Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: Expectations vs. Reality

Decluttering and Organizing

Can homeowners (who lack organizing superpowers) realistically be expected to succeed with the Marie Kondo Tidying Up process?

  • What does decluttering really look like in reality?
  • How is the process different if you work with a professional organizer?

In this episode of The Architecture Happy Hour Podcast, Architects and hosts Laura Davis and Holly Hall review the Netflix series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and get candid feedback and helpful tips from professional organizer, Traci Olivares of Totally Organized.

See show notes at www.hpdarch.com/ahh80/.

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The Tidying Up Movement

By now you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo and her #1 New York Times best-selling book called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Her second book published in 2016, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up continued her popularity in the tidying up and organization arenas.

In January 2019, perfectly timed with the dawn of New Year’s resolutions everywhere, Netflix released the television series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In HGTV style, each of the 8 episodes featured different families, couples, or single homeowners struggling with their own decluttering challenges. We binged watched every episode eager to glean valuable tips and methods for transforming our own homes.


Marie Kondo’s tidying up process centers on the KonMari Method™. Followers of the method are instructed to sort through their belongings in categories rather than by location — but it’s an overwhelming process. Often her clients take weeks and months to declutter, and some take it on as a full-time project. How realistic is this really? We chat with professional organizer, Traci Olivares of Totally Organized who joined us to discuss how to manage all the stuff.

Show Notes

  • Our home is our sanctuary [02:50]
  • The KonMari phenomenon [03:00]
  • Is the KonMari Method suitable for regular, everyday Americans? [03:24]
  • Kon Mari Five Steps: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental [04:30]
  • Leaving sentimental items for the very end [05:20]
  • Deal with paper after achieving success with easier areas [06:00]
  • Setting aside enough time to complete tasks within the Kon Mari process [06:50]
  • Start with your personal things and personal space [08:25]
  •  Climbing the clothes mountain [09:19]
  • Look at an area as a whole system – not as individual drawers and cupboards [10:48]
  • Objects that spark joy [11:54]
  • It’s not Mari’s magic – it’s your magic! [13:00]
  • Taking ownership of the mess [13:37]
  • Bringing items out of stagnant storage space where they can be seen and processed [14:42]
  • Expressing gratitude and letting go [15:56]
  • Keeping things out of guilt [17:12]
  • Choosing which items to carry into your future [18:25]
  • The difference between the personal approach of the KonMari Method and the work of a professional organizer [18:45]
  • Busy working professionals may not have the time for Kon Mari. They want to spend free time with family – not organizing the garage [20:12]
  • Dealing with things in categories [20:50]
  • The KonMari folding method [21:30]
  • Perfect folding is not always the most sustainable system. Find out what system will work for and set it up that way [23:12]
  • Who sees inside your dresser drawers anyway, right? [26:00]
  • Grouping and processing items by ‘like kind’ [27:03]
  • In groups its easier to see when there are way to many of anything – like 26 coffee mugs [27:40]
  • Seeing your items grouped can help you curb spending habits. Like do you really need another cute spiral notebook? [28:50]
  • Is it a good idea to merge office and personal stuff? [29:30]
  • After the discarding, and purging and getting to the point where you know exactly what sparks joy, then you have to put what is left away in an organized fashion [30:50]
  • The anxiety of a suddenly empty bookcase [32:40]
  • Keeping items that may be useful ‘someday’ [34:06]
  • The older generation prefer to save items that may be useful someday [34:30]
  • Holding on to containers [35:30]
  • Cluttering up your house and life with ‘maybe someday’ items [36:14]
  • Defining indoor storage spaces [36:30]
  • Everything that we keep has to fit within the confines of our space [37:30]
  • Organizing a house as a whole [39:13]
  • Getting the right objects in the right rooms [39:50]
  • By nature we are all lazy so it’s got to be simple and easy [41:00]
  • If you have a smaller space, you may have to have dual purposes in one location [41:50]
  • Visualizing what you want your home and life to look lifw after you tidy up? [42:00]
  • Four hours to make a visible difference [42:40]
  • Simplyfing life by deleting clutter [43:28]
  • Improved energy in the house and in the family [44:10]
  • Focus on relationships instead of managing stuff [44:40]
  • Once organized, develop a routine for tidying up [45:50]
  • Clutter is postponed decisions [46:48]
  • The pyschology of hanging on to things [49:00]
  • Throwing the tinfoil away! [49:00]
  • The struggle of letting things go [51:00]


Totally Organized, Professional Organizing Services in the Dallas, Texas area by Traci Olivares

Container Store Elfa storage systems (Holly’s favorite)

Before & After a Professional Organizer

Who doesn’t love some before and after photo inspiration? Photos provided by Traci Olivares.

organized pantry
organized pantry

Are you ready to get started Tidying Up?

about Traci Olivares

Traci Olivares specializes in helping residential and business clients create streamlined and organized spaces. Her background is in the corporate aviation industry, and she holds a pilot’s license and a flight instructor certificate. This highly procedural career helped Traci hone her skills for creating systems and processes. It also increased her patience for teaching others new skills in highly stressful situations.

When Traci became a mom, she wanted to start a business where she could control her own schedule. After spending time with other young mothers, she noticed that most of them were disorganized, stressed out, and overwhelmed. Knowing that being organized was part of their solution, Traci started Totally Organized, and set out to coach others to make choices that will positively impact their lives by decreasing physical and mental clutter. Over a decade later, she has spent thousands of hours in her clients’ homes and offices, and enjoys seeing lives transformed every day.

Traci serves the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and lives in McKinney, Texas with her husband, 12 year old daughter, and 10 year old twins.



VP, Architect, hpd architecture + interiors
Laura Davis is a Texas and Colorado registered architect and interior designer, and a co-founder of hpd architecture + interiors. With a diverse portfolio spanning residential, commercial, retail, and historical projects, Laura’s heart lies with her specialty in Historic Preservation. She loves to revitalize older properties, cherishing their character and the stories they hold. Her true passion lies in understanding her clients deeply, uncovering their desires and motivations, and crafting designs that turn houses into cherished homes.

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Laura Davis is a registered architect and interior designer in the state of Texas and Colorado, and a founding member of hpd architecture + interiors. Laura's extensive experience includes residential as well as commercial and retail projects.  She also has a particular interest in restoration, holding a certificate in Historic Preservation. She is energized by the character of older homes and the stories of those who have lived there. Responding to the needs of the current owner, while also honoring the personality of the original home is a delicate process to be enjoyed.

Laura Davis

Vice President, Architect, Interior Designer Principal , hpd architecture + interiors