Kurashi at Home

How to organize your space and achieve your ideal life

Have you ever imagined your ideal life? If time and money were no issue, how would you live? How would you spend your time on a typical day? What would your home be like?

Marie Kondo wants you to take time to imagine these things and to examine what matters to you. Then she wants you to take action. Why wait? Her philosophy is to find ways to bring joy into your home right now.

Imagine your own personal “wouldn’t it be nice if” living space, and let your heart brim with joy.

Let’s stop right there with the ‘let your heart brim with joy.’ Does that make you smile or are you rolling your eyes? Either way, keep reading. While Kondo’s book is filled with similarly joyous and emotional words there’s common sense and practicality here as well.

I made a list of all her joywords that resonated with me:

  • ideals
  • aspirations
  • transformed
  • longing
  • spellbound
  • enchanted
  • anticipation
  • exhilarating
  • playfulness
  • revel
  • charms
  • tranquility
  • ingenuity
  • creativity
  • savor

Kurashi means lifestyle in Japanese and in Kurashi at Home Kondo aims to share her own philosophy of living. It’s a guide to eliminating clutter and things that don’t work, and choosing the things that do. This book is a pleasure to read; the text is gentle and the photos are calming. I enjoyed the translation of Kondo’s thoughts – she has an almost child-like way of describing things, at once charming, simple, and heartfelt.

If you don’t already know Marie Kondo, she wrote the wildly popular book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In her new book she takes the reader through a refresher of her her “Kon Mari” method of de-cluttering and organizing. The method is simple but demanding: let’s say you’re working on your clothing, first you take everything out and pile it on the bed. Then you pick each item up and as you hold it you tune into how you feel. Does it “spark joy?” Then keep it. If it doesn’t you thank it and then let it go.

Kondo is very much into treating inanimate objects as living things and I don’t see anything wrong it. She says good morning to her house and thanks her shoes for supporting her as she wipes them clean. Being grateful is never a negative is it?

The rest of Kurashi at Home takes the reader through her day and through her house, room by room, from an orchestrated morning with family, to a serene bedtime routine that’s a perfect end to the day. Practically every page delivers a tip, an anecdote, or personal memory.

Kondo believes in organizing for joy (and less hassle). She says that “Storage is the sacred ritual of returning things where they belong.” This made me stop and think. Sacred ritual seems a bit dramatic but on the other hand, whenever I look for something and it’s right where it’s supposed to be I get a little thrill.

Kondo advises to focus on storing things in a way that brings you delight. For me that would include pretty boxes and tins, bright colors. Think in terms of categories and location and whenever possible, store things upright. (This is one of her signatures, storing things vertically so you can see everything at a glance – no stacks to dig through.)

She also likes to line things up so they are rising in a positive manner, from left to right. It’s literally uplifting. Kondo even recommends organizing your closet to lift your spirits; think dark colors to light and long items to short.

Kondo believes the entranceway to a home “should inspire a sigh of relief and contentment as we walk through the door.” Again with the drama, but again, it made me think about what I want to see, hear, smell, etc., when I open the door to our house. Mostly I like our entranceway / living room but am I audibly sighing when I come in? Maybe a scented candle on the small bookcase by the door would boost the mood…

What if the first thing you see in the morning is something that sparks joy?

Kondo is like a gently reassuring joy coach, reminding us that we have choices. Why not choose to create a bedroom with an atmosphere that invites gratitude when you wake up and works as a base for recharging energy and resetting yourself at the end of the day?

Kondo’s observations on American culture are a cause for reflection. She and her family moved here from Japan and she notes how she was ‘pleasantly surprised’ to see that Americans decorate their workspaces with things that bring joy like photos of family and personal items. She also appreciates and has embraced the American culture of community service and giving back however you can. It’s interesting to see the the US through her eyes.

When you cherish the things you keep, you live surrounded by treasures.

The rental house I live in is less than ideal but still, when I look around I see things that definitely spark joy. The mirrored tray on top of my dresser loaded with cosmetics, a toy tiger, and a pink marble vase with some cornflower-blue dried flowers. Another tray on the dining room table holds a small plant, a candle and a tiny Beethoven bust. I see the cherished bench built by my father-in-law and topped with photos; and in the kitchen the colorful Pyrex mixing bowls given to me by my mom sit waiting to be used.

Can you tell I’m a fan of this book? Kurashi at Home has inspired me to continue tidying, de-cluttering and organizing my way into a more joy-filled home and life. Read it and see if it doesn’t spark something in you, too.

Note: I read this book twice: the first time I read the physical book and the second time I listened to the audio version. I recommend both but obviously the printed book has the advantage of including photography to reinforce the text and the feelings it evokes.

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