Kitchen KonMari Session, Illustrated

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Few topics in the home arts cause as much ire, backpedaling and recrimination as the techniques of tidying up guru Marie Kondo, a.k.a. “KonMari.” In the interests of full disclosure, I thought I’d show yesterday’s kitchen KonMari session, illustrated with crime scene type photos. Clutter is a crime, right?

On the day real estate speculators grab hold of our house, they’ll no doubt blow out all the walls, head to Ikea and install a cheap Dwell Magazine type kitchen with stark white melamine cabinets, acres of marble counter-tops and a bar people can saddle up to in their flip flops. What we’ve got right now is the original 1920s kitchen, a cramped and sealed off room with small cabinets. Space is as precious as in a sailboat’s galley, which is why we had to clean out the main storage cabinet. I wish I had the foresight to take a before picture of the cabinet, but I did get a “cabinet dump” photo, above, showing what happened when we emptied the contents of the cabinet into the breakfasts nook.

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KonMari suggests holding each object and asking if it “sparks joy.” When you do this with someone else there are, of course, things that are easy to part with and things that cause controversy. At one point I managed to snap a series of photos of Kelly running off with–get this–a bag of cat hair which she claimed would someday be used in some kind of highly conceptual cat hair felting project.

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After some tense moments, we managed to purge a decent number of unused kitchen items and Kelly rearranged the cabinet to place frequently used items on more accessible shelves.

Ironically, the kitchen cleaning session overlapped with the lunch hour preventing meal preparation. We decamped to a local Mexican restaurant for a meeting with a friend and Kelly finished this KonMari session on her own later.

I’d call it a victory but we’ve still got to tackle the pantry.

[An editorial note from Mrs. Homegrown: First, I cannot believe he has shared this cat hair business with the world! The age of chivalry is long gone. Also, yes, I know it’s a crazy lady thing to do, to collect cat hair, but I have an Idea and will not toss the hair just yet, not until I’ve tried it. Also, the bag of hair was not stored with our cooking stuff, which would be genuinely disturbing and wrong and taboo breaking, but rather was tucked away in our utility room off the kitchen. Erik rooted it out as sort of a decluttering sideline. I could point out that the very same day Erik clung with equal fervor to his crusty old pasta maker, despite the fact he has owned it for 15 years and made homemade pasta exactly…once? Twice? It seems we have both attached imaginary futures full of possibility to rather useless objects and are reluctant to let go of these fantasies. All in all, I figure it’s a successful session if each of us only holds on to one useless object when all is done. N.B:  A good rule of of decluttering with mates: No blame, no recrimination!]

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20 Comments

  1. I find the kitchen harder to declutter than any other room. Something about that room turns me into a full blown pack rat. How does it compare for you?
    LOVE the cat hair conundrum, because something similar happens in our house every time we clean a certain set of shelves. I have a bag of soft, clean undercoat from our dog, a Bouvier, that I intend to spin one day. I always meant to save more because there is not enough to spin much of anything, but I keep it anyway, since that sweet dog has been gone six years.

    • I totally understand–some of my cat hair collection is from our late cat. Maybe you could stuff a little pillow with the hair? Or is that weird?

      As for whether the kitchen is hard or easy– actually I’m okay with minimizing, except I am better at it when it comes to tools, pans, crockery– where I’m bad is food stuffs — spices, oils, salts, vinegars and dry goods. I could try to be more minimal with all that, but really have no desire to be so.

  2. As I could barely close a drawer this week and had lentils pouring over oatmeal pouring over rice out of a cupboard, I know I am due.

    One of the reasons things are pouring out is that I am actually doing BETTER at buying things in bulk AND cooking them, but there seems to have been a sudden influx of “stuff.” The big culprit this time of year is all of the mason jars that have been emptied out since last year’s harvest. And they aren’t nicely stackable or storable and take up way more than their fare share of space. But I will actually use them this year…if it ever, ever, oh my god, for the love that is all mighty in the universe, please, help, please, STOP RAINING AT 35 degrees.

    • Yes! Gosh darn mason jars! I’m juggling a bunch from this recent clean out. Don’t really *need* them, I suppose, but it seems sacrilegious to toss them in the recycling bin since they are all shiny and perfectly good. Oh the conundrums…

  3. As a lifelong crafter and hoarder, I can only laugh in recognition at Kelly clutching her cat hair and making a break for it! I’m with you, Kelly! I bet that felted cat hair thing is gonna be AMAZING. Can’t wait for that post.

