Magic Tidying Up

Change Your SpaceLiving and dining room in a huge mess with toys and things scattered on every surface

  • What: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  • When: Your stuff gets overwhelming
  • Why: Purge with purpose
  • Where: Amazon

I finally got around to reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. While a lot of the book didn’t speak to me (I do not and will not ever be speaking out loud to inanimate things, much less on a daily basis), I’ve taken away some nuggets to implement and keep.

If you don’t have to time to read the entire thing for yourself (with three kid, it took me at least eight months between when I heard about it and when I actually checked out a copy), I’ll boil it down to what I found most useful as a person living with four others in a confined space.

Store things vertically. We tend to store things flat, like laptops. But you can easily stand a laptop on end and it takes up dramatically less space without impacting its function one iota. One of my favorite tricks involves a radical new folding method for clothes that allows me to see at a glance what I’m wearing regularly and what I’m not.

72 inch black bookshelf holding toys, games, and books

I replaced a shorter bookcase with this taller version to get more storage space.

Look to walls and taller shelving to provide more storage space in the same square footage. I replaced a 42 inch shelving unit with a 72 inch one in the exact same footprint and nearly doubled my storage capacity in that spot. As an added bonus, I moved non-kid items out of reach and keep more toys and things in a space they can access. You can also hang shelves above seating areas to get more mileage out of empty wall space.

Store things in one place, and only one place. I kept fleeces in our dressers or shelves in the bedroom but also by the front door. I ended up with twice as many we needed and used them much less because they collected into big piles that never got used. I had kitchen utensils in three different spots, classified by type. That meant I had about three times as many as I ever used.

Kitchen utensil drawer organized by type

I went from three containers of kitchen utensils in three different places to one drawer divided into thirds.

Get rid of duplicate items. I didn’t need the sixteen vases I had accumulated in ten years in the same house. I got rid of all the ones in similar sizes and shapes, and kept only the ones that spoke to me, either because of the occasion, or the giver, or ideally both.

I can’t say the book changed my entire look on life, but I did manage to carve out one room in my house that I can keep tidy. Because I can manage that small portion of our busy household, I feel less stressed in the remainder of the house, even when it’s a disaster.

Child's shirts folded and stored vertically upright in dresser drawer

By storing folded clothes upright, I can see at a glance which shirts my kids wear and which ones never see the light of day. They can see all their choices without rifling through the folded items.

Incidentally, I picked the kitchen to tidy. I got rid of a large number of items on the counter tops, and reduced redundancies and gadgets we rarely used. That means with zero dollars in renovations, I have more space to put things and can keep the flow of dishes and food (necessities) under control. It didn’t hurt that my kids had fewer toys and other impact on this room, and most of the surfaces rest out of their comfortable reach.

I realize that may not be the best choice for everyone (try a bedroom, anyone?) but it has worked wonders for me. I used the same strategies throughout the house, but didn’t have time to hit every room and storage space yet, so I started with a smaller goal. If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, you can hit the highlights in fairly short order. Even if you never lift a finger to try any of the tactics, it makes for interesting conversational fodder.

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