For me, closets are a luxury. Our old home is quite lacking in the storage department. Our bedroom, for example, shares a “Jack and Jill” closet with our daughter’s bedroom. My husband’s clothes hardly fit on our side of the closet, and when I want to pull an item off a hanger, I have to go into Lucy’s room to get it. How charming, right? Currently, the wall next to our bedroom door also functions as our “coat closet”. So, when I get the chance to help someone organize a “real” closet, I get excited.
Sometimes, when you move into a new house, you put things away in closets without much consideration of functionality. The years pass and the clutter multiplies. Suddenly, it’s been 20 years later and your closet is still in need of proper organization. My mother-in-law’s coat closet was suffering from this very condition. Finally ready to tackle it, we came up with a plan and set aside a couple afternoons to do the job. Here’s how we did it:
Assess the damage. Ask yourself, what you really need the closet to do for you. Are there some systems or elements that actually are working right now? Do you need a combination of reach-in and deep storage for seasonal items? Consider what you truly need access to on a daily basis. Take a few "before" photos of your closet, so at the end you can revel in how transformed the space has become. It will motivate you to keep it that way when all is said and done.
Set up a staging area. Use an area close to the closet and get bags and bins ready for duty. Label them as follows: Keep, Move, Donate and Trash.
Purge. Be totally honest with yourself about what you (and your family) actually use and adore. Keep only those things. In my experience, the items that I hang onto “just in case” hardly ever get pressed into service again. Of the items you keep, make a pile for things that just don’t belong or make sense to store in the closet. Later, you can find new, more convenient homes for them.
Review your needs. Don’t just stuff things back in. Make a plan for where everything belongs. In my mother-in-law’s case, we carefully considered what was going back in, how often it would need to be accessed, and the best way to store it. We sized up the sloping area at the back of the closet, bought a sturdy wire shelf, some command wall hooks and a few new bins. Sketch it out if it helps you visualize.
Color code it. Hanging clothing by color makes things easier to find and looks so much better than the alternative. We also purchased three different colored fabric bins for the shelf so that each person knows just where to store their hats and accessories. Everyday table linens are neatly folded and arranged by color in hanging cubbies.
Corral bags. I’m a huge fan of utilizing the backs of doors. The over-the-door-hooks my in-laws already had worked well, they were just too full. Now there is room for frequently used scarves, umbrellas and everyday bags. We used a large seagrass basket on the floor to organize bags for shopping, work and play.
Revisit your system. Check up on the state of things in your closet after a month or two of using your new organizing implements. Are they really working for how you need to utilize your closet? Make changes to what isn’t doing the job and don’t forget to routinely purge so that your closet doesn’t, once again, get overwhelmed.
Betsy Kornelis is a local decorator. Find her at paisleyandpine.com.
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