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Every night after getting the kids off to bed, I get a couple of hours to myself to watch some television in peace and quiet. Usually, I find myself scanning Netflix to find my next binge-worthy show. At the beginning of January, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” popped up on my Netflix screen.

I remembered a friend of mine telling me around a year ago about a book that a woman from Japan (Marie Kondo) had written about cleaning up. Her description of the book didn’t necessarily strike me as something I wanted to read, especially since it emphasized the need to pick up each item to determine if it was to be kept or given away – and if the latter, to thank it for all it has provided.

I’m sorry – but I couldn’t see myself thanking my old socks for their contributions to my feet or the old boombox that’s been collecting dust for years in the corner of the closet. To be quite honest, I thought the woman might be a little crazy.

But when her name popped up on my screen, she looked so darn cute I figured I would watch at least one episode. That’s all it took — and I was hooked.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Marie’s method of cleaning is based not so much on finding the things that you need to get rid of, but instead focusing on items that “spark joy” for you and therefore should be kept. It seems like a small difference in viewpoints, but this glass half-full mentality completely changed my approach to cleaning and organizing my home.

Like everyone else on social media, I began the #KonMari challenge and began tidying up my entire house. As a work-in- progress, let’s just say it’s a little hectic now, but as each room slowly reaches a point of tidiness, I find such joy and peace in the organization of my home (and to my surprise – so have my husband and kids!).

In real estate, this minimalistic approach to your home is the same methodology that we try to employ to attract buyers. If you’re like me (and like many Japanese Americans), mottainai (or waste not, want not) is a philosophy we grew up having engrained in us. As such, we find ourselves holding on to all sorts of miscellaneous (and probably unnecessary) items, waiting for the day when it might come in handy.

A scene from “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” (Netflix)

With the #KonMari method, we shift our focus to items that make us happy and that we know we’re going to be using on a regular basis, and the rest can be given to someone else who will find more use for them.
When we place a home on the market, it’s so important that the house is free of clutter and personal mementos. Our goal is to present a blank canvas onto which buyers can project their own lives.

Presentation of a home can make all the difference in what the home actually sells for – and could mean more money in your pocket. A beautiful, clean home looks more spacious and open and can help to spark joy within the buyer.
If you are considering putting your home on the market in the next few months, I highly recommend taking a look around your home now (in preparation) to see what still sparks joy for you, and what may not.

Start going through each room so that when the time comes to put your home on the market, you are ready. In addition to helping create a “blank slate” for selling your home, it will also ensure that you are only moving the items that you truly love and need.

If you are short on time before listing, an alternative option is to rent a storage unit or have a pod delivered to your home. Place as much as you can in the pod to go through at a later date and keep only the necessary items to get you through until your home sells.

Furthermore, I always recommend having a professional stager take a look at your house. He or she can recommend the best ways to place furniture in the home, recommend any minor changes (such as the color and painting of walls), and if needed, stage your home using their inventory of furniture to give it the look which most impresses potential buyers.

This is a service that I  can offer to clients at no upfront costs (as well as certain renovations) to help get the highest sales price and to sell as quickly as possible.

So whether or not you are looking to sell, I encourage you to use this new start to a new year to find what sparks joy for you – whether in your home, at work, or with friends and family. Make this year the year that brings you the happiness you deserve!


Lauren Kinkade-Wong is a former Nisei Week queen and former professional backup singer to Gladys Knight. Licensed in real estate since 2007, she spent close to 15 years in the mortgage industry before becoming a Realtor (CalDRE 01811027). She is a member of the Clarkliving real estate team at Compass Real Estate and can be reached at The Rafu Shimpo’s management and staff continually strive to maintain high editorial standards for professionalism as well as accurate and balanced news coverage. The inclusion of a particular piece, including columns and op-ed submissions by contributing writers in print and/or digitally, does not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the owners, management, individual staff members, and editors. The Rafu Shimpo welcomes responses to any article published in print or digitally. Responses may be sent to author directly or emailed to

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