Closet Clarity: How to get and keep it

As we head into the summer season, it’s a perfect time to turn your attention to closets. Whether you have skeletons or just some old sneakers to purge, here’s some advice for maintaining an efficient closet throughout the coming year.

Take Inventory
Nordstrom and Old Navy do it, and you should do it, too. Take a good look at what’s in your closet, and I mean more than a cursory glance at what to put on for the day. I mean top to bottom, and then back again. To be an effective process, you have to be prepared to purge and organize, so set aside at least an hour.

Let the Granny Jeans Go
I know, breaking up – even with bad jeans – is hard to do. But just think of all the space you’ll create for something fabulous and new! Once you’ve cleared out the stuff that doesn’t fit your body, style, or the way you want to feel, pack it up for donation straight away rather than leaving it around for “some other day.” If you’re really not sure if something still works for you, have a trusted friend over for “what’s hot, what’s not.” Once your clearing is complete, keep a donation bag in the closet so you can let icky or ill-fitting things go on the spot throughout the year.

Photo source: Martha Stewart

Keep Track of What You Wear
For the stuff that does stay, here are a couple of tips for making your next inventory more efficient.

For hanging clothes, turn hangers around so they are facing the “wrong” way, or whatever is opposite what you would normally do. As you wear an item, hang it back up the normal way. When the time comes to take inventory again, you’ll know at a glance that anything still hanging the opposite way hasn’t been worn.  

For folded items, try turning them inside-out to start and put them back right-side-out as you wear them. If has been at least a season since you last wore an item, chances are good you won’t reach for it again. Add it to the donation pile or give it to a friend.


Photo source: http://www.organized-simplicity.com/

Get Organized
Now that you know what you have, you need a system to keep some cool order in your clean and clear closet. Most successful closet spaces use a combination of shelving and drawers along with specialized compartments for shoes, accessories, and jewelry. Because closet organization (or, conversely, chaos) has such an effect on everyday life, this is almost always where I start with new clients.

For the past several years I’ve been working with Seattle’s Organized Spaces and I can’t recommend them highly enough. With their incredible systems, I have more than doubled the usable space in many closets, including my own!


All photos are completed projects by Organized Spaces

Speaking of maximizing closet space, I’m also a huge fan of Huggables Hangers. They are coated with a light fuzz to hold garments in place and also so slim that you can fit several in the same space as a single plastic or wooden hanger.


Photo source: http://www.containerstore.com

As a self-proclaimed neat freak (hey, it’s my job!), I’m also nuts for shelf organizers that help you maximize space on closet shelves without creating messy piles that collapse onto each other. 


Photo source: The Container Store

For even more fun, spring-loaded drawer dividers are a must-have for keeping socks away from undies, and vice versa. The spring-loaded feature means they work with any size drawer, which is just the kind of organizing ease I love.


Photo source: The Container Store 

What about shoes? Does your closet shoe system resemble something of a pile that leaves you scrambling for the right match when you’re already late getting out of the house? There are a multitude of options that allow your shoes to have their own space, without cramming each other’s toe-space. Whether individual cubbies, shelves or (my personal favorite) a towel bar installed on the end wall inside a closet to tuck all those pairs behind, any of these will give your shoes a space of their own.


Photo source: http://www.containerstore.com


Photo source: http://www.sterlingstyle.net

Photo source: Pinterest

If you have the space, another great alternative is a Lazy Susan Shoe Rack – this works especially well for a corner that is typically just dead space.


Photo source: http://www.goodshomedesign.com/lazy-susan-shoe-rack/

Baubles that twinkle, not tangle! Last but certainly not least, the question of where to put all your fun or funky jewelry. If you’re like me, a simple jewelry box just doesn’t do the trick. One of my favorite tricks uses Ikea’s Nissedal full length mirror, everyone needs a full length mirror, and space to hang jewelry . So simple and brilliant, I only wish I had thought of it first.

Photo Source: Garrison Street Design Studio

Also crafty and smart, repurposed bathroom hooks and racks!


Photo source: http://www.overthrowmartha.com

Finally, one of my golden rules for a happy, high-functioning closet: If you get something new, something old’s gotta go. It may seem unfair, especially to the shoppers among us, but this one guiding principle will keep your space, and your wardrobe, well-balanced and fresh.

Happy closet clearing!

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