This week my daughter Kelsey shares the blog with me as we fondly reminisce about her recent move and how the KonMari Method(™) helped make the whole thing a lot easier. Here are some of our thoughts (mine are italicized), and some ideas that might help if you’re planning a move or have been recruited to help someone else with the task.
I’ve dreamed of having my own home since I was 12 years old. I drew floor plans and pulled pages out of Better Homes and Gardens while my peers were collecting Pokemon cards and gel pens. I never missed an episode of Trading Spaces and I probably rearranged the furniture in my room (and the rest of the house when I could get away with it) every week.
So after a recent promotion, when I did the math and realized I could afford a place of my own, I jumped at the chance. (I’ve been sharing apartments with roommates since I moved to Chicago a couple years ago.) No more asking anyone’s permission when I want to move the furniture! What a DREAM! I found a place that is almost too good to be true - a petite one bedroom on the North side, across the street from a Mexican restaurant called Disco Taco, a block from a tai chi studio, and two blocks from a coffee shop with a militant commitment to composting: in other words, my total nirvana.
It’s a gorgeous, light-filled, darling place in a lovely, SAFE neighborhood. I’m so happy!
Me too! Sorry to tell the rest of you, but the #1 best tip I have for making a move in a mindful, KonMari way is to have a family member who’s a Konmari consultant. And make sure it’s a family member who’s close enough that you don’t feel too guilty asking for free advice at weird times of the night. I called my mom anytime I got stuck (“But HOW do I get RID of things??”), and it was a real boon.
Since Kelsey was the one who encouraged me to become a KonMari Consultant, giving her a bit of free advice is a small price to pay for the way she cheered me on through the certification process. Plus, what mom doesn’t like giving her daughter free advice? A secondary consideration was that since our family was going to be doing the actual moving, the less of her stuff we had to pack and lug around the better.
Even if your mom isn’t a professional organizer, you can still move with the KonMari Method in mind. It made the move a hundred times better than I expected. And, shocker, there weren’t any new revelations or discoveries, just slightly different shades of some Konmari-101 principles:
imagine your ideal life
finish discarding before you pack
pack by category
find a place for everything
ask yourself if it sparks joy.
Here’s how I used the KonMari Method™ to make moving a joyful process:
1. Imagine your ideal life
I signed the lease to my new place an unprecedented month and a half in advance. I spent a lot of time during the it’s-too-soon-to-pack-for-real waiting period just daydreaming about the apartment. I trawled the “house” pinterest board I’ve been collecting for years. I read chirpy articles on Apartment Therapy about how to maximize space in small apartments. I said things like, “I will happy-cry every single day for the rest of my life if I don’t have to store anything under the bed.”
She was doing what I have all my clients do before beginning their tidying journey. She was imagining her ideal life. I can’t stress how important this step is before you begin.
Once I came up with a concrete vision for my new place, decision making became 100 times easier. I dreamed of:
A calm, restful atmosphere and color palette
Her last apartment had a different color on each wall and all of the chairs were shockingly bright as well. It was very cute, but after looking at her Pinterest board she realized she wanted something calmer. She lives a hectic life with a full time job as a graphic designer and often performs in several shows a week. Coming home to a place that’s peaceful and relaxing is so good for her mentally.
Nothing stored under the bed or couch
Smart organization that supports my routines
Such an important thing to think about. Make it as easy as possible to keep your home tidy.
Only having objects around me that I truly love, even the practical ones
The KonMari Method totally supports this by encouraging you to make sure anything you keep or bring into your home sparks joy.
Really visualizing how I wanted to walk into my new life in a new space turned out to be an amazing opportunity to truly crystallize what sparks joy for me.
Beautifully said. Love this. So proud!
2. Finish discarding first (but raise the stakes)
Deciding whether or not something sparks joy becomes much more significant when you add “does this spark enough joy for me and my loved ones to heave it up 3 floors?”
Before we could heave stuff up 3 floors (30 steps,) we had to drag it down 2 floors (19 steps - yep I counted) and halfway down the block at her old apartment. I was so thankful Kel went through her things before she packed. She had a clothing swap and gave away some other household things that she really didn’t love in the weeks leading up to the move, which meant fewer boxes for us.
3. Pack by category
When I packed, I pulled everything out from every cabinet and drawer and corralled them into one area by category. It made it easy to pack the boxes when all the items from each category were collected first, rather than packing room by room. This cut down enormously on “misc” boxes filled with odds and ends, or mixing different categories of objects together. And that in turn made unpacking waaaay easier.
