Sunday, March 28, 2021

KonMari Method Part 3: Clothing and Komono (Miscellaneous Items)

In an earlier post, I discussed decluttering my clothes and shoes using the KonMari Method. That went well. My clothing items have more room in my closet; everything in there is something that I want to wear and that I feel good wearing. There were so many items that I wore but felt uncomfortable in or thought made me look frumpy. Now I love my entire wardrobe.

This time, I tackled the last component of the clothing category; my jewelry. 


It was easier to do this group because a lot of my jewelry never got worn. Over the years, I had accumulated a lot of cheap jewelry; nothing has been more than $12 for a pair of earrings. 

As you can see above, I didn't have one dedicated jewelry box; instead, I had things in multiple opaque containers. I rotated and wore a small selection of my earrings because they were convenient to get to instead of searching for other options. My goal is to wear my favorites more often.

When it came to discarding items, the first things to go were the three lone earrings (seen at the top middle above) since I never found their mates, then any pairs that were missing stones or pieces, and then any gifted ones that were never my style. Why keep things you don't wear?

The next step was the items that I appreciated but never wore, like bracelets. I love the idea (and mine were lovely), but if they're not the ones that slip on, no deal. I have no patience for tricky clasps.

Donations to Goodwill

Note that there are bar hair clips in the donation box; my hair has been too short for those since 2002.

I will probably paint the base at some point.

I ended up with ten pairs of earrings that I love and most of my necklaces. I have all my necklaces displayed hanging on my bulletin boards. I bought an earring display rack online, so now I can see all my choices every day and make a point of putting them back right after wearing them.

Komomo (Miscellaneous Items)

These last two groups technically belong to Komono, the KonMari miscellaneous category, but they were right there while working on my closet, and I couldn't wait!

Marie defines Komono as "small articles, accessories, small tools, spare parts." Things such as spare batteries, novelty keychains, conference lanyards, leftover medicines, that stuff that seems to stay around even after it has served its purpose. Things in this category include such varied sub-categories as Accessories, Cosmetics, Toiletries, CDs, DVDs, Electrical Equipment and Appliances, Valuables, Household Equipment, Kitchen Goods, and Others.


As part of my apparent "keep ALL The Things forever" collection, I have all my unused and broken eyeglasses since 2002, including those missing lenses or a temple arm. Oh, why, Lisa, why

I found that I can drop off the working pairs for recycling at any Walmart Vision Center, but they will not take the broken ones.


Another quick and easy category to complete was cosmetics. I threw away any old makeup and the slow-moving and dried-out nail polishes. I rounded up my empty MAC lipsticks, hoping for enough to take advantage of their free lipstick recycling program, but I need to have six. 

I had stored my cosmetics in one tiny overstuffed zippered pouch and several clear Ziploc bags for years, and it was messy and unorganized. I now have my makeup contained in this new organizer I bought from Target.



It turns out that I also had a problem with "self-care" items. I had masses of Shout wipes, throat lozenges, Q-tips, opened makeup sponge packages, shampoo samples from magazines, and "just-in-case" medicines such as nasal allergy spray, gas pain medication, and prescription pain relief. As usual, I stored everything in multiple containers in several locations.

Expired products and medications

Because so many things were separated and boxed away, I never used them. For example, the dried-out Shout pen and wipes and the expired medications; I found things five years and more past expiration!

I moved most of these to the bathroom cabinet where they belong and the rest to a clear storage container that I can easily access.

Final Observations

If I can't see something, I will forget that I have it. That was true in a crowded closet when I had more than one item stacked on a hanger. It was also true with shoes or jewelry stored in covered boxes or containers.

Therefore, my storage strategy for everything in. the future will involve less packaging, increased visibility, and easy accessibility for all my declutter categories.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Konmari Method Part 2: Books and Papers

Books are the next category to tackle in the KonMari method.

All of my books arranged on the floor


This category surprised me. If you asked me how many fiction books I owned, I would say around 10, and I would be correct. I strongly believe in the public library system, so I rarely buy books. The ones that I do own are ones that I have read more than once: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the novels of Jane Austen, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Devil in the White City, Perfume, Auntie Mame, etc.

However, when it comes to my nonfiction and instructional books, the number shocked me. Now, I knew that I owned A LOT of sewing books, more than twenty-five. Also, several books on historical fashion, fashion designers, Hollywood costume design, and one book on "female etiquette and charm" from the 1960s. Whoa.

