In Kurashi at Home (2022), interior organization expert Marie Kondo invites readers to conceptualize their ideal kurashi, or lifestyle. Kondo then shows how, through interacting with and optimizing their living spaces, readers can achieve our idea of kurashi.
Introduction: Learn to live well in your space.
Inspired by Shinto religious practice, Marie Kondo developed an approach to streamlining and tidying the home that centers simplicity, spirituality, and joy. Her KonMari method, first introduced in 2011, has become so popular that it’s slipped into everyday usage as a verb – as in, I can’t close my dresser drawers any more, I think it’s time to “KonMari” my socks.
Now, Kondo extends her tidying-up philosophy to the broader concept of kurashi, a Japanese word, similar to the English word “lifestyle”, that describes the act of living. Finding your ideal kurashi means finding the ideal way of spending your time. Contemplating, organizing, and spending mindful time in your living space can be key to achieving your ideal kurashi.
Whether you’re a longtime devotee of KonMari, or you’re yet to discover the life-changing magic of tidying up, this summary will walk you through simple strategies to define and achieve kurashi in your living space.
Create an inspiring vision for your space
I have a question for you, and I’d like you to think about it carefully before you respond.
What is your ideal living space?
Give yourself permission to think big. Given the choice, would you like to live in a modernist Frank Lloyd Wright marvel? A rustic alpine cabin? A Versailles-chic rococo palace? A countryside cottage, a bohemian apartment, a beachside shack?
It can feel silly, imagining yourself in a rococo palace, when in reality you might live in a one-bedroom apartment. You might be thinking, I should probably get my broken kitchen cupboards fixed before I think about installing chandeliers.
But it’s important not to cut corners or focus on constraints – you’re imagining your ideal home, here. And if you can’t allow yourself to fully imagine your ideal space, you won’t be able to inhabit it. Trusting your imagination will allow you to activate your intuition. And all the decisions you make about your space should be guided, above all, by your intuition of how you can achieve your ideal life.
Notice I said ideal life, just then, not ideal space. I’m not about to tell you that you can physically transform your current living space from a studio to a mansion (though later in the summary I will be sharing plenty of techniques to optimize your space). But when you start thinking beyond your four walls, you’ll soon see that the qualities of the ideal home you envisioned earlier can inform every aspect of how you live your life – and help you live as if your space truly were your dream home.
When you begin to make decisions and establish rituals based on reaching your ideal conception of your life, your space will naturally transform into something closer to your ideal space; and, as you consciously work to bring your home closer to your ideal space, you’ll find that your home inspires you towards living your ideal life.
Kurashi is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “lifestyle.” But it’s a bit more nuanced than that: it describes the actions that make up our days, the way we spend our time. After all, it’s our conscious actions and decisions that comprise our way of life. Lifestyle, according to kurashi, is not something you have but something you do.
In the following summary, I’ll tell you more about changing and organizing your home to help you achieve your ideal kurashi. But the first step is allowing yourself to be inspired about the possibilities your space, and your life, holds. Once you have a clear picture of your ideal life, refuse to compromise on aesthetic decisions – because everything in your home should support your vision. Find joy in aspirational images of interiors and lifestyles – even if they seem out of reach to you now, allow them to excite you rather than deject you. Above all, commit to living just like you would inside your ideal home.
Start a conversation with your space
I want you to say “Hello” to your home.
Not metaphorically. I want you to actually say “Hello.”
Did that feel a bit weird?
This next part might feel even weirder. But it’s important. I want you to listen to what your home says in response to your greeting. Of course, your home won’t say “Hello” back, but – through its space, its aesthetic, and its atmosphere, it’s talking to you.
Every home has a distinct personality. Your home might be outgoing or quiet, relaxed or sophisticated, approachable or refined. When we spend time with people, we get to know their unique personalities through conversation. I want you to try and do the exact same thing with your home. Spend time with it. Talk to it. Listen to it.
The better you know your home, the better you’ll be able to understand it. The better you understand it, the better you can adapt it to your ideal kurashi.
This same approach works for your possessions, too. Try and understand them, and you’ll get a much clearer picture of how – and if – they work in your space.
