Tidy Facts You Didn’t Know About Marie Kondo
If you’ve heard your friends say they’ve “Kondo-ed” their bedrooms and kitchens over the weekend, then you can bet that they’ve been “Konverted” to the teachings of world-renowned organization guru Marie Kondo. Since Tidying Up with Marie Kondo premiered on Netflix, people have been purging their closets and bookshelves of items that no longer bring them happiness. Author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, Marie Kondo has been changing people’s lives with her advice – and it hasn’t come without controversy. But who exactly is Marie Kondo? Read on to find out!
Would you believe that she actually likes clutter?
She Has Been Tidying Up Since She Was Five
“I have spent more than half my life thinking about tidying,” Kondo writes in her internationally best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo was five years old when the Chinese philosophy of feng shui became popular in her native Tokyo.
“My mother was applying the method, but to my eye, the house was not tidy enough to have the feng shui effect,” Kondo told New York Magazine. Kondo decided to help her mother by tidying their belongings. She even once confessed to tossing her dad’s suits and mom’s purses without asking (and felt bad about it as an adult).
Her Methods Are Rooted In Shintoism
If you’ve seen Kondo’s Tidying Up on Netflix, then you’ve seen her advice on thanking items for their “service” before letting them go. This may be rooted in Shinto, a traditional Japanese religion that honors the sacred power of both animate and inanimate objects.
When she was 18, Kondo took a part time job at a Shinto temple. “Shintoism, for Japanese people, is not the same religious feeling as a lot of American people might feel, but is pretty much blended into our daily lifestyle or habits. It influences me, but not as strongly as you might think,” she explained in her Reddit AMA.
Kondo Actually Kind Of Likes Clutter
It might not be what you’d expect from someone who’s known for her de-cluttering methods and organization skills, but Kondo actually likes to see some clutter – if it means that she’s going to get rid of it.
When one Redditor asked her how bothered she gets when she sees a messy home, Kondo replied, “I am a kind of person who gets excited to see clutter! That is because it is a good feeling for me to imagine how this person can de-clutter, imagine the whole process of that person de-cluttering their own space.”
Wait until you find out what article of clothing she completely eliminated from her life, coming up…
The One Type Of Mess That Really Does Bother Her
Seeing clutter might excite Kondo for all the tidying possibilities that lie ahead, but she doesn’t always face new messes with the same amount of optimism. When entering a new messy home, there is one pet peeve that turns Kondo off and that’s when the mess is so bad that you can smell it.
“If the room has some garbage, like stinky garbage, old food and stuff, yes it does bother me sometimes. But not because of the amount of clutter, it is just the smell,” Kondo said on Reddit.
She Exclusively Wears One Color
If you look up photos of Marie Kondo or see her on television, you’ll quickly notice that she is always wearing white. While it may definitely be a preference, there is a reason for her self-imposed dress code.
Kondo told The New Yorker that when it comes to professional engagements, she exclusively wears white because it evokes cleanliness and her trademark tidiness. “It is part of my brand… my image color. It is easy to recognize me,” she said. Most people avoid white because of how easy it is to stain, but we’re sure Kondo doesn’t have that problem!
Kondo Doesn’t Wear Pants
In perhaps what is the top piece of advice in her KonMari method, Marie Kondo urges her clients to let go of that which does not “spark joy.” For her, it was pants. Kondo told The New Yorker in 2015 that she gave up wearing pants many years ago because they no longer brought her joy.
Indeed, if you’ve seen her show, you’ll see her watching from the sidelines as her clients rummage through their closets deciding what and what not to keep. Part of her method is to hold up each item and decide how it makes you feel.
Kondo’s passion for tidying would soon become a business venture as you’ll read coming up…
The One Time Her Tidying Obsession Got The Best Of Her
After realizing her passion for cleaning as a child, Kondo became so obsessed with tossing unnecessary items in the house that even her parents were tired of it! By the time she was 15, it caused a nervous breakdown, according to a 2014 profile in The Australian.
