closet organization

Organizing Your Closet When You Can Barely Open the Door

Closet Organization Tips

Your grandparents could tell you about Fibber McGee and Molly, a radio program that was on from 1935 to 1959. One of the running gags was McGee opening his hall closet door and triggering an avalanche of junk. At that point, he would exclaim, “I gotta clean out that closet one of these days.” Although McGee never did achieve that goal, his closet became a synonym for household clutter.

If you have an over-stuffed closet, you don’t have to suffer McGee’s fate. Closet organizing has never been easier.

A recent edition of the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 8, 2013) featured an article titled “The $100,000 Closet.” No joke. According to author Candace Jackson,

Designers and architects say, for some clients, the cost of the closet can rival or surpass that of the kitchen, topping $100,000 for large, custom-designed walk-ins with luxurious cabinetry, sound systems and office nooks.

Now you probably don’t have a spare hundred grand lying around. But the good news is, you don’t need it for organizing your closet. There are plenty of free and inexpensive techniques for organizing the most crowded of closets.

Conquer the Clothes Closet

closet declutteringGot a closet full of clothing and nothing to wear? According to Philadelphia Budget Fashion Examiner Lori Rochino , you’re probably a victim of the Pareto Principle – an observation made by an Italian economist that most things in life are not evenly distributed. In the case of your clothes closet, Rochino applies the Pareto Principle as 80 percent of your clothing is only worn 20 percent of the time. “If you can hone in on what’s worn most of the time and eliminate the rest, it’s easier to make clothing decisions with fewer choices.”

Her first suggestion, which could pretty much be applied to any kind of closet or clutter, is this:

  • Take inventory of what you have and toss, donate or sell anything you haven’t worn in a year. If you’re on the fence about some items, set them aside in a box. If they’re still there after a few months, ditch them.

Not ready for quite so drastic a clothing purge? Wardrobe stylist Debbie Roes recommends the hanger trick. You begin by turning all your hangers so that the hooks face the same direction. When you wear something, hang it back up with the hook facing the other direction. Over time, you’ll be able to clearly see what you wear and what you don’t. If you try this for just a month or two, Roes says, “It will definitely open your eyes. I know that I thought I was wearing most of what I owned on a regular basis, but the hangers don’t lie.”

You could also try the Glam Save Style Challenge, a 52-week baby-steps program designed to help you save money, put an end to mindless shopping and reduce closet clutter. 

Tackle the Hall Closet

The first thing you’re likely to do when you walk in the door is dump whatever you’re carrying. If the hall closet is handy, chances are that’s where you’ll put everything. InDegen Pener’sBefore and After: A Front Closet Makeover,” Fugen Neziroglu, Ph.D. and director of the Bio Behavioral Institute, recommends that before entering your home, you do a quick mental inventory of what you’re bringing in and where you’ll put each item. Forming a plan ahead of time and quickly executing it will help to keep you organized.

Pener’s article follows the weekend makeover of a hall closet and offers a simple plan that calls for:

  • Paring down to necessities. Keep those things you wear or use on a daily or weekly basis in the hall closet. Reassign everything else to a less-crowded closet or more appropriate storage space.
  • Spiffing up the closet. Painting the interior a pretty color that complements the rest of your home, one that will inspire you to keep the space tidy.
  • Choosing appropriate storage solutions. Buy or repurpose boxes, baskets, shelving, chests of drawers, hooks and rods that make it easier to stow your stuff. The better looking they are, the more likely you are to use them.
  • Create space. By raising the existing shelf and clothing rod a few inches, you’ll have more accessible space. Don’t overlook the back of the closet door, an excellent spot for hooks to hold hats, scarves and umbrellas.

Tame the Linen Closet

Is your linen closet a giant jumble of junk? Writer for StyleAtHome.com, Margot Austin, offers “A 12-Step Program to Help You Rehabilitate Your Linen Closet.” Among her tips are the following:

  • Organize linens by room and assign shelving to each: master bedroom, master bath, dining room, guest room, etc.
  • Label shelves with peel-and-stick office labels.
  • Reserve the highest shelf for seasonal and seldom-used linens. Wrap them in cellophane or acid-free tissue paper to keep them dust-free.
  • Install a towel bar on the back of the linen closet door, and use it to hang a long tablecloth. Or roll the cloth around a cardboard tube and wrap with a layer of acid-free tissue.

Apply these simple tips and tricks and you’ll never again need to dread opening a closet door.

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  • http://www.thenightowlmama.com Tricia NightOwlMama

    I never have enough to hang its the drawers that are always over loaded

  • Katie @ Uncle Bob’s

    Hi Tricia, that’s a great point. I’m sure many people have the same problem. Drawers are a great topic for us to cover in a future article.

  • Jan Thrift

    I live in a 1960s designed home. The closets are small with only a small door in the middle; therefore, I can’t see well in the back sides of the closet. One shelf on top and one long hanging rod. Got any suggestions for those old closets? Money is scarce.

    • becki1325

      Jan, I lived in a similar house. I put two rows of rods on each side and had more rod space and I could see everything. In the center I put a chest of drawers and hooks to hang long clothes.