by Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore
There's a reason why those home design shows are so popular. It's fun to drool over glamorous walk-in-closets and well-appointed kitchens, imagining "ah…what if." Alas, most of us don't have the luxury of a 600 square foot closet fitted with custom cabinetry; we have to make do with whatever limited closet space we have. That's probably why closet organization consistently ranks as one of the top issues, if not the top one, when it comes to getting a home buttoned up.
Now we're all for organized closets, but if you've read our column for a while, you'll also know that we'd rather you have a messy closet and the really important things buttoned up (i.e. medical/legal/financial information) than vice versa. There's absolutely no point in having things look nice if you're a mess where it really counts. In fact, it can be counter-productive, giving you a false sense of security that you've got things together when you really don't. If you haven't organized those things yet, be sure to check out the "Life Essentials" tab on GetButtonedUp.com or ask us on Facebook for some ideas on where to start.
Assuming you have already organized your essentials and are ready for anything, then let's talk closets. The bottom line is simply this: your closet shouldn't be a work of art. Instead, it should work for you. If you're the type that wants to see all your pink shirts together, then go for it. But if mornings are a harried mess and you'd prefer to see your closet filled with outfits already pulled together (jackets over shirts with necklaces strung on the hanger), don't get sidetracked by the naysayers. The key to an organized closet isn't what others tell you neat and tidy should look like, but rather, what works for you and your lifestyle.
Five Ways to Close the Door on Closet Organizing
1. Edit, Edit, Edit.
Did you know that you tend to wear only 10-20% of what is actually in your closet? It's sad, but true. So, the absolute first thing you should do when facing a closet clean-out is identify what you can get rid of. If you are short on time, place a box or a bag in your closet. Any time you open your closet door, force yourself to remove one article of rarely-or-never-worn clothing and put it in the box. And certainly, the next time you find yourself putting on that same shirt that never looks good, toss it right in too. When the box is full, take it to Goodwill, swap it with a friend, or use the items as rags, just don't put them back on hangers!
2. Make a Punch List.
There are items in that closet that would probably be useful again if you could just bring yourself to get them to a skilled seamstress or tailor (or even just the cleaners). From missing buttons to ripped hemlines, pull out any item that needs a little TLC, and bring them in by Friday of this week. By next week, you'll feel like you have a few "new" pieces to wear.
3. No Wire Hangers.
Wire hangers do get a bad rap, as well they should. While they do in a pinch, the investment in some slim, flocked hangers is worth it. Not only will nice hangers maximize closet space, but they will help your clothes last longer too. Flocked hangers hold the clothes in place much better, resulting in fewer unsightly shoulder bumps not to mention wrinkles, both of which require hard-on-fibers cleaning and ironing.
4. Hook Me Up.
We've sung their praises before, and here we are doing it again. The thing is, hooks are one of the hardest working organizational tools there are. Period. Hang a few on the back of your closet door, or if you're lucky enough to have extra wall space, there too. They'll keep everything from robes and hats to purses off the floor and in sight. They not only stay clean and safe that way, but might actually get used more since they're right in front of you.
5. Practice the 5-Minute Rule.
One of the biggest sources of closet consternation - the dreaded piles of clothes on the floor or disorganized jumbles of sweaters - can be tamed in little five-minute windows. Most people project that cleaning out a closet will take at least an hour or two, and since they don't have that kind of time to spare, skip it entirely. There is another way. Set your phone timer for five minutes in the morning or evening for a week or two and use that time to start tidying up. At first, you won't notice much of a difference, but after three or so five-minute sessions, you'll be amazed at the transformative effect of 5 minutes. The hardest thing about this rule? Stopping when the bell rings.