GENEVA’S ANSWER TO MARIE KONDO TACKLES MY ‘CUPBOARD OF DESPAIR’
COMPETITION: WIN 2 HOURS OF HOME ORGANISING – Details on thingstodoingeneva’s Facebook and Instagram feed soon.
by Sarah Scaddan
Since the January premiere of tidying expert Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, her name and her home organising techniques have gone viral. In fact, I’m sure her name will soon enter into the dictionary, with people saying, “Sorry, I can’t meet up tonight. I have to Marie Kondo my pantry,” or “Unbelievable. I went away for the weekend and my husband has gone all Marie Kondo on me.”
When tasked with interviewing Geneva’s answer to Marie Kondo (let’s just call her “Gendo,” for short), I admit I had worries.
- How am I going to spend time with Gendo, who will clearly be the polar opposite of me?
- Will Gendo make me hold every tin of beans in my kitchen to ask, “Does this spark joy in me?” Will I have to thank each tin of beans for the time they have served in my cupboard?
- How offended will I be if Gendo is visibly disturbed by the chaos of my home?
WHO IS GENEVA’S EQUIVALENT OF MARIE KONDO?
Gendo is, in fact, Inga Fira, founder of Geneva’s home organising business Home in Balance. I was expecting Nanny McPhee to arrive on my doorstep, but my first observation of Inga was that she looks like a surprisingly normal person. We had coffee, chatted, laughed and all my worries had dissipated before I got to the bottom of my coffee cup. I like her!
MY MISSION FOR INGA
My mission for Inga was to reorganise the large food cupboard in my kitchen, affectionately known as The Cupboard of Despair. I carefully scanned Inga’s face for a reaction as I threw open the doors, but she didn’t flinch. We just set to work. She cleared one shelf at a time, as I went through the contents – deciding what to keep or throw – then she cleaned the shelf and put things back in an organised fashion. So simple, you’d think I’d be able to do it by myself.
CREATING SPACE SPARKS JOY
Inga explained that there are some Kondo techniques that she likes and uses, particularly vertical folding, but otherwise she has her own home organising strategies. Inga has always loved organising and cleaning, and creating space sparks joy in her. To Inga, clutter and dirt brings physical stress, whereas order brings calm and gives energy.
After moving from Poland to Geneva, an employer observed Inga’s exceptional organisational skills and flippantly suggested she should start a business. A few years later, Home in Balance was born, and Inga joined the Swiss Association of Professional Organisers (yes, that is a thing). Four years after launching her business, Inga juggles work around her three-year-old daughter and has a busy calendar, hiring an assistant when necessary. It’s clear that she derives a tremendous amount of satisfaction from helping her clients – and making Switzerland an even tidier place.
INGA’S TIPS FOR ORGANISING YOUR HOME
I asked Inga for some tips for the untidy readers of Things to Do in Geneva.
- Start with a small, non-emotional project, such as cooking spices. It’s easy to see what has expired. Test yourself, get into the mood, and see whether you are indecisive or find it easy.
- Do one shelf or one drawer at a time. Don’t pull everything out and pile it on the floor. You will overwhelm yourself and tire easily.
- Be prepared. If your project is emotional, choose a time when you are feeling good.
- Don’t keep low-value items “just in case”. If you need one in the future, you can buy another. (You probably won’t.)
- Always think, “When did I use this last?”
- Get satisfaction from selling high-value items you don’t need, and giving low-value items to charity.
- Reduce sentimental items. Do you need a hundred photos of that person, or is one just as lovely? Do you need every picture your child has drawn, or are a few masterpieces fine? Do you revisit cherished memories every time you look at that vacation souvenir?
- An object is only an object; relationships are where your focus should be.
- After you have cleared a space, respect the space. Don’t mess it up again.
- See home organising as a diet. To succeed, it needs to become a habit.
MY DAUGHTER’S BEDROOM
After this lovely meeting, I employed Inga to help me tackle my teenage daughter’s bedroom. It had been a danger zone for so long that I had stopped entering the room, fearing for my safety. It took Inga and me an entire day to sort it out: She cleaned everything meticulously, disposed of all the trash, and also filled up her car with charity shop items and took them away. Inga is trained in feng shui and rearranged the furniture accordingly. (I’m not convinced about the energy benefits of feng shui, but the new configuration looked fantastic.) My daughter was totally thrilled, and her room still looks great today. This entire day’s work cost me around CHF750 (please don’t tell my husband).
To learn more about Home in Balance, visit www.home-in-balance.com. Prices are per job, not per hour. Inga offers a free consultation, after which she can provide a cost estimation. It’s a small price to pay for Kondo-worthy closets.