An old boyfriend once told me that, when his mother learned that I wrote about interior design for a living and asked what my own personal decor style was, he'd responded "crowded." Though I would take issue with that exact wording (and, in my defense, I was living at the time in a 500-square-foot apartment where having so much as a bed and dresser pretty much constituted crowded), he wasn't altogether wrong: I like stuff. And I have a lot of it. From art to furniture to knick knacks picked up while traveling, my home is always brimming with objects. My friends joke about my remarkable power of amassing and, admittedly, moving is always a dreaded occurrence for me. That is to say, I’m pretty much Marie Kondo’s nightmare.
As much as I tried to look at the beloved organizer’s approach with an open mind when she first sprang to stardom, I feel Kondo's cultlike fandom has reached a point where I simply cannot stay silent. I have nothing against the charming Marie herself, but maybe there's not as much magic in clearing out our homes as we would like to believe.
Look, I'm all for keeping our spaces better organized, but why must we so harshly judge or vilify our innocent things, who have done nothing more than keep us company?
Kondo advocates keeping only the things that bring you joy, a mentality I'll happily get behind; there's just one catch—a lot of things bring me joy. A miniature grasscloth side table gives me joy to look at, as does a stack of mismatched china plates; a Swiss beer stein brings back joyful memories of a family trip to the Alps. A Murano glass vase, gifted by a friend, brings joy as it sits utterly useless on my bookshelf and an antique chair recalls the joy of finding it at a hot, dusty flea market during college. Far from being hinderances to a more streamlined life, my objects are the steadfast companions in the kind of semi-transient existence typical of New Yorkers of a certain age.
While we're all bound to have a bit of unnecessary ephemera lying around our homes, why must we be so judicious in trimming the fat? I'd argue (and the stacks of storage boxes under my bed would agree) we're better to play it safe. Who hasn't gasped, or shed a tear, or laughed out loud upon uncovering, mid-moving or organizing, a note from a loved one or a memento from a memorable trip whose significance hadn't yet crystallized when you first placed it in that spot? Last year while rearranging my bookshelf I pulled out a novel—paperback, already read, utterly banal when I'd stashed it away—that I realized was the last gift my grandmother had sent me before she passed away. Now, I'll never throw it out.
And while a more minimal lifestyle may appeal to some, that's never been my look (I even found a way to attach an additional accessory to my furniture, for God’s sake). When my eye travels around my space, I want it to pass over thing after thing after glorious thing—and never get bored with a white wall. So go ahead, keep boxing up your stuff and taking it to Goodwill or offering it up at a flea market—I’ll probably buy it.
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