When you step into your closet, what do you feel? Stress? Panic? An urge to run the other way? Well, fear not. You don’t need a big budget and fancy accessories to overhaul the mess and create the zen space of your dreams.
In fact, according to professional organizer Monica Friel, your ultimate closet is only 10 steps away. Read on, print the checklist and get going!
“You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time,” says Friel, who owns Chaos to Order. “The more you get rid of, the simpler it is to find things.” But what should go? Start by tossing or donating clothing that doesn’t fit, hasn’t been worn within the past year, or needs serious mending or cleaning. Find a new spot for sentimental keepsake items that you don’t regularly wear.
2. keep it simple
There’s no need to invest in a pricey organizational system to give your closet a crisp, uniform look. Instead, use a collection of the same hangers. Friel prefers thin, clear, plastic hangers rather than bulky, tubular hangers. Donate hangers that don’t match and recycle those from the dry cleaner (except the pant hangers, which Friel suggests keeping and using in your closet).
3. create order
Once you’ve collected matching hangers, begin to gather and hang like items together. Don’t forget about your shoes, handbags and scarves. Group by color (light to dark), then by length, so that long pieces and short pieces hang together.
4. divide and conquer
If you have drawers in your closet, Friel recommends using spring-loaded dividers to arrange socks. The dividers can adjust to fit thin trouser socks or thick wool socks.
5. think outside the box
Not everything has to go inside your closet, Friel says. For shoes, consider under-the-bed shoe dividers or display your shoes on shelves or ladders.
6. add some light
“If your closet is dark and dreary, you won’t want to be in there,” says Friel. “Lighting is huge. It perks up all clothes and they look better.” Try recessed can lighting to brighten closets without taking up too much space or, for serious closet lovers, install a chandelier.
7. get creative
Think beyond hangers or drawers and use vertical space to display jewelry in a shadowbox or picture frame. Friel also suggests placing small plastic adhesive hooks on an empty wall to hold jewelry or scarves.
8. purge again
Be critical of what takes center stage in your closet. If your jackets and blazers can go in the front closet, move them. As a general rule of thumb, Friel says, “If they’re in there long enough to get dusty, they shouldn’t be in your closet.”
9. moving up
Make the most of high spaces by using baskets marked with big labels or old luggage tags. However, “Never put a basket up high without a label,” warns Friel. It will be hard to remember what you put in there (and you won’t grab for it). High shelves are also the perfect place to store out-of-season gear or rarely used pieces like ski pants. Friel recommends using Ziploc® brand Flexible Totes to store off-season clothes or shoes on higher shelves because the totes are lighter and more flexible than plastic bins.
10. keep it going
Don’t think all the work stops here. Predict your needs so your closet won’t get cluttered again. Friel recommends placing a basket or bin within arm’s reach for outgoing clothes, such as those to be donated or stored away for the season. Then, take a moment to enjoy the newly organized space you’ve created.