Isn’t it funny how you can open up Pinterest and get a sense of exactly what time of year it is? A month ago it was filled Christmas ornaments, gifts, decoration, and food selections. Literally, the day after New Years, you open it up and are filled with how you can lose ten pounds in the next two months or start the year organizing your life. In the area of organization, there are so many wonderful ideas and tips that I personally can get overwhelmed by it all. It’s like standing in front of a fire hydrant as it shoots out water. Yes, it is a little ironic that I am adding to the overwhelming mix, but I wanted to be simple by paring it down to three books. In my opinion, these are the only three books you will need for your organization goals this year.
Last week, I was thinking through this post and I decided to head to my local bookstore and just see what is out there besides the books I will recommend. I usually buy all my books on Amazon, but it is sometimes nice to just flip through and see for yourself instead of reading a review. The above picture is the selection of organizational/design books for the home in my local bookstore. I was instantly overwhelmed again. Which one do I pull off the shelf? These all are so great, but I noticed many of them are specific to room, styles, and personalities. How could little ole me chose what is best for you?
The sea of really great choices really confirmed my decision of the three books I wanted to recommend. Today I want to share two of my favorite books on the philosophy of organizing and another book that I believe is a timeless tool to compliment these philosophies.
This is a more wordy post so I figured I would start with a “shoppable list” if you are the type of reader who would just rather see the recommendation and spend your time reading reviews instead of this post. Here are my three recommendations…
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Make Room For What You Love by Melissa Michaels
- The Complete Book of Home Organization by Toni Hammersley
Here is why I love these three books…
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing; by Marie Kondo
About the Author:
Marie Kondo is a professional organizer. Seriously, she has a three month waitlist of clients. She has created her own method of cleaning and tidying up called the KonMari method and her clients say it has changed their lives. You can learn more about her at KonMari.com
Instead of organizing room by room, organize category by category which will help you simply and get rid of the stuff you don’t need. She insists that if you start with organizing what you have, then you will always be in the marathon of organizing and tidying. You must start first with getting rid of most things. She calls it “tidying in one shot.” Her method, in short, is seriously de-cluttering and only keeping the things that “Spark Joy” in your life. (“Spark Joy” is the title of her follow up book that is on my reading list)
Its a #1 Best-Seller on Amazon with a 4 and 1/2 star rating with 11,091 mostly raving reviews. 68% of those reviews are 5 star. Only 16% of the reviews are 3 star or less. You can read the reviews here.
I honestly wanted to pass up on this book. It seemed, to be honest, a little extreme. Then I had a good friend read it who raved about it. I decided to give it a go. I honestly have a love-hate relationship with it. I love to hate it but I really needed it. The entire time I read it I wanted to say “that is not me” but then she would give examples of clients situations and it would be me…exactly! She is literally the good friend that you need. You know, the one that is able to say the hard things you need to hear and when it is said, you go into denial. In the end, when it sinks in you realize its true, you need to change and you are thankful you heard it.
You will be challenged to get rid of what you don’t need. Even sentimental things. She really challenges you to take the time to verbally thank the things or objects that have impacted your life. The point is to take the time to give yourself closure so you can move on from the item. I thought it was a little odd at first but it really did help me hang onto only the things really meaningful to me and let go of some of the things I would never really look at for inspiration or memories.
The last part of the book she goes into how this method will “magically transform your life.” I know you are never supposed to read the end of the book first but knowing the possible results helped me dive into the more rigid philosophy.
The Most Challenging Part:
This will be different for everyone but for me it was the section of the book titled “Storage Experts are Hoarders.” Yikes! She is not anti-storage and actually gives the best storage tips I have ever read, but takes the time to diagnose the problem storage solutions can hide. I was in complete denial when reading this sitting in my living roomed. I then looked up at all the baskets in my home filled with things I never really use. The knife of conviction…it was real for me.
It was outside my comfort zone a little, especially “speaking” closure to objects. It is also, in some places can feel strict or harsh but you always know she is inspiring the best in you. It is different and challenging put the proof is in her results. Her goal for you is freedom in your life. She is right, freedom is magical.
The “How Tos”:
This book is not all about philosophy. She hits you with truth but then gives some of the most logical and practical tips for storage using what is already in your home. I really benefited from her philosophy and tips on seasonal clothes.
The Take Away:
Tidy up once and you will live a tidy life. The goal is to change your mindset on your stuff so you live in an environment that “sparks joy.” This book is exactly the kick in the pants I needed to clear the space and figure out what is really me.
Make Room For What You Love by Melissa Michaels
About the Author:
Melissa Michaels is the author of the blog The Inspired Room. I have been a huge fan of her for a while and so have many others. She has been voted in 2014 and 2015 the Better Homes and Gardens favorite decorating blog. She has half a million followers for good reason, she is really talented.
