Closet Chaos Eliminated - A Look Inside Laura's Closet
Before a recent trip to the Container Store I was reminded by our Client Services Assistant, Christina, that I needed more hangers for our closet. I knew this was not the solution; rather, the solution was that it was time to go through the closet and eliminate the clothes that I no longer wear – because they are either out of style, don’t fit or no longer make me feel good.
This morning with the sun shining when I woke (a rare moment in Seattle this time of year), I was reminded that spring is just around the corner; at least I hope it is! Thinking about the “hanger” comment, I decided to take 30 minutes and take a quick pass through our master closet. I was able to eliminate a large shopping bag full of clothes that I did not wear this season – a good indicator I won’t wear them next year either, so out they went.
I keep a bag near my closet at all times for donations; clothing and other small items that I deem to no longer serve a purpose in my life. These are items I will itemize with It's Deductible (free from Intuit) before I drop them off to a women’s transition shelter. “Decision making” is part of an organizing process and system you maintain, so once I’ve made the decision to eliminate something, there is no point in putting it back in the closet - only to have to make that decision again at a later date.
I am fortunate to have a walk-in master closet – and while I would love to have a fancy closet system in it, the current “builder’s special” as I like to call it; works for us – at least until I can convince Rob that we need one! Because I teach organizing classes in our home – our closets receive a lot of scrutinizing by attendees who are often surprised that I don’t have a fancy system; but are instead pleased to see that you can organize your closet and maximize space with a few products, time and some careful planning.
Laura and Rob's Closet
Here are some tips that I use in our closets and with our clients
1. Look up! There is typically wasted space above the top shelf in your closet. Install a second shelf to store less frequently used items. The picture to the right is an example of a closet makeover we did where we purchased a $15 shelf and some brackets from Home Depot and created twice the amount of storage space.
2. Use one type of hanger. I prefer wood. I realize they take up more space than some hangers, although you can find thin wood hangers. Find one you like and standardize. This visual effect created when your clothes hang at the same length with one finish will be pleasing to the eye.
3. Disguise items. Use bins or baskets in different sizes and textures to disguise and contain similar items. In the photo of my closet above, you see several white wooden bins that almost blend into the closet shelf. These bins contain: baseball hats, small purses, evening bags and shoe inserts. You’d never know it from a quick glance in the closet.
4. Stand up. Your boots, that is. I love these boot organizers from Storables and I use these in my closet. For a recent client closet makeover, we put in six of them underneath a section of hanging clothes.
5. Reverse order. If you have a double-hang section in your closet; put your pants on top and tops on bottom. Why you ask? Because pants, when folded over a hanger (if you prefer to store this way) will not stick out as far as a shirt or blouse will. So, when you are standing in your closet it’s nice to have items at eye level that aren’t poking you in the eye because they stick out further.
6. Keep mending materials within reach. I keep a sewing and mending kit (just like this one) on a shelf in the closet with needles, a variety of thread, safety pins, straight pins and scissors for the unexpected quick repair.
7. Get creative. Sometimes I re-purpose products designed for a specific purpose and use them for something entirely different. For example, the belt hanger that you see here – I use in my closet to hang my chunky jewelry from. It hangs next to my clothes for easy access. For men – you’re probably best off using this one for its intended purpose.
8. Face backwards. I prefer to hang my clothes facing one direction; meaning the fronts of shirts, blouses, pants, suits and dresses all face the same direction. For me, the opening faces left. If you can’t remember the last time you wore something, and have a hard time letting go of clothing, turn hanging items in the opposite direction. The next time you wear this item, hang it the way you would normally face all of your clothes. In three to six months you will be able to quickly see what you’ve not worn.
9. Never fold or roll another scarf. I love the scarf hanger – it’s easy to see what you have and quickly store scarves through this accessory. I keep one in my master closet and one in the front closet for the winter scarves.
10. Shoe styles. I’m talking about how you “organize and store” your shoes. In our house, we both prefer different styles, as seen in the photo above. I know from experience that if something is not easy to maintain, it will not stay organized. Rob likes his shoes stored in hanging shoe organizers, while I prefer to have mine placed on bamboo shoe racks. For special occasion shoes, I store them in the box to keep them from collecting dust. Determine your shoe style to help you keep your shoes organized and so you can find a matching pair. I’ve heard stories from clients who left home wearing two different shoes!
11. 1 in, 1 out. You’ve probably heard the saying before – for each item you purchase, let one go. If this was the case in my closet, I probably wouldn’t have been reminded that I needed more hangers! While I do place clothing for donations in the bag in my closet on a regular basis, sometimes I have a tendency to do a lot of shopping at one time, which uses up the extra hangers. This is why at least twice a year I give my closet a good once over and practice what I preach; which leads me to my last tip….
12. Stop making excuses. I’ve heard them all over the years…
“But I paid good money for that”
“I know it will fit….someday”
“I know it will be in style again….someday”
Seriously, who are you kidding? Yes, you may have paid good money for ‘that’ but if you aren’t wearing it, what good does it do? “Someday” when the size 6 fits again (I pray for this myself), it will most likely be out of style or the colors will have changed and you will want something new…and yes, when the styles come back in, there is always some style variation and the “in” colors will be different. So, I say, free up the closet space now so you have room to see what you love to wear and what makes you feel good.
A well-organized closet is a beautiful thing!
P.S. You can read more about how to organize your closet in Laura's book - Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home and Life available on Amazon
Public Seminar Schedule
March 19, 2011 - Spring into Organization
Time: 9 am to 1 pm
Topic: Laura will participate on 2 panels: How to Become a Professional Organizer (10:30 - 11:15) and Ask the Organizer (11:30-12:15)
Place: Sheraton Bellevue Hotel - 100 112th Ave. NE - Bellevue, WA
Investment: $8 in advance or $10 at the door
View Invitation: Here
March 26, 2011 - Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 10 Techniques to Increase Productivity
Date: March 26, 2011
Time: 10 to 11 am
Place: California Closets, Bellevue, WA
April 19, 2011 - Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 10 Techniques to Increase Productivity
May 5, 2011 - Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 10 Techniques to Increase Productivity
June 3, 2011 - Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 5 Techniques to Increase Productivity
August 16, 2011 - Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 5 Techniques to Increase Productivity
Click Here to learn more about each event and register - many events are FREE!
Announcing the Upcoming Release of my latest Book:
Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 25 Techniques to Increase Productivity
In just 15 Days, my latest book will make its debut!
BONUS!!! Order between March 28th and April 1st and you will receive link to a FREE 1.5 hour Outlook E-mail Productivity Webinar (a $69 value) and several additional gifts with proof of purchase. More details to come in the next e-news blast.
Eliminate the Chaos at Work is divided into four sections:
Electronic Information Management
Management of the Stuff in Your Workspace
Each chapter contains practical, easy-to-implement advice you can use immediately in your office to increase your productivity and help you be more organized at work.
Each 'technique" is explained in detail and provides suggestions for implementation.
If this is a topic you are interested in, be sure to sign up for our new business newsletter where I will share these techniques over time. The first issue will be released in March.
You can also follow me on Twitter (@lauraleist) where I will be tweeting about business related organizing and productivity topics.
Announcing: The New Eliminate Chaos Business Newsletter
Beginning this month we will publish a quarterly electronic newsletter for those interested in business productivity topics and how to get organized at work.
This newsletter will coincide with the upcoming release of my new book:
Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 25 Techniques to Increase Productivity
If you receive this newsletter and would like to receive our new publication, click to update your profile. You will not automatically receive this publication unless you subscribe or update your profile.
Wishing you an organized life in 2011,