“I was unconscious for two hours. When I came to… I realized my mistake: I was only looking for things to throw out. What I should be doing is finding the things I want to keep. Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying,” she said.
She Even Wrote Her College Thesis On Tidying Up
When she was 19, Marie Kondo enrolled at Tokyo Women’s Christian University as a sociology student with an emphasis on gender. For someone so obsessed with organization and cleaning, it’s no surprise that her college thesis was “How to Declutter Your Apartment.”
It was there that she read Sari Solden’s Women With Attention Defecit Disorder, which talked about women who were too distracted to clean their own homes. It bothered her that these women were considered too “broken” to maintain a household, when a man could easily help pick up the slack, according to a 2014 New York Times article.
Kondo Began Tidying For Her Friends
While in college, Kondo’s friends would pay her to help them organize their living spaces. She eventually started her consultation business, KonMari, after word of her tidying efforts got out. By the time she graduated, she was making $100 per five-hour-block for tidying up.
It wasn’t long before she racked up a six-month-long waiting list of people who were in dire need of her services. “I had so many clients – a months-long waiting list. They requested that I write a book so they could learn about my method while waiting for their consultation,” she told New York Magazine.
Soon, people would start criticizing her methods since she didn’t take into account a certain group of people…
Sorry Guys, She’s Taken
As Kondo’s popularity was taking off in Japan, she met Takumi Kawahara, the man she would fall in love with and marry in 2012. At the time, Kawahara was working in marketing and sales in Osaka but as his wife’s star power was beginning to reveal itself, he left his job to support her as her manager.
“He was able to clean and be very organized even before he read my book, but it was certainly even more pronounced after he read my book… Fundamentally speaking, we’re in the same groove,” she told Good Housekeeping in 2016.
She’s A Self-Employed Mother Of Two
Since her career took off, Marie Kondo also celebrated two more milestones: the births of her two daughters, Satsuki and Miko. She’s admitted that she had to loosen up with her need to tidy so much after they came into her life.
Speaking to Telegraph after the birth of her first-born, Kondo said, “[My] life has changed dramatically after her arrival. She needs me all the time even when I have urgent tasks to be done… But for now, it doesn’t really change my approach to tidying. I feel the most happiness when I am folding baby clothing.”
Marie Kondo Has Some Advice For People With Kids
Another complaint that many had about Kondo’s methods was that they didn’t seem to account for what to do if you had kids. Surely, it wasn’t something Kondo took into account until she had babies of her own, but that didn’t mean she didn’t know what to do when it came to kids’ stuff.
Kondo recommends that children can start deciding what sparks joy by the time they reach age three. “I think it is important to grow up seeing beautiful things so that you can develop that sense of beauty, and comfortable space,” she said on Reddit.
This wasn’t the only complaint people had about Kondo, but she later had something to say about it…
There Are Exceptions To Her Rules
We all know that Kondo promotes the idea that you should only hold on to items that spark joy in your own life, but of course, there are people out there who have some very valid follow-up questions. People wonder what should be done with items that don’t spark joy but are necessary and not easily replaceable.
For those items, Kondo has said, “Those things are helping you every single day. So you should appreciate how they are contributing to your life. Change the relationship with those items, by appreciating their contributions to your life.” In other words: Gratitude!
People Thought She Hated Books
Books are an easy thing to accumulate, which is why by Kondo’s suggestion you should get rid of those you aren’t going to read or reread. By her estimation, one should have no more than 30 books, which she’s explicitly stated is her own preference.
Still, people were up in arms over this advice. People on social media took this to mean that Kondo had no regard for literature or the work of authors. One person on Twitter complained, “I don’t give a [expletive] if you throw out your knickers and Tupperware but the woman is very misguided about BOOKS.”
Kondo retorted that the public that was misguided as you’ll see next…
Kondo Had To Clarify What She Meant
Of course, the social media firestorm caused by Kondo’s book-tossing suggestion was misinterpreted and exaggerated. Many of those people simply didn’t understand where she was coming from or the full extent of her philosophy.