But I had also held onto old art and historical preservation textbooks, books I had received in exchange for book reviews on my blogs, and of course, any books given as gifts. There were so many books! It never occurred to me how many I had because they were in several places; some had been in storage since I moved six years ago. As Marie says in her book, it IS crucial to see what you own to keep track of it. 

A stack of books I chose to give away.

Well, I was able to get rid of quite a few of them:

  • The fiction books that I would not be reading again.
  • Woefully outdated job search books.
  • Fussy cookbooks that I never used.
  • Self-help books that others had given me to be "helpful."

I also kept three books that I will offer to specific friends I think might like them.

Moving on to Category three, it was time to gather all the paper documents I had around the house.


Wow, this category for me was immense. I believe in paper ephemera of all kinds! I also seem to love documenting occasions with facts and dated material. However, there were many things that I kept for far too long: 

  • Copies of filed tax documents. (I had my very first 1040EZ form from 1989!).
  • Pay stubs from jobs going back to the 1990s. 
  • My essays and research papers from junior high and college.
  • College class report cards.
  • Performance reviews from all my past jobs!
  • Old credit reports 
  • Checkbooks registers from 1998 till the present.
I found a U-Haul contract from a storage space I had for only four months in 2004!  For years, I would keep track of my monthly bill paying with my statements and receipts in several 13-pocket check file folders. Each year I would fill up another one, only throwing out stuff when I needed an empty one for a new year. I should have been throwing away each year's contents once I did my taxes for that year.

The big question is, why was I holding on to all this stuff, year after year? Even the IRS suggests keeping only seven years of documents for possible audits. However, I was keeping THIRTY years' worth!

I stashed a lot of documents in several mismatched containers; however, the three black file cases were my "official" repositories and held the rest:

  1. Product warranties, apartment leases, car insurance documents, auto maintenance, and health records
  2. All clippings about fashion, movies, home decor, and planning details from the weddings I helped plan, basically, my hard copy Pinterest. There were clippings in there from high school in the late 1980s.

I ended up shredding five full trash bags worth of stuff! Most of these things were many years past their value to me. I was shocked and a bit disgusted. Don't let this happen to you, do not tie yourself down like this.

This fireproof safe held critical documents like the title to my car, my passport, social security card, and birth certificate. However, there were also disposable things, like the afore-mentioned check registers and paperwork from the car I sold over two years ago. Yup, again, "What you don't see, you don't keep track of."

Check registers are OUT, and a handmade book I made in eighth grade is IN.

Much more space is available, and I kept the me-made book.

Marie's belief on paper is to Discard Everything! After my shredding chronicles, I may agree. As she said, short of personal cards and letters, you should discard most paper documents. I agree that you can remove most financial papers after a year. When it comes to taxes, those medical receipts you added up for health expenses can go in the trash the second you add that total to your taxes.

View of all the paper found in my house.

Last but not least is a picture of how I stored all the paper in my house. These multiple types of storage boxes held various documents, articles, college admission and loan paperwork, financial records, examples of event and conference materials from old jobs, correspondence, greeting cards, and loose photographs. I now have these pared down to the three portable file boxes, the fireproof safe, two dedicated boxes for photos, stationery, and another one for personal letters and cards (which I will deal with in the last category, Sentimental Items.)

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The 2019 Bathroom Makeover Update

After writing up and documenting the kitchen project, I decided to do the same for the first house project I did, the guest bathroom. 

My initial goal was to paint over the loud tangerine paint that practically screamed at you from the walls. I found a warm white paint that coordinated with the unusual taupe wall tile. I also primed and painted the outdated builder's grade oak vanity cabinet and mirror. After first searching for a darker taupe or driftwood color, I instead chose a gorgeous, rich green to make it the room's focal point. The last step was painting some of the picture frames to hide that they were not in the best condition.

The wall paint had matched the orange border in this artwork.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Trying the KonMari Method - Clothing (A Maker Version)

As the old year* ended, I needed to lighten my load, eliminate the clutter (physically and emotionally), and prepare for bringing light and calm into my life. So, I decided to consult Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I had watched her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo earlier last year and felt inspired to go through my clothes. However, I did not follow her tried and true method as written. I gained a bit of space, yes, but there was no real catharsis or clarity.

