The Lazy Person’s 7 Step Guide For an Organized Closet
Too many things to do and too little time to do them. Such is the nature of your way-too-busy life. As you enter the New Year with a boatload of good intentions you know the challenge. You run out of real estate (another word for time) before you’re able to conquer everything on your New Year’s resolution list. One of the top items on most lists (after getting into shape – gym memberships will be exploding in January, losing weight and saving money) is getting organized. At the top of most organization lists is the dreaded, messy closet you fight your way through at least two times a day.
So, if you’re time starved (raise your hand if you resemble this statement) who loves organizing their closet as much as a root-canal (the mountains of scattered shoes on the floor and clothes fighting for space on a single pathetic rod are so imposing you don’t know where to start) I’ve got a solution for you.
Read the lazy person’s 7-step guide (OK – you’re not really lazy you’re just too doggone busy to do everything) to an organized closet. In this article you’ll learn how to get inspired, where to get help (it’s smarter and will save you time to get assistance), and learn about closet systems which will make your space easier to use. Let’s dig in.
Step #1 – Get inspired (or frustrated enough) to create a vision of a better closet
If you’re like me – nothing (and I mean nothing) is happening without the inspiration and desire to take action (especially if it means spending your money). To elevate and organize your closet you need a vision of what it could look like vs. the nightmare you deal with today. Where are good places to look for closet design inspiration? Here’s a few thoughts:
- Pinterest – This social media imaging site is tops of my list. You’ll see extravagant celebrity closets and DIY closet and shoe organization hacks in abundance. Create boards to house your electronic “clippings,” ideas and inspiration. Click through these pictures to articles to grow your knowledge.
- Houzz – This site is another huge place to get psyched up about your closet. Pictures are uploaded by homeowners, contractors, interior designers and architects. In addition, Houzz has an active “help” section where anyone can pose a question and get answers to your remodeling or home organization problems – all for free. Now that’s a magic word!
- Blog posts – OK – I’m an active home organization blogger so I may be a bit biased (OK a lot biased) but I LOVE to read informative articles about any project I’m looking to take on. Product brochures and static web sites are not enough. When reading blogs you’ll learn tips and tricks for more organized spaces. The best blogs combine inspiring images with sound advice – which make them fun to read (who are we kidding, we all like to look at the pretty pictures first!).
Step 2 – Get help to dig through the “rubble” which is your current storage
Starting a closet remodeling project can be overwhelming.
Where do you begin?
Stephen Covey used to say, “begin with the end in mind.” I agree that step 1 is getting the inspired vision – but after you get the vision your project transforms into the “roll up your sleeves” phase. You need to get to work. The first work in transforming your closet is to declutter. Most of us have WAAAAY too much stuff. Old dresses which you haven’t worn in years. Out of fashion pants. Underwear which gives you a continuous “wedgie.”
While logically you realize something has to give – practically it’s hard to discard or donate things you used to love (no matter how many years ago this was or if they fit today). Get guidance through this process. If you can afford hire a professional organizer through the National Association of Professional Organizers.
They help people declutter every day and can lead you through the rubble. If you don’t want to pay a professional, round up your most brutally honest friend. One who will tell you, “Girlfriend, who are you kidding thinking your going to wear THAT again?” Ask yourself would you buy this garment today? If the answer is – no – you know what you need to do.
Step 3 – Bring in a Professional Closet Designer to Customize a Design for You
While it’s nice in step 1 to get inspired – sometimes seeing these cool images can be confusing if you don’t know how (or if) these ideas will work in your space. This is where a closet designer can help.
A professional designer will want to see your space (don’t be embarrassed it WILL get better). Look for one who will help you “think outside of your own current closet box.” For example, what I often see is most people have way too many clothes hanging on rods (which are jammed together), but lack shelves and drawers (which can reduce the clutter on the rods). Make sure this designer has a Free 3D design tool, so you’ll see your new design and how it will work.
It’s trite, but true – a picture is worth a thousand words (so is a 3d closet design). Don’t work with someone who dabbles in closets who will just dice and slice up some wood boards and call it a closet. Get an expert with an adjustable system (see step 4) who will challenge you to see new ways to store and better use your space.
