I’ve now watched all of the episodes of the Marie Kondo series on Netflix, and I’ve been reading many of the reviews and articles that the show has spawned in the media, and there are a few things that are just not jiving with me…
In the de-cluttering of a whole house, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on folding clothes and arranging stuff in drawers — how is it that everything beyond clothes, books, papers, and sentimental items falls into one category? Spices, power tools, and computer cables are all together? This is the case in Kondo’s books as well, and it always felt weird to me, especially since people tend to buy things like cosmetics and food with a similar “instant gratification” mentality that they have to clothes and books.
Perhaps there’s more that we’re missing in the process, due to editing of the video, but de-cluttering is, first and foremost, based on hard logic. Does this fit? If not, get rid of it. Does it need repairs, re-dying, or a complete overhaul to be usable and is there a reasonable expectation that the person will actually make those repairs? Will it honestly be used again (for instance a book that was read once and not particularly enjoyed)? I didn’t really see this process, nor did Kondo really seem to promote it, favouring her “spark joy” philosophy that really allows people to keep all the broken, ripped, faded, ratty, and useless crap in their lives just because they still love it.
Kondo has softened her “just get rid of it stance” a bit for the series, with many reviews emphasizing the fact that she seems pretty laid back about not judging people for their stuff or wanting to keep it. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s not exactly the same sentiment the book was based on.
The idea of expressing gratitude to your belongings can seem a bit kooky at first, but it’s actually something we should be doing all the time, not just as we’re getting rid of an item. This is far easier to do when you are able to pare your belongings down to things that you love using or having around you, so you experience joy every day because of the things in your life.
I screamed out loud in horror as I watched Kondo put a fitted sheet on the floor in order to demonstrate how to fold it. What the actual fucking fuck? Two thoughts immediately came into my head during this segment; first, generations of mothers and grandmothers making that “tsk” noise, both at Kondo’s placing a clean sheet on the floor (!!!) and the fact that most people don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet; and second, could I somehow turn this into an opportunity to offer classes to teach people how to properly fold a fitted sheet (that didn’t involve throwing it on the floor, or using a flat surface at all… Yes, I can actually do this. Yes, I am a witch). My method involves a puppet show, if that helps…
In the spirit of Miriam (“Don’t say ‘like’, dear, it makes you look ignorant”) Margoyles, I would like to offer a language de-cluttering course. I would offer this for free to the woman in episode one, who dropped 4 or 5 “likes” into every sentence. Cluttered speech is as bad as a cluttered home.
De-cluttering is well and good but would be mostly unnecessary if people didn’t feel the need to buy so much stuff in the first place. Folding shirts nicely in response to a shopaholic/hoarding problem is a bit like sticking a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. Dealing with the psychological why of accumulation doesn’t make for terribly enthralling TV, of course, unless you hired someone to follow the shopaholic to the mall and jump out at them from behind the sales racks yelling, “You don’t need that, Barb! You know you don’t need that! Put it back!” (Yes, you’re damned right I want to host this show.)
I was also a bit disappointed at the follow-up in terms of what the guests were meant to do with their stuff once they decided it no longer sparked joy. Some episodes showed participants dropping off items at local charities, but not all. And there was no point in Kondo’s sorting process, in any of the episodes, where we clearly saw participants sorting stuff into sections of donate/trash/sell. I presume this did happen, but it should have been more prominent. (And the guy with the massive collection of sneakers could likely have sold many of the pairs in his collections as “vintage” and made back some of the $10,000 of debt he accumulated buying all those sneakers he never wore.)
I binge-watched most of the series one afternoon when I was immobilized by a migraine, and it mostly left me feeling really dissatisfied. To be fair, I did go refold all the clothes in my dresser drawers, but I don’t feel that Kondo’s system is truly comprehensive in terms of a start-to-finish whole-house purge that deals with both the reasons for the clutter and what to do with the stuff you’re getting rid of.
And I’m happy to demonstrate to her how to properly fold a fitted sheet while standing up anytime she’d like to learn.
One of the important parts of adulting is knowing the how, when and why of keeping things clean. When I recently posted to Facebook about steam cleaning my sofa I got an incredulous reply from a friend exclaiming that they didn’t even know you could do such a thing, and please would I explain how.
So let’s start with the fact that all fabric things around your house get dirty. Or at least dusty. Here at House O’ Fits, things such as curtains, throw cushion covers, table runners and bed spreads get laundered on a quarterly basis. I use the change of season (solstices and equinoxes) as my calendar guide. Linens that are more delicate or harder to dry, especially if they don’t come in direct contact with skin/hair or pets (things such as pillows, feather duvets and feather or wool mattress pads) generally get washed annually. (Yes, I said washed… I totally wash my feather linens and put them in a dryer – they turn out fine.)
