Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Christmas Decorations

Tidying Up the KonMari Way Christmas Decorations

I’ve been slowly working through komono, the miscellaneous category in Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method from her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThis category is time-consuming because I have a lot of miscellaneous items, especially home decor and seasonal decorations. Fortunately, I didn’t have to start from scratch on my Christmas decorations. I’ve sorted through them several times since I moved into my condo seven years ago, and everything is stored neatly and labeled correctly, so it’s easy for me to decorate. I still had to give Christmas the KM treatment – I knew there were things that didn’t bring me joy, and I wanted to reach what Marie Kondo calls the “click point,” the feeling you get when you’ve kept exactly the right amount of stuff.

This a picture of the left side of my garage, crammed with Christmas decorations. Most of them are mine, but some were my mom’s. The top three shelves on the far right hold all of my ornaments. I went through them a couple of years ago and got rid of any that didn’t bring me joy. (I literally applied that principle to my ornaments – I must have had a kindred spiritual connection to Marie even then!) I didn’t have to go through those boxes because I knew I would keep everything in them.

Garage L Before WM

This is the right side of my garage. The shelves on the far left hold my grandmother’s, mother’s, sister’s, and my mementos. And that’s not even all of them. I know exactly why Marie saves sentimental things for last! It would have taken me forever to go through them, and I probably would have quit half-way. The two shelves on the right hold other seasonal decorations. My goal was to get rid of enough Christmas decorations that I could move all the seasonal decorations to the other side of the garage.

Garage R Before WM

I started with wrapping paper, bags, and ribbon because I knew they would be the easiest to go through. This is a combination of my mom’s and my wrapping supplies. The thing is, I hardly ever wrap anything anymore! I use bags and stuff them with tissue paper. I picked up each roll, bag, and spool of ribbon, asking “Does this spark joy?” Now everything fits into two boxes.

Before:

Wrapping Paper Before WM

During:

Wrapping Paper During WM

After:

Wrapping Paper After WM

This is a good example of keeping things that bring me joy, even if they aren’t practical. Sometimes you just want to have something around. I’m happy with my little Christmas wrapping stash!

Discard:

Wrapping Paper Discard WM

Next, I brought in all the other boxes I wanted to go through. These held miscellaneous items like linens, paper goods, serving pieces, and stockings.

Before:

Misc Before WM

I cross-stitched the green wreath on the fingertip towel – joy-sparker! The red, white, and green mixing bowls that I grabbed off the shelves on a Target run? Not so much. A good example of not keeping something, even if you bought it but never used it.

During:

Misc During WM

This little beaded tree was always in my grandmother’s powder room. I love it, and it reminds me of Oma, but it’s seen better days, so I let it go.

Beaded Tree WM

These were hard for me: my grandmother’s, mom’s, and my childhood stockings I’ve no use for my mom’s and grandmother’s, and mine’s falling apart. I loved having the same design as my grandmother. I took this picture and wrapped the stockings in a bag, because I’m not ready to give them away yet.

Stockings WM

After:

Misc After WM

Close Up Misc WM

Close Up Linens WM

The Kleenex came in handy a couple of times. Christmas was a wonderful time for my family. We had lots of traditions: the tree-trimming party I organized ever year; going to church on Christmas Eve and Mexican food for dinner (we’re Texans!); creamed chipped beef for breakfast on Christmas morning (I thought it was a delicacy because we only ate it once a year;) making fudge, red and green chocolate chip meringues, and kangaroo cookies to give to our friends and neighbors; opening Mommy and Daddy presents Christmas Eve and waiting for everyone to get up before we flung open the doors to the living room to see what Santa brought. So many memories came rushing in. I don’t have my own family with whom to share those traditions, and sometimes that hurts my heart.

My sister and I incorporate some of our  traditions into her family’s celebration in Seattle.. We eat Mexican food on Christmas Eve with my brother-in-law’s family – if Mimi (my mom) can’t be there for Christmas, then by golly, her grandchildren will eat chips and queso! – but we’ve axed the creamed chipped beef on Christmas morning. Before she died, my mom recorded herself reading Hallmark’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas; Anna Jane and Luke snuggle up on the couch to hear her read it, just like Susan and I did so long ago.

