Sunday, 24 January 2016

Evolution of Our Library Room with the Konmari Method

This has been the most dramatic change Konmari has done for me.  I kid you not.

A total transformation of this spare room from this six-year dumpsite:
I have kept wasting hours and hours clearing and rearranging this room over and over for the last six years.
What a disaster area, right?

This is the downside to this goal of "discovering a hands-on parenting style with a full-time corporate career" (on my blog header).  You get a full-blown mess of play ideas saved up and Montessori-inspired activities to-do-someday without any time to organise its storage.  

Not to mention the play spaces I like to carve out.
And the toy collections my husband can't help but complete. 

Our house is bursting at its seams!

And so seven months ago, after my initiation into Konmari with my clothes closet, I began to tackle one of the next things she had in her list of chronological categories - the books.  I thought books would be another easy thing to gain confidence from and my first bout of failure-success with my closet made me make faster decisions this time around.  

Just a fraction of the ton of books that were purged!
Sanne of The Learning Basket chose the best and the rest went into the garage sale pile.

Children's books are one thing I happily splurge on, read myself, and curate a growing collection.  I bought most of my daughter's books brand new, and many from business trips abroad since the children's literature in book stores here are so disappointing.  That's why at first it was really hard to let go even though we desperately needed to make more room.

Here are the hits and misses of this Konmari episode.


"There is no meaning to books being on your shelves.  You read books for the experience of reading." - Mari Kondo

For my own books, I've gone digital a long time ago.  
I can get nearly any book I want for cheaper, and instantly bring it with me on my iPad and iPhone.  Sure I love real books, but dealing with the clutter after reading it isn't worth it anymore.

My library is my Kindle app on the iPad.  I've never looked back.  Or been bored during waiting times.
Even business reference books I've accumulated, I've passed on to others.  I put the digital versions on a wishlist on my Amazon account just in case I need to buy them again.  It's never happened.

I only have about fifteen real books : decor, art and selected play idea books mostly because the Kindle versions don't work with pictures well.  In the years I've gone digital, I've gone hardcore:  if someone lends or gives me a book, I read through it for a while and if I like it I buy the digital version and pass on the hardcopy!  It's totally worth it.

Purge workbooks and magazines.

"I urge you to stop insisting that you will use them someday." - Mari Kondo
I admit, this made me laugh.  I couldn't argue with such simple logic.  

Into the recycling bin or garage pile this went.  Even that lovely book shelf!

Keep those that belong in the hall of fame.

This was Kondo's words; the book version of her "keep only what sparks joy" rule.  This is where tackling our huge children's book collection was tricky.  I needed to get my daughter's help for the books that she had clearly outgrown in reading level. 

That step cleared away this bookshelf which went into the garage sale too
I ended up giving her three decisions: pack away, lend out, or sell.  The pack away option was my compromise with her daddy to store in her grandma's house (a Konmari rule-breaker).  It was how I knew the books had special memories and joy for my daughter, so I went with the compromise.  There were some which she still wanted to keep on the shelves.  I took executive-decision liberties with the lend out and sell pile though.  


"Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.  We fail to see that we're repeating the same work in many locations and become locked into a vicious cycle of tidying.  To avoid this, I recommend tidying by category." - Mari Kondo

While I was quick on the books, I got so distracted by the rest of the room's play pile that the whole library project took two entire months to "finish".  I began to purge the toys and educational materials around too - which I know is a mistake because I've got other storage spaces they're hiding in.  So I'm not done.  I've dumped the remnants into one closet and I've got to get through them separately.

I also tried a layout that split the room into two parts - a library and a spare table for play.  But Konmari gave me the courage to get rid of furniture too (always the hardest to part with the big stuff!).  One large open room was really the best solution for this space.

This is now my favourite room in the whole house.

Here's one side:

Still managed to have that spare table for play.  We bought that new daybed in the corner from the West Elm opening sale.

I love arranging books by color!  Not only does it make sense to everyone in the house (kid and yaya-friendly), but I would honestly go crazy keeping track of books organized by-topic.  

And it's soo pretty.

The book bins at the bottom hold thin paper back books, also by color.
Some books have a color-sticker on the cover so everyone knows what color bin to return it to.

The book bins are the ultimate cheapo solution : I had bought them for 75-each from a warehouse in Pampanga, back when you couldn't find any organizing stuff in malls and specialty stores.  They only came in blue and red, and I've used and reused them all these years inside closets.  

They were so dirty that I was about to throw them out until I decided to give them one last life.  I literally experimented painting them with poster paint (which was dumb), fabric paint, acrylic paint ... one per night... slapped on in ten minutes with Ladybug Girl's help and left to dry... I'm surprised they turned out so bright and sturdy!  

