Long before COVID-19 turned us all into homebodies, Netflix kicked off a home organization craze with the premiere of decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s show, “Tidying Up.” Overnight, viewers suddenly cast a jaundiced eye on all the clutter on their bookshelves and in their closets. Many were determined to separate the wheat from the chaff using Kondo’s standard of whether or not a given object had a tendency to “spark joy” in them.
But this slash-and-trash approach to home reorganization also turned off the collectors, pack rats and bibliophiles who bristled at Kondo’s advice to declutter collectibles, let go of esoteric treasures and send much-beloved books to new homes. And once the pandemic hit, there was no shortage of memes reflecting the regret many felt at following Kondo’s advice, because they’d thrown out a lot of things that they wished they’d held onto. As it turns out, the question of whether something spark joy is something of a contextually dependent determination.
While “Kondomania” has dimmed somewhat as COVID-19 has made everyone a little nervous about emptying out their homes, many people are still enthusiastic about better organizing their personal spaces. After all, homes now function not only as shelters, but also as offices, schools, entertainment centers and dining establishments. That has many consumers suddenly realizing that being surrounded by a growing collection of mismatched shoes or occasionally losing the car keys in the refrigerator is simply no way to live, pandemic or not.
As a result, the Great Home Redecoration and Reorganization Trend 2.0 is now upon us. Many consumers are tuning in, logging on and expending an increasing amount of money to clean up their homes.
Two of the latest signs:
Netflix’s New ‘Get Organized With The Home Edit’ Show
Netflix has brought in two new organizational heroes to help viewers tidy up their homes: Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, founders of the Instagram-based brand The Home Edit. Teplin and Shearer had already built a retail empire around home organization before actress Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company helped them launch the “Get Organized With The Home Edit” show. The pair now have a bestselling book, an extensive product line and a home organization business that comes complete with a long list of loyal celebrity customers (Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gwyneth Paltrow and various Kardashians).
However, there are some baseline aesthetic differences between Kondo and The Home Edit team. Kondo goes for a sleek, modern look one might associate with an Apple Store, while Shearer and Teplin never met a rainbow-themed color palette they didn’t want to try.
But the bigger difference is that Kondo focuses on simply saying goodbye to items not immediately in use, whereas The Home Editors find better ways to store things so that items don’t turn into clutter.
That’s not to say Shearer and Teplin don’t streamline when they organize, but it’s only one of their system’s four steps categorize, contain, maintain and edit (throw out). The two are more about finding bins, getting matching hangers, storing like items in groups and creating better cleaning habits to keep all of the stuff in the right place.
As for their new Netflix show, each episode is divided in half to feature two clients. The first is someone rich and famous, while the second is a typical American family drowning in their own disorganization.
The first part tends to be a little more entertaining. For instance, viewers learn that Khloe Kardashian has an impressive number of child-size Mercedes cars for her daughter crammed into her garage.
But the second half tends to be more directly applicable to the lives of average viewers – who, unlike Witherspoon, usually don’t need guidance on how to better organize their shoe collections by designer.
As for the show’s reviews, Shearer and Teplin haven’t managed to spark the prickly feelings that Kondo did. Most TV critics tend to be positive about the show, if not quite effusive.
“’Get Organized With The Home Edit’ isn’t quite an interior design master class — but it will introduce you to a lot of plastic storage systems … and to two women you wish could be your friends. As far as feel-good TV goes, that’s more than enough,” one Glamour reviewer noted.
But that begs an obvious question: As The Home Edit offers up feel-good entertainment at a time when feel-good stories are few and far between, does this tell us more about what consumers are actually doing – or what they’re interested in watching?
New Home-Centric Shopping Trends
Given recent skyrocketing sales of home furnishings and home goods, it seems safe to infer that consumers are watching “Get Organized With The Home Edit” for more than just a chance to see celebrities’ cluttered messes.
“The whole home industry is doing better than most others, and the online portion of the home industry has been going gangbusters,” CEO Gregg Brockway of online home furnishings marketplace Chairish recently told Karen Webster.
Brockway noted that many consumers are using the money they can’t spend on travel or going out to eat to pay for home furnishings instead.
“Because the home is so much more important for everybody all of a sudden – and because offline retail has been curtailed or closed – it's become much more important for both sellers and buyers to be able to do what they want in terms of outfitting their homes for the long term,” Brockway said.
The New York Times heard similar tales from home-goods sellers like Overstock and Wayfair. Those sites report seeing more action than ever as consumers stock up on outdoor furniture, movie projectors, closet organizers and bookshelves – all of the things consumers need to both spruce up and clear out their living spaces.
“In the last several weeks, our bread-makers have sold more than the entire year in 2019,” Samara Tuchband, Crate & Barrel’s vice president of merchandising, told the Times.
A New Long-Term Trend?
It seems that interest in fixing up one’s living space might be exactly what consumers need to think about for the long term, since few experts believe the pandemic will be over until well into 2021.
Will consumer instincts toward nesting stick around that long? Well, the “spark joy” school for household organization didn’t have a terribly long shelf life with the average consumer.
But that was before millions of consumers were stuck in their homes most of the time – and more likely to become irritated by their own messes. It seems the organized home trend might have more staying power the second time around, as consumers try to keep the clutter at bay – and literally have to live with the consequences.