We’re creating some new traditions, too, like visiting the reindeer and camels at Swanson’s Nursery with friends and going back to their house for Christmas Eve lunch. My brother-in-law’s family has Swedish heritage, and his mom collects tomte. My sister’s house is dotted with little elves in red hats at Christmas. Instead of making creamed chipped beef, Susan picks up pastries from a local bakery (the kids don’t know what they’re missing!)

Tomte

I appreciate the fusion of family traditions and hope my niece and nephew will look back on their childhood Christmases as fondly as I do mine.

Discard:

Misc Discard WM

See the gold and white tray? Never used. The star card holder from Pottery Barn? Used once, and it drove me crazy that the cards fell off every time I closed the only door on which I could hang it. Both gone!

This is what my garage looks like after the Christmas purge. I accomplished my goal! I want and will use everything on these shelves. Is it Thanksgiving yet? I can’t wait to decorate! The rest of the seasonal decorations are next. I will whittle them down enough to fit on that empty shelf!

Christmas Shelves After WM

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Kelly Gartner Style KonMari

Stella & Dot’s Fall 2015 Collection is Here!

I’m so excited to share Stella & Dot’s new line with you! Led by our Chief Creative Officer, Blythe Harris, Stella & Dot’s design team has created unique pieces that reflect fall trends and will appeal to women of all ages. Today, I’m highlighting one or two pieces from each mini-collection.

Artisan Boutique

Celebrating craftsmanship from India and Vietnam, our Artisan Boutique features semi-precious stones and brushed gold and silver. Each piece is hand-modeled in our New York design studio with exquisite attention to detail.

A genuine druzy (a thin layer of quartz crystals covering the surface of a host stone) hangs from our hand-beaded Artisan Pendant. A mix of semi-precious labradorite & aqua amazonite stones mixed with metal and wood beads, it’s one of my must-haves for fall. You can wear it over a plain white t-shirt under a denim or olive-green jacket. It also looks great with a black jumpsuit. Each druzy is unique, so expect some variation from the one in this picture.

Artisan Pendant

Artisan Pendant – $89

Northern Lights

Inspired by the wintry landscape in Game of Thrones, our Northern Lights Collection sparkles and shines. Gray is trending big this fall – it’s a great base for other colors, especially gold, burgundy, and evergreen.

My first favorite piece from this collection is the gold Zoe Lariat, an update of one of our most popular versatile necklaces. A mix of vintage gold, neutral beads, and sparkle are hand-woven through a vintage gold-plated brass chain and finished with shiny gold drops. This necklace would look great with a flowy, white top and grey skinny jeans.

Zoe GoldZoe Lariat – $98

I have a second-favorite piece in this collection, the Freya Fringe Necklace. As versatile as it is stunning, this statement necklace is composed of mixed metal featherweight fringe that catches the light and moves along with you. You can wear it multiple ways (the V in the picture stands for versatile.) At $118, this necklace is true style for a steal.

Freya Fringe Necklace

Freya Fringe Necklace – $118

Freya Fringe Me

Free-Style Femme

Free-Style Femme is all about making classic materials like leather and pearls your own. Shiny metals, glass pearls, and spikes give the pieces in this collection a modern look. The most exciting piece in this collection is our Natalie Necklace.

With genuine leather detail and hints of pavé sparkle, you can reverse this collar necklace from neutral mixed metal to a pop of cobalt to change your look. Fashion blogger Jacey Duprie of Damsel in Dior styled this necklace over a black wrap shirt and a black and white print skirt. (She’s the cover girl for the Fall 2015 Look Book.) This necklace also looks beautiful over yellow.

Natalie Necklace

Natalie Necklace – $98

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar arch

This is my friend, Ariana’s, husband and daughter at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Notice the detailed ironwork at the top of the arch, the inspiration for this collection.

Inspired by the maze of arched ceilings and windows of a grand bazaar, this collection evokes the sights, sounds, colors, and textures of a large marketplace. Sculptural gold chains, blue and black plumes, and blue tassels play well with this season’s black and white trend

Our versatile Aida Tassel Chandelier Earrings are my favorite piece from the Grand Bazaar collection. You can wear them as a single or double drop, with or without the blue tassel. These earrings look great with black and white but also pair well with yellow and green. Our Aida Tassel Pendant Necklace is a companion necklace to the earrings.

