Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Makeup, Skin Care, and Bath Products

Tidying Up Makeup, Skin Care, Bath

If you’ve read my blog recently, you know I’ve been busy, KonMari-ing my house. KonMari is a method of decluttering and organizing developed by Japanese cleaning expert, Marie Kondo. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has sold over 2 million copies and is quickly becoming one of the most popular books on Amazon. Her premise is so simple, you’ll wonder why no one’s thought of it before: keep only the things that bring you joy and get rid of everything else. You and your home will be happier!

I am a naturally organized person. When I taught elementary school, I had over 100 plastic tubs of books, organized by category and author. I labeled everything in my classroom, right down to containers that said “Sharpies” and “Post-it Notes.” I’m also pretty good about cleaning out my closets at home, getting rid of stuff, and organizing my things neatly, or, at least I thought I was before reading Marie’s book. I could never understand why, despite my decluttering efforts, the closets always reverted back to their messy selves. Now I know – instead of keeping only what sparked joy in me, I tried to decide what I didn’t want, a negative precept. I also kept a lot of things “just because” out of sentimentality or the notion that I might use/wear/need it again someday. KonMari has freed me to let go of things that are taking up valuable physical, mental, and emotional space.

In addition to keeping only the things that bring you joy, Marie suggests sorting things by category, not location. This is a significant difference from other organizing systems. Most people have books in different rooms of their houses – if you sort by room, you never get a sense of how many books you really have, and you end up keeping more than you need. She also recommends discarding everything before you organize what you’re keeping; I completely get that now, as you will see shortly.

(If you want to read my introduction to KonMari, click here. There are links to my other posts at the bottom.)

Today I’m sharing my makeup, skin care, and bath product purge. This falls under the category of komono, which is what the Japanese call miscellany. The first three categories are clothes, books, and papers (the last is mementos.) Komono, the fourth category, covers a range of stuff you might have, from CDs and DVDs to stationery and sewing kits. Once you get to komono, your categories may vary. I don’t have a lot of electronic equipment, so that will be an easy one to sort through, but Other? Oh, my word, I’ve got a lot of Other!

Marie is a stickler for following the order she lays out, but she says that it’s okay to go out of order with komono, especially if you live alone. The important thing is to tackle one category at a time and get rid of everything – everything – that does not bring you joy.

This is the order for komono. I started off with a check mark because I don’t have CDs and DVDs anymore! I stream or download movies from Netflix and Amazon, and I listen to music on iTunes and Pandora. Done! I did makeup, skin care, and bath products together (she assigns the later to household supplies) because all three of those are in my master bathroom, so it made sense to do them all at once.

Tidying Up Komono List for Makeup Post

My master bathroom has an awkward layout. The picture on the left is what you see stand at my front door and look down the hall. There is no door to the area with the sink. When it was built in 1978, it had  swinging saloon doors. Classy. (A previous owner took them down, thank goodness.) To the right of the entrance is a door to the shower, toilet, and a narrow closet, which is behind the door. To get to the closet, you have to open the door, step into the space, close the door, then open the closet door. Pain. In. The. Butt. I got this shelf at The Container Store so I would have some space to put things I use every day, like my skin care and hair care products. I keep my makeup on the counter and a lot of random stuff in the cabinets underneath. This is what this space looked like last week:

Bathroom Before

It’s impossible to get a picture of the closet from top to bottom. I was sitting on the toilet about three feet away from it, so the best I could do was take pictures of the bottom, middle, and top sections. These drawers are full of things I don’t need but have kept because I had a space for them. You can click on this and other pictures for a closer view.

Closet Before

I started, like always, by taking everything out of the bathroom.

Bathroom and Closet Empty

Then I put everything into my sitting room. Wow! I knew I had a lot of stuff, but holy moly! All this came out of that cramped little space!

Makeup Clutter in Office

Coco and Muffin were not amused.