Recently, I noticed people mentioning a new Netflix show, Get Organized with The Home Edit. I found it more like a commercial for the Container Store. There was no real thought about why they had all this stuff or if you should keep it. Instead, the emphasis was on the cute products to put it all in for visual aesthetics. Watching it, I felt uninspired by some of their storage solutions, especially when they displayed Reese Witherspoon's movie wardrobe and memorabilia. Working in a museum and being familiar with textiles and restoration, their decisions made me nervous. However, it did make me return to Marie Kondo's wisdom and her KonMari method of decluttering.

Confession time, months ago, I picked up her first book at a thrift store but still had not read it. So I originally started this undertaking only knowing the "Cliff Notes" version. The plan was to catch up on my reading as I went along.

According to her book, Marie believes you should move through your belongings in this order: Clothing, Books, Papers, Miscellaneous, and Sentimental objects. 

Clothing is first because, in her years of practice, she considers it the easiest one. Obviously, she has not worked with many Makers


Initial Observations:

Some of the items in my closet are clothing that my mother or I made DECADES ago!

1. They were made for a high school-size Lisa and will never fit again. 

2. They are no longer my style or in the colors that I wear. I mean, there was an iridescent pink ball gown skirt in there!

3. They were items that I was incredibly proud of and wanted to remember.

When I first started sewing clothes in the 1980s, that's how I spent most of my free time. I was fascinated by clothing construction and frequently attempted ambitious projects such as Issey Miyake and Karl Lagerfeld Vogue designer patterns, lined garments, bound buttonholes, the pad-stitching of a tailored jacket, and working with sheer and silky fabrics. Back then, I didn't know to be scared of doing those things; I was FEARLESS!

For sentimental reasons, those items avoided "the purge" time after time. I would move them from one home to another, and they continued to take up space.

A great point Marie makes in the book that doesn't stand out enough in the media is this:

It's NOT about throwing things out; continually throwing things away to eliminate "clutter" is not  calming, and it will never bring happiness. The goal is choosing what you want to keep in your life (the Does it Spark Joy? concept). It's a way to take a closer look at what you surround yourself with and how it makes you feel.

My personal experience was that I loved most of my clothes, but why wouldn't I? I made them! As a maker/sewist, I could say that about my clothes because they were unique to my tastes and style.

However, I could eliminate some:

  1. Things that were several sizes too small, items stretched beyond repair, pilled knits, and others that I no longer felt good wearing. These would be easy to discard.
  2. The "slightly ill-fitting item but after losing a few pounds I could fit again" items. Who needs that pressure?
  3. Those that may still spark joy, but because of the style, I would not wear them.
  4. Things that my late mother made for me over 30 years ago.
  5. Things that I planned to alter or adapt that I still hadn't done.

The other goal was to remove these from my home in a way that I felt good about, either by donation of the good RTW stuff or fabric recycling because clothing donation sites don't take kindly to handmade items. (There is no easy way for them to label sizes on these, so I get it.)

There was a small fear that if I got rid of everything that doesn't spark joy, would I have any clothes left? The answer was yes, the ones that matter.

Here is everything in this category that left my wardrobe.

Final Observations

  • Outerwear: I gave away five jackets/coats which could not close over my hips. I kept the four that fit; three I bought recently and my handmade Issey Miyake-designed coat.

  • Tops: I found out my wardrobe is 70% tops. I am severely lacking in coordinating skirts and pants.

  • Pants/jeans: I found a well-fitting pair of jeans recently bought (during Covid) that I had lost track of in my closet! I now have four wearable pairs of jeans and two pairs of knit pants.

  • Scarves: I had several but never wore them. ALL GONE.

  • Underwear: Two sad bras are now gone, and I replaced some worn underwear and socks.

  • Purses: I thought I had maybe 6-7, but I had SIXTEEN bags! How did that happen? I now plan on storing the bags that I kept in a way where I will see them and use them more.

  • Shoes: There were so many that I no longer wore. I lost five uncomfortable or worn pairs. The others will be stored so that I can see them and wear them more often.

Here's an example of decluttering I found on the Interwebs from Wild We Roam. It isn't the KonMari method, but I felt this experience was very similar to mine.

Coming up next, more of the KonMari process...

*The year that must not be named.