Not everything is color-coded.  The title collections go together, like:

The Berenstain Bears
The Mr. Mens (with toys in a plastic box!)
The Cat in the Hats (left cubbyhole)
The Pinkalicious-es, Charlie and Lola's, Child's Play Fairy Tales, Fancy Nancy's

The Ivy and Beans, Juni B Joneses, Wimpy Kids

The spare table in the middle has natural sunlight that makes it so lovely to work or play here:

And finally, here's the other side of the room:

There were two makeovers in this side : the two shelves were converted from an Ikea Rast dresser.
And that pegboard is repurposed from what used to be a strange second door leading to a shared bathroom.
(I guess they're for another story, but here is the story of our bleached floors makeover)

I asked her to help me arrange her beloved Magic Tree House collection shelf:

She arranged them by chronological order and stacked them herself.
(See the story of our book cart)

Still room for future books!
The other shelf holds her Nate the Greats, Princess Poseys and others.

Here is the view from the doorway - a very rare place in my home that's finished!

Best view ever.
But wait, there's more.  
A very big catch.
Soon after this room was done,
I got pregnant!  
So this library will turn into a nursery in two months.
Lord, you are funny and wise.
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  1. Lovely! I'm too scared to purge our books! I tried several times, and whenever my kids would put something on the "give" pile, I'd go.. "What?! That was your favorite when you were small!" In the end, we had about 20 books in that pile. Oh, and I always tell them (myself, actually) that our baby would also enjoy those books. My solution... no buying until further notice haha!

    1. Hahaha 20 books is still progress! That is why the Mari Kondo book is for us! And I didn't know that I would be expecting another baby ever so at this point I'm shrugging it off and saying "it was meant to be". :P

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  2. Wow! Love it. You still have a ton of books though - that gives me courage. I have been struggling to get rid of the kids books and toys they've outgrown. Maybe I will have the courage to tackle their playroom this year.

    1. Oh and congratulations on your pregnancy, I completely missed that part of your post!!!!!

    2. Thank you, fellow-Mummy Juggle! Yes still a TON of books!!! There are no Mari Kondo tips on children!

  3. ROFL!!! God works in strange ways sometimes eh? At least that will be another project to satisfy any nesting urges? ;) I love this room!

    1. Hahaha thank you Elaine. Yes always another project lurking in this home! We're never done!!

  4. You lost me at "purging books!" I. just. can't. =D
    Gaaah, I am imagining the bins and bins of books i left at our house in Iloilo. I may need to deal with it the next time I go home.
    Congrats on the new baby! Is it wrong if I wish for a Boy? =) I have a son and I can't wait what's in store for the little one.

    1. Hahaha I'm terrified of having a boy! I grew up with four sisters! So thankfully I'm having another girl :D The book purge is all because I don't have space anymore!! You're lucky if you do. Following your lovely motherhood journey abroad on IG, Che!

  5. congratulations! ...and I'm thinking Konmari and I are soul sisters ;)

    1. You are awesome, Practical Mom!!! I devoured the book!

  6. Thanks for all these ideas Trina! It is so timely that I have been trying to organize our home too.. guess it's that time of the year. Congratulations too! Happy to hear that a new family member is on the way:)

    1. Thanks, Armi! I actually did this starting last May until July, haha! I guess the timing to post was right! Have a fun time nesting and please share your progress! I looove these things. Haha

  7. So impressed and I love your method. I am such a packrat so I don't think I can purge the Konmari way, but I like your tips! I am forever annoyed at the helpers and my daughter because, of course, no one else can properly return the books the way I've categorized them. Totally my fault. So a color-coded bookshelf makes more sense right now. Maybe when my kids are older, by topic will work better. Okay, I'm motivated. I'll do this...soon. :) Congratulations again!

    1. Thank you! I am such a pack rat too, hence the need to read the book! Hope the color coded shelf works for you too!

  8. I love how your color-coded book system works!!!! I need to think about how that will work in P's room. Right now her shelf looks like a tambakan! I keep purging and it still looks awful. ha ha ha!!!

  9. Hi trina:) How are you? THANKS for all tips!! So hard to organize all those books! I can relate to your blog becauseI work full time too. See you- Carla Buan-Munoz:)

  10. HI!
    I'm KonMari-ing too! I'd love to see a post that goes into more depth on your book color coding system. Which books did you have to put stickers on? What kind of stickers did you use? Where did you put the sticker (binding? front cover/? inside cover? back?) I'm obsessed with it, can you tell? LOL
    I am thinking this will give our kid books a "home" on the shelves in a way that they just don't have right now.
    I love it!!

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