Marie Kondo time: Spring cleaning tips from Hong Kong interior stylists
By: Elizabeth Choi
April 7, 2021
The weather is warming up and the sun is shining awfully bright these days. Spring is officially here and for many of us, it’s time for an annual spring clean. Between the wardrobe, the bedroom, the kitchen, and the bathroom, it can be difficult to know where to start. Fear not, we rounded up the best tips from top interior stylists on the best way to effectively home edit, reorganize and remain calm throughout the process.
Edit with a plan
“The first step to an organized space is definitely to declutter first — there will simply be just less to manage,” advises Aaron Chin, co-founder of The Editors Company, an online home styling platform dedicated to making home design accessible.
“But you don’t want to go into it without a strategy. One good step is to develop some good ‘principles’ or ‘values’ going into it. It’s different for everyone depending on their situation and lifestyle.” If you haven’t used something for 18 months or have duplicate items, these could be good candidates to get rid of, Chin suggests.
JJ Acuna, founder of JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio and the interior design mastermind behind some of Hong Kong’s most popular eateries, offers some direction. “The first step we recommend with our clients is to just let go of everything that doesn’t reflect who you are now or where you want to go.”
Not to be confused with items of real sentimental value, Acuna points to clothing that doesn’t fit or suit your current lifestyle or even old bills from years ago. “Throw it all away. Fiction books you’ve read, donate them to friends, family, and people who need them most. Letting go is necessary and potentially cathartic!”
Where to focus and what to keep in mind
Acuna points to two key areas that will make you feel accomplished when finished: the wardrobe first, then the office. “Once you’ve gotten those two spaces really clean,” he says, “you can take on almost anything.”
For those who find it difficult knowing where to start, Chin has an interesting tip: “[A] rule we go by when thinking about what to display is to follow the ‘cantaloupe rule’. The rule is as simple as it sounds, which is to try not to display anything that is smaller than a cantaloupe, which will make shelves and the space feel more cluttered.”
Be kind to yourself to avoid feeling overwhelmed
Tackling a deep clean of the entire home can easily become a daunting task. That’s where expectations and mindset come into play. “Don’t be too hard on yourself with too much expectation,” Chin says. “First, you don’t have to do it all in one day. Do it small area by small area, just make sure you have good habits day-to-day of putting stuff away and being thoughtful about what you keep.
Second, you don’t have to aspire to super neat minimalistic spaces you see in the magazines, that’s completely unrealistic! Personally, for our team, we even like a little bit of ‘personalised mess’.” Individuals needing a little guidance can collaborate with a personal home stylist from The Editors Company to decorate their home for a flat fee of HKD2,100 and choose from over sixty brands at no additional markup, which is a nice option in a city where it’s easy to be time-poor and spendy.
For Acuna, there’s also an element of knowing thyself, and being in the right mindset. “Be self-aware,” Acuna says, and know what you really need. “The Hong Kong, money-minded aspect of it is: there’s a bunch of trash in your home that lives there perpetually rent-free – is that shirt from college which you’ve worn maybe two years ago really worth the rent space you give it?” Great question.
The best places to get all your organisational goods
When it comes to getting – and keeping – a space organized, a few products can be helpful. “We like to go to TREE for their organizing bins and trays that have an organic feel to them,” says Chin, who also suggests good ‘ol IKEA for affordable and highly functional organizing items.
But take it from the experts: Muji is your friend. “Just go there, they have everything,” says Acuna. Chin seconds a vote for the Japanese home goods store. “We like Muji for the clean boxes and trays.”
Where professionals go for inspiration
Chin and Acuna offer some suggestions for creating mood boards and staying inspired. “Read up on Marie Kondo for the Japanese method, or anything about Hygge for the Scandinavian method,” says Acuna. “We also love the interiors of Axel Vervoordt and Leanne Ford. Check those out. That may not be your style, but surely you can appreciate how de-cluttered their spaces are.”
Chin suggests checking out The Home Edit Instagram account, from the duo behind the hugely popular Netflix show, and Apartment Therapy for creative ways to organise and decorate the home. “And of course,” he adds, “our home stories!” Who can say “no” to a good success story?