Teresa Boardman is a long-time columnist with 400-plus Inman columns under her belt. She writes about her real estate observations and experiences as an officeless indie broker in Minnesota.
Have you ever seen the sock drawer of a psychopath? I imagine it to look just like my sock drawer. All the socks are neatly folded and arranged by color. Most of the time I don’t even have to turn on the light to find the right socks in the morning. It just doesn’t seem natural or right. It looks kind of cool but creepy too.
I used the “KonMari” method. I learned all about it by watching the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She takes us on a journey into other people’s homes and lives and shows us how to make it all better by organizing everything and getting rid of items that do not “spark joy.”
The series has become so popular that “KonMari” and “Marie Kondo” are being used as verbs. I kind of tried it out over the weekend by announcing, during cocktails, that I had just “KonMari’d” my dresser and closet. Everyone who heard me knew what I was talking about.
I have spent the past several years getting rid of excess stuff. I had it all under control and then had to move my parents and ended up with some of their excess stuff. I finally got rid of the last of it and managed to get my son to take the extra furniture and put it in his own home.
Last year I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
It wasn’t really life-changing for me. I tend to keep my space tidy, but after a little “KonMari” it is even tidier. I am still struggling with the joy part, though.
Finding the joy
Kondo emphasizes the idea of keeping those items that “spark joy” and getting rid of those that do not. To be honest, my socks don’t spark joy, but they serve a useful purpose, so I’ll keep them until I wear them all out. The next time I need socks, I will touch them and hold them before I buy them to see if I feel that spark of joy.
As we tidy up, Kondo also encourages us to thank items for their service before we get rid of them. (I have been told several times by friends and family that I need to stop talking to inanimate objects.)
Knowing the trend
This might all seem silly to some people, but the idea of tidying up (and the KonMari method) are very popular right now, and real estate agents should be aware of this trend.
The manager of my local thrift store says that donations of used clothing and households goods are way up this year, and she thinks it is because of the KonMari method.
I have been getting emails on how to “get organized” and how to “KonMari” a condo.
It is still only January. If the trend continues to pick up momentum, small boxes and plastic bins that fit inside drawers and on shelves are likely to be popular gifts next holiday season. If not, perhaps socks that spark joy will be all the rage.
It will be interesting to see if tidying up catches on and goes mainstream. I know it would change many marriages and impact the relationships of mothers and teens everywhere.
If the idea of “sparking joy” catches on, will people take it to a place beyond the sock drawer and start expecting to find “joy” in the dairy case and the grocery store? What if this all gets so far out of hand that people only want jobs that spark joy and only want to work for employers who spark joy? Real estate agents who spark joy?
Maybe I need to reign this in and not get so carried away. It is still January after all. January is the month that starts with crowded gyms and short lines for sandwiches at the bagel shop. (By February it is reversed with longer lines for bagels and fewer people in the gym.)
Sparking joy in real estate
Having our clients who plan to sell their homes watch some of the tidying up series might be beneficial. There are plenty of homeowners who don’t really have an idea of what an organized home (or a tidy home) looks like.
Homes for sale do not always spark joy. In fact, some are a bit depressing. Maybe people will pay more for a home that sparks joy?
Some of the homes I see have way too much in them. The buyer struggles to imagine what the space could be like. There are stagers who like to cram as much furniture as possible in every room. They tell me that it helps the buyer get ideas about how to use the space.
Personally, when I walk into a house that is sparsely furnished or one with empty rooms, I feel a sense of peace, and I actually start to imagine what it would look like with my stuff in it. Now I can take that one step further and imagine it with items that spark joy.
Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.