Muffin and Coco KM

Next, I sorted everything on the floor into three categories: makeup, skin care, and bath products (soap, bath salts, lotion, shampoo, etc.) I saved the clear plastic drawers from the closet for later. The bags in front of the couch hold trash and things I discarded, like the foot spa and Neti Pot I’ve never used. See that stack of boxes and bags by the etagere? It’s a large tub filled with products I ordered but haven’t opened because I didn’t have anywhere to put them. Oy!

Sorting Phase Two

Makeup, Skin Care, Bath Purge

I sorted my  makeup into smaller categories so I could tell how many of each product I have. Most women have this many lipsticks and brushes, right?

Makeup Sort

I didn’t get rid of much makeup. I kept the products I use daily in the makeup holder on the counter and put the rest in containers on a sliding shelf in the cabinet below. I also keep a second set of makeup with my travel bags so I can just pop it in my suitcase the night before I leave. You can get the makeup organizer here.

Makeup progress

I pared down my skin and hair care products. I’ve tried – and liked – many different skin care lines over the years, but I’m now using EVER, a new skin care line from the people who created Stella & Dot. It’s amazing – free from harmful ingredients, it’s lightweight, absorbs into your skin quickly, and moisturizes incredibly well. The specially formulated LSR10™ reduces the top ten visible signs of aging. Derived from magnolia extract, the products have a subtle magnolia scent. I’m super weird about scented face and bath products – I like things to have a clean, fresh scent, if anything. (Disclosure: I like EVER so much, I signed up to be a specialist. If you click the link and make a purchase, I earn commission.)

This streamlined space, filled only with things I love, makes me so happy!

Bathroom After

Boy, I love my little makeup holder with the pretty lipsticks.

Makeup close up

I was constantly searching for hair clips and pony tail holders. Now they have a special place in the cabinet. I think I will be able to keep the medicine cabinet tidy now.

Master cabinets and drawers


Close up of white shelf

I didn’t take any pictures while I was purging the drawers in the closet. Once I did the bathroom, it was easy for me to decide what to keep. I purged pretty much everything in the makeup, skin care, and travel sizes drawers. I don’t ever use the travel size shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or skin care and makeup samples, so I’m donating those to a women’s shelter. I admit I have a lot of new, unopened skin care products – I love a good anti-aging cream! – but since I’ve settled on EVER, I discarded products from the other lines.

It’s hard to get rid of things you bought that are in perfectly good condition, some never used, like clothes with the tags still on or unopened jars of miracle eye cream, but Marie strongly advises you do so. It’s not good to keep things “just because,” especially if you feel guilty that you paid money for something and would be “wasting” it. Marie explains it well: by holding onto something you don’t use, you are depriving yourself of the joy you will feel when surrounded by things you love. That pricey moisturizer I bought when I went to a spa on vacation may be a wonderful product, but, trapped in a plastic drawer inside a cramped closet, it loses its magic. Far better to release it and give it to someone who will benefit from it. I threw away any half-used products and products that have expired, and I’m giving the brand-new cleansers, lotions, serums, and creams to friends.

Look how empty the makeup, skin care, and travel drawers are! I also eliminated the expandable shelves I had in the middle section. Everything looks so tidy!

Closet After

When my sister and her family were here at Easter, everyone came to my condo to dye Easter eggs. My brother-in-law asked me if I had a nail clipper, and I said, “Um…yeeessss…I’m sure I can find it in one of these drawers…” but I couldn’t, so I guess my niece or nephew had to live with a hangnail. :( Guess what I found during my KonMari purge?

Nail Clippers

Doing this made me realize how out of order everything was – I can never seem to find a nail file, but I have a whole drawer full of them! I don’t need to buy toothbrushes or razors anytime soon. Who knew?

What's in the drawers

Clockwise from top left: first aid; razors, shaving cream, and hair products; toothpaste, floss, toothbrushes, and nail care items; cotton balls and Q-tips; makeup sponges (I actually don’t use these – maybe they should go, too;) products for hands and feet; travel sizes (just one drawer now;) and travel bags with hair, makeup, and skin care products.

You can get the clear shirt and accessories drawers here.

