Before You Start, Visualize Your Destination

plants (3 of 10)

Difficult, daunting, dull–those are just some of the D-words that came to mind when I attempted to visualize my destination as instructed by Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You don’t want to know all the D-words I was muttering while putting togetherthis post. What I really wanted to do is to jump in and start tossing. I’ve becomerather adeptat discarding over the last few years!I’ve had my break; I’m ready to get back into the game.

Alas, Kondo says I must identify my house goals before I toss out anything.

What do you hope to gain through tidying? Before you start getting rid of things, take the time to think this through carefully. This means visualizing the ideal lifestyle you dream of. If you skip this step, not only will it delay the whole process, but it will also put you at higher risk for rebound. Goals like “I want to live clutter-free” or ” I want to be able to put things away” are too broad. You need to think much more deeply than that. Think in terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space. (Emphasis in the original.)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, page 36.

She goes on to explain the visualization process, but for brevity’s sake I’ll sum it up: impossible, but I did the best I could. I can’t stress enough how challenging this was for me! Kondo suggests gathering pictures to facilitate the visualization process if you reside in an emotional tundra (paraphrasing), so that’s what I did. For those for whom this process was simple, lucky you! Seriously.You are in touch with your feelings and are probably Brene Brown’s best friend. I’m envious of your ability to tap into your emotional side. But may I make a suggestion? When a plague decimates the world’s population by 92% and you need someone to figure out how to make shelter out of 12 toilet paper rolls and a Bic pen, find me. I’m your girl.

Okay, no more delaying the inevitable. Here it is, heart on sleeve: The Destination

Kidding! One more delay. I cutout a tremendous amount of textfromthis post once the word count began reaching for the stratosphere. I realized that all the thought I put into defining each room was a post unto itself. I’m going to publish those posts as the weeks go by and will link to them here as well.

Okay, this time I’m serious. The Destination!

Entryway: A welcome point for new friends and visitors. The space will be clean and spare, making it easy to clean. Bright and natural light, a plant, and casual family pictures balance out the austerity.

Roger Davies Source: House & Home November 2008 issue
Roger Davies
Source: House & Home November 2008 issue

If you look at my original list, this space was also supposed to be where we stored incidentals from school, like shoes and backpacks. I’m reconsidering this because the end result is a spacethat looks like the war room of rioting middle-schoolers planning a hostile takeover. Hooks, I’ve discovered, are dangerous for adults and children who can’t manageto put away their flimsy California jackets in the closet right next to the hook. “It’s just like a hook,” I say scowling. “Only this hook is behind a closed door and is called a hanger.”

Although I once searched high and low for a rug, I’ve given up the hunt. A rug makes it difficult to open the door and adds physical labor (lifting, moving, placing)to the already soul-shattering task of mopping the floor.

    1. Rug for entryway
    2. Remove all furniture
    3. Add plant
    4. New window treatment or film for front door window.
    5. Station for school backpacks, purses, coats, etc.(This update no longer works for ourfamily.)
    6. Hang photographs or prints in entryway

Living Room: An inviting room that exhibits an appreciation for nature, music, and art in an approachable manner. Styling and knick-knacks are at a minimum, but the room is still comfortable and relaxed.

Style by Emily Henderson
Style by Emily Henderson

My tastes has changed so much over the years. Chotskies, for example, are evil dust collectors that fall out of favor faster than I can type ‘antlers.’ Helping organize The World’s Largest Estate Sale will do that, I suppose. This room is far more styled than I prefer, but I do like the casual look and varying textures. I have a blue chesterfield, too, so that doesn’t hurt.

  1. Purge komono from room according to Kondo.
  2. Purchase jute or flat weave rug.
  3. Purchase cowhide rug.
  4. Purchase an upright piano; purchase stand for Mikey’s guitar.
  5. Style the piano.
  6. Shutters for picture windows in living room.
  7. Buy large plant for picture windows, preferably fiddle leaf fig.
  8. Remove fireplace mantel, possibly replace.
  9. Organize campaign dresser drawers. (Part 1: Respecting Money)

Dining Room: A gathering place for family and friends where one can linger in comfortable chairs to discuss the day, play games, and share meals.


This image is inaccurate. I don’t want to mimic this look, though I like it enough to make it my goal picture for several reasons, desperation and over-it-itis being the forerunners. Honorable mentions include the clean table top and the abundance of plants. I also really like this photo because it shows evidence of small humans. I think a mix of the two rooms is ideal.

