But never fear, his book is full of advice. Starting on a flat surface, for example, will make the folding more even, resulting in a pile of clothes that is less likely to tip over. She folds the napkins into ‘thirds and thirds again’. Fold clothes slightly, she warns, not like you’re folding paper. She offers three different folds for socks and a fourth for tights, and has a particular method for storing jeans in a mid-hanging space that she says lets you squeeze more in; a belt loop on the hook of the hanger, the rest accordion on the horizontal bar.
Yet she cautions us against the idea that once you learn to fold your clothes, your life will change forever. “I think there’s this biased perspective that you see something online, you rush in and do it, and it will stay that way forever. That’s absolutely not how it works. You have to keep plugging in, so you have to find systems that work for you, your routine, your family.
Liard insists her book is less a folding manual and more a reminder of how to live more holistically. Her version of “spark joy” (Kondo’s famous directive to keep only the things that make you happy) is the pursuit of what she describes as “after value.” That is, every action must achieve some kind of calm or bliss that may not be so immediately obvious at first. “I may not always want to go to the gym, but the ‘value after’ is fitness and strength. We live in an instant gratification society and you have to realize that you won’t necessarily see value after the action. And remember that your house is not your neighbor’s house. What gives you value after is going to be very different. Liard’s own values include “friendlier” time spent with her teenage son and less fuss about how his football kit is stored.Clearer spaces, she says, also allow her to live a more mindful life.
For Annabel Hodin, personal stylist and organizer, “it’s not the folding that is necessarily good for you, it’s the step-rush”. Hodin finds Kondo’s folding method “almost hypnotic”. She believes it’s essential to instill a sense of order, rather than letting a concept of perfectionism perpetuated by social media take over – something she attributes to “this idea of being saved and the fantasy of creating perfect control in your life”.
As for the accusation that Liard might be taking women back in time with all this bending talk, she’s adamant that the whole family needs to get on board. “Everyone is working these days, it really is a level playing field. My husband and I earn the same amount, no one has more free time and no one is solely responsible for the house. Children also need to learn to respect their space, and adults need to stop prescribing what their bedrooms should be. It is certainly a way to reduce the mental load.
There’s no point, Liard points out, in dreaming of something that will be too tiring and impractical to maintain. In fact, the reason she took it full-time and quit her job a year ago was the difficult pregnancy she endured with her youngest son, Arthur. “I was so depressed and desperate to be happy that I thought, ‘When this pregnancy is over, I’ll be at a stage in my life where I want to inspire change. She is heartened to have helped others transform, if not their lives, at least their homes.
“The older I get, the more I go back to basics,” she says. “I recently wondered if true mindfulness meant starting with your home. Because you can’t meditate or do yoga until you sort out your home affairs. Try it. only one life.’
The Folding Lady: Tools and Tips for Making the Most of Your Space and Finding Value in Your Home (Yellow Kite, £14.99) was released on Thursday. To order from Telegraph Books for £14.99 call 0844 871 1515 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk