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Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: It's All About Choosing Joy

February 22, 2019

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Beautiful Woman Holding the Door with Bunch of Clothes. Pop Art vector illustration to show Tidy Up with Marie Kondo

Are you aware of the Marie Kondo cleaning craze sweeping the Netflix-watching nation? For those who haven’t heard of her yet, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and star of the Netflix hit, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. The first season of Kondo's new show shares her winning KonMari Method of cleaning and organizing. So far, the show has attracted millions of fans. So many fans that Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is already being called a cultural phenomenon.

In the words of  The Atlantic, "The organizational guru’s new Netflix series isn’t about judgment, decor, or the spectacle of mess. It’s about cultivating empathy for the things that surround us."

I mentioned Kondo in a recent blog regarding the importance of cleaning your junk drawer, but I never imagined how popular she’d become. In that blog, I suggested cleaning your junk drawers could be the first step toward a healthy, uncluttered existence. The same cleaning and organizing method will work for any room in your home.

In the initial 8-episode series, the 31-year-old Japanese high priestess of tidying meets several people who are stuck at a crossroads in their lives. The reasons they are stuck are as individual as the people, but Kondo says the solution for all of them lies in tackling the clutter holding them back. Kondo says anyone can do it. According to her, the goal is to spark joy in your home and transform your life in emotional and surprising ways.

"Human beings can only truly cherish a limited number of things at one time,” explains Kondo. “As I am both lazy and forgetful, I can't take proper care of too many things. That is why I want to cherish properly the things I love, and that is why I have insisted on tidying for so much of my life."

The KonMari Method

Couple sitting on the floor of the kitchen and buying online with a tablet and moving home

Most tidying methods follow a room-by-room or little-by-little approach. Kondo believes these methods don’t work and could instead leave you with piles of stuff to pick away at; possibly forever. The KonMari Method is different. It encourages tidying by category, not location, and completing the task.

Step #1: Visualize

Kondo first asks homeowners to think about what kind of house they want to live in and how they want to live in it. In other words, she begins by asking clients to describe their ideal lifestyle. Artists or those who like drawing are invited to sketch out what that looks like while writers and the rest of us can describe it in a notebook. Or, perhaps you would rather cut out images of your perfect life from magazines. (Remember vision boards?)

Kondo believes when you imagine your ideal lifestyle, you are really clarifying why you want to tidy while envisioning your best life. The tidying process represents a turning point. She suggests you begin your tidying journey by tackling your closet first. Start by taking everything out of your closet, organizing your clothes into categories as you go. Work by category, starting with all of your tops. Next sort your pants, then dresses, etc.

Step #2: Contemplate Joy

An important part of the KonMari method has to do with deciding what you want to keep, and what you want to discard. Whatever doesn’t bring you joy, say thank you, and place the item in one of two piles: things to discard and things to donate. If you are struggling to make a decision on what to keep, it means the item isn’t bringing you enough joy, so time to say "good-bye." Throughout the process, be reflective and present. Once you've finalized the pile of items to keep, put everything away in an organized manner. Once you're done: Voila! Be proud of yourself and enjoy your new Zen closet.

Use the same steps when you tackle other areas of your home. Go through your sentimental items last, keeping only those things that spark joy. By sparking joy, Kondo means keeping those items that speak to the heart and discard those that don’t.

Step #3: Enjoy Your Success (While Marie Kondo Enjoys Hers)

People around the world have been drawn to this philosophy, not only due to its effectiveness but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective, and forward-looking.

KonMari is more than just a tidying up method. It's a lifestyle brand with a suite of products, services, and content designed to help organize your home and bring joy into your life. In fact, the tidying expert has created a cleaning platform, a place to connect and support one another. If the whole idea sounds overwhelming to you, I have some great news. There are KonMari Consultants who are officially certified to help you tidy your home using the KonMari Method.

You can also follow Kondo’s tips on Instagram, or pick up a copy of her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The book is a step-by-step guide to organizing, storing, and simplifying; all geared toward turning your home into a permanently clean and clutter-free space. Isn’t that a great goal?

If tidying up your life means moving to a new home in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, give me a call at 805.886.9378 or email me at I’ll use the Cristal Clarke method to get your home sold quickly and for top dollar. We can search for your new dream home in this world-class corner of the world at the same time we sell your home. You can take all of Marie Kondo’s tips to your new home and keep it tidy forever!


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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch