Is it just me or does it seem like no one has a normal closet anymore? You know the type, with the folding doors and the one bar across the top and the one shelf. That was the standard in “normal” closets for so many years, but now it seems that the message out there is that if you don’t have a walk-in closet the size of my living room with at least several hundred dollars worth of organizational gadgets, you might as well just give up. There’s no hope for you and your wardrobe. I love those amazing pictures of giant dream closets with 800 pairs of shoes in them as much as the next guy, but the truth is that most of us still have closets that mostly look like those old standard closets. And no one is talking about it. It’s like some dirty secret.
So while you may think that everyone has these huge, perfect walk-in closets, I promise you that you’re not alone if most of the closets in your home are the standard bar-across-the-top-and-one-shelf variety. And you know what? That kind of closet can work amazingly well with a few really simple organizing techniques. Of course, you won’t hear about them from the organizational supply companies all that often because they’re cheap too! 🙂
I’ve been going on a bit of an organizational rampage through our house the last few weeks and when I got to our over-stuffed closet, I was ready to have that problem finally dealt with. I was even willing to invest a little money in it. I was surprised to see though, that the more I pondered what the best solution would be, and the more I researched all the closet systems that I could buy, the more I kept coming back to the fact that the simplest ideas were the ones that would really remove the stress and hassle that comes with having to deal with a messy closet every time you want to get dressed. Here are my tips!
Get Rid of Stuff!
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of wanting to own all of the clothes ever created in the history of ever and have a little mini-store all set up just feet away from where you sleep just like we all see on TV and in advertisements. The reality is though, that we all probably have about 6 shirts that are our favorites that we wear over and over again and 100’s that just sit there for years, not being worn and making us feel guilty about never finding the time to actually organize them like we feel like we should. We also hold on to so many things “just in case” that we never end up wearing, and that we could also replace for very little money if we ever did need them…. which we probably won’t. 🙂 Getting your closet down to just a reasonable number of clothing items that you actually wear is such a freeing experience because you suddenly get to feel like one of those amazingly organized people. You get such a feeling of accomplishment AND you can actually find your favorite items, right there in front of you.
I’ve always been a big fan of getting rid of stuff that just gets in the way and adds to my organizational to-do list, but I still find myself feeling like I need to “stock up” on all the just-in-case clothing items. It’s silly and I hope that this time I’ve learned my lesson!
It’s so funny over the last few years how we’ve all decided that we hate hangers. I guess this idea was probably gently suggested to us by the organization supply companies because big shelving systems are really a lot more expensive to buy than just a few hangers. Or even a lot of hangers. Sure, there are definitely some items, like heavy sweaters, that do better folded up because they may get stretched by hanging, but I think this idea has definitely gotten out of hand. I know in my own closet, I had just started folding everything “because it was better for it” and I think a lot of other people have too. To save money, I had just used those hanging fabric cubby things, which got saggy and ripped up and just looked terrible, while not really working that well for me. When I stood back and looked at the items that I really wanted to keep and then looked at which ones really needed folding, I found that shelving units really weren’t going to be the way to go to keep my closet tidy and functional while maximizing storage in there. So I picked up 60 hangers for about $10 and suddenly my closet was looking pretty great. Hangers! Who’d have thought? (Here’s a really good deal on a whole bunch of hangers too!)
Use Extra Shelves Sparingly!
There is definitely a place for extra shelving in your closet and it can be really useful for holding those few sweaters that really do need to be folded or shoes, boots, and some accessories. Consider maybe just buying one or two of the basic units though rather than the 8 that you usually see in pictures. It might be all you need if you really look closely at your storage needs and it may just end up simplifying your storage situation by creating less decisions for you to make! Plus, you’ll definitely save some money! This is the one that I have in the picture.
Forgo the use of “out of season” storage!
Employing the idea of using “out of season” storage for your clothes has become a common recommendation from organizing experts. The idea is that you take all of your clothing items that you won’t be wearing for the next few months (like warm, heavy clothes in the Summer, or shorts and sun dresses in the Winter) and moving them to somewhere else in your home. You get them out of your closet, freeing up more space for items you currently need. It seems to make sense on the surface, but having used this method for many years, I can tell you that it’s not always as simple as it seems and I personally am happier without it. First of all, this method leads you to over-consume clothing items because you don’t realize immediately just how many clothes you have (out of sight, out of mind) and ultimately, you end up with a closet that’s double-over-stuffed for both cold weather and warm weather. The other issues is that you end up having to find a big chunk of time during the changing of the seasons to change up your wardrobe, reorganize, and ideally edit out the pieces that you don’t think you need anymore. What I find really happens is that you never really do find quite enough time so you end up just pulling out one or two items from bins in the basement as you need them and eventually you end up with a messy basement and a messy closet. You never really do get your seasonal clothes fully “switched over” but you always have it on your to-do list, hanging over your head. I love to be able to see everything that I have at once and be able to plan for the upcoming season easily just by looking in my regular closet. I sometimes move out of season stuff off to one side if I want it to be a little more out of the way. It sounds a little crazy at first to live that simply when it comes to clothing, but honestly, it just works! Try it, I dare you!
Of course, although following these simple organizing techniques are ultimately, well, simpler, they do take some discipline to maintain. You do need to be honest with yourself and realize when your drawers start to get a little over-filled again. At that point, you need to take a few minutes and go through the items in that drawer and decide if there are any that you aren’t using very often anymore. The fact is though, that it really is just a few minutes of your time that you need, instead of a whole week. I find that it’s something I end up needing to do maybe once every 6 months to a year, and usually only for a drawer or two. So really, it’s pretty easy! 🙂
If you’ve been looking at your closet and drawers and wondering what in the world you’re going to do to get them in shape without having to spend thousands of dollars to hire professional help, consider looking at the issue a little differently and try the simplest, most straightforward solutions first!
What easy tricks have you learned that helped you get your closet into shape?
You might like this one too: Our Master Bedroom Tour (including some fairly terrifying “before” pictures!)
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