organizing trends map

International Organizing Trends

If you’ve kept up with popular culture at all recently over the last year or so, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo. Recently joining her “sparking joy” philosophy are several more ideas for living simply, like hygge and Swedish death cleaning. What are these ideas all about? Could you use them in your life?

Personally, I think bits and pieces of these different philosophies can certainly help us live more organized and intentional lives, but you don’t have to read entire books on them to be able to apply some of their principles. To give you an overview and some food for thought, let’s explore some of these popular movements a bit further.

Marie Kondo and the KonMari Method


Of all the decluttering books out there, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has quickly become one of the most popular. Some people even call it the “decluttering Bible,” and millions have sworn by its methodology.

In short, Marie Kondo leads you to edit your belongings down only to those things that “spark joy” when you hold or use them. To do this, you must physically touch every single item you own, and see how it makes you feel. While I certainly advocate for only keeping things that will add value to your life, it can also take much more time than any of us have to touch every single thing in our homes and make a decision about each one. Which leads me to another solid idea from Marie Kondo’s method: decluttering by category.

When my team works with organizing clients, we always start by organizing belongings into categories. Pencils, hairspray cans, books—whatever it may be. From there, clients can decide whether to eliminate or keep larger groups of items at a time. You’ve got seven pairs of hiking boots, but you haven’t been hiking in ten years. Great—we can likely get rid of all seven pairs at once rather than laying hands on each individual one.

Working by categories rather than working by room in your home can also give you a sense of progress and accomplishment to keep you going. Let’s say you tackle your office first, and begin with the category of fountain pens. You successfully took your stash of 300 down to about ten, and now you’ve completed one whole category– you’re on a roll! If you’d just walked into your office and started picking up random objects to see if they “spark joy,” you’ll be in there for days on end trying to organize—not to mention mentally exhausted.

Marie Kondo’s book also encourages a very specific style of folding and storage for certain items (particularly clothing), and unfortunately not everyone can keep up with a system so rigid. Instead of wholeheartedly adopting a predefined system that someone else created, a better alternative is to find what works for you specifically. Just because you don’t want to fold your t-shirts into a perfect rectangle, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a well-organized closet that complements the lifestyle you’re living.

Marie Kondo’s method forces us to look at what we truly value in life, or what “sparks joy.” While the method offers some great tools for decluttering, it doesn’t necessarily help with keeping your life clutter-free, which comes only from mindful, intentional living and purchasing.

Swedish Death Cleaning


box of old photos for swedish death cleaning

Speaking of mindful, intentional living, nothing can make you mindful of your life’s choices like contemplating death. It sounds like a morbid, depressing activity, but “Swedish death cleaning” is actually more of a perspective shift that leads to decluttering and changes in behavior (at its best). This idea is explored in a recent book called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, written by Margaret Magnusson.

At its core, Swedish death cleaning has some of the same goals as minimalism: to live with less stuff. Swedish death cleaning, though, adds a factor of motivating besides just living simply. It encourages us to think of how we live our lives, but also how our possessions will affect those we leave behind when we die. Is it loving to leave behind mountains and disheveled piles of items for our loved ones?

If you’re willing to come face to face with your own mortality, there’s certainly value in approaching decluttering and mindful living this way. Considering the fate of your “stuff” after you’ve passed away may make you think twice before making mindless purchases.



hygge cozy nook with candles and tea

As a neighboring country to Sweden, Denmark has its own term for mindful, simplistic living: hygge. Although no one outside of Denmark is exactly sure of how to pronounce it (myself included), it’s become a buzzword all over the world. As you may have guessed, there’s an unofficial guidebook for this idea, as well: The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living.

The word “hygge” itself loosely conveys the action acknowledging and appreciating a special or charming moment or feeling. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with organizing, but it does have everything to do with living mindfully.

Practicing hygge involves cherishing people and experiences around you, and that can be difficult to do when dealing with too much “stuff” to take care of. While hygge doesn’t involve decluttering, it does invite us to push aside the mental and physical clutter of our lives to access a place of peace, contentment and comfort. Somewhat like minimalism, it encourages us to focus on the things we have in life that warm our souls— whether that means people, physical items, feelings, or experiences.

Why Are These Movements So Popular?

In a widespread culture of consumerism, all three of these movements have something in common: living with less. Maybe these ideas have become popular because, as humans, we’ve realized that material belongings aren’t as important as we once thought.

Whatever the reason, all three of these ideas have some great points for us to think about when organizing and decluttering. If you’re ready to start the process of living simply, reading a book to jump start your journey can certainly be helpful. But don’t stop there! If you need help from someone who can step into your spaces and walk with you through the process, that’s where A Fresh Space comes in. Contact us today to schedule your consultation, and begin working toward the joy of less in your own life.