Step 4 – Make sure the closet is adjustable to you (and others who will be using it)
The problem with master closets, kid’s closets, or guest closets is they were designed with NOBODY in mind (they were a just a generic closet slapped up for any random homeowner). Therefore, they often have one stationary wood or wire shelf at the top (with too much room above it) and one fixed closet rod to hang clothes. This “no-design-design” leaves you with dead space under the clothes and along the top.
A professional design starts with knowing who(m) is using the space? Your designer will analyze what you’re storing (is it long dresses, mostly casual clothes, suits, ties etc.) now. Then they will help you develop a game-plan for the new closet remodel. If you’re “vertically challenged” make sure rods are placed lower, so you can get to them. See if the shelving and rods can be adjusted as needs change (note – this is critical in kids closets so they have good access as they grow, and their clothes get longer). Don’t settle for a generic design.
Step 5 – Ask, can standardized parts be used to save money?
A custom wall to wall closet design (which uses every inch of space) doesn’t have to be expensive if it’s designed with most of the closet sections using standard dimensions. Most closet system manufacturers make sections which are 18”, 24”, 30” and 36” wide. When you use common sizes you’ll not only save money – but have the flexibility to move a shelf from one section to another and/or repurpose the space to fit your future needs.
Step 6 – Make sure your design allows you to see what you have
The design of most closets makes them painful to use as you age because you can’t see what you’ve got and may have to bend over to get things. Are you living with any of these problems?
- (Problem 1) A lack of overhead or natural lighting – A single lighting fixture on the ceiling which won’t be changed out until all the bulbs are burnt out. This fixture does a substandard job helping you see what’s at the bottom of your closet or what’s in the nooks and crannies in the corners.
- (Problem 2) Shoes buried under a heap of hanging clothes – Since there are often no storage compartments for shoes, they are stuffed underneath hanging clothes (which stick out 22”) making it a physical chore to bend over and try to find what you need.
- (Problem 3) The closet corners are the Bermuda triangle of clothing – When you have clothes butting up to clothes in the corner it’s near impossible to see what you’ve got where these clothes meet.
The first problem is simple to solve with cost effective LED lighting. You can use motion activated LED you don’t need to plug into an outlet. They provide lighting directly over your hanging and shelving sections.
The second problem is a design challenge. Instead of putting shoes underneath hanging clothes – create an upright shelving section where shoes can be seen, and shelves adjusted.
The last problem of bad corners can be worked around by eliminating clothes butting up against clothes. If you have hanging sections on one side – put on the joining side a shelving section.
Step 7 – Stop “reaching into” your storage and have your storage “come to you”
Most closet designs have fixed shelves and rods where you have to reach in to get your things. Make your life infinitely simpler and have your things come to you. Here’s 3 ideas to consider:
- Add pull out drawers into your design. When you store clothes “folded upright” in drawers you’ll gain 2 ½ times more storage than hanging the same clothes up (and they slide out to you). This strategy works well for your shirts, yoga pants, sweatshirts and sweaters you may be hanging now. Putting them in drawers also gets rid of those ugly hanger marks.
- Install slide out shoe shelving – Not only is it nice to see your shoes and boots better with a slide out option, but the shelves can be adjusted to the height of your flats, pumps and boots. This works well as the styles and types of shoes you wear change over time.
- Pull down clothing r Innoods – If you’re vertically challenged (or need the assistance of a wheelchair) using pull down rods will give you the ability to have clothes on upper rods come to you (even if you can’t stand up and reach them).
Making your home more organized – and being able to enjoy (not just put up with) your closet needs to be a thoughtful process. It’s nice to know you don’t have to go it alone. First, dig through the multiple on-line sources like Pinterest, Houzz and blog posts for inspirational closet ideas. Get help in decluttering and with a professional 3D design. Make sure your new walk in or reach in closet is adjustable, uses as many standardized parts and is designed so you can see what you’ve got. Add drawers, slide out shelves and pull down rods so your things can come to you.