  1. Purge komono from room according to Kondo.
  2. Purchase new, made to last dining room table and chairs.||Should be noted that I’m indifferent to the table and chairs that we own, but what I do like is outside our budget.
  3. Purchase dining room rug. ||I’m debating removing the rug, again to make it easier to clean and mop the floors.
  4. Purchase china cabinet to match/coordinate with dining room table and chairs.|| Reevaluate need for more furniture after The Purge.
  5. Sell current sideboard.
  6. Sell or donate IKEA display case. || This depends on the outcome of item 4.
  7. Sell midcentury china cabinet.
  8. Replace sliding doors with something safer.
  9. New window treatments for sliding doors/something safer.

Family Room: A cozy, embracing room where bodies sink into stuffed sofas and chairs to read books and watch movies. The lighting is plentiful, flattering, and comfort reigns over form.


This is another case in which the picture reflects a concept more than a reality. The takeaways are the books, the varying textures, the white walls, and, of course, the plants. Incidentally, this is the same apartment as the dining room picture above. I guess I really like this apartment!

  1. Repaint family room a calm, comfortable color.|| Done it, but now I’m thinking of going white. We’ve already painted two of the walls!
  2. Create a sense of warmth and family with pictures.
  3. Scrape acoustic tiles off family room. Drywall.
  4. Find a media cabinet, preferably with shelves for display or books.
  5. Replace with good quality, family friendly materials the sofa, coffee table, chair(s), window treatments, and lighting.
  6. Create a reading nook.
  7. Install floor to ceiling bookshelves along one wall.
  8. Replace carpet, preferably with hardwood and rug.

Kitchen: A point of entry into our home for family and friends and a place to create nourishing meals. It is welcoming, clean, and feels like as comforting as cookies and milk. Countertops are clean and empty.

Dan Cutrona for Old House Online.
Dan Cutrona for Old House Online.

This is the entry point for the house if you are family or friend. This means this place gets lots of foot traffic and is extremely prone to clutter. It will need a massive over hall in terms of decluttering and organizing.

  1. Declutter!
  2. Rethink systems. In a high-traffic place like this, everything must have a designating landing spot.
  3. Repaint kitchen, at least the ceiling.
  4. New floor in kitchen. (A temporary fix is okay if it can be reused somewhere else.)
  5. Caulk and paint window trim in kitchen.
  6. Create family organizer system in kitchen.
  7. Frame and hang prints, photographs.
  8. Organize medicine cabinet.
  9. Plant flowers or pots in planters flanking kitchen entrance.
  10. Repaint kitchen threshold.
  11. Replace cheap shades and inadequate window treatments.
  12. Organize and purge corner cabinet.
  13. Organize and purge dish cabinet.
  14. Organize and purge drawer under ovens.
  15. Organize and purge food processor cabinet.
  16. Organize and purge junk drawer.
  17. Organize recipes.
  18. Organize and purge freezer.
  19. Scrape and re-caulk kitchen counters.
  20. Switch to all glass containers.

Laundry Room andGuest Bathroom: Twobright and orderly rooms that function efficiently.

Studio Oink
Studio Oink

Looking for a picture of a laundry room put me in a bad mood. Likewise for the picture of the guest bathroom, which in my previous list was its own category. I combined both categories into one for this go round.

A while back laundry rooms and guest baths turned into glamor spots–a trend I fell victim for, no doubt about it! All of a sudden, laundry rooms had to bestyled to the nth degree and a heaven forbid you empty your bowels in a room that doesn’t have a state of the art toilet. Looking back at all my previous inspiration pictures makes me want to hurl. They reek of privilege. Most of the items on my previous to-do list for the laundry room (see below) I accomplished but never linked to. I’ll do that eventually. What I really want is a clean bathroom and alaundryroom that doesn’t have stuff piled on the machines. And, okay, a new washer and dryer set.

    1. Scrape off wallpaper in laundry room.
    2. Paint and patch walls.
    3. Repaint pantry doors in laundry room. Replace door handles.
    4. Organize broom closet.
    5. Organize and purge shelves in laundry room.
    6. New rug.Nope!
    7. New shelves.
    8. New washer and dryer.
    9. Put back original window that previous owner removed.
    10. Remodel and convert into mudroom/laundry room.
    11. Decorate yellow bathroom: paint, shelves, medicine cabinet, rug, and general zhushing.
    12. Install baseboards.
    13. New toilet and sink.

The Hallway: Clean, light-filled space with current family pictures on the wall.


