Pre-spring cleaning: organize your closets

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

If a hint of warmth in the air and a day or two of sunshine sends your thoughts into the garden or brings on a desire to deep-clean your house, take a step back and realize that there just may be some more icy and muddy weather that could ruin your digging and dusting. However, there is a task that fits right into that “almost-spring” moment: reorganizing your closets. Not only will this help you evaluate your wardrobe needs for the new season, but your neatened-up closet will be easier to keep clean.

Whether you’re working on your own clothes closet, a partner’s closet or your kids’ closets, the techniques you can use to have a Pinterest-worthy closet are the same.

Purge your possessions
The quickest way to get into your closet organization project is to take everything out of the space – shoes, purses, clothes, belts, scarves, ties and anything you have stored in the space. Once you’ve got your possessions piled around you it’s time to divide and conquer: start a keep pile, a donate pile, a sell pile, a trash pile and an “I-don’t-know-yet” pile. Just make sure that last pile doesn’t become the biggest one. If you think you can’t make these decisions on your own, invite a friend or family member to help you.

By the way, once your closet is empty, that’s a good time to give it a thorough cleaning and possibly even a coat of fresh paint to perk up the space.

Get the right supplies
Pretty much everyone thinks they need more closet space, but most people can actually get more functionality out of the closet they already have if they organize it correctly. While you can spend money on a professionally installed closet organizing system or invest in an Elfa system from the Container Store, you can also find the components you need at Target, IKEA or your local hardware store. Start by measuring your closet vertically and horizontally. If you already have a shelf or two in place, then also measure the space between the floor and shelf, the shelf and a closet rod and the shelf and your ceiling.

  • Rods. One of the best ways to double the size of your clothes closet is to install a second clothes rod so that you can have a double-row of shirts, blouses, skirts and jackets.
  • Shelves. Next, see if you have enough space to add shelves –either built-in wood shelves, wire shelves or a hanging set of fabric or plastic shelves.
  • Shoe organizers. Carefully measure and evaluate your floor space. If it’s been covered in a pile of shoes, now is the time to decide what type of shoe organization system works best for you. You can find wire racks for shoes, horizontal shelves or purchase clear shoe boxes that stack neatly and let you see what’s inside.
  • Baskets and boxes. Your floor space can be used for storing other items, too. Baskets and storage boxes can be stacked on the floor with purses, sweaters, scarves or off-season items. Now look up and see what kind of usable space is at the top of your closet. There, too, you can stack boxes and baskets, although you may want to reserve those spaces for items you rarely use since they can be harder to reach.
  • Hangers. One of the smartest inventions is the slim, velveteen-covered hangers that come in inexpensive multi-packs and different colors. Spending $20 or so for these hangers makes a big difference compared to puffy hangers or a mish-mash of various types of hangers, plus they give your closet a satisfyingly finished look.
  • Organizers. If you have wall space in your closet or space on the back of your closet door, buy an over-the-door organizer with pouches or a wall rack with hooks to store bags, scarves, ties and even jewelry or cosmetics. If you have extra shelf space you can use a sock organizer to roll up and store ties. A scarf hanger can hold five or six scarves or more and take up very little space.
  • Dividers. If you have the shelf space to stack sweaters or bags, you can keep them neat by buying acrylic dividers that allow your stacks to stay steady.

Take a few minutes to determine what you need to store: count how many scarves you have or pairs of shoes before you head to the store to find the appropriate storage item.

Refill your closet
Now that you’re ready to put everything back in your closet, create a neater look by coordinating your clothing. First, store your off-season items in baskets or boxes. If you still don’t have space in your closet, consider putting them under your bed or using space in luggage or trunks in other rooms for your rarely used clothes.

Next, sort your clothes by style and color. Keep your dresses together and your pants together; then line them up so that you’ll easily find your purple clothes on the day you want to be colorful and can find your favorite gray blouse when you’ve got a serious day ahead.