I have a lot of stuff to donate. I anticipated getting rid of about half of what was in my bathroom, and I probably came close. There are a lot of unopened, unused products in this pile. From now on, I’m buying only what I need to replenish the products I already use. (Okay, okay, I’ll probably buy a few new lipsticks, too.) I think I’ve whittled makeup, skin care, and bath products down to a manageable stash. I love having empty drawers and cabinets, and I don’t want to re-clutter them!

I got the Simple Solutions cabinet drawers (still in their boxes) a couple of months ago, thinking I would reorganize my bathroom. This is the exact reason why Marie says to discard everything before you organize! Not only do I not need the drawers anymore, but they also don’t fit in my cabinets! I put one together, thinking I’d coral things underneath the sink in it, and it’s too wide. Of course I don’t have the receipts anymore.

Makeup, Skin Care, Bath DonateHaving a designated place for everything is something I’ve wanted for a long time. As I work through the rest of my komono, I’m sure I’ll find more nail clippers, nail files, lotions, and lipsticks. I know where they go now. I will think thrice about buying something new. Do I really need it? Will I really use it? Does it really bring me joy? Now that I’m surrounded by the things I love, I don’t want anything to take away that feeling of contentment.

So what’s next? I’ve already KonMaried my accessories, and I don’t have many valuables (passports, credit cards, or other things that should be kept in a safe.) I don’t have a lot of electrical equipment either. I could breeze right past those categories and start purging household equipment, but I’m toying with the idea of slipping some of my other komono in here.

I have a two car garage lined with industrial shelving and cabinets. I have seasonal decorations; photo albums; sentimental items; mementos belonging to my mom, grandmother, and sister; linens; cleaning supplies; and so much more. I’m thinking about pausing the interior KonMari project and sorting through a few things in the garage, starting with my seasonal decor and wrapping supplies. I’m ready to let go of some of the things I’m not using, and getting rid of boxes will free up valuable storage space.

I hope my before and after pictures and descriptions are helpful. Have you started to declutter and organize in your house? Do you have questions about the KonMari Method? Confused about something I did or wondering how you can fit this whole KonMari thing into your life? Leave me a comment, and I’ll help you if I can!

Kelly Gartner Style KonMariClick here to read other post in this series.

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Papers

Tidying Up the KonMari Way Papers

I recently discovered the KonMari Method of decluttering and organizing, and I’m using it to go through my whole house, discarding everything I don’t want or need (read my introduction here.) Three things set KonMari apart from other methods:

  1. sorting by category instead of location
  2. keeping only the things that bring you joy
  3. discarding everything before you organize

In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie explains why traditional organization methods fail and how you can avoid rebounding after decluttering. She recommends a specific order for tidying: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany,) and mementos. After sorting my clothes, shoes and accessories, and books, I’m completely devoted to Marie’s way of thinking about clutter. There is something exhilarating about letting go of things that do not bring you joy. Not only do your rid your house of clutter, but you also free your mind from things that make you feel sad or guilty.

The third category on Marie’s list is papers. Papers don’t bring me joy, but I can’t just throw out everything I have! One of my problems with paper is that I don’t have a system for dealing with mail, bills, letters, business expenses, etc., so I shuffle papers from pile to pile, losing important documents in the process. I also have a lot of paperwork from my mom’s estate. I put it in boxes in my attic last summer because I didn’t know what to do with it; now I know: shred early and often!

The section in the book about papers is a scant ten pages long. Marie recommends discarding anything that does not fall into one of three categories: what you’re currently using/needs attention, what you need to keep for a short period of time, and what you must keep indefinitely. Papers you’re currently using might be invitations to which you must reply, forms to fill out, and bills to pay (although electronic billing and banking can significantly reduce this paperwork.) Once you’ve attended to these, you can throw them away. Short-term papers might be school calendars and sports schedules. Once the school year or season is over, you can dispose of these, too.