She clarified to IndieWire, “[It’s] not so much what I personally think about books. The question you should be asking is what do you think about books. If the image of someone getting rid of books… makes you angry, that should tell you how passionate you are about books, what’s clearly so important in your life… That in itself is a very important benefit of this process.”
Kondo already has a show on Netflix, but other networks are in talks of making a sitcom out of her as you’ll see coming up…
Her Power Spot Reminds Her Of Family
Read Marie Kondo’s books and you will find that she suggests creating a sort of shrine in your home – a space that will bring you the most joy. According to InStyle, Kondo’s is in a small corner of her living room that houses family photos.
This hearkens back to Shinto religion as well. “In Shintoism and in shrines, tidying and cleaning are regarded as mental cultivation and spiritual training. I suggest people develop their home as if it is their own shrine, which is a power spot to its residents,” she told Telegraph.
Kondo Is A Celebrity Among Celebrities
Since Marie-mania has taken hold of Western media, it wasn’t long before the de-cluttering guru heard her name uttered by celebrity mouths. She has appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Rachael Ray. She has been hosted by the likes of Twitter, Airbnb, and eBay.
In 2015, Time magazine bestowed the honor of naming her one of its 100 most influential people. Even actress Jamie Lee Curtis has expressed her devotion to the guru by saying that if she ever got a tattoo, it would read “Spark Joy!”
There’s more about Jamie Lee Curtis’ appreciation of Kondo coming up…
Marie Kondo’s Advice Inspired A Sitcom
Marie Kondo may already be in your Netflix queue with her HGTV-style show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, but for those who simply can’t get enough of her life’s philosophy, there’s apparently a sitcom in the works as well.
In 2015, Deadline reported that NBC commissioned a sitcom based off Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The show is being written by Burning Love’s Erica Oyama, about a young woman in crisis-mode who attempts to reorganize her messy life.
There Wasn’t Much Of A Culture Shock
When it came to bringing her Eastern sensibilities to Western audiences, Marie Kondo has said that despite obvious cultural differences, the desire to achieve a tidy home was a universal one.
“The biggest difference is that each culture has its distinctive architecture and interior. The physical size of the house is different, too. But I don’t think the tidying skills and tidying approaches necessarily have a link to [Japanese] culture and tradition… when I go to western countries like the U.S. and France, I hear exactly the same problems from people living in those countries,” she told Telegraph.
She Admits That Her Methods Aren’t For Everyone
What people often fail to recognize is the cultural differences that stand between her methods and Western audiences. “Some people on the show questioned why they would thank an inanimate object for its service. This was a revelation. I know now that I must explain some aspect of my work more clearly,” she told Vulture.
Still, there are people who remain unconvinced. To that, Kondo has expressed it’s good to practice what works for you, “because my method might not spark joy with some people, but [another] method might,” she told the New York Times.
She Tidied Stephen Colbert’s Desk And Taught Him How To Fold A Fitted Sheet
Fitted sheets can be the absolute worst to fold. Luckily for Stephen Colbert, Marie Kondo stopped by The Late Show in February 2019 and taught him how to do it. She also straightened his desk for him during her guest appearance on the show.
Colbert held up a wrinkled, wadded up sheet, and said, “It brings me great rage because it’s impossible to fold a fitted sheet.” It was no match for Kondo, who lined up the edges, neatly folded the sheet into a rectangle, then folded it in half before rolling it up.
She Declutters Her Brain, Too
In a guest column for Time magazine, Kondo shared her secrets for keeping her thoughts organized and focused. She explains, “I use a coping strategy that’s similar to my KonMari tidying method—but that’s about organizing the disordered and negative thoughts in my head, rather than my home.”
She continued, “I collect all my feelings at once, decide upon solutions based on positive emotions and actions (those which “spark joy”) and then pick a clear time and place for completing these solutions.” Kondo writes down her feelings, the reasons for those feelings, and comes up with an action plan for dealing with her emotions.
