While Marie Kondo definitely made Japanese-inspired organization popular, there are plenty of other reasons why we should turn to the small island country for inspiration when it comes to organizing our homes (and keeping them that way).
Japan is known for being tidy thanks to its often minimal aesthetic, which is especially prominent in residential households. Although a small country, Japan has a population of well over 100 million, which is one of the reasons why many Japanese households are small — very small. Of course, regardless of the size of your home and your thoughts on “micro-living” or tiny homes, there are plenty of reasons why you can take a cue from Japan when it comes to keeping your home clean and tidy.
And, yes, a joy to be in.
Below are six of our favorite home organizing tips from one of the most prominent Japanese organizers — Seiko Kamiya. As an executive for her family business, Yamakazi Home, which has been helping homeowners better use space in their homes for over a century, Kamiya is a treasure trove of information.
Information that we’re so excited to share with you and your home today!
Our best advice?
Set aside an hour or so each day (or week) to tackle one of these six concepts for your home. Once you’ve finished, re-evaluate and move to the next item on the list! Doing this work now will feel so rewarding, especially as the holiday season quickly approaches.
1. Declutter. Declutter. Declutter. Before organizing, do your best to declutter what you’re working with. Here are five essential categories from Kamiya to follow when decluttering your home:
- Unused clothes and shoes
- Old sentimental items that no longer serve their purpose
- Expensive stuff that was never used but you’re too remorseful to throw away
- Old magazines and newspapers
- Paper and plastic bags
2. Roll, Don’t Fold. Yes, this is one of Marie Kondo’s biggest contributions to the organizational movement in the United States, but Kamiya agrees that it’s essential. Rolling takes up less room in drawers and, when placed vertically, makes it easy for you (and your kids) to find what they’re looking for. As a bonus, rolling is much easier for children than folding!
3. Assess Vertical Space. When you feel like you’re out of room for organizing items in your home, try looking vertical. Oftentimes vertical space is rarely used — and definitely not used for its full potential. If you’re looking for a great coat rack that makes the most of vertical space, check out this one from West Elm: https://www.westelm.com/products/2-level-coat-rack-d6086/
4. Layer Your Drawers. Take your drawer organization to a whole new level — literally. There are some really cool “riser” solutions and stackable drawer organizers that allow you to maximize even more space. Kitchen cabinets and drawers are some of the most primed areas for drawer layering. To get your wheels turning, check out this stacking drawer organizer: https://www.build.com/product/summary/972670
5. Embrace Seasonal Closets. The little bit of extra work at the beginning of each season pays off. And while you might argue that New Mexico can’t make up its mind about seasons, you can definitely put away heavy jackets and wool sweaters each summer (and those sandals and rompers by Thanksgiving). If you’re tight on space and want to embrace a whole new “I’m-that-super-organized-person”, consider storing out-of-season clothes in vacuum-sealed bags and then store those in labeled boxes. Bonus: Doing this for your kids will help them dress appropriately each season.
6. Wrangle Your Shoes. It’s time to finally organize your shoes better (and stop wearing them in your home!) Use a storage rack in an entry closet or somewhere else out of sight and make sure there is a pair for everyone in your family right there. Starting to get too many shoes on your rack? Minimize by moving less-used shoes to bedroom closets or storage boxes — or just downsize your shoe collection altogether. (See tip above about keeping flip flops out of sight during winter and snow boots tucked away each summer.)
Each time you finish a task on this list, reward yourself by doing something fun so that you keep up your motivation.