Our closets are something we see on a daily basis, yet despite that, a closet can quickly become one of the most cluttered places in our homes. No one means to lose control of their closet, but it happens. The clothes slip off the hangers and fall to the floor, the shoes get thrown in, and before you know it, you have a mess on your hands.

Closet organization can be a daunting task. I know, as a professional closet organizer, I spend plenty of time helping people make sense of their closet mess. Because I know it’s such a common ‘problem’ this post draws on my experience as a professional closet organizer to offer some tips, ‘tricks’ and strategies to help you make sense of your messy, disorganized closet.

The Basics

    1. Just start. The biggest obstacle to closet organization for most people is just getting started. Take a deep breath and find an area you know you can really dig into today. Maybe it’s going through your winter sweaters. Maybe it’s re-organizing your shoe collection; whatever it is, don’t let the size of the task intimidate you.
    2. Take everything out. It may seem like you’re just moving the mess from one area to another, but this will help you see your entire wardrobe spread out in front of you. You will be better able to determine what to keep and what to donate or throw out.
    3. Clean your closet. The closet isn’t a space that gets regularly cleaned, so take advantage of the free space and get rid of cobwebs, dust bunnies, and give your closet that extra bit of shine.
    4. Assess your space. While the closet is empty, use this time to figure out how best to use the space you have. Decide what you’ll need to keep things organized, whether it’s purchasing extra bins or installing extra shelves. Think about how you can improve your storage space within your closet.
    5. Sort your clothes. Create three piles: Keep, Donate, Trash. Throw away anything that is worn out or broken. Donate items you haven’t worn in a year or are no longer your style. As you go through your closet, review the clothes you only wear for special occasions. If they are in good condition (not moth eaten) and something you’ll still wear, store them in the back of your closet.
    6. Love It or Lose It.  Ask yourself this question, “If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?” If the answer is no, don’t hold onto it.
    7. Get help. An objective voice can help clear up the confusion about those items you might be reluctant to part with. Getting help will also speed up the process, and keep you on task until the job is done.

Reorganizing the Closet

    1. Keep everything visible. Keeping clothing visible will help cut down on future messes and give you options for your wardrobe.
    2. Organize your clothes. Lots of experts suggest organizing your wardrobe by color, which can also help you cut down on excess clothing. I suggest sorting clothing in zones by type. For example, t-shirts go with t-shirts, skirts go with skirts, and so on. This way you’ll be able to pick an outfit quickly, and you’ll be able to discard more items you obviously never wear.
    3. Invest in the same hangers. Different types of hangers means valuable space is being taken up by the assorted sizes. Invest in some thin-set hangers, available at most retailers. These hangers should have a non-slip grip, and they’ll help maximize your closet space.
    4. Pair up your shoes. Shoes that are thrown about your closet make it look cluttered and unorganized. Store shoes toe-to-heel so you can find them easier. Another idea is to use an over-the-door shoe rack to use your small space better. For shoes you never wear, now is the perfect time to donate them along with the clothes you no longer want.
    5. Face your hangers backwards. Once you’ve gone through your clothes and replaced the items you want to keep back in your closet, hang your hangers backwards. When you wear the item, hang the piece back up with the hanger facing the “correct” way. In a year or so, if the hanger still faces backwards, you’ll know to donate the piece.
    6. Store heavy items at the bottom of your closet. This way, you won’t break your back if you need to get them off shelves, or have heavy things fall on your head if you’re reaching to grab something.
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Advanced Techniques to Keep Your Closet Tidy

    1. Keep items in the closet relevant. Don’t store things like games, papers, and other items. That’s valuable closet real estate you could use for your clothes.
    2. Contain the mess. Once you’ve organized your closet, store out-of-season clothes in plastic containers along with purses, hats, and scarves.
    3. Label everything. Create labels to go on your bins so you know what’s inside. This will save you from having to search through them to find what you want.
    4. Sentimental items.  If you’re keeping things that have sentimental value (the outfit your child first came home in or  your grandmother’s favorite dress), place these items in their own special bin, label it, and put them in a separate closet.
    5. Consider getting a storage unit. If you’re in the process of downsizing or are going through an extensive decluttering phase throughout your home, a storage unit might be a good way to cut down on clutter and keep your belongings safe. Check out storage units near you.
    6. Fold sweaters. Rather than take up valuable closet space with bulky hangers, fold sweaters on the shelves to save space and avoid stretching them out.
    7. Get creative with your storage spaces. Try using the area under your bed for out-of-season items or bedding.
    8. Utilize unused pillow cases. When storing sheets, tuck them and the fitted sheet inside a pillowcase. This will save you on space and you won’t be left wondering if the set is complete.

