TRANSFORM THIS VITAL SPACE WITH TIPS FROM A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER
An over-cluttered and disorganized closet can feel stressful. It can also lead to overspending on repeat clothing items and wasted time trying to find your things. But it’s all too common to put off the time-consuming task of cleaning out this essential space until you can’t take it anymore.
Ready for a change? Start by refreshing your mindset, confirming that you want this update and it might be somewhat uncomfortable. “It’s mentally daunting for some people to purge items they’ve had for some time,” says Kat Duncan, professional organizer and owner of UpTown Concierge. “Keep your focus on the result that you’re going for: to create a calm, organized environment that reduces everyday stress.” Here, Duncan divulges her tried and true closet organizing tips and tricks to expedite your DIY project.
THE BIG SORT
Begin with making four piles for the items you want to keep, sell, trash and donate. This is the most time consuming part of the project. “Start in one section of your closet and tackle a 2-foot section at a time,” advises Duncan. “When you work in small sections, it becomes much more manageable.” Take all of the items in each 2-foot space out of the closet and sort them in your bedroom. By the time you finish placing clothes and accessories into four piles, you should have an empty closet.
Now it’s time to figure out where everything is going to go back in. “It’s like a Tetris puzzle,” Duncan says. She recommends grouping all categories, such as tank tops, jeans, dresses and more together and bringing everything you are keeping back into your closet. Next, color coordinate within each item’s section. For instance, group all white, short sleeved shirts together next to the group of all red short-sleeved shirts, and so on. “It takes the guesswork out of dressing,” Duncan explains.
Organize the contents of your drawers by sectioning them off with suspension drawer dividers. This might mean splitting them in half, thirds, fifths or whatever works for what you have in each drawer, says Duncan. For example, separate dress socks from sporty, thong underwear from full coverage and sports bras from everyday bras. For T-shirts, Duncan suggests folding them and standing them up in the drawer to be able to see what you have, then separating every few with a divider to hold them upright.
“Shift things around so your prime real estate is used for the clothes and accessories you need to touch on a daily or weekly basis,” advises Duncan. Since the top shelf of a closet isn’t as easily accessible, store hyper-seasonal or occasional items, such as your snow boots, there. Put everything that doesn’t need to be sitting out on a shelf into matching bins or baskets. To figure out how many containers and what sizes you need, Duncan shares this trick of the trade: “After purging and grouping like items together, you’ll have your hats in one pile, folded scarves in another, etc. Measure the length, width and height of each stack. Then, measure your shelves. Write it all down. This will help you determine what fits and how many baskets you need. Next, look for containers that meet the measurement requirements. If you are shopping in-store, take photos of all of your piles so you have a visual to reference.” As for purses, use acrylic dividers to line up clutches on your shelves and keep them orderly. Duncan also recommends stuffing any slouchy bags with bubble wrap or white tissue paper to keep their shapes on a shelf.
“It didn’t get disorganized overnight, so if it takes you a while to get through your DIY [closet refresh], that’s OK,” says Duncan. “If you have to do the purge and then come back in a week and do another sweep, do that. Whatever works for you or makes your life easier.” Simply don’t have the time to go at it on your own? Call in some professional help. A pro organizer can likely get the job done in a day, says Duncan. “We work faster because this is what we do. Just like anything that you could probably do yourself, the question is, do you want to spend the time doing it?”
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Read – THE CLOSET TOOL KIT
If you need to make space in your closet each season, put the really obvious clothing items (such as thick winter sweaters) in storage bins. Keep crossover items, such as a blouse that can be worn in spring and fall, in your closet so there’s less legwork throughout the year. And beware of storing clothes in an unfinished attic, as they can get moldy.
Tricks for Kids
When re-organizing children’s closets, Duncan suggests moving the things the kids need every day down to make them easy to reach. Go to town with a label maker on each shelf and drawer so kids can find and put back their own hats, play shorts and more. And skip the shoe boxes; instead, use a rack or cubbies to neatly line them up.
Managing Editor and Wellness Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Blogger at Badass + Healthy.