Would you pay someone to reorganise your house? Rebecca Alson speaks to Stylist.co.uk’s Megan Murray about why she paid someone hundreds of pounds to reorganise her house and if being Marie Kondo-ed was as cathartic as she expected.
Like everyone else, when Marie Kondo’s show Tidying Up first hit Netflix at the beginning of 2019 I was hooked.
The pure satisfaction of watching people strip out all of their mess and clutter, cathartically purging their homes to make way for smart storage solutions was addictive. I loved watching the suggestions that Kondo would introduce for making people’s homes, and therefore lives, more manageable.
I’m not the only one, either. In the aftermath of the show, stylish storage solutions and minimalism interior design became more popular, while John Lewis & Partners saw record-breaking sales of storage and organisation products, with storage box sales growing by 47%, and baskets seeing significant sales uplifts of 24% since last year.
It wasn’t just that, though. It was fascinating to see how these people felt more in control and hoped to be more motivated in all aspects of their lives after putting these processes in place at home.
At the time I didn’t realise quite how emotionally linked these two things could be: your home’s tidiness and your productivity in life. But seven months after the show began, I gave birth to my daughter and started my maternity leave.
I really enjoyed maternity leave and adored that first year with my daughter but I hadn’t realised how difficult going back to work would be. I don’t mean leaving my daughter – my husband and I are lucky enough to have loads of support from family and a wonderful nursery around the corner – actually, it was the loss of professional identity that shook me.
It’s a trope I’ve read about, spoken about, watched in TV programmes and seen with my own mum and her friends, but nothing can prepare you for motherhood and I guess this is the same. Stepping back in the office I suddenly felt like I had a post-it note stuck to my forehead with “Mum and Part-timer” written on it.
A year away from my desk had left me feeling out of the loop and other colleagues didn’t seem that eager to welcome me back. After all, life had been the same for them and while I now felt a million miles away from getting the promotion I had always presumed I would have achieved by 30, as a part-time worker with family commitments, things just felt different and that promotion felt impossible.
When you have a child the amount of ‘stuff’ in your house quadruples. Even though I discourage family and friends buying her unnecessary amounts of toys, it’s hard to keep on top of all the separate equipment needed even just for her meal times. I’d find myself distracted at work, thinking about everything I needed to do when I got home. Equally, when I left work early to pick my daughter up from nursery, the emails I planned to catch up on in the evening would get put off as I spent forever tidying and sorting. I needed my very own Marie Kondo.
I asked around and one of my friends’ sisters had indeed paid a professional tidier to come to her house and rearrange everything into better storage solutions and more logical processes. For £170 this woman would come to your house and spend five hours perfecting one room – which included tidying and cleaning so it looked spotless. My friend regaled me with tales of her sister’s spice drawer, how everything looked perfectly labelled and organised. So, although I registered the absolute ridiculousness of it all, I booked an appointment.
The service overall was really good. After chatting over the phone, my professional tidier came round to see the house and I walked her through every room, explaining how we most use it and at what times of the day. She met my daughter and husband to get a better picture of my family and we sat and chatted about what my priorities were.
After the stories of the spice drawer (which sad as it may be, really got me excited) I asked her to start on the kitchen, booking her for the following week. The results? Well, I’ll break them down into good news and bad news, shall I?
It was fascinating to see how a professional organises space and instead of grouping items together, she created zones based on how you use certain things in your kitchen. For example, she cleared out one of our cupboards and created a ‘breakfast zone’, filling it with smaller bowls, porridge, toppings, mugs and tea. Voila, all the things I usually get out for breakfast now in one place. I also bake a lot, so instead of keeping baking tins with pans and cookie cutters with cutlery, she brought together absolutely everything I need when baking – even ingredients like flour.
She was also good at identifying which items are taking up too much space. Her process involves taking absolutely everything out of that room and looking at what you’ve got and how much of it. She recognised that we had way, way too much Tupperware and selecteded the pieces that she thought were most important while sorting the others into ‘throw away’ piles. Plus, the Tupperware that we did have, she helped make into specialised storage for things like cheese or baby food, which now has its own box in my fridge.
However, with someone else organising your space, it’s clear that they will judge certain things on their preferences instead of yours. For example, I’m a small 5ft 1in but the professional organiser was around 5ft 6in, so when she popped our dinner plates in our highest cupboard she couldn’t have anticipated how difficult it would be for me to lift something relatively heavy and wide from such a high space.
I also think that I set my expectations too high when it came to things like storage solutions because, of course, if you want to have perfectly organised cupboards then you need to invest in things like mason jars, spice racks, drawer organisers first. So, it shouldn’t have been a shock that my kitchen didn’t look like a Muji pop-up.
In the end, I really enjoyed trying this service and I do think it improved my mental health at that time. But I think that although those small changes made sense, for my personal situation I appreciated getting things generally clean and tidy more than just organising.