We had a rug in our hallway for a long time, but I removed it a while back so that, no surprise, mopping the floors didn’t take as much time or effort. This picture reflects my desire to update the picture on the wall, change out the frames, and mix finishes and materials. There is no room or desire for a bench with a fur-thing draped atop.

  1. Organize photo drawer. Create memory system. // part 2
  2. Replace pulls and door handles, possibly repaint.
  3. Create wrapping paper storage, do something with all the gift bags.

Master Bedroom: A respite where we go to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. A soft place to land.

Heather Meger
Heather Meger

I”m excited about this one. I knowgetting rid of the clothes will make a difference, even though we’ve been really good about purging clothes regularly. I know there’s still more I can let go. If the change is as dramatic as I suspect it will be, the bedroom furniture we’ve been eying will look great.

  1. Purge clothing! (Kondo)
  2. Komono! (Kondo)
  3. Clean out jewelry drawer.
  4. Clean out and organize drawers: unmentionables, . Donate clothing.
  5. Paint master bedroom a calm, relaxing color.
  6. Replace door handles and drawer pulls on built in closet.
  7. New window treatments.
  8. New blinds.
  9. Create rosary/meditation/prayer area.

Master Bathroom: Clean, bright, and from the 21st century.

unknown--help appreciated!
unknown–help appreciated!

We are so due for a bathroom remodel, and is has nothing to do with aesthetics. We have water issues, the plaster is crumbling in spots, and the sink doesn’t drain properly no matter what we do. This bathroom is clean and organized, which is good. The sink is a trough for horses and utterlygimmicky. I’m wondering if I pick pictures solely because of the plants. Those look fake, though that’s not unreasonable for a bathroom.

  1. Komono! (Kondo)
  2. Completely gut and remodel.
  3. Clean out and purge cabinet under sink.
  4. Clean out and purge medicine cabinet.
  5. Clean out and purge cabinet above toilet.

The Boys’ Shared Bedroom:I want this room clean, happy, and without a lot of junk everywhere. Hahahahahahahahahahaahhaha! O_o


This collage of two new Ikea duvets don’t really go with the rest of the picture in this list! Oh well, the boys are their own people, and it’s more important to me that their room reflects their interests than it does a design style. My boys are in 3rdand 6th grade–they will be going off to college before we know it! Screw moodboards.

  1. Purge clothing! (Kondo)
  2. Organize and purge dresser drawers.
  3. Organize and purge nightstand.
  4. Organize and purge expedit shelf, secondary bookshelf, and toy storage.
  5. Organize closet.

The Guest Bedroom: An uncluttered home office that also serves as a guest bedroom or reading nook.


I don’t know about this one! We have a studioin the backyard that serves as a home office for the Mister, who works from home when he isn’t traveling for business. Since it’s outside, he’s subject to the elements which, being in California, aren’t terrible. Still, in the summer it gets really hot where we live (triple digits). We’ve been talking about converting the guest bedroominto a home office but I’m imagining stacks and stacks of paper and machinery.

  1. Purge clothing! (Kondo)
  2. Komono! (Kondo)
  3. Organize and purge dresser drawers.
  4. Organize and purge nightstand.
  5. Organize closet.
  6. Organize and purge bookshelf and toy storage.
  7. Remove train table, donate or sell.
  8. Convert to guest bedroom.

The Boys’ Bathroom: The bathroom in a men’s club if the men in such a club would get over themselves and have a sense of humor.

Rita Konig
Rita Konig

Finally, an easy one! I’ve had this picture in my inspiration folders for years and year. I’d lose the magazine basket(in a bathroom? gross!) and change a few things, but the overall look I love.

  1. Komono! (Kondo)
  2. New outlet so I can play music while I get ready.
  3. Install shower rod/head combo, possibly call plumber for this since its not standard.
  4. Install shower curtain.
  5. Repaint ceiling.
  6. Purge and organize medicine cabinet.
  7. Replace overhead lights.
  8. Completely gut and remodel.

Office/Outside Studio: An invigorating, comfortable room that promotes creativity.

  1. Komono! (Kondo)
  2. Complete purging and organizing project started in October.
  3. General zhushing, make comfortable and inviting for the Misterand maybe me?to work in at night.

Garage: A place where people park their cars, not store junk.

  1. Purge and declutter, sell contents of discarded items.
  2. Maybe epoxy the floor?

Back Porch: A place to lounge and hide from the sun while enjoying its warmth.

unknown source–help appreciated!

I’m basically just trying to create another room for reading.

