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The 5 tidying mistakes to avoid – according to the Marie Kondo method

Make this your last weekend of decluttering for a while with these Marie Kondo-approved tips

Marie Kondo
(Image credit: KonMari Media, Inc.)

Marie Kondo is the undisputed Queen of Clean, with her show Sparking Joy a hit on Netflix during lockdown when, let's face it, many of us couldn't get enough of organizing and cleaning. 

However, if despite Ms Kondo's advice in her show's last season, you're still struggling to keep your home tidy, you could be falling prey to these common tidying mistakes, according to an official KonMari consultant. 

Marie Kondo shot to fame as the author of the bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidy up,  and a Netflix series Tidying Up. 

She talks about the 'ideal lifestyle' –  you can find out more about it on the KonMari website. There, Marie explains that her 'tidying process is not about decluttering your house or making it look neat on the spur of the moment for visitors.  It’s about tidying up in a way that will spark joy in your life and change it forever.'

She continues: 'Think about what kind of house you want to live in and how you want to live in it.  In other words, describe your ideal lifestyle. If you like drawing, sketch out what it looks like. If you prefer to write, describe it in a notebook. You can also cut out photos from magazines.

'When you imagine your ideal lifestyle, you are really clarifying why you want to tidy and envisioning your best life. The tidying process represents a turning point – so seriously consider the ideal lifestyle to which you aspire.'

So how do you go from imagining your ideal lifestyle to getting to grips with organizing clutter? If you are in need of a little KonMari guidance, but you aren't lucky enough to land a spot on a future show, scheduling in a session with a Platinum KonMari (opens in new tab) Consultant trained by Marie Kondo is the next best thing. 

And we've arranged a consultation for you below.

5 common tidying mistakes to avoid with the KonMari method

Marie Kondo’ new Netflix series, organization with Marie Kondo

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Sue Spencer is one of these consultants from A Life More Organized (opens in new tab). She'll help you declutter and organize your space, based on Marie Kondo's principles. We spoke to her to reveal her top tips and the mistakes that are stopping you from getting your home in order once and for all.

'If you've ever organized a room in your home and found that the clutter creeps back a week later, you'll know how frustrating the cycle of decluttering can be,' Sue begins. 

'Marie Kondo's approach, The KonMari Method, aims to break this cycle by helping people tidy up 'once and for all,' allowing them to get on with enjoying the things that are most important in their lives. 

1. Searching for pieces to discard  

'Make positive choices about what you want to keep in your home rather than look for items to discard. When you keep the items that you love (the ones that 'Spark Joy') that fit with your Ideal Lifestyle, you'll start to curate a home full of things that you love,' says Sue. 

'For example, you'll have a closet full of clothes you love wearing, which means you won't have things that you don't like taking up valuable storage space.' 

pink wardrobe with clothes in

(Image credit: Neptune)

2. Investing in new storage before decluttering

'Always declutter before you buy new storage to organize your stuff; you'll be surprised at how much space you have once you discard the things you don't need,' Sue explains. 

'Before grabbing the bin bags, think about what you're trying to achieve – how do you enjoy spending your time at home, and how would you like your space to look and feel.

'Having this view of your Ideal Lifestyle will help get you motivated to start tidying and will also guide your decisions about what to keep or let go of – there's no point in keeping items that don't fit with how you want to live your life.'

Tidy bedroom storage for shoes

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

3. Not categorizing your clutter 

In the KonMari method decluttering by location is a big no-no. Instead, Sue recommends separating your clutter into categories, such as books and bed linen, instead of sections of a room. 

'When you gather all the items from a category together in one place, you'll see what you own,' she says. 'This helps if you store similar items in different places around your home as, potentially for the first time, you'll see the volume of items and any duplication.' 

This method will help you make a more informed choice about what to discard and stop you from storing things 'just in case it's needed in the future'. 

Large closet with shoes and boxes

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

4. Not finding a dedicated home for belongings

If every item has a specific place, your home will feel more organized and appear more minimalist. 'I always recommend storing similar objects together (to avoid scattered storage), so then you'll know where to find things and where to put them away once you've finished with them,' Sue explains.

She recommends storing items in a basket or box to stop them from wandering. 'When you are looking for somewhere to store something, ask yourself where you'd look for it – it's often the simplest way to sort out your storage.'  

Large airy hallway with storage space

(Image credit: Future / James Balston)

5. Not making the most of drawer space

So many of us are not using the existing space we have effectively, which can lead to messy overspill. Placing your items vertically can 'almost double your drawer storage space,' Sue reveals. 

'It helps you to see what you have, and it makes it a lot easier to grab what you need,' she adds.

Vertical storage works beyond your bedroom and is a great modern kitchen idea, as it can create more room in your refrigerator. 'Also think about making use of walls and the back of doors to store items to clear floor space and keep things easy to find,' Sue adds. 

Armed with Sue's tips it's time to stop the constant tidying once and for all. We're determined to enjoy a clutter-free home… Let the tidying commence. 

What are Marie Kondo's 5 steps?

Marie Kondo's 5 steps are:

  • Discard by category.
  • Break categories into subcategories to help with discarding.
  • Only keep items that 'spark joy'.
  • After decluttering, organize the specific space totally.
  • Finish this task before moving on to the next.

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. 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.