Let’s try another little exercise. Look to your left. What’s the first object you see? I want you to try and inhabit the perspective of that object. And once you’re fully inside this new perspective, say the first thing that comes into your head.
For example, your object might be a mug. It might want to say: “I’m crowded here on this shelf. It’s uncomfortable and I can’t breathe!” Then again, it might be saying, “I quite like it here, next to this window.” Repeat this process with ten or twenty more objects. Once you’ve started to look at the space from the perspective of the objects inside it, you might find your possessions are telling you how they would like to be stored. Storing objects in a home that makes them comfortable, and returning them to their home after each use, can become a sacred ritual in your home life.
Some of these objects may also be telling you that their time in your life is over – they no longer spark joy for you, or meet crucial needs. Follow the KonMari method with these objects – thank them for helping you, then give it away.
Some people find that every object they own genuinely sparks joy – how wonderful! In this case, your focus should be on perfecting your storage systems, so that all your beautiful possessions can delight you whenever you encounter them. Store them in intuitive categories – books and stationary in one place, for example, slippers and dressing gowns in another. When objects are stored in drawers, give them space to breathe – you should be able to see the entire contents of a drawer as soon as you open it.
Once you understand their wants and needs, you’ll be able to care for them better. And they’ll be better able to care for you. That’s right – the objects you own are trying to help you.
It’s important to try and deepen your connection with the objects in your home, especially the most cherished and sentimental items. Which cherished item have you held onto the longest? Perhaps it’s a photograph of someone special or a well-loved toy. For Marie Kondo, it’s an old sewing box that she’s owned since she was a child. This humble box has been witness to her joys and sorrows, her milestones and her everyday routine over the years.
Clear some space in your day to spend time with your version of that well-loved sewing box. Reflect on the time you have passed together and tell it how much you appreciate having it in your life. Appreciating what we have, and deepening our respect for our possessions, allows us to take pleasure in what we already have and resist the consumerist impulse to buy more.
Invite Kurashi into your home, room by room
In this next section, I’m going to walk you through the layout of a typical house. Room by room, we’ll learn some practical tips for optimizing both the space and the time you spend inside it.
Are you ready? Let’s open the door and walk inside.
The entryway to your home is often one of its smallest spaces – yet it’s also one of the most important. On walking inside you should feel inspired to breathe a sigh of relief and think to yourself “Home at last.” Try not to overfill this space with objects but instead pick out one or two items that spark tremendous joy. On a more practical note, invest in storage for things like coats, shoes, and umbrellas – objects that can all too easily overwhelm this sacred space.
Come through to the living room. This is the heart of the home – so how can it reflect what lies at the heart of your life? If you are all about family, arrange a gallery wall of framed family photos and make a feature of children’s drawings. If travel is your passion, curate a collection of meaningful souvenirs from past trips. If you love literature, your living room might even look like a library!
Remember your living room shouldn’t just spark joy. This is a space where moments of joy are created. Encourage those moments by arranging furniture in a way that invites connection and conversation, keeping the lighting soft and ambient, and ensuring this room is well ventilated.
Let’s turn a corner into the kitchen. Many people spend a significant amount of time in their kitchens each day. And while this room certainly serves a very practical purpose, it can be a warm, joyful space, too. To keep your kitchen tidy and serene, avoid storing anything on your countertop. That way you’ll be easily able to polish it to a sparkling shine after each use. Storing dry goods in an organized fashion allows you to see at a glance what ingredients you have and what needs to be used up. It can be great fun hunting down storage canisters that best reflect your aesthetic – and they’ll uplift you every time you see them. Store refrigerated goods so you can always see exactly what is in your fridge, and avoid food waste.
Now, we come to the bedroom. This is a space where rest and relaxation should be prioritized above all. Pay attention to your sensory experience – invest in high-quality bed linen in colors you love; try scenting the space with a soothing aroma like lavender or rose. When it comes to decoration, less is really more – when you’re trying to sleep you don’t want to be distracted by busy decor. Instead, create a joy niche: a space where you display one object that sparks joy. Ideally, this niche should be positioned so it’s the first thing you see in the morning.
Your bathroom is a place for you to feel clean and calm, so make sure the space, too, feels clean and calm. Store utilitarian objects like soaps and nail clippers out of sight – alternately, decant liquid toiletries into beautiful bottles.