Marie says you should store frequently used papers in one place, within easy reach. She recommends vertical storage, with labels for each category (bills, invitations, forms, etc.) The key is to discard the papers as soon as you no longer need them, which is where most of us fail, I think. The Container Store has many options for organizing papers; these are my favorites:

Paper Storage Options

One, Two, Three, Four

Papers you have to keep indefinitely include home and car loans, insurance policies, tax returns, and contracts. Marie suggests putting everything in one clear plastic folder without sorting them into categories, but I didn’t follow her advice on this one. I like to keep these papers in folders with labels. It’s visually appealing and helps me remember where things are. To maintain this category, you should discard things like bank statements, credit card statements, old checkbook registers, pay stubs, etc. We used to need paper records; now we can look up everything online, so it doesn’t make sense to keep them. Since they have identifying information on them, it’s best to shred these papers when disposing of them.

I set aside an afternoon to tackle papers. I started by putting everything but the boxes in the attic on the floor in my second bedroom/office, which is really a sitting room. You can’t see them, but there are three containers to the right of the etagere with really old documents like my maternal grandmother’s will and my dad’s continuing education certificates.

Paper Office Before

This closet is a great example of the pitfalls of other organizing methods. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken everything out of it, discarded some things, corralled what was left into baskets and containers, and put everything back on the shelves neatly. There are several baskets of miscellaneous items – a white noise machine from Bed, Bath, and Beyond; a picture frame I got on a trip; random cords and household supplies – things I mean to use or should store elsewhere. I have a feeling their days are limited.

Papers Closet Before

After I put all the papers on the floor, I went through them, container by container. I set up a basket of active files, my version of Marie’s “needs attention” category and decluttered my permanent filing container. (I’m not using all the hanging files and folders in the tote – everything from the second set of red ones is empty.) I don’t have a designated office or command center; horizontal filing systems work for me because I can move them around when I’m doing paperwork. I whittled my mom’s papers (recent tax returns, her will, and other estate documents) down to two small containers, and got rid of paperwork from my dad and grandmother that spanned from the 1940s to the 1980s. It felt so good to put it in bags for shredding! This is what I have left:

Files After

I got the tote with the colored hanging files and folders from The Container Store many years ago. I actually had four of them – one for each color folder. I set up the folders according to the FileSolutions Home Filing System, which I also got from The Container Store. I got the brown basket at The Container Store, too. They don’t carry it anymore, but these are similar. (I ♥ The Container Store!) When I quit teaching four years ago, I got rid of decades of files – oh, so many files – and culled the colored file system down to one box. It’s even leaner now that I’m not keeping years of financial statements in it.

This is going to the shredder, along with all the papers in my attic:

Papers Bags for Shredding

The closet looks like this now:

Papers Closet After

I can access the files easily – the brown basket with the handles is tucked between the hanging file container and the wall – and the shredder is ready for action.

I cleared everything from the sitting room except bags for sorting. I’m going to use this room as a staging area for komono. I really love this room but haven’t used it much because it was a catch-all for clutter. No more!

Papers Room AfterIn case you can’t tell, I’ve embraced KonMari. It’s the right thing at the right time for me. Clothes, books, and papers make up about 15% of what I own, and it’s been pretty easy to go through them. The next categories, komono and mementos, will be harder. In addition to the sitting room closet, I have closets and cabinets in two bathrooms, a utility closet, a coat closet, a kitchen, and a garage full of stuff to sort through before this is all over. Oh, and the attic! There is stuff in the attic that I haven’t touched since I moved into my condo seven years ago. I am determined to go through all of it. I think I will end up donating, selling, or throwing away about 40% of my belongings. That sounds crazy, but it’s possible.

I feel like I should make this disclaimer: results may vary! I am single, and I don’t have kids. All the stuff in the house is mine. I get to make all the decisions about what to keep and what to discard. If it doesn’t bring me joy, it’s not staying. I don’t have to negotiate with anyone. I am also self-employed and have a flexible schedule, so I can designate a lot of time to this task. If you live with other people and have a full-time job, KonMari-ing your whole house might take longer, and you might have to keep things that make other people happy. Don’t let that sway you from doing it; just know that your process and results will look different from mine.

Kelly Gartner Style KonMari

Click here to read more posts in this series.

Fashion Friday: Poolside Chic

Heading to the pool this Memorial Day weekend? Stay stylish with our Zuni Layering Necklace, a trio of bracelets, and my new favorite lightweight hoops (which I am wearing right this very minute!)