Aida Tassel ER without border

Aida Tassel Earrings – $49

Chic Boutique

Our Chic Boutique features delicate gold and silver pieces with semi-precious stones and pavé details. The necklaces, bracelets, and earrings in this collection have unique geometric shapes – lightning bolts, spiky chevrons, elongated teardrops, and chunky stones, classic pieces with an edgy twist.

The standouts in the Chic Boutique are the Sentiment Stone Drops, an update of our best-selling Serenity Stone Drops, which my customers loved. Hand-cut, semi-precious quartz set in shiny gold or silver plating make an elegant statement for any occasion.

Sentiment Drop Earrings with labels

Sentiment Stone Drops – $49

One of the things I love about Stella & Dot (besides getting free and half-price jewelry as a stylist!) is that we offer classic and trendy jewelry and accessories at prices ranging from $19 for a pair of sparkly studs to $198 for a versatile statement necklace. There is truly something for everyone’s lifestyle, taste, and budget.

These are just a few of the gorgeous pieces from our new line, and, of course, we have lots of carryover pieces from past seasons that are just as stunning. You can view the full line by clicking the digital Look Book below or shop your favorite looks now.

Closet Organizing: Susan’s Closet

Closet Organizing Susan's Closet

I’m in Seattle, visiting my sister and her family. They live in a 108-year old farmhouse in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seattle, and there is very little closet or storage space. All the upstairs closets are under the eaves, which makes them particularly tricky to organize. To top it off, her closet is actually in my niece’s room, and my niece’s hanging clothes are in her brother’s room! Susan really wanted my help redoing her closet, so while my brother-in-law took my niece and nephew out-of-town, we tackled the closet clutter.

I reorganized her closet a couple of years ago, before Marie Kondo’s book made its way to the States. I hung dresses and scarves on the left; pants, skirts, and tops in the middle; and sweaters and jackets on the low bar to the right. She’s added many pieces to her wardrobe since then, but because of the awkward layout, it’s hard to put everything back where it belongs.

Susan Closet Before 1

There are shelves at the end of the long rod, one above the window and a couple below. You have to hunch over to get to them.

Susan Jackets Before

Last time, I put her shoes on the shelves behind the clothes rod, but I didn’t want to do that again. Discarding everything before we put it back in the closet helped me figure out what to do with them.

Susan Hanging Clothes Before

You can see some shoes peeking out from behind the clothes; the shoes she really wears are in piles in front of her clothes.

Close Up of Shoes

Susan Closet Up of Shoes and Jackets Before

She keeps her folded clothes in this chest and in the Elfa shelves in her bedroom.

Susan Dresser and Elfa Shelf Before

Susan Elfa Shelf Before

We started by taking everything out of the closet.

Clothes on Bed

Pile of Shoes Before

See what I mean about this awkward space?

Empty Closet Before

Looking Down at Empty Closet

I explained the KonMari Method to her, and then we started going through the piles. She’s very analytical, so it took a few minutes for her to tune into her joy meter, but once she connected to her feelings about her clothes, she quickly decided what to keep and what to discard. These are the clothes and shoes she kept:

Clothes and Shoes Susan Kept

All of this went to the donation bin:

Susan's Donation Piles

While Susan went through her dresser and Elfa shelves, I hung up all the clothes and put away the shoes.

I did the dresses first. I hung the maxi dress at the far left, then the long-sleeved, short-sleeved, and sleeveless dresses from dark to light (black, grey, brown, ROY G. BIV*, and white/cream.)

Susan Dresses

She has such pretty dresses!

Side View of Dresses cropped

I repeated the hanging order for the jackets and sweaters…

Jackets and Dresses

… and did the same for the tops. Our tastes are really similar, which is funny, because it wasn’t always that way. We both like soft, unstructured tops in vibrant prints; neutral pants, mostly black, denim, and white; colorful, patterned dresses; and winter clothes in solid colors. Neither of us wear skirts, although I do have a couple of maxis.