DIY Closet Organization Ideas

    1. Redecorate. While your clothes are out of the way during your organization session, now is a great time to add a nice touch of paint or wallpaper to give your closet a personal touch.
    2. Measure twice, DIY once. Before you start any DIY project, be sure to measure your closet and write down the dimensions. This way you’ll avoid any errors and confirm you have the correct size for space.
    3. Get creative. Not everything has to be used for its intended purpose. Use a shoe holder to hold cleaning supplies or smaller objects you don’t want to get lost. Use shower curtain rings to hold scarves. Share the fun idea you came up with on Pinterest, and spread the love!
    4. Install sliding shelves.  Consider a sliding pegboard for jewelry, belts, or scarves.
    5. Make your own vacuum bags. Use a trash bag and household vacuum to make your own vacuum storage bags.
    6. Illuminate the space. If your closet doesn’t have a light fixture, take the time to install one; or, if your closet already has a light fixture, take time to update it. A light will help make things easier to find and add some nice ambiance to your space.
    7. Hook yourself up. Use hooks to hold purses, bags, and other items to keep your floor space free for walking. If you’re worried about installing hooks, use Command Hooks to avoid putting any holes in the wall.
    8. Add a mirror. Install a mirror if you don’t have one yet. Not only will you be able to see how an outfit looks, you’ll give your closet the illusion of more space.
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Tips for dressers and drawers

    1. Catalog your shirts. Rather than stacking your shirts on top of each other, gain tons of space by storing them vertically. You’ll be able to see all your shirts at a glance this way.
    2. Divvy up the drawers. Use shoe boxes to store and divide things like underwear and socks. Not only does this utilize your space better, but it prevents different items from getting mixed together.
    3. Make it smell good. Tuck in bars of soap or packaged pot-pourri in the drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh. No musty, been-in-storage-too-long smell here!
    4. Roll your clothes for maximum space. Ever heard of rolling your luggage to fit more clothes in your suitcase? This packing tip can also help you maximize your storage in your closet as well.
    5. Organize your drawers. Place items in your drawers in the order you get dressed. Underwear, socks, and other personal items go in the top, whereas shirts, pants, and other outerwear items go in the bottom drawers.

Bins & Cubbies

    1. Store your hats in bins. If you have hats floating around, consider storing them in bins rather than just setting them on the shelf. Don’t want to use bins? Install dedicated hooks for your hats to keep them off the floor and from losing their shape.
    2. Kids bins. Consider getting smaller, more colorful bins for a child’s closet, and help them establish a system for organizing it. Use stickers or pictures for younger children that can’t read.
    3. Stack ‘em up. Purchase bins designed to stack to save on space. Avoid stacking them higher than two boxes, though, to prevent them from falling every time you need something.
    4. Use ornament boxes for more than the holidays. You can use a holiday ornament box to store your socks and other small clothing items.
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Closet Organization Systems

  1. Hanging shelves. Hanging shelves help cut down on clutter by filling the under-used vertical space in a closet and providing you a place to store your folded items.
  2. Tiered Hangers. A tiered hanger will allow you to hang multiple items on one hanger. You can even make your own using a soda can tab.
  3. Suit protectors. Keep dust and lint off your suits by keeping them in a suit protector bag. These are also great for travel.
  4. Double hanging rod. A double hanging rod will add space for your clothes and use that vertical closet space.
  5. Freestanding closet rack. Sometimes, you’ll just need a rack to hold clothes. Get creative with it: store your dresses or suit jackets on it.
  6. Shelf dividers. Perfect for sharing a space with someone, or just to add more closet organization on your shelves, use these to create orderly piles.
  7. Hanging jewelry organizer. Save on drawer space with a hanging organizer and prevent the loss of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

Now that these tips have inspired you to organize your closet, what are you going to do first? Remember, as you start out, pick two or three tips from above so you don’t become overwhelmed and get discouraged in your organization. Be creative in the process and make your closet space work for you. And if you live in the Houston area, the team at Just Organized by Taya is always just a phone call away if you need to call in the closet organization cavalry! 

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Taya Wright, Owner and Principal at Just Organized by Taya
Just Organized by Taya, led by RESA Certified Home Stager and Professional Organizer Taya Wright, offers home staging and home and life organization services, in addition to interior styling services to residents across the Greater Houston area.
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