Take Back Your Closet One Step at a Time!

My closets can become so overstuffed and disorganized that they actually contribute to my daily stress levels by costing me time and energy looking for things I need and can’t locate.

Don’t think of closet organization as a huge event, but rather a gradual conversion into more streamlined habits that can help you gain space, time and more serenity in your living space. Like eating well and exercising, best results are achieve with small, manageable steps that can be realistically incorporated into your lifestyle until they become a natural part of your life.

If you can’t take a whole day to organize a closet, break it down into small chunks. Start by going through everything you’ve got stored in there. Have boxes or bags at the ready for separating discarded items into three categories: Sell, Throw Away, Donate. Rule of thumb: If you don’t love it, or haven’t worn it or used it in a year, out it goes. You’ll be amazed at the physical and mental space you’ll create from this step alone.

Once you’ve purged, you can begin to bring order to the space. Different types of closets call for different organizational strategies:

Experts all seem to agree that using the same kind of hanger instead of an assortment of different styles can save up to 20% of space on your closet rods. Some professional organizers prefer plastic tubular hangers, but others claim they are too slippery and can snag clothes, opting for the clear plastic, sloped dress hangers favored by retail stores. Wire hangers are out, say the pros.

Think wise use of vertical space. Use double rods, one over the other, for short garments like blouses and shirts, essentially doubling your storage space.

Store clothes you rarely wear in plastic garment bags out of the way or, ideally, in another closet. Store off season clothes in clear bins on an upper shelf. Everything you wear regularly should be located between your knees and your shoulders.

Zone your clothing by type. Hang items in order of pants, dresses, shirts, jackets, etc that go from solids to patterns by color. Locating and matching garments is infinitely easier with this system.

Use shoe caddies hung from the back of the door or on shelves on the floor.

Luggage and overnight bags should go on the top shelf of the closet.

Store extra toiletries in one clear plastic bin, cleaning supplies in another.

Roll bulky blankets and comforters like a sleeping bag, store them in plastic bags, and keep them under the beds they are used on, which will save space in your linen closet.

Some professional organizers recommend a separate labeled bin for each room serviced by the linen closet. For example, you can keep all of the master bedroom sheets and master bath towels in a separate bin, all the guest room sheets and towels in another, etc. One spare set of sheets for each room is plenty. Purge all those sheets you never use; tear them into rags or give them away.

Hang small appliances on the inside wall of the closet.

Move off-season clothes into plastic garment bags and into the basement or attic.

Again, using just one kind of hanger will save lots of space and aggravation, and look better, too.

Give each member of the household their own “in box” for dropping small items into when they enter the house. This saves clutter throughout the house and helps people keep track of their own belongings.

Store hats and gloves in windowed boxes for easy visibility and access.

Lay a floor mat on the floor, then place a wire or mesh shoe rack over it. Dirt and moisture will fall onto the floor mat and not your floor.

Hang keys on hooks by the door, as well as an emergency flashlight or two.

If there’s room, this isn’t a bad place for a chalk board message center or bulletin board reminders for family members going out the door.

Don’t forget an umbrella stand. Place a few new sponges in the bottom to catch drips.

STAYING ORGANIZED can be tricky, but again, try using simple, five-minute segments of time to keep clutter at bay rather than having to devote a full day to cleaning a closet that’s been let go for too long. Stop underestimating how long things actually take to do and overestimating how much you can achieve in one day. Allow for some breathing room in your schedule. Your home – and your life – will reflect a greater sense of order and serenity in the long run.

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