What Decluttering Expert Marie Kondo Can Teach Us About Staging Homes


With a new Netflix show and a legion of fans, Marie Kondo is here to help us be more organized and less stressed. As audiences become more aware of the negative impact of too much stuff, expect buyers to demand clean, uncluttered homes.

Marie Kondo

The KonMari Method

Marie Kondo, the Japanese organization and decluttering expert, first found American audiences with her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2012. Now she has a hit Netflix show, simply called Tidying Up, that is changing way we relate to the stuff we own.

Her KonMari method boils down to two simple rules:

  • Only keep the things that “spark joy”
  • Ensure that everything you keep has a designated place to be put away

Of course there’s more to it than that, but her deceptively easy method for decluttering even the messiest of homes seems to work. Just ask the people who appeared on Tidying Up, who were moved to tears of joy by how much better their lives became when they simplified and organized their homes.

Real Estate Staging Meets Minimalism

So how does this impact the real estate industry? Well, the KonMari method can help sellers streamline their packing process by purging unwanted items before the move. That means they’ll be able to pack up and move out more swiftly once they sell the property. You might think about gifting your seller clients with a copy of Kondo’s book to help them during the transition.

However, a national trend toward minimalism–spurred in part by Marie Kondo’s work, but also with the Tiny House movement and other less-is-more mindsets–means that buyers expect to see uncluttered homes. And since there’s no place to hide that clutter, because potential buyers may be opening closets and cupboards–it needs to go before an open house.

Practical Steps for Decluttering

Sellers should start by removing all of their personal photos, mementos, kids’ drawings, and so on. Then it’s time to think about surfaces. Every horizontal surface–that’s tables, countertops, and so on–should be clear of clutter.  A few essential or decorative items can remain behind to add character, but otherwise it’s got to go!

Next, sellers should dismantle any extra storage they’ve set up to hold overflow clutter. That means plastic storage bins, as well as racks in the garage or basement. All those storage solutions send a message to potential buyers that the house is too small or too difficult to get organized.

Finally, remove large, unwieldy, or unsightly pieces of furniture. The goal is to make the house seem light, airy, and comfortable. Sadly, that’s something a lot of people lose sight of us they are slowly buried under clutter.