What’s In Your Closet?

Caveman ClosetI wonder who invented or designed the first closet. Maybe Mrs. Caveman got tired of tripping over Mr. Caveman’s club again and hid it behind a rock. Whatever the reason, closets can be either a black hole or a great tool for organizing. This month in celebration of Clean Out Your Closet Week, we are tackling the coat closet.

Pick the closet you use most often, it is usually closest to the door you use daily. First step of organizing is always sort.  You can start with sorting the outerwear by season and/or owner. If possible take it out of the closet and sort it so you can actually see how much each person has. As the winter winds down you can see which coats and accessories still fit your child and which will not make it through another season. Decide which coats are regularly worn and which do not fit or are in poor condition. Donate those that you can and store the out of season ones. Do the same for the accessories such as, scarves, hats, gloves and shoes. Take everything else out of the closet and decide if it needs to be stored elsewhere or if it will remain in that closet. (If you do not have a closet near the door that you use most often, try to find a space to put up hooks for jackets and baskets for the other extras for each member of the family.)

Next, look at ways to utilize vertical space. Can you add another shelf? Often the top shelf leaves a lot of unused space up to the ceiling. Add another shelf there and although it will be harder to reach, it makes good use of that space near the ceiling for plastic (labeled) bins for seasonal or seldom used items. A basic shoe rack can double as a removable shelf and shelf dividers can keep things separated. Can you add another rod? Adding a rod off of the existing rod creates a lower rod for children to use at their height. Just remember to leave some space for full length items (if you have any). Sometimes closet space is actually hidden behind the wall of the closet and is difficult to use. If it is 10 inches or deeper, you might want to add some shelves or hooks for easy hang up.

If you like things to be “put away” then you may want to use part of this closet area as a “landing pad.” Use separate baskets, bins or shelves for each family member to store their accessories (hats, gloves, etc.) and backpacks. For young children make sure there are hooks or a rod low enough for them to hang up their own coat and a bin low enough for their mittens, ski pants, backpacks and hats. The fewer steps it takes children to put their things away, the more likely it is that they will do it. Walk them through what you want them to do as they come in the door and for younger children, also add a picture list of the steps to help them create the habit.

Now put everything back into the closet grouped in a way that works for your family whether it be by owner, type of jacket or color – the choice is yours. Make it functional and no one will ask – What’s in your closet?

Got questions? Leave them in the comments box….I’d love to hear from you.

How to organize your closet

Organize your closet
Organize your closet

Is the warm weather on its way? Maybe if we all put away our winter clothes and pull out the Summer stuff it will force the weather to cooperate. What do you say, are you ready to make the wardrobe changeover?

Organizing the closet is one of the best ways to add time to your day and reduce the stress of the morning rush. Depending on the size of your closet and whether or not you share the space with someone else, the following five steps could take anywhere from one hour to four or more hours. If you would like to be able to easily find what you want to wear (and have it fit) then set a date to organize your closet right now. Once you have picked a time slot read below so you will have everything you need to complete the job.

First step is to get ready. That means turning off the phone so you won’t be distracted and led off task. Grab a snack and a beverage to take with you along with a box of trash bags, a sharpie, three boxes (labeled undecided, needs fixing/cleaning, and belongs elsewhere), a label maker or index cards and tape, a hanging rack if you have one, a full length mirror and the vacuum.

Now you’re ready to begin:

1. Sort is always the first step in any organizing project. Use the three boxes to sort for things that belong elsewhere, things that need to be altered or cleaned and the undecided. Beginning on the left hand side of the closet and moving clockwise start with things that are hanging up and pull them out and either place on the hanging rack or on the bed. If you are using the bed, only take about ¼ of the closet out at a time. Now sort that pile into the “love it and it fits” pile, the “never felt or looked good” pile (which will be the give away) and the “not sure it fits pile.” Move the “love it pile” to its own spot on the bed or the rack and then try on the “not sure it fits” pile. I know it seems like it will slow down the process but if you never liked it or liked it but it never fit then either give it away or put it in the undecided box. Continue around the closet through all the hanging clothes. When you get a pile to give away put it in a trash bag and label it. When the bag is full move it outside the room you are in and continue with the next bag. Next step is the shoes, followed by the rest of the stuff. Each time you need to consider do I love it, hate it or does it fit? If you find anything that belongs elsewhere put it in that box, do not just “take a minute” to move it to where it does belong. Put the trash in a labeled trash bag.

2. Once everything is out of the closet, dust and vacuum it well. Take a break and have your snack. You have just finished the absolute hardest part of this whole process.

3. Next we will need to decide where things will “live.” You want to keep like things together, for instance all pants together, all tops together etc. First though check to see that your closet is optimized for the most storage space. Do you have a second rack hanging below the first one? Is there available space above the first shelf to put another shelf so you can utilize the whole space? If not, you may want to consider adding a rack or shelf at a later time. Now is NOT the time to go to Home Depot. Write it down instead. Stay with me….you’re almost done.

4. Looking at the piles you have made (starting with what will go up high on the shelf or shelves) start to put things back into the closet. Grouping similar things into a basket or bin will keep them together and make it easier to find what you are looking for. Label everything. For the hanging clothes you can sort by color going from light to dark (all tops together from white to black) or put all pieces of an outfit together and sort them by color or casual to fancy. Make sure there is space for the long hanging things like dresses. Many people find it easy to hang all tops on the top rack and all bottom pieces (skirts and pants) on the bottom rack. Then you can quickly grab a top and a bottom and off you go. Continue until everything that belongs in the closet that you absolutely love (and fits) is back in there. Then take the bags of give away and put them in your car to drop off. Put the dry cleaning or alterations into a bag and put them in the car. Empty the trash and then empty the box that has things that belong in another room. All that is left is the “undecided” box. Take a second look is there anything you know you really won’t wear…..it doesn’t matter how much you spent on it or how much you saved when you bought it. If it is really only collecting dust, it is not worth the space. For those things you truly cannot decide about, box them up and date the box. In six months take another look inside and see if the decisions are any easier. (Be careful where you store this box that it is not exposed to moisture.)

5. Lastly, maintaining the closet means putting things back where they belong. Use laundry day as a quick tidy up. Gather the empty hangers, put everything back in its place and give it a quick dust and vacuum. Use the one in and one out rule. Buy something new, out with something old. Maintaining the closet of things that fit makes it easy to get dressed, easy to see what you have and takes the stress out of, “What should I wear?” Good luck. Let me know how it goes. I am always happy to answer questions.