggestionof the book is to only keep those items around you that spark joy. It was such a pleasure to have Lisa help me through this arduous process and I thought I would share my takeaways here in case anyone wants to attempt this for themselves (or hire Lisa for help)!

The Process

Marie Kondo recommends tidying by category(not by location) – a key element of the KonMari Method.The five categories are clothes, books, papers, komono(miscellaneous items) and mementos (sentimental items) – to be followed in that order, from easy to more difficult. We fully processed one category before moving onto the next one. Everything of one category (or sub-category if the entire main category was too big) was laid out in one space. For instance, all (and I mean ALL) of my clothes on my bed. This way you see everything you own (and how much you own) more fully. From there I would pick up one item at a time. If it sparked joy, it went into one pile. If it needed something done, like bringing a pair of pants to the tailor, it went into another pile. If it was able to be donated, it went in another pile. And if it was trash, it went in a bag. And once all of the items were separated into the various piles, we organized. I learned a great folding technique that revolutionized my dresser. We put my komono into labeled clear bins so I can see everything that is in them and don't have to hunt for things. Surprisingly, I didn't really have to purchase any containers, but was able to use what I had at hand or was able to get from work.

The Magical Folding Method | Photo from Lisa Tselbidis

The Magical Folding Method | Photo from Lisa Tselbidis

Takeaway 1. Detach Emotions from Things

As you can probably tell, this wasn't all accomplished in one day. Over the course of 7 sessions, Lisa helped me hone in what I was really feeling about my stuff. I am a keeper of things. I have always been a keeper of things. Especially small things, like shells and little wooden animals. And those things weighed on me without me even realizing it. I think I felt most guilty when it came to my books. I love books. I love receiving them as gifts. As my interests evolved, however, I had all these beautiful fashion books with no real interest in wanting to keep about 90% of them around. Most of them were gifts, which is definitely the hardest aspect of letting go. I always assume someone is going to ask me if I still have that gift they gave me so many years ago. I'll have to explain to them that I no longer have it and then I will have disappointed them. Lisa opened me up to thinking about how my gift-givers just really want me to be happy, so keeping something around because it made me feel guilty or obligated was doing the opposite of that. I'm still working on that one, but detaching the stuff from the memories is how I get the clutter-free room I want.

Takeaway 2. Keeping "Just In Case" Items for Too Long

Another big issue I had was around keeping things "just in case". This is an inherited trait as my Mom who is a quilter has a closet full of fabric scraps for "just in case". While there is nothing wrong with this, especially if you have the space and it's well organized, my "just in case" items were overwhelming. I narrowed down to the items I really wanted to keep around and got rid of the things I no longer saw a future need for. 

Takeaway 3. Intentional Purchasing

This is probably the biggest takeaway for me. Declutteringand organizing with the KonMari Method is supposed to be a once-in-a lifetime happening and from then on you only bring items that spark joy into your space. Perhaps you'll switch out books you no longer want, or get rid of unnecessary papers, or clothes that don't fit, but you should never have to completely overhaul again. This is my goal, too. Seeing how much stuff I had opened my eyes to the many nonessential things I was holding on to. This process made me realize the power of my purchases. Every thing I buy, from small things like a keychain to big things like a rug, are made with the intention to keep for a long period of time, and be something that I love. My Aunt Lynn used to say, "If you don't love it, don't buy it." It's been my mantra for a while, but it took seeing my room the way I wanted it to be for that to really sink in. I have the capability to love a lot of things, but now I think about if this purchase fits in with how I want my room to look, how I want my life to look.

Takeaway 4: Don't Underestimate Labeling

Having things nice and organized in bins is great, but the labels are AMAZING. Lisa made really simple labels for my bins using brown paper post-its and tape, but she included everything that was in the box. Not just "Stationery", but "Postcards, Card Sets, Stamp, Stickers, Seal & Wax...". And it makes me so happy. No longer wondering if my stickers are in this box or this box, but perfectly labeled to know what is where. 

Takeaway 5: Ditch the Brand Labels

Labels are really annoying to peel off. BUT! If you can get them off of your jars and other containers, it really does make the world of difference. This may seem to contradict my above statement, but I'm speaking of brand labels, the sometimes-bright-colored-covered-in-words labels. Marie Kondo sees labels as an added layer of noise in our home. I LOVE going label-less. It doesn't mean I have no idea what is inside of the containers, but I am able to add my own simple label (I've been using washi tape) that cuts through the brand names and hundreds of words that would otherwise be there. And if you can't get it off, cover it. Use some brown paper or other pretty paper that you have to wrap around the outside and secure with tape. This process takes time, but it doesn't all have to be done in one day. You can start the process little by little, room by room. 

I'm so happy that I was able to go through this process with a guide. Lisa really helped me to not only sort through my feelings by asking the right questions at the right time, but her ideas helped me see my stuff in a new way and how tidying can actually be freeing. It's freeing to know where everything is, not be burdened by stuff, and move through life without things all over your floor! I'm not going to say I'm 100% perfect (my dresser is starting to accumulate a few things), my goal is to stay tidy and organized and THAT is improvement. 

Before & After Tidying | Photo from Lisa Tselbidis

Before & After Tidying | Photo from Lisa Tselbidis

Have you tidied your room using the KonMari Method? I'd love to hear your experience in the comments below. And be sure to follow Lisa on Instagram where she shares organizing & KonMari tips or visit her website.




I'm in a time of transition. There's a lot I can't really tell you yet, but I want to share some of what's been going on for me in this time. Something keeps coming up for me as I process my wants and desires for my future, and that's the word "can't". As in "I cant't do this. I can't understand that. I'm not able to do that. I'm not enough for this." I'm really struggling to understand where this comes from.

I've always prided myself on being a little fearless. I moved to Paris two days after college graduation knowing two people there and had a hostel room booked for 10 days. Did I cry every day for a month? Yeah, but I still did it. I started a career in the film industry knowing nothing about it. And eventually I thrived there. I moved to New York within a month of getting a job offer. Can't has never seemed to have a place in my vocabulary, and yet this year it has dominated my thinking. I can't stay up late or my thyroid will hate me. I can't eat that pizza. I can't learn the science of herbalism. I can't do [insert a host of things here]. What is it about experiencing weakness in my body that has wounded my confidence so much? 

I struggle with this more because this year I've kind of lost myself. Or at least lost the person I thought I was. This weekend I listed all my favorite fashion books for sale. The books I begged my mom for, spent so much money on, and thought I would have forever. Getting rid of them feels like I'm getting rid of the old self just a bit more. And it is painful. I don't really know what I want anymore. I have vague ideas but no solid trajectory. Nothing really to stand firm on. And I'm terrified. Who am I without my love of fashion? What do I love? What do I like? I'm grieving in so many ways. There's a lot I want to know about my future and about myself. I guess this post doesn't really have an end except to say I'm trusting in this process and trying to have patience with it and myself through it all. If you're finding the process a little tough to get through, know you are not alone. Be patient. I know all will be revealed in due time.