Dresses, Jackets, and Tops

I hung pants and outer wear on the low bar. I decided not to put anything she wears regularly behind the clothes, so the only items on the shelves are her golf clothes, hats, and golf shoes. I like the boots and shoes where they are; I think it’s a good use of the space. Flip flops are in the straw basket on the floor.

Large View of Hanging After no scarves

In my opinion, the most important thing to do when organizing your wardrobe is to make sure everything is visible. Stacking, piling, and shoving clothing, shoes and accessories into tight spaces is what leads to the “problem” of having nothing to wear. When you can easily find something you truly love and are happy to wear, getting dressed in the morning is a breeze!

These are the scarves she decided to keep. I threaded them through the holes in the scarf hangers and hung them between her pants and coats.

Scarves on Bed

Pants, scarves, and jackets after

Winter hats and gloves, a belt, and a few purses fit perfectly on the shelf above her clothes.

Cloeup of Top Shelf

Before and After Susan's Closet 2015

I love the way Susan’s closet looks now. When my brother-in-law saw it, he said, “It’s like she has a whole new wardrobe!” Her clothes look so pretty, and everything is accessible – I think it will be easy for her to put her clothes and shoes back where they belong. The only thing I need to do is switch all the hangers to these velvet suit hangers from Amazon:

Velvet hangers

I really enjoyed working with my sister to create this beautiful, functional space, and I hope she likes using her closet as much as I liked helping her put it together!

*ROY G. BIV is an acronym teachers use to help kids learn rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

For information about my closet organizing services, click here.

Closet Organizing: Kelle’s Closet

Closet Organizing Kelle's Closet

My friend, Kelle, asked me to help her declutter and organize her closet. Kelle is a wife, mom to two boys, and owner of Crafty Kelle, a party planning and design business. She has a large walk-in closet that she shares with her husband, Chris, and she wanted to go through her wardrobe, get rid of outdated clothes, and change the look of her side to make it more feminine. Kelle’s closet is already organized, with dedicated places for tops, pants, shoes, and dresses. She has lingerie, workout clothes, t-shirts, and shorts in the drawers; there is plenty of room in this closet for her wardrobe.

Tops and pants before

Shoes before

Dresses before

Drawers beforeYes, that’s a cowboy hat. We are in Texas, after all.

We started by removing everything from the hanging rods and piling it on her bed.

Kelle Empty TopsKelle Clothes on Bed

Using Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method, Kelle picked up each item, asking herself if it sparked joy. This is different from traditional decluttering methods because Kelle had to decide what to keep in her closet, which is a higher bar than deciding what to discard. Like most of my clients, Kelle had questions about what to do with items that weren’t clear joy-sparkers:

  • What do I do with something I don’t wear but has sentimental value?
  • What do I do with this top/dress/skirt that I love but no longer fits?
  • What do I do with something I haven’t worn that still has tags on it?

Clothes should fit well, look great on you, and make you happy. A dress with sentimental value (like the red dress with matching shoes and purse Kelle’s future husband gave her ten years ago) might make you happy, but if it doesn’t fit and/or it’s outdated, it’s taking up space in your closet that should be reserved for current items.

When you pick up an item you love that’s too small, it’s tempting to keep it in case you can wear it again. Resist the urge! If you lose weight and can wear that size again, you’ll probably want to buy something new, not wear something you bought five years ago. Clothes that don’t fit take up valuable closet and mental space – every time you see the jeans that are too small, you’ll feel a twinge of regret, taking away from the joy you should feel when you look at your wardrobe.

One of the hardest things to discard when cleaning out your closet is clothes that still have tags on them – the dress you bought to wear to a wedding, but you ended up wearing something else; the top you loved in the store, but you couldn’t find anything in your closet to wear with it; the shirts that were on sale, so you bought them in several colors – it seems like a waste of money to get rid of them, but keeping them out of guilt isn’t good either!

