Life & Design

How to tell if an item really does spark joy? A KonMari consultant reveals all

It's the staple of the KonMari method, but how can you be sure how you feel? This will answer your question for good

Marie Kondo headshot from event
(Image credit: Richard Bord / Getty Images Contributor)

The wait is almost over. This week, Marie Kondo's new show, Sparking Joy, launches on Netflix, and of course, we're very excited. Naturally, this launch week seems like a fitting occasion to celebrate Marie Kondo, or more specifically, her decluttering method – focused around sparking joy. But what does sparking joy actually mean?

According to Marie Kondo's Japanese organizing technique, you determine how your feel about an item if you select a piece individually and quietly ask yourself if it sparks joy. The feeling of joy is personal, so there is no generic answer that works for everybody. However, she explains the feelings as 'a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.' 

This is the book storage idea your home has been waiting for, but what does it involve? Despite being the pillar of the KonMari method, the idea of sparking joy remains the thing that most people struggle with (us, and Emily from Gilmore Girls included).

Marie Kondo’ new Netflix series, organization with Marie Kondo

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

So, to improve our kitchen storage ideas for good, we sat down with Platinum KonMari Consultant, and founder of A Life More Organised, Sue Spencer, who gave us the answers we need.  

How to know if an item sparks joy – according to a KonMari consultant 

'The Japanese translation of 'Spark Joy' is 'Tokimeki,' which literally means 'heart flutter'. When joy checking, you're looking for items that do just that,' Sue begins. 

'I encourage clients to pick everything up and see how it makes you feel. Focus on the role it plays in your ideal lifestyle. You'll have items that you immediately know you love – maybe because they make you feel fantastic, or [they are] clothes like joggers that you love as they're really comfortable. Even functional items like saucepans [count] if they make cooking easier for you.'

Tidy bedroom storage with shoes

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Though, with so many items in your home, where should you begin? Sue recommends starting with clothes, as they tend to be the easiest category. She suggests breaking items into sub-categories, then gathering everything from one sub-category and putting it together in one place.

'You can see the volume & duplication of what you own – maybe for the first time – if your clothes are piled on top of each other in a drawer or squashed in a wardrobe,' Sue says.

'Work within this subcategory [by picking] up your favorite item and thinking about why you love it. Try to connect with what it is that works for you. Why do you love it? Hang it up close so you can see it, then pick two or three more items that are your favorites and repeat the process of why.'


(Image credit: Future/Mel Yates)

'These items are now your benchmark joy sparking items to compare everything else against,' she adds.

Sue recommends repeating the method across categories in your home, from toiletries, hobby items to books and kitchen utensils. 'It really helps to see things together rather than opening a cupboard & looking for something to discard,' she says. 'When you see everything, you're more able to see what sparks joy and what doesn't.'

While knowing whether some items spark joy can feel easy, others may remain less obvious. However, Sue has a Marie Kondo-approved method for this too. 

A hallway shoe storage idea with a wall of shelving

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

'If you're unsure about something, try not to get stuck, pop it to one side in an unsure pile & go back to Joy checking,' Sue says. 

'Revisit your unsure pile when you've finished everything else - most people find the process of focusing on the things they love makes it easier to leak decisions about the things they're not sure about by the end,' she adds.  It's the living room storage idea your home will thank you for embracing. 

We'll be spending the foreseeable experimenting with this KonMari advice – just as soon as we've finished watch Sparking Joy.  

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.