She Started Her Kids Young
Marie Kondo told the Wall Street Journal that she started teaching her children to tidy up as soon as they were old enough — which was very young! “It’s never too early to learn how to tidy up,” she said.
“You can let your children take on a challenge when they turn about 1 year old, after they learn how to walk.” Kondo’s Instagram account is filled with adorable pictures of her daughters cleaning up after themselves.
Teaching By Example
Marie Kondo teaches her daughters about cleaning and tidying by setting a good example for them. In an interview with Town and Country, she shared this advice. “One thing I strive to do is to show by example. For instance, I make sure to fold the laundry in front of my daughters, even if they’re still young, so that they can see how much I am enjoying tidying.”
She continued, “For shared spaces, make sure to set up a designated spot for every item. Once that is set up, make it a rule to put things back in its designated place after use.”
What About Pets?
People who have pets know too well that animals don’t clean up after themselves. How does Marie Kondo feel about keeping pets? She certainly doesn’t suggest that others forego the joy of having pets just for the sake of being tidy.
In fact, she shared this fan photo to her own Instagram page, with this caption: “You can apply the KonMari Method to many aspects of your life – including your pet’s toys! Thank you for sharing your #mykonmari moment @tofu_corgi. #konmaripets”
She Shared Her ‘Bad Habit’ With A Reporter
During an interview with a reporter for The Guardian, Kondo was asked if she had any bad habits that she had a hard time giving up. After thinking for a while and relayed the habit to her translator, blushing the entire time.
Turns out that this “bad habit” is a rather tame one. The translator turned to the reporter and repeated Kondo’s confession in English: “I love wearing slippers, but I take them off in random places around the house – I can’t keep them on for long, so they’re scattered.”
Her Name Has Become A Verb
Marie Kondo’s influence is now so widespread that people use her name as a verb. You’re “kondo-ing” when you tidy up a space, and Instagram accounts dedicated to showing homes that have been “kondo-ed” are hugely popular.
To put this into perspective, here are a few other companies or brands whose names started being used as verbs: Uber, Velcro, FaceTime, Skype, Rollerblade, and Google. Marie Kondo is right up there with the big names.
What’s The Most A Client Has Purged?
Any serious Marie Kondo fans know by now that clothing is one of the hardest types of clutter to get rid of, although it’s also some of the easiest to accumulate. People who watch her show on Netflix are used to seeing her purging methods, which include placing all clothing in a large heap before sorting it.
So what’s the most clothing Kondo has seen a client purge? She says that one of her customers parted with an astonishing 200 garbage bags full of clothing. That took some serious dedication.
You Can Hire An Official KonMari Consultant
Kondo’s website advertises official consultants that people can book locally. “KonMari Consultants are officially certified to help you tidy your home using the KonMari Method,” the site says, and are ranked into certification levels depending on their experience.
The website also features profiles of certified consultants as well as information on training to become a consultant. There are seven steps to take, including attending a seminar, practicing with two clients, and a written exam.
Eliminating Paper Clutter
One other common type of clutter that plagues modern homes is of the paper variety. Photos, receipts, tax records, medical bills… it all piles up rapidly and can be daunting to tackle. In her Reddit AMA, Kondo outlined her technique for dealing with paper clutter.
“I recommend to take the same method as you tidying up your house,” she says. “For example, you should dedicate the whole day to tidying up your email inbox (or in one shot). In the same way, you move on to the next category of documents and files – for example, you just want to work on this specific folder today. But you want to get it ALL done. It is important to finish up this category in one shot.” Fortunately, she added that it’s OK to take a break during this tedious work.
More About Her Husband, Takumi Kawahara
Marie Kondo’s husband-turned-manager and CEO of KonMari Media first attended Kanagawa University’s Department of Autonomy Administration in the Faculty of Law before he met her. Takumi Kawahara then worked at several different firms in Osaka. Many of his jobs required extensive travel throughout Japan.
Kawahara is a natural photographer and he takes many of KonMari’s pictures. In fact, most of the photos in Kondo’s Instagram feed are credited to him.
How Does Kondo Approach Shopping?
