I grew up in a house that would have been Marie Kondo approved. The architect Robert Byrd, had a place for everything. In the kitchen, for example, there was a cabinet for the sewing machine that had a drawer with small wooden dowels for each spool of thread, and slots made just for the scissors. Next to the fire place was a door that went to the garage so you could fill it with firewood without tracking through the house. There was a secret door on one wall that held the plans for the house. One of my favorite features was the pull down eat area in the kitchen that quickly made space for lunch. There were china cabinets that had plate racks built in for optimal storage. And the well thought out pantry below the built in fridge that looked just like an upper cabinet.
My mom probably could have invented the Marie Kondo method. She was constantly cleaning out, whether it was paperwork, clothing, or furniture. Everything was always tidy and neat. We had the cleanest garage in the neighborhood. We were trained to always put everything way. Our rooms were always picked up. There was never a thing out of place, but there was also constant change. The slipcovers on the living room couch changed with each season, as did the bedding duvet covers. My mom would get something new that brought her joy and get rid of what didn’t. She was always redecorating.
My mother kept her things perfectly, and stressed how you should buy quality things so they would be lasting. She filled the sleeves of her beautiful timeless clothes with tissue paper for example, so they always looked brand new when she put them on. But she also had the most recent thing that was in style, whether it be hot pants, or some wild sun glasses. I use to marvel at her closet. I’d ask to be able to open the drawers and look at her beautiful things. And here in lies my problem when my mother died. There were so many nice things, that I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of all of them. Luckily, we had a big house to hold them in their precious boxes. But then we got our Rummer, a much smaller house, and I needed to sort through these things and find my own joy. By this time, a phenomenon was taking place across the county. It was Marie Kondo, and her book “The Magic of Tidying Up”.
I started by taking the many dishes and Waterford Crystal and put them on the dining room table. My parents had shipped the glasses home from a trip to Ireland. While I knew they were considered very nice, they just weren’t our style. But I felt guilty. When I looked at the piles, it seemed overwhelming.
So, I decided to find homes for these special things. Our painter bought the crystal. My mom’s hats were donated to the hat museum, which she would have loved and gives me a lasting memory! I found a home for the piano, the one item I really loved, but just didn’t have a spot for in our new home. A neighbor friend bought my antique French bedroom set. A special painting was given to a friend, as was the Christmas tree Spode. I learned I could find great joy passing these things to friends who would now love them and give them a new life. I was excited to start a new chapter and get a new look. One friend commented to me that if my mom were still alive, she’d laugh and say, “you still have those old things, get with it and redecorate, get something fun and new”.
Once these “precious” things were gone, I didn’t miss them. I learned that I should use the special things and not just keep them in a drawer, or in a box in the closet. Now we use the sterling silver as our every day silverware. And I like it. It makes me happy, it brings me joy. So, Marie Kondo, thank you!