As we start off another new year with plenty of resolutions to make or break, it's a perfect time to turn your attention to closets. Whether you have skeletons or just some old sneakers to purge, here's some advice for maintaining an efficient closet throughout the coming year.
Nordstrom and Old Navy do it, and you should do it, too. Take a good look at what's in your closet, and I mean more than a cursory glance at what to put on for the day. I mean top to bottom, and then back again. To be an effective process, you have to be prepared to purge and organize, so set aside at least an hour.
Let the Granny Jeans Go
I know, breaking up - even with bad jeans - is hard to do. But just think of all the space you'll create for something fabulous and new!
Once you've cleared out the stuff that doesn't fit your body, style, or the way you want to feel, pack it up for donation straight away rather than leaving it around for "some other day." If you're really not sure if something still works for you, have a trusted friend over for "what's hot, what's not."
Once your clearing is complete, keep a donation bag in the closet so you can let icky or ill-fitting things go on the spot throughout the year.
Keep Track of What You Wear
For the stuff that does stay, here's a tip for making your next inventory more efficient.
For hanging clothes, turn hangers around so they are facing the "wrong" way, or whatever is opposite what you would normally do. As you wear an item, hang it back up the normal way. When the time comes to take inventory again, you'll know at a glance that anything still hanging the opposite way hasn't been worn.
For folded items, try turning them inside-out to start and put them back right-side-out as you wear them. If has been at least a season since you last wore an item, chances are good you won't reach for it again. Add it to the donation pile or give it to a friend.
Completed projects by Organized Spaces
Now that you know what you have, you need a system to keep some cool order in your clean and clear closet. Most successful closet spaces use a combination of shelving and drawers along with specialized compartments for shoes, accessories, and jewelry. Because closet organization (or, conversely, chaos) has such an effect on everyday life, this is almost always where I start with new clients.
For the past several years I've been working with Seattle's Organized Spaces and I can't recommend them highly enough. With their incredible systems, I have more than doubled the usable space in many closets, including my own!
Speaking of maximizing closet space, I'm also a huge fan of Huggables Hangers. They are coated with a light fuzz to hold garments in place and also so slim that you can fit several in the same space as a single plastic or wooden hanger.
As a self-proclaimed neat freak (hey, it's my job!), I'm also nuts for shelf organizers that help you maximize space on closet shelves without creating messy piles that collapse onto each other. The one shown below and similar styles are available from retailers such as Amazon and The Container Store.
For even more fun, spring-loaded drawer dividers are a must-have for keeping socks away from undies, and vice versa. The spring-loaded feature means they work with any size drawer, which is just the kind of organizing ease I love.
What about shoes? Does your closet shoe system resemble something of a pile that leaves you scrambling for the right match when you're already late getting out of the house?
There are a multitude of options that allow your shoes to have their own space, without cramming each other's toe-space. Whether individual cubbies, shelves or (my personal favorite) a towel bar installed on the end wall inside a closet to tuck all those pairs behind, any of these will give your shoes a space of their own.
If you have the space, another great alternative is a Lazy Susan Shoe Rack - this works especially well for a corner that is typically just dead space.
Baubles that Twinkle, Not Tangle!
Last but certainly not least, the question of where to put all your fun or funky jewelry. If you're like me, a simple jewelry box just doesn't do the trick. I have too many baubles to be so easily contained and I also like to see everything laid out in front of me. One of my favorite tricks: plastic cutlery trays hung on the back of a closet door. So simple and brilliant, I only wish I had thought of it first.
Also crafty and smart, repurposed bathroom hooks and racks!
Finally, one of my golden rules for a happy, high-functioning closet: If you get something new, something old's gotta go. It may seem unfair, especially to the shoppers among us, but this one guiding principle will keep your space, and your wardrobe, well-balanced and fresh.
Happy New Year, and happy closet clearing!
Sara Eizen is a Seattle-based interior designer and home organizer with a passion for helping busy families reclaim style and space in their homes on any budget. In a bi-weekly column for Seattle's Child, Sara shares creative, fun, affordable tips and tricks for clearing clutter, sprucing up rooms with minimal effort, creating systems that simplify family life, and much more.