Marie Kondo released “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” in 2014 and millions were inspired to “Spark Joy” and start decluttering their homes. Her 2019 series, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”, re- introduced the KonMari Method to millions of people. With the holidays just around the corner, we thought it was a good time to start thinking about decluttering the kitchen. A recent survey, commissioned by the no name brand found that 89 per cent of Canadians agree they are striving to live a more simplified and organized life. This isn’t surprising given almost one in three Canadians admit they rarely or never clean their fridges or pantries. We had a chance to speak with Ivanka Siolkowsky, organization expert and Canada’s only Certified Master in the KonMari Method.
Explain the basic principles of the KonMari method.
It is a practice created by professional organizer and best-selling author, Marie Kondo. The KonMari Method is a system for organizing and tidying up, leaning on the principles of minimalism and mindfulness.
The main benefits of this decluttering philosophy is that it makes organization less intimidating and more enjoyable for people looking to simplify their lives. Thanks to the clear structure of the KonMari Method, tidying an entire house is not only attainable, but also a peaceful process.
The KonMari Method is a two-part system—decluttering and organizing—both of which are governed by six basic rules:
Commit yourself to tidying
Dedicate a significant portion of time, whether that’s a full day or a weekend, to immersing yourself in the project. Be sure to maintain an open mind throughout the process.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle
Before you start the process, imagine how you want your house to look when you’re done. Taking it one step further, picture your overall dream life to which you aspire.
Finish discarding first
Before you even think about organizing, first discard all the items you no longer wish to keep. This is the key to effective organization.
Tidy by category, not location
Tidying by category is the only way to get a sense of all the items you own. It also avoids simply moving items from room to room, without actually discarding anything.
Follow the right order
The correct order to tidy is: clothes, books, papers, kimono (miscellaneous) and, finally, sentimental possessions.
Ask yourself if it sparks joy
For every single item you own, ask yourself, does it bring you happiness? It’s important to pick the item up, hold it, and notice your emotional reaction to it. Only the items that truly spark joy should be kept.
How did you get certified in the KonMari Method?
I was an elementary school teacher who was given “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” as a joking gift by a colleague, because my classroom was always so tidy. I decided to Google the woman behind the book. The moment I was Googling Marie Kondo, she launched registration for the first ever certification course in NYC. Next thing you know, I’m headed for the Big Apple, where I spent time learning all there is to know about the method and how to practice it with clients. I then had to complete a certain amount of hours, and show proof that I was living in a tidy manner at home.
Why do you think there is such a passion for the KonMari Method right now? Why does it succeed in helping people organize their homes, where traditional methods have failed?
To be honest, I think people are starting to realize that consumption is leading to extreme stress, and they want joy back in their lives. This method is so successful because it frames our mind into asking ourselves what actually sparks joy for us, instead of having to face what it is that doesn’t. By going down that path of happiness, we surround ourselves with the things that really matter; and by process of elimination, the rest goes. I believe its success is due to organizing by category and not location.
The kitchen often becomes a catch all area. It’s where we cook, eat, work and entertain. If 40% of Canadians are stressed out about their disorganized kitchens, what are the barriers to beginning the process of getting their kitchens organized?
In my experience, I’ve found that most clients who are dealing with clutter in the kitchen don’t make an effort to tidy up because they don’t know where to begin the process or they don’t think that they’ll be able to maintain a tidy space. The KonMari Method is a fantastic way to overcome these barriers. It provides a peaceful, streamlined process with ordered steps to follow, and when applied correctly, it has lasting results.
Part of kitchen clutter is buying more food, cleaning supplies and gadgets than anyone usually needs. It tends to be a gathering place for paper and the home of the ever famous junk drawer. What steps do you recommend for getting a kitchen more organized?
Working with clients over the years, the kitchen and pantry are the two areas I’ve noticed are hardest to keep tidy. I always offer a few tips to eliminate clutter for a more simplified kitchen:
- Eliminate word pollution and visual clutter
- If you feel stressed every time you open a closet or cupboard, or struggle to find what you’re looking for, try eliminating word pollution. Easy fixes include decanting dry goods (rice, grains) in glass jars. You can also buy products with straightforward product names and packaging design.
- Less is more
- Avoid buying products in large quantities—it’s easier to keep your kitchen or pantry tidy when there’s less in it
- “Respect the things you own by giving each of them a home”
- Everything needs to have its own place, and when storing food, make sure it is easy to see and identify
What tasks can busy moms give their children to do to help keep the kitchen, and eventually the rest of the house, organized?
Before becoming an organization expert, I completed a Masters in Education and was an elementary school teacher for 7 years. I have a pretty decent understanding of how children learn best. The main piece of advice I give clients is to ensure that everything has a home. If your child understands where things belong, they’ll know exactly where to go when you ask them to put something away.
Children’s toys often end up scattered throughout the house so I always make sure each item has its own designated place. Having colour-coded boxes for Lego or using toilet paper rolls (which you can purchase from a craft store) to create a “toy car parking garage” inside of a box or crate will help encourage your children to put their toys away in a convenient spot. You can transform clean-up time into a fun colour match-up game. It’s like Mary Poppins said “To every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” This is my mantra when working with children.
What advice do you give people who have “fallen off the wagon” and get back into their old habits?
Start back at the first step: commit yourself to tidying! Dedicate time to re-organizing your home without distraction and stay focused on the overarching goal of simplifying your life. If your home was super tidy a couple of months ago, your current goal is attainable.
Finally, what are your must have products to keep a kitchen organized?
For the pantry, I suggest keeping everything in glass jars or to purchase products with straightforward labeling, such as no name Simple Check products. This way, you can always easily find what you’re looking for.
For kitchen drawers, using different sized containers to hold cutlery is a lifesaver. They help to keep everything in place and prevent junk drawers from piling up.