  4. The weird thing is that there seems to be this paradox that while asking if something “sparks joy” and trying to get the feel for that, the analytical brain (for those of us very inclined to overuse it – ahem, soooooooo guilty of that myself…) suddenly seems to get very emotional about being heard and then override that softer, quieter voice petting your head and gently whispering “Oh, honey, just let it go. Really, I know it’s hard, and you can cry if you want to, but you can do this.” The brain can easily latch onto something, pitch this spectacular temper tantrum, sticking it’s fingers in it’s ears, grasping the item and screaming “Mine, mine, MINE!” and grasp said item tightly like a rabid two year old with a cookie. The nice thing about the KonMari decluttering is that once the shelves are clean and organized and everything stands out that much more, the process continues, onion-peeling style, and those heart-based siren whispers saying “Really? Do you *really* love me? Do you?” continue. And either you say “Yes, yes I DO love you and I’m so glad you’re here where I can see and appreciate you”, or one day, the brain gets a little sleepy and relaxed and voila, I discover that the (3 years) new-in-the-box stainless steel pot I had been saving in the garage for “someday” diy dyeing cloth, really is needed for duty in the kitchen for large batch cooking. So out of the garage it goes, into the kitchen, my brain override guilt flying out the door, and with it, three of four books I had about cloth dyeing into the donation box, and the happy faces of 30 people enjoying homemade soup. [Note: I make no judgements whatsoever, expressed or implied, about cat hair combings or pasta makers. That’s for your own brain and heart to decide. 😉 ] P

    • Congrats! Sounds like the pot has found excellent purpose. I have some dye stuff that has to go, too. It’s such an appealing concept, isn’t it? I drool over indigo. And along with the dye stuff, I have the bones of many other crafts stuffed into my tiny studio as well. It’s getting time to accept what I will and will not be doing.

  5. I am not a fan of Kon Mari, however with the cat hair conundrum, it sounds to me like the cat hair sparks JOY, same with DEDE’s
    Bouvier dog hair.
    When cleaning up once I found a little stash of Toby fur. I taped it to a card and kept it among my treasures. This was after he had been dead about 10 years.
    I am lucky in that I have a basement where I store many of the necessities of my life. Canning supplies,yarn,indoor gardening, extra sewing machines, craft supplies, spare appliances etc.
    We also have a huge food pantry down there and a cold cellar.
    With this I can keep my living quarters fairly tidy.

    • I have vivid, ongoing and I’m afraid hopeless fantasies of being the proud possessor of a basement in which to put things, and to do fermentation &etc. Erik, being a native Californian, doesn’t know or understand basements or what he is missing.

  6. If we were ever so unwise as to attempt to tidy the kitchen cabinet by first moving all its contents to the breakfast nook, we know exactly what would happen. Five years later, the breakfast nook would still be full of the former kitchen cabinet contents, while the kitchen cabinet would have miraculously repopulated itself, by some process unknown to science, with useless items that had somehow sneaked in from neighborhood garage sales.

    ☺ Shame on you for offering us such bad advice!

  7. Ha! Love the cat hair!
    As someone who enjoys (somewhat infrequently) the hobby of spindle spinning yarn, I had the fab idea of spinning my cat’s hair into yarn! But first it had to be collected…years of stashing away bits of brushings into a Baggie, thinking what would be the point in starting if I didn’t end up with enough yarn to knit something? Well as soon as I started spinning I realized that there’s actually a reason I can’t buy cat yarn at my local yarn shop. Chucked the lot! In retrospect I think I should have blended it with another fibre, but I didn’t consider that at the time…do your project, Kelly – don’t be cat-hair shamed!

  8. Cat hair for felting? Of course!
    I keep a tiny empty gin bottle in the drawer with the pots and pans. It has years of cat whiskers I’ve found around the house. At first I thought I could sell them (is that crazy or what?) but lately I realized I just HAVE to keep all those whiskers from some of my beautiful, long gone furry babies. Even tho’ I don’t know which is which.
    Konmari gives me hives….

    • Whenever I find a whisker, I feel like it is a precious thing — yet I mostly just avert my eyes and let the vaccuum take them eventually. But I totally understand your gin bottle, and would be tempted to keep mine in a bottle as well if I weren’t hell bent on cleaning this place out. Selling the whiskers? Who wants them? Witches?

    • Oh my. I was a cat whisker collector–with a mission. I collected enough of them to make an art brush. Strange, I know, but many animal hairs are used in making brushes. I somehow imagined using the brush for Sumi painting, but never ventured that far.This is my first public confession of something very off-the-beaten path…..Oh vey…..I have found kindred geeky spirits at Root Simple ;-)Now, off to find that brush I made…..

    • That’s fantastic! How does it work as a brush? And now we need to find a use for those claw sheaths that they shed periodically.

    • Hey Diane, Yes, please tell us how the brush worked out….at least, how you made it, since you haven’t used it yet? Any chance of a link to a picture of it?
      About selling them, I had seen on etsy or somewhere, years ago, someone sold cat whisker to doll makers. Who bought them, one at a time, to use on their cat dolls. They sold for over $2 a piece, so I thought, ya know, I’d get rich or something…that’s a joke, of course.

  9. I had a conversation with my mother regarding Marie Kondo’s book which I’d purchased because I tend to hoard some things (although I’m getting better about my clutter), and this is a genetic predisposition because my mother’s clutter is epic! When I go to her house to visit and look around me, the first thing I do when I get home is start throwing stuff out! Anyway, we were talking about the book and she said that she read it, took one look at her stuff, and threw Ms. Kondo’s book out.

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