Organizing closets provides immediate gratification, unlike many things in life. Within a couple of hours almost any closet can be whipped into shape. Whether your closet is buried in clutter or just a little askew, these tips can help you create your own Can Do Closet.
First, make sure you can see everything in the closet. Tear off plastic dry cleaner bags. They aren’t keeping clothes as clean as you think they are, they block your view, and they create unnatural groupings of clothing. Hang everything that should be hung, throw dirty clothes in the hamper, put dry cleaning and mending in their own piles to be dealt with later and put stuff that hangs on the door back in the closet with their friends.
I don’t recommend taking everything out of the closet and starting with an empty closet. Where would you put it all? That kind of approach makes for good TV, but not much else. You’re likely to end up with a mess on the bed just about the time the phone rings and the kids need to be fed. Instead, start at one end of the closet (it doesn’t matter whether it’s the left or right) and work your way to the other end, touching absolutely everything, putting similar items together and removing items you know you can do without. If an item is torn or damaged, hopelessly out of date, too hard to keep clean or does not flatter you, it can go. Don’t think of it as losing an item (which is harder for the brain to accept), but think of it as making space for the things you really love.
Group similar items together (skirts with skirts, short sleeved shirts with similar, and so on). You don’t need to order your clothes in rainbow order, but it can help you discover just how many black sweaters you really do own. (Note to self: stop buying black sweaters.) I once worked with someone who had 38 pairs of blue jeans, which did not include jeans of other colors. Not only was that more jeans than most people could wear in a month, that was a lot of laundry to care for!
There are at least three ways to solve a closet space problem. You can downsize and reconfigure your stuff to use your current space better, even if all you have is the standard builder’s grade shelf-and-rod combination. You can make some incremental changes that might solve some of your issues, like upgrading your hangers, adding hanging bars or fabric cubbies and purchasing see-through storage bins. You can consider re-outfitting your closet shelving entirely to create custom rods and shelving to fit your space and your stuff. Your solution will depend on your space, your skill level, and your budget.
Adjust or add shelving so that no more than 2 or 3 items are stacked on each other at a time, allowing you to easily get to items on the bottom of a pile. This goes for folded sweaters, folded jeans and stacked shoe boxes. Upgrade to a single type of hanger in any given closet. My favorite are the velvet-covered slim-style hangers that are widely available these days. They really do allow more space in the closet than plastic tube hangers, and they are much kinder to clothes than wire hangers. Add lighting if possible. It’s amazing how much bigger a closet gets when you can see everything in it.
Just a final note on multiple wardrobes. You know what I mean. We all have clothes in the size we were, the size we are and the size we want to be. If you feel like you never have anything to wear, you are probably tying up your wardrobe real estate in unwearable sizes. Be kind to yourself and clear out everything that does not fit right now. Go ahead and keep two special or favorite outfits from each of the other sizes that you are not currently wearing. You probably won’t wear these again, but keeping two special outfits from each size makes it easier to get rid of the outfits that aren’t so nice.
*Get Organized recognizes that Darla DeMorrow is an award winning service provider. Darla DeMorrow is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Color With No Regrets consultant, decorator, author, speaker, and owner of HeartWork Organizing. She helps her clients to reclaim control and add beauty in their lives, their homes, and their workplaces. Request your free 31 Simple Tips for Organizing Space, Time and Paper & Information at www.HeartWorkOrg.com. Her new book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur, will be available in spring 2011.
© 2011 HeartWork Organizing