Poolside Chic Stella & DotZuni Layering NecklaceVoyager CuffStrength BraceletEngravable Bar CuffIsadora Hoops

This outfit was fun to replicate. I found options for women who wear regular sizes and women with fuller figures. Add some sunscreen and a cold drink, and you’re ready for a barbecue!

Poolside Chic OptionsTop row: Gap Burnout Floral Tee, Gap Sexy Boyfriend Denim Shorts, Target Bandeau Bikini, WHBM Brown Fringe Sandals

Bottom row: Two by Vince Camuto Lace Top, Seven7 Roll Cuff Denim Shorts, Becca Etc. Festival Bikini, BC Footwear Maltese Fringe Sandal

What are your plans for the long weekend? Are you kicking off summer with a splash? I hope your weekend is full of sunshine, friends, and fun!



Fashion Favorite: Tutu Cute Boutique

Tutu Cute by Jacqueling SmookeIt’s no secret how much I love to wear tunics and leggings. I blogged about some of my fall favorites here, here, and here, but tunics and leggings aren’t just for fall and winter. The right style and material (lightweight and flowy) tunics are great for spring and summer, too. I love to wear them with cropped white or denim leggings and wedges or sandals.

Jacqueline Smooke owns Tutu Cute, a women’s and children’s clothing boutique. She has a selection of tops, tunics, short dresses, maxi dresses, and maxi skirts in a spare bedroom in her home in Memorial. You can go over to her house, try things on, and if she doesn’t have your size, she will order it for you. One thing I really like about the clothes Jacqueline buys is that many of the lines have plus sizes. I love the orange and navy tunic I got last fall, and I just bought a darling paisley tunic – aren’t the touches of leopard fun?

Tutu tunic havana selfie KGS framed

Havana Chandeliers, Havana Pendant Necklace, Engravable Bar Necklace

Paisley tunic with coral cay

Coral Cay EarringsCoral Cay NecklaceEngravable Bar Necklace

Jacqueline knows my style now, and she sends me pictures when she gets something new. She recently sent me these; all the tunics come in regular women’s and plus sizes. Click the images for a closer view.

(The tunic in the bottom right corner is the one I’m wearing in the picture above. The one in the gallery shows its true color. I don’t know why it came out teal when I took my picture.)

I went to Jacqueline’s house last week to style a few of her maxi dresses. We found the perfect Stella & Dot necklaces to complement each dress (and one jumpsuit.) Click the picture for a closer look.

Maxi Dress CollageFrom left to right, we used the Eclipse Pendant, Trellis Necklace, Aurelia Pendant Necklace, Isa Disc Necklace without the turquoise strand, and, because I love it with black, the Trellis Necklace again.

Necklace Collage Tutu Cute

Left to right: Eclipse Pendant, Trellis Necklace, Aurelia Pendant NecklaceIsa Disc Necklace

Jacqueline does home shows and vendor events – she set up at different markets around Houston during the holidays – and she also monograms. Her kids clothes are just adorable. Love this Fourth of July set!

Girls' and boys' 4th of July outfits

The clothes in the pictures are a fraction of what Jacqueline carries or can order for you. Visit her Facebook page, Tutu Cute by Jacqueline Smooke to see her latest clothes, including dresses she got at market in New York City.


Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Books

Tidying Up Books Collage

About a month ago, I learned about KonMari, a unique method of taking stock of all your stuff and purging what you don’t need. Developed by Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning expert, this method is simple but powerful: touch each of your possessions and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” If it does, keep it; if it doesn’t, it’s time to say farewell. According to Marie, the best order for decluttering is clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany,) and mementos. I’ve written an introduction to the KonMari Method and posts about sorting my linens, clothes, and shoes and accessories. Today, it’s all about the books.

I’ve done several rounds of book purging since I moved into my condo in 2008, including selling or donating all the books in my classroom library and many teacher resource books. The remaining books are on shelves in my living room, in a closet in my second bedroom, and in a cabinet in my garage. One of the principles of Marie’s method is that the more you purge, the easier it is to identify what brings you joy. I found this to be true. Fresh from the experience of wardrobe purging, I didn’t have a hard time deciding which books I wanted to keep and which I wanted to donate.

