Marie Kondo's simple rule to tell if your home is 'cluttered' – and how to fix it

In an exclusive interview with H&G, the organizational guru shares how to curate a personal space – without the clutter

Marie Kondo
(Image credit: Courtesy of Marie Kondo)

It can often feel like there is a fine line between having a home that is personal and not cluttered. Usually, the most sentimental items are those that are not design-led – and so incorporating them into your home can be tricky. 

However, we all have personal items – including Marie Kondo – the master of home-organizing ideas – and the most famous tidier of our time. So, how does Ms. Kondo differentiate between personal pieces and clutter? 

The Japanese-born consultant, Netflix star, and multi-best-selling author sat down with H&G to mark the release of her book Kurashi at Home Kurashi translating to way of life in Japanese. Her conversation spanned from Marie kondo's top five tips to her tidying mistakes to avoid, but we couldn't help but also discuss the art of decluttering.

How can you tell if something classifies as 'clutter,' and how should you organize the personal items in your space? Here, Marie Kondo explains all. 

Marie Kondo's rule for classifying clutter

Marie Kondo

(Image credit: KonMari Media, Inc.)

'In chapter three of Kurashi at Home, I ask readers to visualize their ideal home, and I offer examples of my own or clients’ homes to offer inspiration. Each room in your home should and will have its own personal flare; whatever this may look like is ultimately up to you. Tidying, according to the KonMari Method, means holding onto items that spark joy for you, so from person to person, the number of belongings will always vary,' Marie says. 

'Some may find they like a living room filled with family heirlooms and old books, while others may only cherish some art on the walls and a simple couch. Whichever type of person you may be, you’ll know your space feels cluttered when the items and decor on display are no longer sparking joy, and then it may be time to reorganize.'

Kurashi at Home by Marie Kondo, $19.69 on Amazon

Kurashi at Home by Marie Kondo, $19.69 on Amazon

Marie's new book expands on the Japanese concept of kurashi, or 'way of life,' that she references above. Her teaching invites you to visualize your best life from the moment you wake up until the end of every day. 

How do you keep on top of 'clutter'?

In some cases, you may feel that each of your items 'spark joy', but you are still struggling to keep your space tidy. However, Marie Kondo has a solution. And whether you're organizing a small apartment or a large home, the guru's teaching remains the same.

'If you find that you love everything in your space, but it still feels cluttered, then try giving every item a home,' she says. 

'Put tech items neatly in a drawer, keep miscellaneous paperwork filed away, and if you have children, help them put their toys back in designated spaces each morning/night. Giving all your items home can remove that sense of clutter you may feel in certain areas of your home.'

For more advice, we're adding a copy of Kurashi at Home to our baskets right now.

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.