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How to Tackle Spring Cleaning with the Marie Kondo Method

Plus, where to donate all your joyless items in the Denver metro area.

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Unless you’ve been living without Netflix—and in that case, we’re sorry—it would be hard to miss the KonMari craze that’s sweeping the U.S. Created by a Japanese woman named Marie Kondo, the KonMari method maintains that by tidying your space, you can transform your life. Essentially, the Kondo belief is that an uncluttered space equals more joy.

It’s a simple philosophy that Kondo has both outlined in her books—including the New York Times bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Ten Speed Press, 2014) and Spark Joy (Ten Speed Press, 2016)—and put into practice in her 2019 Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Speaking from experience, watching a single episode does prompt the unstoppable desire to clean out something, anything—a drawer, front hall closet, under the bed—and yes, that act of purging does indeed spark joy.

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The KonMari Method is shockingly addictive, maybe due to its organized and appreciative philosophy. Kondo recommends approaching your stuff by category—not by location—beginning with clothes, then books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, eventually, sentimental items. Pick up each item and ask yourself if it “sparks joy.” If it does, keep it. If not, thank that item for its service and send it on its way.

After removing items from your home that no longer spark joy, Kondo recommends ways to effectively organize what remains. For clothing, she teaches—in delicate, almost origami-type fashion—how to carefully fold each item of clothing, from socks to underwear to t-shirts, in order to create a perfect little rectangle (of bliss) that can either be stacked or propped up, saving space and, perhaps, your sanity. For drawers and cabinets, Kondo suggests utilizing small boxes and containers to bring order to items that you would usually stuff in these spaces without thought or care.

While the process is fairly straightforward, people who have KonMari’d their homes talk about how it has changed their lives. “I almost got a ‘high’ from throwing things out. I would start slow when I attacked a room but once I got going, I would get excited by how much I was able to get rid of,” says Nicole Miller, a Louisville-based video producer and married mother of two, who recently Kon Mari’d her entire house. “I am calmer at home. The house also seems ‘calmer’ without piles and objects everywhere. I am also much more aware of what I buy and bring into the house.”

But grappling with your messes can also feel daunting, which is why it’s no surprise that KonMari consultants have popped up to help guide you. Kate Englebrecht, of Call Kate Tidy in Denver, says the first step in the KonMari Method is vital—envisioning your ideal living space and lifestyle. “When I engage a new client, I first find out what the current challenges are in their home and also what their goals are for tidying their home and for their life in general,” Englebrecht says. “Whatever is in your heart will manifest as a result of tidying your home.”

Englebrecht has been a certified KonMari consultant since May 2018 and busy with bookings from day one. In order to become a consultant, Englebrecht had to declutter her own home from top to bottom, snapping before and after photos as proof. “As a KonMari consultant, we have to be living examples of the KonMari Method,” she says. Englebrecht also attended workshops and training in San Francisco in 2016, where she learned how to walk others through the process.

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“For myself, the KonMari Method is in alignment with my spiritual beliefs. It gives me confidence to know everything in my life and home sparks joy, and it allows me to be a successful mom and business owner,” says Englebrecht. “There aren’t piles of things everywhere, drawers aren’t stuffed full, and surfaces are cleared off. My mind truly thrives in a space where there is order, and whenever I need to find something I know exactly where it is and so does my family.”

Miller adds, “The biggest take away from this process is the push and pull of consumerism. We are all hard-wired to acquire more ‘toys’ and yet once we have it, it loses its power and in fact, causes us stress and clutters our house and mind,” she says. “The reason this process is so cathartic, I think, is because it frees us from a type of thinking that has been engrained from our earliest memories of being given things as children.”

If that’s not reason enough to start spring cleaning, consider this: Some charities across the Denver area—such as Peak Thrift, Dress for Success, and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore—have reported an uptick in donations since Tidying Up with Marie Kondo hit Netflix. You know what they say—one person’s joyless items are another person’s treasure.

Where to Donate in Denver Now

Remember to tidy responsibly. Don’t just dump your stuff. Items that still have some life left in them can go to thrift stores or charities around the city. (But please note that second-hand stores can’t do anything with your item if it’s truly ready for the trash can or recycling bin; use your best judgment). Please note the following places take more than their “most desired items” list. 

Closet & Kitchen

Peak Thrift
4890 Pecos St.

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Most desired items:

Dress for Success
2425 S. Colorado Blvd., #200

Most desired items:

Denver Rescue Mission
5725 E. 39th Ave.

Most desired items:

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Baby Stuff

Weecycle 
14 drop-off locations throughout the Front Range 

Most desired items:

Komono (miscellaneous items)

ARC Colorado 
You can donate at more than two dozen locations throughout the Front Range or schedule a pickup

Bathroom

St. Francis Center
2323 Curtis St.

Most desired items:

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Basement

Hard-to-Recycle Center Denver
Arvada & Denver

Garage

Rooney Road Recycle Center
151 S Rooney Rd., Golden

Building Materials for Reuse

ReStore: Habitat for Humanity
Five local stores in Aurora, Denver, Littleton, Highlands Ranch and Wheat Ridge (drop off or schedule a free pickup)

Recycling Resources: For items not specifically mentioned on this list, try using EcoCycle’s A-Z Recycling Guide. (Use the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner.)


Additional reporting by Rebecca L. Olgeirson 

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