  1. Install ceiling fans and lighting.
  2. Purchase outdoor rug.
  3. Create inviting seating arrangement.

Front Porch: A place to sit and watch little boys ride bikes, play in leaves, and catch bugs.

I happen to like my front porch!
I happen to like my front porch!
  1. Landscape flower bed.
  2. Bench for lemonade.
  3. Pot and arrange grouping of plants.
  4. Purchase good quality, stylish door mat.
  5. General zhushing.

Backyard: A casual expanse of green with spots of color coming from modest beds of flowers. A pool would be amazing.


  1. Plant flowers around Chinese Elm.
  2. Plant flowers or plants along flower bed in the backyard.
  3. Purchase fire pit, new patio furniture.
  4. Purchase new grill.
  5. Install twinkle lights.
  6. Plant herb garden, vegetable garden, regular garden.

Front Yard: A happy, humble, tidy yard with a welcoming approach.


A lot of the homes in my neighborhood are removing their lawns and converting their front yards to drought tolerant landscapes. I really like the look, but don’t be fooled. They can be a ton of upkeep!

  1. Plant flowers in front brick area.
  2. Completely gut and landscape.

Miscellaneous: We all have those things that don’t really go anywhere but need to get done.

  1. Paint all trim in the house.
  2. Scrape and paint all exterior windows.
  3. Blow up and hang two favorite pictures of boys.
  4. Add images to family wall of pictures.
  5. Reframe painting from Helenas parents, find permanent place for it.
  6. Paint all doors in the house.
  7. Replace all doorknobs in the house.
  8. Repaint top of board and batten.
  9. Polish and maintain brass candlesticks.
  10. Polish and maintain all silver.
  11. Replace wire and plastic hangers with wood.
  12. Return items that belong to others.
  13. Return items to various stores.
  14. Repair, reupholster vintage chairs in garage.
  15. Organize car to accommodate sport equipment.
  16. Thoughts on tidying up the house.
  17. Organize instruction manuals.


Join the List


  1. Wow, when you visualize, you visualize! My visualization:

    When I am done tidying, my house will be ready for drop in visitors or the cleaning lady without a mad scramble. I will invite my kids’ friends’ parents past the front hall. It will look typically be welcoming and organized. I will enjoy reading a book without always feeling like I should be cleaning something.

    My closet will have clothes that fit me well and that I like. No unflattering, maybe-after-I-lose-10-pounds, guilt-inducing clothes. No shoes that hurt after 10 minutes of wear.

    I will be able to walk through my mudroom/laundry room without tripping over shoes, backpacks, etc. My purse will have a designated landing spot. I will have a charging station where my husband and I can charge our phones simultaneously. We will have scarves and mittens that we wear plus a spare or two, but not 10 spare for each of us. The shelves will house items in current use and not things that my kids out grew 5 years ago. The bins will match, the floor will be tiled and I will have a drying rack. There will be no stencils painted on the wall. I will figure out a better place for the dirty laundry on the 1st floor.

    My bedroom will not have stacks of things looking for a home in the corners. It will be welcoming and serene. My bed will have a headboard and bedding my husband and I both like. The reading chair will be empty of clean laundry and will be my favorite chair to read. There will be a small table for coffee and a comfortable height ottoman.

    The shelves in my pantry will be redone so my small appliances fit on lower shelves so I don’t have to reach above my head to get the blender down. We will have lunch bags enough for our family, not our family plus all of our nearest neighbors. No water bottles will fall on you when you open that cabinet. Craft supplies will be culled to the basics still in use by my now tween and teenagers. There will be a centralized spot for extra school supplies.

    My home will have art on the walls and no sharpie tags from my then 2 year old who is now 11.

    We will only have blankets in the family room that we like. If we fight over the same 2, maybe we need a few more of those and to lose the 4 no one wants to be stuck with.

    My bathrooms will be quiet, peaceful, organized spaces with great towels, good lightening and some place to put 1000 ponytail holders and headbands that satisfy both me and my daughters.

    We will have a spot for the rabbits supplies so both the rabbit and his owner have room that make them happy.

    • Oh! I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to steal a couple of yours. They’re really good, especially about the clothing! 🙂

      • Steal away! I’m going to make a new pinterest board with some inspiration photos like yours too! I have a general “house ideas” board, but I think I need one that is more about the mood of the room and less about a particular light fixture!

