Mastering the Japanese art of danshari

Original article appeared on the realestate website by News Corp Australia.

Sunday Mail - looking at the Japanese art of decluttering

Bridget Johnson runs “Baked” from her newly decluttered eastern suburbs home. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

LOOK around your home. There’s that pile of old magazines; books you’ll never read, a kitchen drawer stuffed full of thingamajigs; and that pair of silver Converse sneakers that seemed like a good idea at the time.

How many times have you given that clutter a fixed glare then picked up a garbage bag determined to achieve serene urban minimalism, only to end your quest with that pile of magazines still sitting on the coffee table, the kitchen drawer untouched and those silver sneakers moved to the back of the cupboard?

Japanese organising guru Marie Kondo says that’s because you’re starting out with the wrong task in mind.

Japanese organising guru Marie Kondo

Japanese organising guru Marie Kondo

Instead of ditching junk, she says the answer to a satisfyingly decluttered house is to only keep hold of “kokoro tokimeku mono” – or things that set your heart aflutter or spark joy.

She calls her approach the KonMari method.

“I was only looking for things to throw out. What I should be doing is finding the things I want to keep,” Kondo wrote of her heart-fluttering tokimeku approach.

“Identifying the things that make you happy,” she wrote, “that is the work of tidying.”

Adelaide decluttering expert Sarah Shanahan is a practitioner of the KonMari method.

“I love the simplicity of it – it’s all about sparking joy,” Sarah says.

“If your possessions spark joy then you should keep them, but if they don’t then they’re just cluttering up your house.

“People keep things out of guilt; they get given things and think they should keep them; or they spend a lot of money on something so they keep it even if they no longer like it. We’re keeping all this stuff and it’s silly.”

“I want to declutter Adelaide really,” she says with a laugh.

At 33, Kondo, the empress of tokimeku, already has four books on how to successfully declutter to her name. She’s sold over a million copies of her bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Adelaide baker Bridget Johnson read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and felt inspired to declutter her Kensington Park home – starting with her overcrowded kitchen. But as an entrepreneur running cakes and cookies company, Baked, from home, she had precious little time to employ Kondo’s methods. So she called in Sarah.

Sunday Mail - looking at the Japanese art of decluttering

Sunday Mail – looking at the Japanese art of decluttering. Professional declutteterer Sarah Shanahan (in stripes) advising client Bridget Johnson who runs “Baked” from her eastern suburbs home. Sarah’s dogs name is Gracie. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

“I got in touch with Sarah via Instagram. Because I run Baked from home I have limited space available – and it was getting a little bit chaotic.

“I never had time to get it all organised and I had products that I didn’t know I had. Sarah came around for a consultation, had a look at the space and then came back with all the products needed to decant all of my pantry items, to reorganise, and to clean everything out,” Bridget says.

“She got rid of all the things I didn’t use anymore and reorganised everything so that it’s accessible and looks beautiful. It’s a much calmer space now, too.”

Bridget notes that decluttering her kitchen means she now has more useable space. “So I’ve been buying more things in bulk, which is improving my efficiency. I’m no longer going out four times a week to buy 10kg of flour.”

Of course, the KonMari method is not just about decluttering your home, it’s also about decluttering your life.

“All of my clients, when I’ve finished decluttering their houses, they tell me they have a sense of calm come over them,” Sarah says. “Everybody is so busy these days – they really need calmness back in their lives.”

Sarah says people often call on her to first declutter their kitchen – beginning with the pantry.

She says that clutter in the kitchen is usually a sign that you’re not “zoning” your house correctly. “The first thing that I’ll see when I go into a kitchen is things that shouldn’t be in there. I’ll see bills on the fridge and I’ll know all the zones have been crossed.”

Sunday Mail - looking at the Japanese art of decluttering

Sarah Shanahan started by decluttering Bridget Johnson’s pantry. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

“Sarah is really good at zoning,” Bridget says. “She zoned my kitchen between baking and personal use, and utensils and pantry – so it’s going to be really handy to have her zone other areas of my house.

“I’m getting her back to do my wardrobe and my laundry. My laundry is also my dog’s area, so Sarah will definitely zone a space for her.

“A Marie Kondo dog zone may be a first,” Bridget laughs.

Once a clutter-free house is achieved – for humans and dogs – it means fewer things are bought for the house.

“Some hoarders I’ve worked with had been buying to keep themselves happy for that day, then they do the same the next day.

“It’s a vicious cycle. You can’t buy happiness,” Sarah says.

Sarah advocates buying good quality items that last, avoiding fads and passing fashions, and appreciating what you do own.

“It’s all about having what you love with you and enjoying it, but not having anything in excess.”

What if you can’t let go?

While Sarah is often given free rein by her clients to clear out kitchens, when her attention turns to turfing out dresses and other wardrobe items things can get difficult.

“People stand next to me if I’m doing their wardrobe, and if they give me a good enough reason to hold on to something then they can keep it. But in saying that, I bring a box with me and I say ‘If you’re not sure, we’ll put it in a box. We’ll put it out of sight. And if you still haven’t looked at it in six months then maybe it’s time for it to go.’”

instagram.com/baked_adl

Back Back