“Our home is lighter,” says Betty Simcock, a Walla Walla resident who recently embarked on a decluttering journey.
The couch left first, a few months ago. My bed went next. A week after that, the kitchen tab…
“In the past there was a heavy feeling when I would open a cupboard that was stuffed with fancy serving pieces that were wedding gifts 55 years ago. Now, most of the items are used often, and it is easier to get things out of the shelves.”
Simcock and her husband, Manford, last year took on the purging challenge of Marie Kondo’s best-seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” along with millions around the world, including many other residents of the Walla Walla Valley.
The book has been a huge seller at Book & Game since coming out in 2014, according to store Manager Janelle Bruns.
Kondo’s “KonMari Method” is simple: Systematically go through your home and decide one-by-one if your possessions “spark joy.” If something doesn’t, you don’t need it. Her book outlines how to do this and how to completely organize what remains — from what to purge first to how to fold socks.
Tidying in such a thorough manner sounds daunting, but the organizing consultant promises big rewards, including restoring balance and establishing the lifestyle you want.
“We do not miss a single item that we took to Du Passe or donated,” Simcock says. Du Passe — meaning “things of the past” — is the booth they opened in downtown antique marketplace Tra Vigne to divest themselves of some unneeded belongings.
With the season of gift-giving upon us, now could be the perfect time to purge. Local resident Sarah Bergman, a self-proclaimed neat freak, uses the policy of “something in, something out” to keep her home organized, especially with her kids.
“When Christmas comes around we’ll go through their toys and see what they don’t play with anymore so we don’t get overwhelmed,” she says. Bergman notes she enjoyed reading Kondo’s book, but didn’t follow the strict protocol throughout her home.
Whether you adhere to all of the book’s advice, or just “kondo a closet,” the final step is figuring out what to do with unwanted items. The Valley has a variety of charitable shops, and Erendira Cruz, executive director of the Sustainable Living Center, suggests several places where your discards could spark not only joy, but confidence, creativity and inspiration in others.
Many avid readers have trouble letting go of books, intending to enjoy them again someday. But, as Kondo puts it, “someday never comes.” Free Little Libraries, found in neighborhoods around town, are places to drop off a surplus tome and exchange it for a new one. The local American Association of University Women chapter collects books year-round for its annual sale, a fundraiser that provides scholarships for area women returning to college, as well as educational projects and events.
Clothes are the first item Kondo recommends going through. You might donate professional clothing to a nonprofit such as Dress for Success Seattle, which provides outfits for women to wear to job interviews.
Kondo’s rule of thumb is to discard everything. She swears her clients have never missed an owner’s manual, warranty or credit card statement. Locally, Walla Walla Area Crime Watch offers free document-shredding days for confidential paperwork in the spring and fall.
Some miscellaneous items could reinvent themselves in children’s artwork. Carnegie Picture Lab, a Walla Walla nonprofit providing arts education to area K-5 schools, accepts new or gently used craft supplies. The facility often needs household items for special projects or found-object art, says Director Tracy Thompson.
For instance, hand tools were collected for one of last year’s lessons on contemporary artist Jim Dine, since they are a theme in many of his sculptures. Children were taught to think of the tools in new ways, and created vibrantly colored artwork inspired by them.
Thompson suggests potential donors check the Lab’s Facebook page for current needs.
Further, if leftover materials clutter your property after a home-improvement project, you can take them to the Sustainable Living Center’s Builder’s ReSupply Store to ignite someone else’s remodeling urge. Computers and electronics can be deposited in ECycle Washington’s drop boxes at the corner of Rose and 13th for recycling; the company’s website lists places to recycle other household items.
“The past becomes a weight that keeps you from living in the here and now,” Kondo writes, and advises tackling sentimental objects last. Although they are the most difficult to discard, you may discover that finding new homes for them is a rewarding experience, like Simcock did with items she inherited from her father.
“In the 1960s my father had been involved in the buried treasure search on Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia,” she says.
“I inherited a briefcase and folders of material telling the story of the search. I was able to donate all of it to a museum in Nova Scotia. They even paid the postage.”