Honestly her philosophy is not that much different than Marie Kondo’s views on organization but it is communicated with a much different feel. In my opinion, she focuses on the heart issues of a disorganized life. For example, she views the heart of clutter as the problem of indecisiveness. She takes the time to define organizing and lifestyle terms such as order, clutter, and luxury with a fresh new perspective. Honestly the title says it all. Her goal is help give you philosophical and practical advice let go of the things you once loved for the things you love.
Melissa’s book is new this past year so she doesn’t have as many reviews out there as other but I believe her blog loyal following and recognition is the most solid review for this book. That said, there are 79 Amazon reviews giving her a 4 and a half star rating, 88% of them are 5-star reviews. 7% are 3-star and less. You can read the reviews here.
Like I said above, Melissa’s philosophy of de-cluttering has some similar principles of the KonMari method but they are not as rigid. She is also very relatable. She is a mom, a wife, and loves making a home special. She will speak to the heart of issues that permeate life and home. She also understands that you live with family members and kids. This book is about you, but also helps you incorporate what you are learning with them. I really love being challenged to make measurable goals. I also loved the perspective of clutter as indecisiveness. Melissa gives practical advice on “finishing what you have started” and “staying focused.” All of her words are encouraging yet help you see there can be grace and forgiveness in a process that can be daunting.
The practical tips she gives throughout the books are really great. She writes the book in a way that you could just simply flip through it and find them easily. I also love the calls to action that are infused through the books. She titles them “Do It Now.” While you are reading she will challenge you to put the book down and go do something. I love this! Finally, I love the quotes that she includes from so many inspiring people. Most of them, when spoken, were not meant for home organization but they actually do apply. To me, this shows how Melissa prioritizes heart first and then the “how tos” next.
The Most Challenging Part:
For me, it was the chapter titled “Enjoy Luxury.” I would never categorize myself as luxurious, but her definition here really challenged my view on luxury. What is wrong with enjoying things that are special? That is the point right? I don’t have to live my life in abundance to have luxury. Cutting out excess and limiting what comes into my home creates luxury. There is more ease and comfort in that lifestyle. Also it can free up my wallet for an actual luxury….like paying someone to do my landscaping ( A DIY I don’t really like doing), or buying the bed I am trying to DIY but don’t really have the skills or tools to do it.
To me there were not any, it all depends on your personality. This book is practical with great goals but if you need a little bit of a kick in the pants, or the accountability of stricter rules then maybe don’t start with this book. That being said, while being really different in feel, I actually think both books I have mentioned work together well.
The “How Tos”:
There are tons of great tips and tricks in this book for you to practically use. She addresses most of the spaces in your home, giving practical tips.
The Take Away:
What is going on in your heart can overflow into the order of your house. If you can identify and deal with these things, you can have an organized home filled with the things I truly love.
The Complete Book of Home Organization
by Tony Hammersley
About the Author:
Toni Hammersley is the author of the popular organization blog A Bowl Full of Lemons. She not only has created a very usable site for organizational help, but she also has created a great community of people who want to be organized.
This book centers around how to organize with a philosophy of “less is more.” It is more visual than wordy but designed to give you tips with the examples. The goal is to give you practical advice to not only organize, but maximize a room with function and storage.
This book is also an Amazon #1 Best Seller. It has a 4 and a half star rating with 78% being a 5-star review. Of the 183 reviews on Amazon, only 12% are 3-star and below. Read all the reviews here.
I am a visual person so this book is right in my comfort zone. It is an artfully done book that can sit right on my coffee table. More importantly, it is one I will pick up and reference for a long time. It has great “before and after” spaces alongside practical tips and strategies for organization. Toni also taps into her community of experts to give their great advice. She chooses wisely based on people’s expertise as she gives you great advice in every space of your home. I consider this book the best of the internet on your coffee table.
Every page oozes with inspiration in real spaces that seem attainable.
The Most Challenging Part:
As with any design book I think sometimes the most challenging part is modifying the inspiration to fit your space. It also can be as overwhelming if you try to do everything it says. I don’t believe her intent was for you to be overwhelmed simply by how the book is formatted. It has been created to be a great reference book for when you are ready to tackle a specific room…in your own time.
This book goes a mile wide but not a mile deep. This is not a negative of the book but more a negative if you the reader are wanting a more philosophical approach. Her goal is to give you tips and inspiration in every room of your house, but if you are looking for a life overhaul this isn’t the book. To me, this is the perfect book to use as a tool after you have done the overhaul.
The How Tos:
There are just as many strategies in this book as “how tos” which I really love. My favorite was organizing your office space into zones or how to style things without visual clutter. There are also creative tips to think outside the box in maximizing space deficiencies in a room.
The Take Away:
This book gives you a a great community of experts and experience home owners that show an organized life is attainable, practical, and can fit very functionally into a stylish home design.
Whew….. Did I miss your favorite? I am sure I did because there are so many. I would love to hear about it in the comments below. I know the readers would also love any informative (yet respectful) reasons why you did or did not like any of these books as well.