Sparking Joy in a Minimal World

Does this spark joy? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently after starting Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, Tidying Up, and it seems I’m not the only one, as almost everyone I talk to has been bitten by the bug of organization and almost every other social media post I see is of newly folded drawers that would make even Marie proud. This isn’t our first go around with the KonMari method. Several years ago, Adam and I purchased The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up when we were still living in our small one-room downtown loft, and it really did make a big difference in not only our organizational methods but also in how we approach the objects in our life. I found myself no longer feeling the need to hold onto items out of guilt and also easier to pass them along once they’d served their purpose even if that purpose was short-lived.

It can be easy to assume that having an organized home means a home filled with very little and only the most practical of items, and given the moment minimalism has had in design over the past several years, achieving a minimalistic home can often feel like the ultimate goal. However, one of the things that consistently strikes me most about both reading and watching Marie is that an organized, joyous home does not always equate a sparse, minimal home. We love the lack of judgement given in Tidying Up when owners keep things that may not see regular use but that truly bring them happiness. Marie’s challenge of keeping what sparks joy is something that I think takes a bit more thought and consideration from most organizational approaches but is a practice that it is well worth the time. While things like the recently passed down china from our grandmothers pictured in the first and last photos may not be the most practical (we actually never even registered for any when we got married thinking we’d never use it), sentimental items that create and pass on traditions are some of the most joyous items for us, and I appreciate the nudge to more deeply evaluate the items we allow to take up space in our home.

As we go through different seasons in our lives, I think the answer to the question of what sparks joy can change. We’ve seen this even in just the few short years that have lapsed since our last round of KonMari organization tactics. Part of this can be lifestyle, but I think another contributor can be space. A challenge for us in moving from 400 square feet (pictured above) to about 1900 has been to resist the urge to not fill every inch of this newfound openness. When we lived downtown, we had to be pretty ruthless in what we allowed to stay, and it’s been a welcome change to be able to welcome in more sentimental items since moving but has also been something we’ve had to keep in check. We all have our own space constraints, and we all have to find what works well for us. It’s unrealistic to assume that we can all hold onto the same number of items whether or not they spark joy. Maybe that means just keeping a piece or two of the heirloom china or, if you have room, the whole set. Whatever your square footage situation may be, however, I do think Marie’s approach is such a helpful tool in creating a home full of items you treasure and one that can slow down the urge to over-accumulate should you wind up with more space. While I’ve just slowly begun restarting the process of evaluating the items we have here with us in our current home, I’ve already seen a difference in being reminded that you don’t have to hold onto any and every item you’re given because, ultimately, that can detract from giving proper space for the items you actually love to be viewed and easily accessed and in being reminded that’s it’s okay to hang onto things even if they don’t see much use.

I’m looking forward to restarting this process and making space for items that currently spark joy, like these new (to us) dishes. Looking at them fills me with happiness to think not only about the many memories they will hold but also those they have already held. Adam’s mom shared remembering using a certain wine glass every Christmas growing up and how special that always felt, and it’s a happy thought to think of each time we glance upon them as is having something that lets his grandmother’s love of florals, which I dare say we also inherited, shine through. Now I suppose the question is in figuring out how Marie would want us to store these…I don’t think you can fold china.

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