5 Steps to Organizing Your Closet

Assess what you have and eliminate what you don't need to get your closet ready for a transformation
Space-Savvy Closet

Space-Savvy Closet

Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

By: Jeannie Matteucci

No matter what kind of closet you're planning, take the time to think ahead and really consider what you need to store and where you want to store it. Taking a hard look at what you have will help you understand the kind of storage you need.

Step One

Designate a staging area and empty your closet out. You can use your bed or a cleared-out corner of the room. This important first step requires you to remove everything: clothes, hangers, boxes, folded blankets or piles of old magazines.

Use a collapsible clothing rack to hang clothes so you can clearly see and sort exactly what you have. The rack is a nice addition for your laundry room once the closet project is over. Take your time with this process, maybe play some of your favorite music and ask a friend or family member to help if heavy items need to be moved.

Step Two

Organize items into specific categories and take inventory. You can place like items in cardboard boxes, plastic containers or in piles, and use labels to help keep track of each group of items. Some organizers suggest starting with "keep," "toss" and "donate" piles, while others prefer their clients to start with broad categories (clothes, shoes and linens) and then divide everything into smaller subcategories (sweaters, winter boots and sheets).

During this stage, take the time to group small items like batteries or toy soldiers together in bags or jars, so they don't end up "lost" among the boxes or piles of larger items.

Step Three

Eliminate items that don't belong in that particular closet. One of the big causes of clutter and disorganization in the home is items that belong in the kitchen or bedroom, are found hiding in closets all over the house. Over time, the temptation to stuff something like a box of appetizer plates in a bedroom closet or extra towels for the bathroom in the entry closet can cause you to make some bad storage decisions. This is the time to return out-of-place items to their rightful home. But try to stay focused on planning one closet at a time. You can turn your attention to other closets at a later date.

Step Four

Remove unwanted items. This might be the most difficult part of the closet planning process. It helps to establish some basic rules up front, like anything with holes or pairs of shoes or socks missing their partner must go. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Have I worn this shirt or skirt in the last year?
  • Does this jacket still fit?
  • Do I really need 12 baskets that look exactly the same?

The answer to many of the questions will likely be "no" and then you can decide if you want to donate items to charity, try selling items online, hold a garage sale or take unwanted items to a local consignment store.

If you don't want to sell your used goods, hold a swap meet with friends and neighbors who want to eliminate clutter from their home. Many times a beautiful sweater that looks snug on your daughter can be a perfect fit for the child down the street. Just avoid the tragic storage mistake of leaving the swap meet with items you don't need. Remember; Keep your eye on the prize!

Specialty Features for Your Closet

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Cellaret

Cellarets — or built-in drawer insets — keep socks, ties, and other delicate items organized and clearly visible. Photo courtesy of Studio Becker

Laundry Cabinet

Incorporating laundry storage in your closet lets you keep dirty clothes out of sight yet readily accessible. Add a removable liner so you can easily transport the clothes to the laundry room. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo By: John Granen

Pull-Out Pant Rack

A pull-out pant rack keeps pants looking freshly pressed and makes it easy to find your favorite pair. Photo courtesy of Studio Becker

Valet Pole

If you want a spot to hang dry cleaning or plan outfits, a valet pole is a handy addition to your closet. These pull-out poles usually install into a vertical panel in your closet system and come in a variety of colors and finishes. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo By: John Granen

Jewelry Organizer

Often made of felt, velvet or suede, jewelry inserts for drawers offer multiple compartments for small items like rings, bracelets, watches and glasses. Some come with locks to keep valuables safe. Photo courtesy of Studio Becker

Hutch

Hutches or hutch-style dressers are popular because they combine open and closed storage. Available with different drawer and shelf combinations, a tall hutch can also act as a space divider for cohabitation closets. Photo courtesy of California Closets

Photo By: Copyright 2010 John Granen

Pull-Out Table

Handy for folding clothes or packing for trips, a pull-out table saves space since it can be stowed away when not in use. Photo courtesy of Studio Becker

Step Five

Clean the closet itself. While you might think an empty closet is "clean", now is the time to wipe down the closet walls and vacuum or mop the closet floor. Once items are removed, you will probably find stray clothing tags, store receipts or dust bunnies. If the walls need painting, choose a paint that is specifically formulated to be mold and mildew-resistant. If you find your closet walls have mildew or mold after you remove items, have a professional examine your walls and properly clean and paint them.

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