Three Tips On Achieving Your Minimalist, Organized Home Fantasy

I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, but I’ve heard enough people say “If it doesn’t bring you joy, throw it out” to pretend that I have. I desperately need to tidy up, but her approach worries me—if only because my mood changes! An example: My mom was sweet enough to buy me this silk Barneys Co-Op shirtdress when my high school boyfriend broke up with me (a long, long time ago), and for obvious reasons, I sort of hated it for awhile. First real heartbreak? Try and fix it with some clothing! Anyway, I didn’t wear it for six years, but now I love it. I wore it twice last week—once on the weekend so work people wouldn’t notice. Had I Marie Kondo’d in college, I’d have had to buy myself a new shirtdress at some point. That’s what I call money down the drain.

I’m also a bit distrustful of the situational joy that happens at places like the Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond. Sure, the Elfa Shelving System seems perfect under the gleam of fluorescent lights and stacked with a rash of monochrome display books. But at home, it always feels decidedly unchic. You could say that true organization isn’t meant to be stylish, that it’s all about functionality. But if you did, I would assume you hadn’t met Jill Wenger, CEO of Totokaelo (pronounce TO-to-KYE-yoh, according to their email signature). Her newest store in New York is conveniently five minutes away from Glossier HQ and its minimalist, airy, clean aesthetic makes for a great place to display the newest Margiela boots I can’t get out of my head. If there was a woman I would want to instruct me on how to have a better-looking home, Jill would be that woman.

Of course, her approach isn’t that much different from how everyone else is feeling. I ask her, “So, how much stuff do I actually need?” and she responds “As little as possible!” I guess it doesn’t matter when all that stuff is Acne, Rachel Comey, etc.

Buy More To Keep Less

Jill’s rule of thumb for when to know if you’ve accumulated too much stuff: “My personal gauge is when I haven’t used or noticed something for a full season.” You want to keep things out (visible) but not cluttered. Jill uses “unique ceramics, bowls and containers collected over years of thrifting, antiquing and collecting. I use an assortment of miss-matched containers to store cutlery, writing utensils, everything one needs. My bathroom has a wooden-slab countertop that’s filled with perfume bottles and a mix of found objects and bowls for jewelry and cosmetics. I love using small sculptures to hang my necklaces on and vintage dishes for rings.” She recommends things like the Nousaku Black Clip Holder, Haley Anne Robinson’s Geometric Ring Holder, Kati Von Lehman’s Stoneware Mug, and Helen Levi’s Gilded Eye Bowl, all of which Totokaelo conveniently stocks. They’re all a bit heritage and definitely not a matching set, but the thing about taste is that everything goes together if you like each piece on its own. Look for things that could serve several purposes—like the Bedside Carafe Set. Use it to hydrate, or use it as a vase in a pinch. And for drawers, the usefulness of organizers can not be overestimated.

Go Digital

Eliminate stray notes and papers by going digital. “I’m fully digital regarding tasks and appointments,” Jill says. In your closet, get some inspiration from Cher Horowitz’s digitized closet: “My shoes in boxes with images of what’s in the box, on the outside and my clothes arranged by style and color. Books alphabetized by author and title. Super nerdy.”

Get Everything Out Of Your Bedroom

“My bedroom is super minimalist,” Jill says. Not surprising. “Only a bed, pillows and white sheets and one built in shelf with my favorite 30 books. The walls are white and empty and there’s one blue and white oversize african basket in the corner for laundry.” Make any space sparse but inviting with something like this herringbone throw (OK, it’s a towel, but I give it the seal of multipurpose approval) and a super large, pastel tie-dye pillow. Set up shop with a book on Yamamoto & Yohji and a candle to reach peak chic-tude. Well done.

—Emily Ferber

Photographed by Tom Newton.

From the living room to the powder room: more organization tips care of the ITG beauty closet, right this way.

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