When Everything Vintage Sparks Joy - Marie Kondo for Maximalist Decor
My Experience with the KonMari Method
Everyone who knows me knows that I LOVE stuff. I am known for maximalist decor (the opposite of a minimalist) and I prefer to surround myself in a cocoon of treasures. So it may come as a surprise that Marie Kondo’s message really resonates with me.
I first read Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up around 2014. I was attracted to the book because I was constantly moving-I’ve lived in 8 apartments over the past decade! I figured if Marie Kondo’s Konmari Method could help me ditch some stuff before my next move then her book was worth the money. Like most things that are trendy I expected she wouldn’t live up to the hype. But now after reading the book and binging the Netflix show I am a true Konmari Method believer.
Why do some vintage lover’s hate Marie Kondo?
I think many people who take issue with Marie Kondo simply aren’t comprehending the message behind her motto “spark joy.” In a nutshell Kondo’s approach to decluttering, referred to as the KonMari method, requires you to tidy all in one go by sorting by item rather than location. Instead of decluttering room by room Kondo recommends gathering all “like” items from their various locations around the house and putting them all in one pile.
The most visual example from her Netflix show is when the homeowners empty all of their closets and drawers into a massive clothing mountain. Most people are shocked by how many garments they actually own. From there, each item of clothing is to be picked up and physically handled to determine if it “sparks joy.” This feeling is difficult to define but if you are in the right mindset you will be able to recognize it. After that, Kondo has very specific ways of folding clothing that I actually found really useful. I never truly learned to fold clothes efficiently but now I get to be proud of myself when I can quickly find that specific vintage Harley Davidson shirt I want to wear.
This process will be repeated with all of your belongings. Kondo’s method also requires participants to tidy in the following order: clothing, books, papers (mail, bills, etc), miscellaneous junk drawer stuff (she calls this komono), and finally sentimental items.
Maximalist Decor vs the Limits of Space
As a vintage seller I am frequently bringing new items into my home. Almost every weekend my husband and I drive around to local estate sales and thrift stores. We pack our little Prius to the brim with items I intend to sell on DDVintage.com as well as goodies for our new home (we just purchased our first place so my constant moving days are behind me!). We’ve left some great finds at the sales simply due to the limits of our trunk space. The eternal struggle of a vintage seller is letting go of the amazing things you find. Let’s face it, maximalist decor is pretty much a given for we lovers of vintage.
People always say to me “I can’t believe you’re selling that!” and indeed it is difficult to part with many of my weekend scores. This is where KonMari comes in. Kondo has helped me learn to give myself boundaries (how many sets of Mid Century glassware does one couple actually need?!) and get real about my space constraints. Additionally, I’ve come to the happy realization that by selling rare vintage items I have the ability to spark joy in my customers. Basically, I’ve trained myself to make the act of selling an item spark more joy than keeping it.
The New KonMari Method for Vintage Lovers
I have A LOT of stuff and I feel zero pressure from Marie Kondo to purge it. Here’s a breakdown of how Kondo changed my relationship to my belongings. I’m using the order of her preferred category method, but with the addition of my own category, Recently Acquired Vintage:
Recently Acquired Vintage items are evaluated like this: Does this spark so much joy that I feel regret even considering selling it? If so, its a keeper. Everything else is added to DDV inventory to spark joy in someone else’s life. I also frequently reevaluate my items to see if the joy is still strong. Sometimes, I hold on to something for 6 months- 1 year before deciding to let it go.
- Clothing: I discovered that I was holding on to clothing that reminded me of a particularly happy time in my life, but in reality I had no desire to wear again. I had to de-program my thinking from “I LOVE this dress” to “I LOVED this dress 5 years ago, but my style has changed.” At the end of the process I had a much more curated closet and several bags full of clothing for the consignment shop. While I like clothes my real passion is vintage jewelry. Marie Kondo inspired me to organize it so I can actually find what I'm looking for. I'm not ashamed to say I devote an entire dresser to my collection.
Books: Recently, novelist Anakana Schofield lost her shit over the idea of purging books tweeting “Do NOT listen to Marie Kondo or Konmari in relation to books. Fill your apartment & world with them. I don’t give a shite if you throw out your knickers and Tupperware but the woman is very misguided about BOOKS. Every human needs a v extensive library not clean, boring shelves.”
To this I say GIRL CALM DOWN. Clearly, your books are sparking all the joy. Anyone fluent in the language of KonMari would tell Schofield to keep her extensive book collection. (In fact, Marie Kondo did tell her that.) Schofield is a novelist and thus probably has an illustrious collection of books. Unlike me…part of my book purge was a vintage How To Sell Vintage on the Internet book. It was so old it was pre- Etsy! Not useful or even interesting. Now, I’m left with a collection that includes art, research, and family heirloom books. I love to read, but now I use my kindle or listen to audiobooks.
Papers: I hate paper. I used this as an excuse to throw away a pile of mail with barely a 2nd look. I’m sure it’s fine… Next!
Komono (miscellaneous): Junk drawers typically hold things like extra batteries, pencils, etc. These are things that can be tough to get rid of because even though this stuff rarely sparks joy it does cost money and if you ever find yourself needing a big ole D battery you’ll be glad you didn’t get rid of it. Kondo’s advice is if you have no immediate need for it then let it go. If you do need it in the future you can always buy it again. Most likely, you won’t need it and ditching it will free up valuable space. I threw away a sandwich bag of mystery keys. Old apartment keys? Bike locks? who knows? GOOD BYE.
- Sentimental items: Kondo saves this category for last because she anticipates it will be the most emotional and thus will take the longest. I sort of cheated my way out of this one tbh. The few sentimental items that I’ve made the effort to move from my hometown in Florida up to Brooklyn have already passed the “spark joy” test (for example, the below painting done by grandmother). HOWEVER, there are still a fair amount of items at my parent’s house that I’m glad they’re not pressuring me to deal with!
Learning to Purge Guilt
Marie K also gave me permission to rid myself of things I was keeping out of guilt. It was a surprising amount of stuff! I allowed myself to let go of gifts I wasn’t really into and items I was holding onto because I spent “a lot” of money on them. Kondo says the purpose of gifts is to receive them and appreciate the sentiment. Whether you keep it or purge it is irrelevant. Kondo also says to let go of items you feel financial guilt about- clothes you never wore, kitchen appliances you barely used, etc. These items served the purpose of teaching you what doesn’t work for you. I learned that I’m not really into zoodles (zucchini noodles). Good bye vegetable spiralizer I used only once!
Overall, I think the KonMari method is great for maximalists like myself. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in your home, but if your belongings spark joy and/or serve a purpose in your life then your home can truly be your sanctuary. For further proof that you can be a Kondohead and still have tons of stuff take a good look at the accompanying pics of my (organized) hoard!
If you need more convincing that Marie Kondo is actually good for the maximalism movement see the below viral meme :)