  2. Great job visualizing, or at least getting some baseline ideas. I’m in process of moving to a smaller space and so, although I’ve not read this magical book that everyone’s been talking about, I’ve been purging and being ruthless about it. Friends keep asking, ‘why are you getting rid of ‘___’? and I respond that many things I’ve had since my mid-20s (wedding gifts- my taste has changed and ? I’m divorced. LOL) or were hand-me-downs and not chosen by me because of my love of them or a practical purpose. I’m thinking Fresh Start, even if that means some bare spaces for awhile. I’m ok with that. I want to live in my new space and see what comes to me after daily usage.
    Good luck with all the projects! I will be following along, gathering my own inspiration!

  3. I LOVE how you incorporate your Master List with KonMari. I much prefer your interpretation. Pretty pictures and practical ideas. Looking forward to seeing how this progresses as the weeks go on!

  4. I loved your laughter about your boys’ room. I think just about every mom would agree. I would love to not have to tip-toe through my kids’ rooms to kiss them goodnight. My son recently picked up his room, sort of, without my asking him. He’s 10 and it took him an afternoon. My 13-year old daughter has been picking up her room since Christmas, and she’s not done yet. Her room wasn’t really that bad to begin with, she works for a little while, then moves on to something fun.

    I’ve had the Marie Kondo book for about 3 months and am about half way through it. I have the procrastinator gene. I know how much work I have to do to clear out the “junk” in my house. I want to try the KonMari method, I just won’t have time to do it before my garage sale at the end of August. This just means I get to purge before I start. I think that will help.

  5. Amazing work! I’m inspired by what you’ve done here with your visualizing and feel like I have a much better idea of how to move forward with my own. Pictures are helpful, but is discouraging when one is unable to find ones that arch exactly. Thankfully, I realized after reading this that I need that sentence or two “mission statement” written down for each room in order to really be laser focused in how I want to live. Im also appreciative because you have found my exact kitchen picture! I could have looked forever and not found that. Again, I applaud and am thankful for your Kondoing!

  6. Totally inspired by what you’re doing and reading your old posts. Thanks for taking the time to link to them. I plan to follow along as you continue this journey.

    On a different topic, I’ve been wondering about the URL change. You cut off “pancakes and french fries” to be “Mrs. Kendall” at, but you suddenly switched back to while keeping the blog name “Mrs. Kendall” (love the new banner with the origami bird, by the way). What was your reasoning behind that? Will you write a post about it, or just sweep it under the rug? Not trying to be snarky. I’m honestly curious.

  7. Very inspiring post as usual. I always appreciate your humor to make the medicine go down. Thank goodness for your readers as well. This may become an informal support group for the KonMarie method. With all of the information, Rethink Systems stayed with me the most. It’s amazing how long we live with the way things are organized, styled because of daily demands on our time/blindness to the clutter. There are way too many “piles” around the house for my taste and can only blame the kids for half of them! I will also try a dedicated Pinterest board to go along with my growing list.

    • I rely on the readers here for so much! They are always a wealth of information. It’s funny, because on certain topics I look forward to reading certain comments because I know they’ll be really good. Kat from Canada, for example, always has the best book review comments.

  8. I’m not very far into Life Changing Magic (so this question might be answered later on) but is there a projected timeline for this? When I think about all the things on my list that need tiding – I get kind of overwhelmed by the time (and sometimes money) that will be involved in this Magic. How do you deal with the overwhelm?

    • She says you need to finish within 6 months. My loose plan is to try to hit one category every week, and I am taking smaller categories than she puts out there. I can’t handle the mess of having every shirt I own out, so I am going to start with t-shirts and tanks one week and save sweaters and sweatshirts for another. I am also laying in a stock of moving boxes so I can box as I go as it is easier for me to donate that way than a million shopping/garbage bags tumbling around.

  9. Love this post for all the images and ideas, but I think “screw mood boards” might be my most favoritest part of it! 🙂 There’s definitely a common aesthetic running through all your images–which leads me to think that visualizing probably is a necessary first step.

    About entryways: I’ve ended up in the same place you are. We have a 70’s split-entry, and I finally gave up on the idea of anything functional happening there. It’s how we enter the house. That’s it. It’s such a narrow space, and I like the idea of entering into our home through a clean, clear, visually pleasing space. Not there yet–but that’s the goal!

  10. I’m so intimidated by the thought of starting this I may just adopt your visualizations, if that’s ok. I can’t get past “I just want less stuff!” Must try harder…

    • If enough people ask and are interested. I was always sad to see those weeks with barely any participation. It’s like having a party and no one shows up!

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