One Redditor asked Kondo about shopping: “When I need to buy something, how can I be sure that it will continue to spark joy, even after the “rush” of shopping has gone down?” It’s a great question since Kondo is all about eliminating those things that don’t thrill us. Her response was that you should tidy a space up before shopping for it.
“I would recommend brushing up the sense of ability on what items spark the joy when you go shopping,” she advised. “So when you tidy up your space first, and during that, you can sharpen your senses / ability to figure out what item spark joy, you can know what will spark joy when you shop next time.”
She Can Organize A Desk In Less Than Four Minutes
Those of us who have office/desk jobs know that a cluttered workspace is a complete productivity killer. Marie Kondo is a pro at clearing out a desk quickly. She shared these steps, which she’s able to complete in under four minutes. It might take the rest of us a little longer!
She starts the way she does with any project: getting rid of the things that don’t spark joy. Then, she thoroughly cleans the work area (did you know that a desk can have as much as 400x the amount of bacteria in an average toilet?) before neatly putting everything back into place.
There’s An App For That
Of course there’s an app for that. The KonMari app gives users a way to use Marie Kondo’s techniques as they tidy their homes. The app allows people to photograph and track their progress as they go through all five of her sorting categories (clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items).
Users can also set reminders and due dates for themselves, as well as interact with other people with the app.
Kudos From Jamie Lee Curtis
As mentioned earlier, Marie Kondo received the honor of being named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015. Celebrated actor Jamie Lee Curtis wrote a glowing profile of Kondo for the occasion.
“I have been following Marie Kondo’s simple, clear rules for a decluttered life since way before they were written,” she began. “Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is a literal how-to-heave-ho, and I recommend it for anyone who struggles with the material excess of living in a privileged society. (Thanks to Ms. Kondo, I kiss my old socks goodbye.)”
Kondo Is A Packing Expert
Many people struggle with packing. It can be hard to know how much you need to bring on a trip, and even harder to fit it all into a tiny suitcase. Of course, Kondo is a packing guru and she’s happy to share her tips with others.
As you might have guessed, folding things properly is one of her top tricks. Folding vertically and as small as possible. Thinner items can be rolled to prevent wrinkles. Other tips: keep like items together and look for hidden storage (such as putting socks in bra cups).
You Can Now Buy KonMari-Approved Boxes
In 2018, Marie Kondo unveiled a new product: a line of special boxes called Hikidashi, which is Japanese and means “to draw out.” They come in sets of three, with a small, medium, and a large, for $89. So what makes them worth the steep price tag?
Kondo explains that she designed the boxes to be beautiful, which means that they’ll spark joy each time you open a drawer and see them. They are pretty enough that they can also be placed on shelves to “create” drawers.
She Was Obsessed With Magazines As A Child And Still Enjoys Them Today
When she was five years old, Marie Kondo’s bedroom didn’t have any windows so she turned to magazines for their pictures. She’d cut them out and stick them to the wall to look like the scenery she would have liked to see through a window.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, she reasserted her enjoyment of magazines. She believes we should look through them to see what sparks joy in us and to inspire our home decor. “Is it a pink flower in a vase, or is it the color purple? Then you have to think: what can I do to make my home look more like that photo?”
The KonMari Method Inspires Humor
Marie Kondo’s decluttering methods might be effective, but that doesn’t mean that they’re immune to some good-natured kidding from fans. One Twitter user with the handle @Pandamoanimum shared this knee-slapper.
“I tried the Marie Kondo method for decluttering my home and got rid of anything that didn’t spark joy. I feel really good about it but my husband and kids are ruining the moment by trying to get back inside the house.”
Kondo Is Gracious And Grateful
Marie Kondo goes out of her way to acknowledge and thank people and companies that support her or give her rave reviews. She’s very appreciative of her success and her fans.
Kondo’s Twitter feed is full of thank yous to publications that have given her new show positive coverage, such as “‘Marie Kondo’s new @netflix series will make you laugh, cry and finally clean out your closet.’ Thank you @people for the review!”