Finally, let’s think about the walls that surround you. The walls of your house are your canvas. Remember your dream home that you envisioned earlier? Your current space might not have windows opening out onto tropical beaches or cosmopolitan city blocks. But you can always hang the scenery you wish to see – along with the art that moves you and the images that inspire you – on your walls.
Create rituals to make small moments special
Making your home a joyful place to spend time is part of enhancing your kurashi; the other part is spending your time at home in a joyful manner. In this summary, I’ll talk you through creating simple, calming rituals to make each day feel special.
Starting the day with a morning routine that centers and energizes you allows you to start the day well. Every person’s ideal routine will be different. Marie Kondo likes to feel calm in the morning, so she wakes before her children, lights some incense and breathes it in, and finally starts the day by saying “Good morning” to her home. How would you like to feel in the morning? Calm? Focused? Energized? Choose a small, simple activity that will help you reach that state.
It’s important to practice your morning routine every day. Here’s a tip: to incorporate a new activity into your routine – let’s say a 5 minute morning meditation – aim to repeat that activity ten mornings in a row. Practicing a new activity ten times is enough repetition for this activity to become a habit. After ten mornings of meditation, sitting down to meditate on day eleven will feel like second nature. This applies to all new activities you’d like to adopt.
Often we spend our days doing things that bring us very little joy. Some of these activities, like, say, filling out tax forms, are unavoidable. But many others – like scrolling social media or mindlessly snacking – are not. Try this: spend one day acting as you normally would, but write down everything you do. Seeing a written record of how you spend your time can be very enlightening. From your record, cherry-pick the tasks you want to do and the tasks you need to do – make a conscious decision to avoid spending time on tasks that don’t fall into either of these categories.
Just as we sometimes spend time doing things that don’t spark joy, we often neglect to attend to the things that do spark joy. Things like connecting with family, engaging our creative side, or simply mindfully relaxing. They may not be scheduled into your calendar the way work commitments are, but these tasks are just as important. So, why not try scheduling them? Look at your week ahead and schedule a time in your calendar to do one or two tasks which you know will bring you joy – perhaps making time to reconnect with a friend or relative, or play around with a watercolor paint kit. Honor these commitments just as you would any other commitment in your calendar.
Finally, remember there is no activity too small or too mundane that it can’t also be special and joyful. Instead of drinking your afternoon cup of tea while you work, take a tea-break. Set a place at your table, inhale the aroma of the tea, and really notice how it tastes when you drink it. Instead of rushing through cleaning, take the opportunity to move and stretch your body in ways that feel good – cleaning your bathroom can be as refreshing as a yoga class. And think of repetitive activities, like chopping vegetables, as a moving meditation. Even the smallest moments can be special.
The key message here is that, when you live mindfully and intentionally in your home, you bring yourself closer to achieving your ideal lifestyle, or kurashi. Remember, kurashi is not something you have but something you do. Even the smallest of actions can make a big difference to your way of living.
About the author
Marie Kondo is a Japanese organization consultant renowned for her practical yet sympathetic approach to home organization. She is the author of the multi-million-copy-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the star of the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
Marie Kondo is a tidying expert, bestselling author, star of Netflix’s hit show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and founder of KonMari Media, Inc. She has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, London Times, and Vogue, and on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Ellen. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Motivation, Inspiration, Mindfulness, Happiness, Home Improvement and Design, Zen Philosophy, Cleaning, Caretaking and Relocating How-to
Table of Contents
1 A Dialogue with Yourself 9
2 A Dialogue with Your Home and Possessions 43
3 Visualize Your Ideal Home 61
4 Your Joyful Morning 117
5 Your Joyful Day 137
6 Your Joyful Evening 171
Your Ideal Lifestyle Worksheets 211
Transform your home into a haven of calm and achieve your ideal lifestyle with this inspirational visual guide featuring more than 100 photographs, from the Netflix star and #1 bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Inspired by the Japanese concept of kurashi, or “way of life,” Kurashi at Home invites you to visualize your best life from the moment you wake up until the end of each day. By applying Marie Kondo’s time-tested query—“Does it spark joy?”—to your mindset and behaviors, you are invited to take an even more holistic and personal approach to curating your environment by imagining what your life could look like full of connection and free from any limitations. This ideal vision then becomes a touchpoint that helps you make conscious, mindful choices—from how you use every corner of your living space to how you take advantage of every moment.