Some before pictures:

Before books living room

The living room is one of the only places I have shelves. I like to decorate with books, and I keep some just for their covers so I can group colors together.

Before books closet

All the other books are in a bookcase the extra bedroom. I want to get an etagere for my master bedroom so I’ll have more display space, but for now, this is the only other place to store books. The boxes above hold magazines going back several years.

Before books school

I got rid of most of my professional books when I quit teaching, but I held onto some, thinking I would use them for tutoring.

I started by putting all the books from the closet and living room on the table in the second bedroom (which I use as a sitting room.) Believe me when I tell you this is less than 10% of what I used to have.

Before books denIt’s important to take all the books off the shelves and place them on the floor or table. Books stored upright are dormant; you can’t judge whether or not a book sparks joy while it is still on the shelf. The physical act of moving the books from a shelf or pile to another location “wakes up” the books, allowing you to feel their energy.

In her book, Marie addresses several stumbling blocks you may have to overcome when sorting your books. The first is holding onto books that you might read “someday.” This includes books you bought but never read, books you started reading but quit halfway, and books you’ve read that you might want to read again. I love her take on the “someday” books:

If you missed your chance to read a particular book, even if it was recommended to you or is one you have been intending to read for ages, this is your chance to let it go. You may have wanted to read it when you bought it, but if you haven’t read it by now the book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it. There’s no need to finish reading books you got only halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway. So get rid of all those unread books. It will be far better for you to read the book that really grabs you right now than one that you left to gather dust for years. p. 91

As for the books you’ve read that you might read again someday? Chances are, unless they’re books related to your profession or hobbies, you probably won’t reread them, so they can go, too.

The other obstacle you may have to overcome is deciding which books to keep in what Marie calls your reading Hall of Fame. These are books you absolutely love, the ones that make you smile when you see them on your bookshelves. I kept Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl because I really enjoyed reading them, and they conjure good memories. There are many other books I could put in my Hall of Fame, from To Kill A Mockingbird to A Prayer for Owen Meany to the Harry Potter series, but when I really thought about it, I realized I don’t need the book to retain the pleasurable memory of reading it.

I have to confess that I did break a few of the rules: I kept some books that I bought a long time ago but haven’t gotten around to reading. Some, like The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, are novels that friends have recommended. Others, like Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath, are informational books I will read at some point. Even so, I understand what Marie means when she says that “the moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.” By keeping my book collection small, I increase the chances of actually reading the books I have, which is the whole point, right?

After pictures:

After pictures booksOn the left are bags of books and magazines from the closet, ready for donation; the bookcase, once full of books, now holds a few that I want to read; and this is all that’s left of my professional books. I think my supervisors approve of my choices.

Books on table after

I kept a few novels, some home decorating books, and several non-fiction books. Handling each book and considering whether or not it brought me joy proved to be a good strategy for sorting. I didn’t keep anything “just because.”

After living roomI love how calm this looks. All the books on the shelves bring me joy.

Books on nightstand afterI’m excited about the books on my nightstand. The Girl on the Train is my book club book. I’m currently reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and I can’t wait to read my friend, Chris Cander’s new novel, Whisper Hollow.

All books in garage donateThese are all the books I’m donating, including the teaching books.

Sorting books is easier than you might think. Once you’ve made the decision to keep only the ones you love, the books sort themselves. One of the things Marie says is that you should reduce until the point that something clicks, until you know you have the right amount of something. I feel this way about my books now. Everyone will have a different point at which they are done. For some, it might be 30 books; for others, it might be 300 (although if you’re keeping 300 books, you might want to revisit the criteria.)

The beauty of the KonMari Method is that you completely finish a category before you move onto the next one. I have no more books to sort. I might find a few buried underneath my next category, papers, but if I do, it won’t be hard for me to choose whether or not to keep them.

Kelly Gartner Style KonMariClick here to read more posts in this series.

Quotes are from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Act of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley.