It's Not You, Marie Kondo, It's Me
I had just spent thirty minutes standing on my tippy-toes, rearranging one of the most cluttered areas in my kitchen: my dishware cabinet. With the voice of Marie Kondo ringing in my head, I chanted to myself: "Ching! Ching!", hoping that I'd somehow figured out the best way to store a collection of mismatched dishes, bowls, and serveware I'd accumulated over the last six years. I decided to take one of Kondo's most apparent tips to heart: store things vertically, which, in theory, could work great for a wide (but short!) cabinet shelf.
Finishing my task, I used a few knicknacks to bookend my vertically stacked dishes after eliminating a few Walmart-branded plates that didn't evoke the "Ching!" feeling Kondo often preaches. I felt a little precarious about softly shutting my cabinet, but mostly proud and even ready to take a quick snap of my work (after all, #konmari is poppin' on Insta).
That feeling was short lived, though. Later that evening, I snatched open my cabinet as I normally do when I'm hunting for a plate and sent one of my favorite Crate and Barrel salad plates flying. It crashed on top of my foot—my middle toe to be exact—and the loud stream of obscenities that erupted out of my mouth probably would have sent Marie Kondo running for the hills had she been there.
How did I end up here, squatting on the floor of my kitchen, clutching a throbbing foot and cursing a person I'd never met? Well, just like many other home cooks this month, I ripped through Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix. I ended up with a false sense of bravado thanks to seven episodes featuring real-life makeovers conquered by the Queen of zen organization.
If you watch Tidying Up, you’ll learn how Marie Kondo, author of four international best-selling books, approaches her organizational craft.
The main principle used in the show, where Kondo visits different families struggling with organizational issues, is the KonMari method. You tackle organizing your home with five categories in mind, including clothing, books, documents, komono (what Kondo refers to as "miscellaneous" items), and sentimental items.
This method isn't new by any means: Kondo championed it back when she published The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which was a best-seller in Japan and across Europe before being published in the United States in 2014. But watching Kondo put her words into action has inspired so many people (including me!) to tackle their own homes. And the newly released Netflix show has spawned a “cultural phenomenon,” as one editor at Esquire puts it.
More on organizing and cleaning your kitchen:
But of all the lessons I learned from Kondo's new show—like taking the time to physically thank my unwanted kitchen gadgets and appliances for their service—the idea of organizing my "komono" objects in the kitchen vertically seemed like the easiest way to get started. So I dutifully followed Marie's lead in my kitchen, which hides tons of clutter in cabinets and other nooks and crannies, and dumped my entire dishware cabinet onto the floor.
I focused on keeping things that “sparked joy,” and felt fantastic putting a few things aside to donate.
In her show, Kondo creates more organized spaces by bringing in small boxes. So I actually converted an old cereal box into a space to hold my cereal bowls, which were stacked vertically. But that's where the magic stopped. I failed miserably at the Konmari method, and ended up with one heck of a stubbed toe.
I don't blame Marie for my misfortune. In fact, I may even try to organize my kitchen again in the future. But many of Marie's tips, especially in her new Netflix series, are far more aspirational than realistic. I got hung up on the idea of organizing my plates like she does one particular cabinet in the "Downsizers" episode, even though she truly was focused on organizing the cabinet to make everyday items as accessible as possible. What worked for one won't work for another.
And many times, as you'll learn if you get sucked into Tidying Up, Marie's best solutions often require you to buy something else—a trip to Michael's for a 6-inch catchall, or a wire rack for glassware. It requires planning and extra money, which is an understandable hurdle for most.
The people truly changed by Marie Kondo are those who are able to take her spirit to heart and figure out a specific system that works for them—whereas I, oh so impatiently, simply tried to copy what I had seen but have yet to truly learn. If you choose to watch Kondo's Netflix show, or read any of her books, you'll have to approach your home with an open mind and the KonMari method to guide you. There are no "hacks" here for you to steal, my friends.
As for me, I'll be trying to fold my t-shirts vertically next (at least I can't injure myself there). Netflix—call me?