A Remember Wren Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Christmas decorations are packed away, giving our house a temporarily uncluttered look and I feel inspired to get rid of all our junk (wondering what to do in January when it’s cold outside? Uh, get organized, that’s what). I actually started some organizing projects many weeks ago, then I read this fantastic book that I’m dying to recommend to you, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I’m seriously wishing I had read this before I started some of my organizing projects and I hope you read it before you start yours. It will change your outlook, I swear!

black and white closet

First of all, the book will inspire you because Marie Kondo’s advice is so simple in it’s approach. There is absolutely no wishy-washy mumbo jumbo on how you have to understand what kind of organizer you are, what organizing method works best, or determine the flow patterns of your house. She will not recommend that you go to The Container Store and spend hundreds of dollars or develop new filing and organizing systems. It all comes down to this:

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”

Think on that for a second. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. It’s so simple, toddlers can do it at daycare.

Kondo doesn’t think highly of the incremental decluttering a bit every day approach. She insists on a massive sort, something like you’d see on that TLC show from way back, Clean Sweep. You’re likely to have more success if you can see massive results right off the bat that will help you stay motivated as you progress to more difficult items to sort like personal memorabilia. She suggests that you look at everything like it needs to go, it’s headed to the dump or Goodwill, and you handle each item and decide if it deserves to be kept because you actually use it or love it because it brings you joy. If you decide to keep it, you decide where to keep it right then. So, if you are going to clean out your closet, you take every single item out and gather up all the other clothing items from around your house, then consider each item individually to see if it is a keeper.

black and white shoes

Some of the best advice in the book is to not sort by area of your house, but by category of item. Like items should be sorted together and stored together. Reading that, you might say, “no duh!” but when I look at my house, there are a total of five different places any family member’s shoes could be at any given time. No wonder it takes us extra time to get out the door. This idea also helps you to see how much of a certain item you have and keeps you from acquiring the same thing over and over again (you would not believe how many screw driver sets we have).

Her advice for people like me, who live with packrats who have no desire to tidy up, is to keep sorting your own items and lead by example. I’m skeptical on this point, but maybe my family will come around when the realize I always know where my stuff is while they can’t find anything they want.

You get the gist of her philosophy with what I already shared, but I also have to mention the following tidbits, which just struck a chord with me:

  • Storage experts are hoarders
  • Save difficult items until last
  • Discard all of your paperwork

Mind blowing, right? “Storage experts are hoarders!” Well of course they are! They know every container you should keep things in and where to find it, the little addicts! “Save difficult items until last” seems like excellent advice but my intuition is to do the hard stuff first. From Kondo’s point of view though, I see my mistake. Organizing is a big decision making exercise. You’ll get better at making decisions the more you practice, so best to get lots of experience before tackling that difficult box of childhood memories. I’m still having a hard time with the “discard all of your paperwork” notion. I’m an expert at creating “what-if” scenarios, so I have every credit card statement and phone bill from the last seven years. Really, I know I can get that information online if I need it and for the most part I haven’t needed any of it at all, ever.

Gosh, that just scratches the surface of this book, so I hope you’ll take the time to read it before you tackle your organizing projects. I found Kondo’s approach to be very enlightening. The book is translated from Japanese and Kondo refers frequently to all the bags of garbage she has hauled out of clients’ homes. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that things were properly disposed of, whether donated or recycled. Ugh, where to take everything you discard is another matter isn’t it?

So what is up first on your organizing to do list? Read this book, hopefully, and then remember, not room by room, but category by category. Good luck!

Hello, Gorgeous!

Hi, everyone! This is just a quick update to share my new favorite thing around the house. We finally replaced the horrible faucet in our kitchen. Here it is in all of it’s formerly nasty glory.

Old Faucet

Aaack! I can’t believe we’ve owned our house for six years and I put up with that thing for so long. It really was the cheapest of it’s type that you can buy. The finish under the handles was so corroded that it was impossible to keep clean. Not to mention how inconvenient the two handles are when you have greasy, gooey hands.

Look at my new faucet.

New Faucet

It’s the Delta Lewiston in chrome. Isn’t it gorgeous? First of all, I love that it’s the single lever style, which is so much easier to use. I really like that I can pull the sprayer out of the spout and there are two spray options. We used the old sprayer hole for the soap dispenser that came with the faucet. Neato! Improving the little things that you use every day can make your home so much more pleasant. Don’t you agree?


Year Two In Review

I suddenly realized the other night that the two year anniversary of living in our house had passed a couple of weeks ago. I owe y’all another Year-In-Review post, just like the one I did last year. At the end of that post I hoped we would get the popcorn ceilings removed and walls painted in the rest of the house. Guess what? We did it!

hallway before and after

Technically, the central hallway of our house did have the popcorn ceilings removed and walls painted, but I added the gallery wall and rug in year two. Since this after photo was taken, we also changed out all of the brass door hardware with oil rubbed bronze.

Office collage

We took the popcorn ceiling down in the office, but kept the wall color the same, so the change wasn’t as dramatic. We basically went from totally disorganized to slightly more organized. There is lots of work left to do in this room.

Guest Bedroom Collage

We tackled the guest room before the other bedrooms. We figured it would be good to do that room first, then we slept there when working on the other bedrooms. As you can see, this room still has a long way to go. We plan on using this room for a second TV and kid hang out room. It will also house all of my craft and décor supplies.

Josh's Bedroom Collage

Josh’s room changed the most of any in the house. His room evolved like this over the course of the year. I didn’t get to paint the stripes on he wall until a few months after we did the ceiling and walls. I added the new curtains at about the same time as the stripes. He wasn’t happy with all of the orange, so I had to change the largest orange stripe to a blue stripe. It’s always in the details, isn’t it?

Laundry Room Collage

The laundry room was freshened up with one of my favorite colors and a new rug. I still need to paint the door to the garage.

Living room 1

The living room was a huge job thanks to that vaulted ceiling. I was so glad to see the yellow go and ugly ceiling fan go. I hope we can add more furniture and pretty pillows this year.

Before and After

The last beige room was finally tackled this summer. I love the new brown walls more than I can say. I hope to sew new curtains and nicer decorative pillows this year.

So that is the end of year two. All of the popcorn ceilings are gone. All of the walls are painted. All of the brass door hardware has been replaced. All of the light fixtures have been replaced, except for the ceiling fan in the guest bedroom. I’ll get to that soon, I hope. I’m so looking forward to actual decorating and craft projects this year. Our days of drywall dust are done!