Amen to that! Packing by category means you can see at a glance if you have duplicates of things you don’t need and let go of them before you pack and move them. She did such a great job on this. Once we got all her boxes into her new place, any of us could open a box and immediately know where to put things away. Plus she wrote encouraging notes on the book boxes so we’d have something to read as we stumbled up the last few steps on each trip.
I can’t recommend this highly enough: if you can borrow or rent plastic bins for your move, do it. I borrowed bins from a friend, and when (inevitably) I did find a stray object that had been forgotten (because ya girl is human), I didn’t have to cut open a packed box (and let’s be real, I'm not going to re-open boxes, that is absolutely not happening). I simply popped open the bin and tossed the prodigal tea saucer in! It was wonderful.
Genius! Check in your area for moving bin rental companies.
Also, big plastic bins enabled me to lift my konmari-folded clothes out of the drawer and into the bins, and then right back into the drawer. No tedious “time to refold this avalanche of clothes” party because I threw everything into plastic bags.
4. Don’t buy new things immediately
In a very uncharacteristic display of wisdom and patience, I told myself I would wait to make purchases for my new home until after I’d lived there for a while and observed how I actually use the space. I had a gluttonous list of organizing things and furniture I thought I would need before I moved in (floor mirrors! So many rugs! A chaise lounge, perhaps?)– but, after living here and moving stuff around, I realized I didn’t want many of those thing after all. I already had almost all the furniture and organizing supplies I needed.
Marie Kondo advises not buying new organizing tools – like boxes and bins – midway through your tidying journey, because by the end of your work you often find that you had everything you needed already. It’s magic.
So far I’ve bought dining room chairs (because I had none) and a new bed frame (because the old one was falling apart and a little too big for the new bedroom.) And even then, I waited. I knew exactly which IKEA bed frame I was eyeing, but I got into the new room and made sure it would work before I bought it. And, even though the chairs I bought were only $15, I only got a couple to start with to make sure I liked how they looked and felt in the room before I bought more.
Waiting this way has prevented me from buying green velvet love seats that wouldn’t have fit and saved me a bundle of money.
Don’t forget the red velvet chaise lounges.
5. Does it spark joy?
Moving from a shared home with 2 roommates to a solo place meant getting a lot of practical items – measuring cups, soap, a cheese grater – for myself for the first time. And, so far, I’ve made sure that every single item sparks joy. Especially with cleaning products. I was tempted to get the cheapest, easiest options for everything – but then I imagined my future self using those products for months and months. Why not pick dishwashing liquid and all purpose spray that I genuinely love? (Turns out, what I genuinely love is for every cleaning substance I own to be lavender scented. Every single one. Even toilet cleaner.)
And also, for more permanent objects - like measuring cups - it won’t be months and months but YEARS and YEARS that I’ll be using those objects. Buying “eh, it’s okay” things, instead of things that I really love just leads to regret and probably repurchasing in the future. Holding out for measuring cups I love has meant using mason jars in the meantime.
Once you get in the habit of identifying the things that spark joy for you, you’ll become a much more discriminating shopper. It’s not unusual for us to leave stores empty-handed because we aren’t in a rush to settle for things that don’t spark joy.
bonus tip: Say thank you
I’m a week and a half into living in my new apartment. I still can’t always open the front door on the first try, but all the boxes are unpacked and things are put away. I’m making adjustments as I figure out what works best in my new place, and I truly feel like I’m firmly on a path towards a happy, clean, joy-sparking solo dwelling.
Trying to be aggressively KonMari with this move honestly affected how I feel about my space and objects. I’m cleaner than before. Since I’m surrounded only by things that have joyful associations, I want to store and display them carefully. I MAKE MY BED??? I feel deeply thankful for the wonderful things I own, and for the space I get to live in. I’m thankful for friends and family who helped me move, and whose love is reflected back to me from every corner of my home.
And, gosh darn it, I’m thankful for Marie Kondo and her life-changing magic!! Can I get an ARIGATO????
Arigato Marie Kondo! Kelsey makes her bed!
Kelsey Fehlberg is the Digital Marketing Designer at Moody Publishers and daughter of Sue Fehlberg, Arkansas’ only Certified KonMari Consultant. She also performs improv comedy frequently at the Second City, and iO in Chicago.