The Magic of Tidying Up, Even (Especially?) for Non-Minimalists

The Magic of Tidying Up, Even (Especially?) for Non-Minimalists

FINALLY a way to be happy with the stuff I love (and there’s a lot); to get rid of what I don’t (a lot of that, too); and how to decide which is which. With no guilt. Srsly.

Everything you hear about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up claims it is different from other de-cluttering books. And guess what, yup, it is. FINALLY a way to be happy with the stuff  I love (and there’s a lot); to get rid of what I don’t (a lot of that, too); and how to decide which is which. With no guilt. Srsly.

The LIfe-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

The book has developed a cult-like following, with Facebook groups and Instagram  hashtags and God knows what. It’s sold more than 2 million copies, been written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and been on all the TV shows except possibly Game of Thrones. (Am I the only person you know who does not watch Game of Thrones?)

It’s that good. I posted this on Instagram a few weeks ago, when the frenzy began…

Garage at Rancho la Zaca gets the “KonMari” treatment

Japanese author and orgaznizer Marie Kondo‘s Magic is the guilt-free getting rid of stuff, including that pesky “perfectly good” that is no longer perfect for you. The aim, she says, is to  keep only what  “sparks joy.” 

So she is not telling you you don’t need 4 olive oils, 5 weird Asian-y sauces, and 7 vinegars. If they spark joy for you, so be it. Just get a few lazy Susans to organize them while you’re at it.

Condiments organized on lazy Susans at Rancho la Zaca

For our office supplies at the ranch, these Container Store bins with zinc tags written on with a chalk marker have made life easier for all of us.

Office bins at Rancho la Zaca

You keep what truly brings you joy now, today, and let go what may (or may not) have done so in the past,  even if it is “perfectly good,” you’ve never used it, your old boyfriend made it for you, or your nona gave it to you. And you do it guiltlessly. Here’s how, and stay with me now…

Linen closet at Rancho la Zaca

 Using the author’s “KonMari method,” you let it go with love. You thank it for what it once meant to you, or did for you, or how it made you look thin. You also organize, fold, and store your things with love, again thanking them for all they do for you. It sounds goofy, I know, but it absolutely works. 

Rancho la Zaca tent linens. Because a guest house would be way too convenient.

I feel a new clarity and lightness that I attribute directly to this process. Who knows what inspiration I might have made new space for?

But listen, before you get nervous…

Cocktail napkins, Rancho la Zaca

All this talk about de-cluttering and getting rid of things,

Art in our New York apartment

does not quite,


Yes I do need three pairs of leopard pumps.

make me

My scarf drawer, NYC

a minimalist.

 My NYC coffee table. Charlotte Moss’ Garden Inspirations and Piet Oudolf’s Humello are two of my fave garden books of the season. More on Charlotte at bottom of post.

If you see what I mean.

Despite my admiration for those who are. They also make me nervous. I wrote with gushing admiration last summer about Everything That Remains espousing a minimalist  lifestyle, but I had my disclaimers. I’m not 100% positive those guys would get that, yes, I actually do need twelve china patterns, thank you. Besides, most of them are just the dinner plates. That is totally minimal.

China cupboard, NYC

Few of us truly are minimalists or want to be, frankly; hence the trouble with tidying up and staying that way, which Kondo also addresses.

And yet, there are people who want nothing to do with it, and that is okay. They’re not going to buy the book anyway. If you have a minute and want to laugh out loud, read this  April 26 piece in the Financial Times, ”Minimalist v Maximalist,” by FT columnists Lucy Kellaway and David Tang, written in letter form after visiting each other’s houses.

I drastically paraphrase, but to give you an idea:

“Dear Sir David…thank you for showing me all three of your splendid London homes…I hope you won’t be hurt if I tell you I was relieved to get back to my own empty kitchen…sat quietly trying to collect myself…I had been warned that your approach to interior design was maximalist, but nothing prepared me for the sheer volume…Your wife tells me there is not room to unroll a yoga mat…I gathered you have five further houses…and three warehouses to store additional belongings…What is it all about?…What, I wonder…would happen if you gave your stuff the Kondo treatment?… Lucy

Minimalist vs. Maximalist in FT – Lucy Kellaway squares off with David Tang

My dear Lucy…First, I only have three more homes…thank you for showing me your own one home, whose manicured tidiness offered, I admit, a sense of calmness but also a feeling of tedium… confirmed to me your embrace of Kondo for her dubious principle of joy through decluttering. Doesn’t that make you a slave to possessions when possessions should be our slaves? … Also, as a Chinese, I have never really trusted the Japanese…Just think of the anti-climax of opening a large drawer only to find…a few rolled-up bundles of your husband’s monochromatic underpants… Stuff the Kondo… Masses of love, Sir Anthony Prise Wing-Cheung Tang, KBE, OBE etc etc

He has some points, and more in the full article. He also has more Goyard suitcases that Bergdorf Goodman, and strangely enough I don’t envy that.

Here’s another good, though not funny, article in the Wall Street Journal, and a YouTube video of Kondo with a translator.  She is so cute… “Today, I going to tell you how to change your life forever… I am crazy, tidy, fanatic.”

Now you, too, are crazy, tidy Kondo expert. 

Order the book via your local indie bookstore here, or Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. I look forward to hearing back from y’all on this.

P.S. If you are not busy Kondo-ing and are within a 50-mile radius of Long Island, please come to Madoo Gardens in Sagaponock and hear Charlotte Moss, Madoo director Alejandro Saralegui, and me carry on for a bit and have lunch with us afterward. David Tang’s got nothing on Charlotte, I tell you 😉  Saturday, June 20, at noon. Tix here.  Great house-and-garden shopping, too.


All endorsements in are non-remunerative.


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