On New Year’s Eve, many glasses of bubbly were raised to a common resolution—orderly closets and clutter-free drawers! As confetti sailed through the air and kisses fell upon cheeks, serene and efficient homes were dreamily imagined. On New Year’s Day, with strong cups of coffee in hand, the newly resolute binge-watched the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo while paging through her best-seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Months later, drawers can still only be closed with a firm shove of the hip and those Marie Kondo books are buried under teetering piles of paperbacks. The bad news continues … Marie Kondo is far too busy organizing the world to make house calls to the North Shore.
The good news is that Silvia Flinton, a certified KonMari consultant and owner of Thoughtful Order, a Wilmette-based organizing business, can help rescue that resolution before it is permanently shelved alongside outdated Yellow Pages and mismatched Tupperware.
Flinton is one of approximately 225 KonMari consultants worldwide. Just in case you have been living under piles of junk mail, the KonMari Method is the creation of the best-selling author, Netflix star, and queen of tidy, Marie Kondo. The KonMari Method strives to teach two primary skills: first, how to determine which items in the home “spark joy” and second, how to release the remaining items with gratitude. In 2016, in response to a growing global demand for all things KonMari, the Consultant Certification Course was launched.
When Flinton first read Kondo’s book, she felt an immediate connection. “I have always been a very organized person even when I was younger. My close relationship with my label maker has long been a running joke within my family,” she observes. “When I later realized I could actually do this as a job, I was so excited.”
The application process for the Consultant Certification Course is rigorous. Prospective consultants are first asked to KonMari their entire house and then submit detailed pictures of drawers, closets, and entire rooms. “It is important to demonstrate you have mastered this practice and really live it before you teach others,” explains Flinton. If the photos reflect a solid knowledge of the KonMari Method, the applicant is then accepted into a two-day seminar. Following the seminar, the applicant must complete a minimum of 30 hours of practice sessions documenting the work in written reports. After these reports are approved, the applicant is required to pass a written exam and oral interview. In 2017, after successfully completing these steps and receiving her certification, Flinton founded Thoughtful Order.
The core of Flinton’s business is a wish for her clients to be able to live their best lives. Following a complimentary consultation, clients are asked to visualize their ideal lifestyle. With this vision as their focus, the clients meet one-on-one with Flinton for sessions lasting between three to five hours. Each session addresses a specific category in a certain sequential order—beginning with clothing, followed by books, paper, Komono (miscellaneous items), and ending with sentimental items. This order is based upon Kondo’s recommendation that people should begin with the easiest category and work up to the hardest category in order to develop and hone their keeping and discarding decisions. In specific cases, however, the order of categories may be rearranged. “The order is really useful because it helps people not get ‘stuck’ at the beginning of the tidying process. However, my interactions are always client led,” Flinton says. “While clothes are typically the first category in the KonMari Method, a client who collects vintage clothing might find this category to be the most challenging because the clothing is especially sentimental. Then, we would start with books or paper.”
After all the items from a category are collected, the client handles each one. This process yields Flinton’s favorite part of the KonMari process—the spark joy. “When most people think of organizing they think about what they can be rid of. KonMari, however, focuses on learning about what you keep by recognizing what sparks joy,” Flinton clarifies.
Flinton, who has been married for 21 years and is the mother of two busy teenagers, stresses the KonMari Method is not about creating magazine-perfect interiors. “Removing the distraction of clutter allows you to focus on being a family.” Flinton shares. “Life is busy, often complicated, and homes get messy. After you have curated your items and established a place for everything, tidying then becomes a ten-minute exercise rather than an overwhelming burden.”
As the KonMari Method requires clients to purposefully handle each item, the process for an entire household may take between three to six months. Such a thorough process can yield unexpected treasures—one of Flinton’s clients found a long-lost stone from her engagement ring in the back of a kitchen cupboard. More typically, this thorough and thoughtful process reaps lifelong benefits for her clients. “The process is intended to be ‘one and done.’ Successfully completing the KonMari Method teaches you new life skills,” Flinton explains “There are always going to be life transitions—household moves, kids arrive, kids leave—but once these skills are learned they should last a lifetime.”
To learn more about tidying and organizing your spaces, please visit thoughtfulorder.com.