If I just had more closet space! The problem with that remark is that there never will be enough closet space because we all tend to accumulate stuff, therefore we’re right back where we were, wishing for more closet space. Making the decision to organize our closets requires a good, hard look at our stuff and our desire for more stuff. So, the first thing you need to do to get your closets organized is to take a deep breath. Now, you can begin.
Step One: Take a Deep Breath
Okay, we already covered that. But, the truth is that it is the most important step. Once you have made a decision to organize your closets, you most likely have realized that stuff has to go. That is not an easy decision. We would really like to hold onto as much stuff as humanly possible. Start slowly by first choosing which closet to begin cleaning. Take it one closet at a time so you don’t become overwhelmed. Perhaps the least stressful closet for you would be a linen closet. Perhaps a pantry or entryway closet would be the least painful. Your clothes closet is usually the most stressful and is not for the faint-of-heart. It may take an extended period of time simply to sort through the clothes that have been hanging there for a year or more gathering dust without ever seeing the light of day. Whichever closet you decide to tackle first, be sure to give yourself a break if you get over anxious about throwing something away. You don’t have to finish this project in one day, so make yourself a pot of coffee and read on.
Step Two: Sorting Boxes
This procedure SHOULD be stress-free. You make it that way by remembering that you can remove anything from any box and move it around to another category if you choose. The trick is to go VERY QUICKLY through every item in the closet, making your decision which box to put the items in almost as soon as you touch them. Depending on your own personal situation, your box titles will vary. You’ll most likely have a “Keep” box, a “Give Away or Sell” box, and a “Throw Away” box. Now, you may need to make your boxes more specific, like a box labeled with your children’s names, a box for keepsakes only, a box for a favorite charity, a box for your cottage, and so forth. If it seems overwhelming when you start labeling your boxes, you’re thinking too hard. At that point, go back to the three basics: Keep, Give Away or Sell, and Throw Away. You will be going back through your boxes again, so you don’t need to get too technical at first.
Step Three: Inventory
Once you’ve reviewed the items that should remain in your life, put the “Keep” items back in the closet. Consider this temporary, as you may be shifting things around a bit once you have taken inventory throughout your house. Continue with the next closet using the same techniques of sorting in labeled boxes. Once you have gone through your house, wholesale cleaning and sorting each closet, you are ready to really organize. Begin by making an inventory of what you have. This can be as general or as complicated as you want to make it. Try simple categories at first, such as sports, gift wrapping, games, holiday decorations, and so on. Draw a simple floor plan if it helps.
Step Four: Assess Each Closet’s Use
Start assessing the way you have your things distributed in the closets throughout your house. Do you need to switch items to a different closet, either for space or ease of use? Sometimes we just start putting things in closets, not thinking about when we’ll need them later and we don’t take the time to move them to a better location. Now is the time to start organizing your thoughts about what makes the most sense to store together in a given closet. Take your time and don’t be afraid to change your mind a few times. This is a process that takes some time and the results may change over time.
Step Five: Maximize Your Closet Space
Now, measure your closets carefully, drawing simple diagrams of each one. Then, armed with your closet’s measurements, start looking at all the storage options available to see what will work best for you. Do you want to use built-in shelves or moveable shelves? Do you want to use one of the units that you can put together that have bins, baskets and rods? If you begin to doubt your competence in building the more complicated units, get some advice. They are not that difficult once you begin, but you do require some basic tools and skills. Simple and inexpensive bookcase-type units may be just what you need in one of your closets. Clear plastic storage boxes that stack easily are always great additions in almost any closet. Consider specialized storage items with an eye for creativity. A canvas shoe storage bag may be used for storing small items that would otherwise get lost in a big closet. Those little cardboard dressers may be just the right size to fit perfectly where nothing else will go. Also, do some thinking about those space-saver bags for seldom used or seasonal clothes. They really can save you some much needed space. Once you have your closets organized, you may even want to make a master list of what is in each closet and review it once a year or so just to avoid the over-accumulation problem you just solved.
A Special Note: Your Clothes Closet
I believe our clothes closet deserves a little special attention. Although the basic steps apply to the closet that holds your wardrobe, your clothing will require some real focused time. Most people have clothing in their closets that they have not worn, or even seen, for years. One of the most difficult tasks when sorting your clothes is deciding what to give away or even throw away. We want to keep it all, of course. One of several thoughts occur the moment we lay our hands on any given piece of fabric: “I love this and wear it often.”; “I like this and will wear it if I have nothing else.”; “I don’t like the way this looks on me but its too good to get rid of.”, and the infamous; “I’ll fit back into this after I lose the weight.” My thoughts on this whole process are; if you have the room for it, don’t fret about it. If you are jamming clothes into your closet, or if you are storing boxes and boxes of clothes that you can’t part with, then something has to give. If you don’t like how you look in something, get rid of it. If something doesn’t fit you, get rid of it. If you wear something often because you like it, keep it. You know when something fits you and looks good on you. If you catch a glimpse of yourself in a storefront window and cringe, get rid of it! Personally, I would rather have ten outfits that I love than one hundred and ten that I look bad in. The other thought about your clothes closet is this: if you can only spend money on one super-organizing closet unit, spend it in your clothes closet. The time and stress it saves you in the morning when you are trying to get dressed is well worth the money.
Now, it’s time to begin.
Carve out a chunk of time for your project, and enjoy the sanity that comes from a well-organized closet! And be sure to check back here for more organization ideas and tips to come.