Last year, I used Marie Kondo’s “KonMari Method” (from her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) to downsize my book and compact disc collections, as well as my closet. Then last month, I applied this simple but effective process to my jewelry box. There’s really something magical about gathering all our like items together, handling them one by one, and asking ourselves whether or not each item “sparks joy.” The beauty of Kondo’s method is that it places the focus on what to keep rather than what to get rid of.
The Next KonMari Project
I plan to “KonMari” my closet again soon, as almost a year has gone by, but I was inspired to tackle my bathroom first. Although I’ve done quite a bit of downsizing with my cosmetics, hair care products, and toiletries over the years, I still felt there was too much clutter and I experienced a sinking feeling every time I saw my cluttered shelves and cabinets. It just looked like a big mess and it drained me of energy that I could be applying to the things I want to accomplish in my day-to-day life. So last Saturday afternoon, I dug in and got the job done.
We have two bathrooms in our apartment, but this post will mostly focus on our master bath, which is where I spend the most time and had accumulated the most clutter. My husband and I “KonMari’ed” the second bath on Sunday and it probably took a third of the time as the main job. He resisted doing it at first, but is as happy as I am to have clear and visually pleasing bathrooms in which we know what we have and where to find it.
As our master bath is fairly small, the bulk of our items are stored on an over-the-toilet shelving unit which includes three shelves. These shelves accumulate a lot of dust and were difficult to clean with the sheer volume of toiletry items I was housing there. Here’s what that shelving unit looked like before KonMari:
There was no rhyme or reason to the placement of items on the shelves. Everything was just thrown on there and most of it was rarely or never used. The items that I did use were difficult to find because there was just so much there.
To go through my bathroom items, I did exactly as Marie Kondo recommends. I took everything down and placed it all on the floor. In addition to the items on the shelves pictured above, I also stored cosmetics and toiletries in two cabinets, a small drawer, and a small medicine cabinet. It all came out, dust and all, and was stacked on the floor. I wish I would have thought to take a photo of this scary sight, but you’ll just have to take my word for it now.
Because the “sparks joy” question doesn’t always produce a clear read for me, especially with more utilitarian items, I instead posed the question recommended by The Minimalists:
Does this add value to my life?”
What I Found
In more cases than not, my answer to that question was no. I was ashamed to see how many hair brushes I owned, as well as probably hundreds of hair ties, clips, and accessories. I had also stockpiled many hair products that I’d used only once or twice before setting them aside. I had fallen for clever marketing ploys that promised smooth, silky, Jennifer Aniston-like hair, but was dismayed to find that my hair continued to be frizzy, dry, and temperamental. While I do think some products are better than others, there is no “holy grail” that will restore my middle-aged hair to the enviable, lustrous mane that I possessed back in my twenties and thirties. For that, I would need a fairy godmother – or a wig!
Likewise, I came across countless lipsticks, make-up brushes, skin care products, and cosmetic samples, many of which had long passed their sell-by dates. While I didn’t use these products, someone could have, but they didn’t get that chance because of my pack-rat nature and tendency to hold onto things “just in case.” Now, I had to throw many of these things in the garbage can rather than passing them on to someone who would have been thrilled to receive them.
Yes, there are places to which we can donate our partially used hair-care products and cosmetics. I learned about one such place years ago from a former client. It’s a battered women’s and homeless shelter in Downtown San Diego. In addition to accepting my myriad toiletry discards, they also happily take bras, underwear, and socks that would otherwise end up in a landfill. I’m sure there are similar charities in many large cities around the United States and in other countries. It’s an option worth exploring for those who buy a lot of cosmetic items that don’t work out but cannot be returned.
I ended up with three bags of items to pass along for donation. If I would have taken the time to “KonMari” my bathroom a year or two earlier, I’m sure it would have been five bags or more, but a lot of items ended up in the trash can instead. Maybe my waste can be a wake-up call for some of you to keep on top of your bathroom clutter. As for me, I intend to do better in the future and keep things under control.
Here’s a look at the items I let go of in my bathroom last weekend:
While I found a lot of things that didn’t spark joy or add value to my life, I also unearthed items that I’d forgotten I owned but can use moving forward. In some cases, I discovered many like items that I kept buying because I didn’t realize I already had a stockpile going. I found four bottles of Frizz-Ease serum and seven shower “puffs” (I don’t know what they’re actually called!) in various colors and sizes. I guess I won’t need to buy any of these for a while!
They are now stored in a plastic bin for easy access and so I’ll know when it’s time to replenish my supply (probably not for a year or two at this point!).
What It Looks Like Now
After I decided what I wanted to keep, it was then time to organize it all in the cabinets and drawer and on the shelves. I opted to store hair products on the top shelf of the over-the-toilet unit (with some additional items being kept in a plastic bin in one of the cabinets), skin care items and cosmetics on the middle shelf (and some in the drawer and in front of the mirror), and miscellaneous items on the bottom shelf and in the under the sink cabinet.
Here’s what the bathroom shelving unit looks like now:
It’s now much easier to find things and I’ve even used some products that I had completely neglected previously. There are a few hair products that I wasn’t sure whether or not to keep, but I’ve placed those front and center so I can try them as soon as possible and make a decision on them. I will likely head over to the donation location in the next week or two (the bags are already in the trunk of my car), so I can add any additional cast-offs prior to that time.
The entire process took less than two hours to complete and it was well worth it. I now smile and feel light and happy when I look at my bathroom. The heavy and anxious feelings are gone and have been replaced by… joy and lightness of being. I know it may sound silly, but having a cleaner bathroom has resulted in my having a clearer mind. It motivates me to continue using the KonMari Method in the rest of my home, as I still feel very stagnant and stuck in my life. The answers to some big life questions evade me, but I feel that if I can free up some energy by decluttering my surroundings (as well as doing journaling, which I recently resumed doing most days), I will gain clarity in time.
I feel like downsizing our homes – and our wardrobes – is like peeling an onion. We may think we’ve done it all, but there is often more to be done. I’ve already started to “KonMari” my closet, but I got a bit derailed this week due to some feelings that came up for me during the process. I plan to finish that process this month, as well as start to tackle my office, files, storage boxes, and online data. It may take months until I’m done, but I feel motivated to complete the job, at least for now. Although Marie Kondo says that her clients have only had to use her process once, I suspect that I will at least need a “booster shot” of KonMari from time to time. That’s okay, as I have seen the benefits and they are worth it!
Now it’s time for you to offer your input. If you’ve used the KonMari Method (or another type of decluttering process) for your bathroom, closet, or any other part of your home and would like to share your experience, I welcome your doing so. I’m also open to any questions or comments you have for me.
Thank you and have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back soon with more posts on wardrobe management, shopping, personal style, and other topics, including some thoughts on my balance goal for the year and my upcoming milestone birthday (just three months away now…). In the meantime, I invite you to check out my post archive, where you can browse past articles by month or topic or search for keywords. I have written more than 350 posts now, so there’s a good chance I have shared thoughts on subjects of interest for you.