At its core, the KonMari philosophy focuses not on what to get rid of, but on what sparks joy in your life. In this inspirational visual guide, beautiful photographs and Kondo’s unique suggestions empower you to embrace what you love about your life and then reflect it in your home, activities, and relationships, like creating a calm nook for working, scheduling weekly get-togethers with family or friends, or having relaxing nighttime rituals that promote a restful sleep.
Your newfound clarity will inspire you to clear out the unneeded clutter so you can appreciate the inviting spaces, treasured belongings, and peaceful moments that remain.
“Encouraging readers to take an even more holistic and personal approach to curating their environments, [Marie] Kondo shares a visual guide featuring more than 100 photographs to inspire them to envision, and then create, more fulfilling and joyful lives.”—J.P. Morgan’s nextlist 2023
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If you could make any dream come true, what would your ideal lifestyle be?
Exploring the answer to this question helps build the foundation for a life that sparks joy.
That’s why I begin with every client by asking them to share their hopes and dreams. Their eyes shine as they describe a palatial house with lovely furniture in natural colors or a big kitchen where they can bake cakes. But before long reality starts to sink in, and the light in their eyes fades. “I live in a tiny apartment,” they’ll say. “How can I make a palace out of a room that’s just 80 square feet? I guess I should be more realistic.”
On the surface, this seems like a perfectly logical conclusion, and to be honest, for a long time I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. How could I ask my clients to compromise on their dreams? How could I tell someone who loves Renoir to decorate their one-room apartment with something “more suitable,” like Japanese woodblock prints, and just focus on keeping the space clean? That would never motivate them to tidy. The very thought would quench the least spark of joy.
When visualizing our ideal lifestyle, should we give our imagination free rein, or stick to what’s possible? This is a tricky question—one I had to mull over for some time.
In Japanese, the word for “lifestyle” is kurashi. As I pondered this word, I realized I didn’t know exactly what it meant. Looking it up in the Daijisen dictionary of Japanese terms, I discovered an interesting fact.
According to this source, it means “the act of living; spending each day; daily life; making a livelihood.” The verb kurasu means “to pass one’s time until sunset; to spend one’s day.” In other words, the ideal kurashi simply means the ideal way of spending our time, and therefore is separate from the “ideal home.”
This realization reminded me of my university days when I lived in Tokyo with my parents. Even though I had my own little room, which in Japanese cities is a huge luxury, I was always full of ideals and aspirations. I dreamed of having a bigger room, a cuter kitchen, a little garden on the balcony, nicer curtains on the windows, and so on. But the kitchen was my mother’s territory, which I was forbidden to change without permission, and my room didn’t even have a window, let alone a balcony.
But this gap between my dreams and reality didn’t bother me. I used to boast about how much I loved my room. The reason I loved it was because it was my own space, a place where I could enjoy my ideal lifestyle, whether that meant relaxing before bed with aromatherapy, listening to my favorite classical music, or placing a small vase with a single flower on my bedside table.
In other words, the ideal lifestyle refers to what we do, not to where we live.
Once my clients finish tidying up their homes, very few of them consider moving or completely redecorating afterward. Often the biggest change they describe is how they spend their time at home. Through these changes, they come to love the space in which they live, regardless of whether it matches their ideal.
Even if you can’t move to a new house or apartment, you can still change your lifestyle. You just need to live as if your space is your ideal home. That’s really the point of tidying up. So, when imagining your ideal lifestyle, think concretely about what you’d like to do and how you’d like to spend your time at home.
Oddly enough, once they’ve finished tidying and have realized their ideal lifestyle, many of my clients actually end up with the house—and even the furnishings—of their dreams. I can’t count the times I’ve heard my clients say things like, “Two years after tidying we moved into a house exactly like the one I imagined.” Or “Someone gave me the kind of furniture I’d always wanted.” This is one of the many strange and wonderful effects of tidying that I’ve witnessed through my work.
Whether you believe it or not is up to you. But if you’re going to imagine your ideal lifestyle, why not go all out?