Marie Kondo Guide to Thoughtful Living

I have known Charlotte von Meister, my “Chachie,” for going on thirteen years. I have seen her turn 12 by 12-foot dorm rooms into places that make going out seem far less enticing than staying in. Seen her transform apartments from Savannah, Georgia, to Soho, NY, to Hollywood, CA, and most recently, Providence, RI...into darling little sanctuaries, with each space feeling more chic, more charming, and more Chachie than the last. Therefore, when my talented friend came to me last year and told me she was going pro, it came as little surprise...

Charlotte has been certified in the KonMari method for over a year now. A method developed by tidying fairy and cult-favorite, Marie Kondo, to help people remove clutter from their lives. The coolest part about following along as my old friend became a KonMari organizing consultant was seeing her take everything she learned from Marie Kondo about tidying and apply it to all the other aspects of her life. And most stunningly…to her finances. This woman truly practices what she preaches. Watching Chachie turn from the 15-year-old once described by her Father as “his little Paris Hilton,” in regard to her online shopping addiction, into a glowing 26-year-old entrepreneur who tracks her weekly finances on a spreadsheet and champions buying all things secondhand, was proof that with a little less clutter and a little more clarity we could all start living our best lives. 

When Charlotte helped me move into a new apartment last year, she advised me that the key to making a home feel special is not the amount you spend on it, but the amount of thought you put into it and I had absolutely no choice but to believe her. She is a bona fide nesting and tidying professional after all. Plus, she was right. I’m living in my favorite home yet. Whether you are someone saving up for a first home and frustrated by budgeting or someone in the process of moving in somewhere new, the one thing this nesting genius wants you to do is...be thoughtful. 

Read on to have your mind soothed and expanded by this joy-sparking queen.

What was the moment you went from, just, “having great taste,” to becoming a full-on nesting and tidying professional?

Before I moved from New York to LA, I knew that I had to be really intentional about what I brought with me. It was just so expensive, and logistics wise, it was so complicated to move everything that I owned across the country. That’s when I found Marie Kondo.

In my apartment in New York, all my furniture was Ikea. I had no attachment to it and ended up selling it to the girl who sublet-ed my apartment. I was completely fine with leaving it all behind and that felt kind of bad for me, like, “wow, I don’t own a single piece of furniture that I really love.” When I moved into my apartment in LA, I made sure to be really careful and really slow about deciding what to bring into my apartment. I had a really specific vision. And that’s where it all began.

What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when setting up a new home?

People are really uncomfortable with that temporary transition period. And people are really uncomfortable with empty space, which is why I think there is an overconsumption problem in our country. People don’t like empty drawers. They’re like, “if I have the space, I might as well fill it.” No, no, you are making room for your future. Make room and bring something into that space intentionally.

I spent my sweet time settling into my apartment in LA. At times, it was definitely uncomfortable. But as long as you hang stuff on the walls, the furniture can come in its own time. Plus, when you finally do find that perfect piece which fits your style and space..it will just be that much more worthwhile. 

How do people insure they’ll get the most bang for their buck when putting together or revamping their homes? 

I believe that if you are going to spend your money on something then you should get exactly what you want. And it may not come exactly when you want it, but what’s the rush? I think people are so...it’s instilled in them to be so fast moving and quick paced, but it’s not a rush. Especially, when it comes to your home.

I am a big fan of buying everything secondhand. There is so much that already exists in the world. There’s no point in buying something brand new unless it’s like artisan or sustainable. It feels like a treasure hunt for me. Especially when you get really clear about what you’re looking for. That’s the whole point of KonMari as well. Learning to make joy-centered decisions and learning what joy feels like inside of you, so that when you’re approaching any decision in your life, from how to organize your drawers or what to buy at the supermarket, you sort of feel it inside of yourself and you know what feels right. That’s how I approach buying everything, but specifically that’s how I approach buying furniture. Does it feel right? Does this feel good?

What pushed you to really start thinking about your spending?

I’ve always been really bad with finances. Like really, really bad. So, I was like, “if I’m going to start my own professional organizing business then I think it’s probably time I take a look at this.” I wasn’t really making that much money. And LA is super, super expensive, so I had to be realistic. I couldn’t hide from the number. 

Where did you even begin with budgeting? 

I worked with my brother a decent bit, he’s the director of finance at this medical start up. We sat down after I had been tracking my basic utilities and cost of living for a few months. I tracked the average, which was really helpful for me as I was starting a business because I was putting so much pressure on myself to book as many appointments as possible, but then, when I actually broke down my cost of living and how much money I needed to be making every month, I realized that I only really need to be booking like three sessions a week. Which is really not that much.

How scary was it?

It wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. It definitely helped me be more realistic about what I should be spending, but it also helped bring down my anxiety. Because I’m such a Capricorn, I feel like I’m never working hard enough, so it was nice to see that in numbers and feel more confident that, “it’s ok. Everything’s going to be ok. You’re good.”

What did you realize you were spending unnecessarily on?

Food. So much food. Always. Food.

Restaurants. Postmates. And I think it also helped me sort of portion out how much I was cooking for myself at home too. Because I mostly cook for myself and would go grocery shopping a lot, but it was more like, “ok. I’m going to the grocery store once this week and so whatever I buy now needs to last through the week.” And instead of going to buy coffee, I just slightly invested a little bit more on good coffee. Or like, good matcha, that I could make at home. 

It’s funny because I feel like some people just really don’t want to know what they are spending on a weekly basis. Even if you’re trying to be good it can really add up very quickly, which is also one of the benefits, I think, of actually taking a look at it. Seeing how quickly things add up.

What are some of your favorite places to buy second hand?

For my apartment in LA, I did a lot of Facebook Marketplace. A lot of Offer Up. I’ve never used Let Go, but I know that’s a good one as well. A lot of flea markets. Any thrift store, like GoodWill has furniture there as well. I love shopping for home goods at GoodWill. Oh my god. It’s so great…so great. I went there the other day and found...The. Best. Stuff. It might take some patience because there is a lot of crap at GoodWill and places like that. There are more curated thrift stores, but of course the price is going to be higher on those things because they’ve been curated. So if you have the patience, you are going to get the best deal by going to a GoodWill or a Salvation Army. 

How do people end up with so much stuff they don’t actually want?

A lot of it is guilt. People feeling obligated to buy. Don’t be afraid to change your mind

For example, there was this coffee table I found and I think I was just wanting a coffee table, probably just wanted to get it over with. I found one that sort of fit what I was looking for on Facebook Marketplace, drove all the way to downtown LA, went into the girl’s apartment and everything. We’re lifting up the coffee table to carry it out and I was like, “you know what…no.” Most people are too scared to do that. They’d feel too bad about wasting that person’s time. But in the end, if you buy it, it’s going to be sitting in your apartment, filling you with shame and regret. Who wants that energy in their apartment? No! 

Again, if you’re going to spend your money on anything, you should get exactly what you want. To learn more from this joy-sparking queen, follow along @charlie_von !