But what about carpets, rugs or fabric-covered furniture?
Dudes, these should also be cleaned. Not constantly, but at least somewhat regularly.
I’m betting that if you’re one of those folks who make New Year’s resolutions, somewhere on your list is a variation of “get organized/tidy house”. Tidy houses are great things – they allow you to find things easily, move about freely, and be less stressed by clutter, but even with resolutions they are often hard to achieve.
Kondo’s advice includes things like discarding any item that doesn’t “spark joy” and thinking of your belongings as having a soul. There’s a whole lot of talking to your stuff in this system – “thank you tea towel, for making my dishes dry…” that is kind of hokey and unnecessary, but the idea of having a sense of respect for your belongings, and taking care of them, makes a lot of sense.
I’m all up in the mid-century modern decor lately, and I’ve been on the look-out for amazing lamps, ideally in great condition.
This baby jumped out at me during a visit to Mrs. Huizenga (28 Roncesvalles Avenue) recently and I decided on the spot that it had to come home with me. At a reasonable $45, I overlooked the few small scratches in the swirly black wood part and touched them up easily with a marker when I got it home.
For some reason I’d never been into Mrs. Huizenga on Roncy before, but after this visit, it will be a regular destination on my “looking for awesome things” list. Everything is very nicely curated and arranged, prices are very reasonable, and staff were very accommodating (we had seen the lamp early in the day on our way to te Roncesvalles Polish Festival and returned at near-closing to grab it). It’s a full gamut vintage store with not just furniture and housewares but clothes and accessories as well.
Why is it awesome? Oh my god, look at it. 2nd best lamp ever! (I’ve got another awesome lamp in the queue that is slightly more awesome. Maybe. It could be a toss-up.)
Something happened last week that has weirded me out and I can’t seem to shake it. Greg and I ran into an acquaintance on the streetcar who happens to live in the basement apartment of the house we lived in for 12 years, up until 2006 when, due to the negligence of the landlord, I fell in the front walkway and broke my arm.
Despite eventually moving to a smaller place in a highrise building and no longer having a big old Edwardian mansion (with a huge back yard) to call home, we ended up much happier, if only because we no longer had to deal with said landlord and his utter refusal to fix anything unless absolutely necessary. While the house was cosmetically beautiful, there were rotten joists, no insulation, century-old single-pane windows, squirrels in the attic, and because the landlord converted a cellar to a basement apartment illegally (as in, he never got a building permit, and paid a bunch of illegal immigrants less than minimum wage to do the work that wasn’t up to code… not to mention that he’s never paid property tax on the basement unit), some serious issues with black mold that had spread through the crumbling walls.
When we first moved into this apartment, we weren’t sure how long we’d stay. I was not keen on the idea of apartment living, and we were still considering buying a house – this was to be a test to see if we could live in a condo without going insane. So we bought a cheap sofa, figuring we’d get another one if/when we moved again. It wasn’t ever very comfortable; I migrated to a chair rather quickly when I discovered that the angle of the seat on the sofa made my leg go numb.The cat shredded the arms, and a certain little brown dog pretty much claimed the thing as her own.
Four years later, we’re still here, after realizing that we could live in an apartment but that most condos won’t allow our large dogs. Four years later, and we really needed a new sofa.
We splurged on what we’ve called “our first grown-up sofa” – a stylish green loveseat that looks like it should be on the set of Mad Men. Other than the fact that the seat is a little deep for me and I need an ottoman (when we checked it out I was wearing boots that make me 2 inches taller; my feet touched the floor fine in the store, not so much at home), we like it very much.
Tula, however, while she likes it fine now, was not especially pleased with the transition.
Bringing new meaning to “curling up in a chair”. Still not impressed.
Dog and blanket installed on new sofa. “I guess this will do.”
Yes, that is exactly what it looks like. A black and silver Christmas tree – one of two types available at Honest Ed’s in Toronto. This one, at 7 feet and $99, is the nicer of the two, but even the 5 foot version at $59.99 was pretty cute (no twigs or pine cones on the smaller one). There was a time when I’d have killed for this puppy. Even now, years after my Goth phase has passed, I stood in the store going “Eeeeee!!!!” and fondling the silver-tipped branches.
It would be either a joy or a complete pain in the ass to decorate – finding lights on a black wire would be near impossible unless you shelled out the big bucks and bought them from a window-display place like Visualizer.
But imagine the tree decorated in silver, red and purple, with all the little Goths gathered around it on Christmas morning, hoping that Sandy Claws had left them a Sisters of Mercy CD, or a pair of bondage pants, or a new cape, or maybe a gift certificate to one of those fancy dentistry clinics where they give you fangs… it would be the best Christmas EVAH!