It’s hard to let go of things we think we should keep, but if we consider whether something truly sparks joy, it’s easier to decide if it deserves a place in our wardrobes. When you have a hard time letting go of something, Marie Kondo recommends thanking it for its service and releasing it to a new owner who will use and cherish it. After working through each item in her closet, Kelle had a pile of clothes to keep (on the bed) and a pile of clothes to donate (foreground):

Kelle Discard Pile 3

Then we put everything back in her closet in neatly organized sections:

Kelle Dresses After

Kelle Shoes After Kelle Tops and Pants After

I followed Marie Kondo’s recommendations for hanging clothes:

  • hang heavier fabrics on the left, lighter on the right
  • hang clothes from longest to shortest
  • hang clothes from dark to light colors (black, grey, and brown clothes on the left, then rainbow (ROY G. BIV*) order, then off-white and white)
  • clothes should rise up in length from left to right, which is pleasing to the eye

After Kelle and I sorted through everything and hung it up, we noticed a few trends. First, she likes soft, unstructured tops in black, navy blue, and white/cream with touches of pink, coral, green, and lavender. She doesn’t have a lot of clothes in heavy fabrics; light-weight fabrics under a coat or jacket is fine for Houston in the winter. Second, she wears pants, mostly jeans, but not skirts. And third, she likes maxi dresses and short dresses in the same color palette as her tops. She also tried on a bunch of shorts (not pictured) and discovered that all the ones she loved are from White House Black Market. Cleaning out her closet clarified her style and preferences, which will make it easier when we go shopping to fill in gaps in her wardrobe.

Kelle Dresses Before and After Kelle Shoes Before and After Kelle Tops and Pants Before and After

We’ve spent about three hours on the project so far; we still need to go through her jewelry, remove everything that doesn’t belong in the closet, and fancy up the space a little bit. I can’t wait for the next step!

*ROY G. BIV is an acronym teachers use to help kids learn the colors in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

To be continued…

For information about my closet organizing services, click here.

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Halfway There, Part 2

I’m halfway through my KonMari journey. It’s been a rewarding process, and I’m eager to finish so I can enjoy a clutter-free home. (You can read part one of this post here.) I’ve completed clothes, books, papers, and bath and beauty products; I have a lot of komono, or miscellaneous items, left, including the kitchen, home and office supplies, general home decor, and seasonal decor. Before I tackled the remaining categories, I had to do something about my second bedroom/office, which I use as a sitting room. It’s a catch-all for everything I have to put away quickly when tidying up for guests or right before my housekeeper comes. I can’t wait until I can enjoy reading and watching TV in this room!

I decided to take everything out of the closet, console, and etagere and sort it into plastic bins by category. Then, when I get to home supplies, office supplies, the kitchen, etc., I can grab that bin and sort it with the other items in that category. Here’s what they looked like before:

Closet CollageThis has been a thorn in my side for so long! I tried to store things in an orderly manner, but nothing ever seemed right. One of the things Marie Kondo says in her book is that your possessions will tell you where they want to go; you just have to listen to them. Now that I’ve had some experience with her method, I understand what she means. One of the reasons I’ve kept my KonMaried spaces tidy is that everything is in its right place. I really hope listening to the closet, shelves, and drawers in this room works, too!

The drawers are a mishmash of pens, business cards, tape (why can’t I ever find tape when I have several rolls in these drawers?) and old reading glasses, which I no longer need because I have a prescription for both far- and nearsightedness now.

Drawer close upI took everything out of the drawers and cabinet and sorted it into the bins.

Empty drawers

Bins labeledI did the closet next.

Empty closetI thought I was finished, but then I closed the door.

Behind the doorSee all that Tupperware? I ordered it from my friend, Robin but never washed and put it away in the kitchen. This is why I need the life-changing magic!

Everything sorted with dogs

Now that I’ve sorted everything into bins, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the komono. 

Tidying Up Komono List 5 checked

In her book, Marie says it’s not necessary to do komono in order, especially if you live alone. I don’t have much electrical equipment, I purged my kitchen a couple of months ago when I was following another organizing program, and my household supplies are minimal. I’m saving the kitchen for last because it will be pretty easy for me to re-declutter.

I think home decor probably falls into “other” on the list. I listened to my house, and it told me that I should do Christmas decorations, then all other holiday and seasonal decorations, then general home decorations, including knick knacks, vases, candles, jars, bowls, and serving pieces, so that’s what I plan to do.

Most of the things in those categories are in my garage, and although I’m not looking forward to working in my garage in a Houston summer, I am eager to check off decorations on my list. Once I finish going through those, I can quickly complete the other categories and move on to sentimental items, which is the last KonMari category.

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