Closets are a blessing and curse: they hide away your possessions so that not every houseguest knows about your endless plaid shirt collection, but they’re also a black hole of random things that you definitely don’t need. Chances are, you have a closet in your home that’s like that – and it’s a closet that’s full of what can only be described as stuff.
While spring cleaning your closet is always a good start, it’s only a temporary fix. The best way to keep your closet from becoming a black hole is organizing it – permanently. While it may seem like a lot of work to reconfigure your entire closet layout, you’ll be thankful to have less stuff (and less of a feeling of dread when you think of it). We’ve put together your how-to guide to turning your closet from a mess to a maximized storage masterpiece.
#1: Take Everything Out
You’re organizing your closet, so now is the time to start fresh. Take everything out of your closet – even hangers, storage bins, and those holiday decorations that live there year-round – so you can see how much space you really have. Make sure you’re purging as you go and by the time you’re done, you’ll already find you have much less stuff than you imagined. Be sure to set any reusable items aside in a “donate” box (and later, Dolly can come pick them up and bring them to the donation center for you!).
#2: Set the Rules for Your Closet
Source: Container Store
How does a closet become a black hole? Everything goes in, nothing goes out. This becomes a particular issue with multi-use closets: if it has storage, clothes, luggage, and extra home goods all mixed together, it’s going to be a prime place to throw any excess junk.
Instead of leaving it as multi-use, set a few rules for it. If you’re looking to minimize your stuff, consider the one-in, one-out rule, where you must get rid of something every time you buy something new. Or try a cluster-based rule, where boundaries are set for which items can go on which shelves in the closet so you don’t have room for any more than you need. Make sure these rules are well-communicated to any housemates so no one can turn your clean closet into a wild mess.
#3: Evaluate Your Layout
Source: Thomas Home Center
Unless you built your home yourself, it’s likely that your closet has a very generic layout, such as a shelf on top with a rod for hanging clothes below it. Let’s be honest: this layout doesn’t work for anyone. Unless you’re storing floor-length outfits and perfectly organized boxes, you’re going to have unused space.
It’s time to think bigger. If you’re going to be storing home goods in there, do you need a hanging rod? Or if you’re only storing seasonal gear that’s less than four feet long, could you fit another shelf or cabinet along the bottom? Dream and sketch out your perfect closet, and then…
#4: Build Your Own DIY Custom Closet
Source: STEVEB Interior
It may sound daunting (and expensive), but you can make your closet your own with just a few simple supplies. If you’re the DIY-savvy type who doesn’t shy away from a sledgehammer, head over to your local Lowe’s and gather your supplies – the Lowe’s home improvement experts will be more than happy to help you figure out what you need.
If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, and prefer to have it all done for you, check out custom closet options from the Container Store. An expert can work with you to establish what layout will work best for your space, build all the cabinetry and shelves, and even take care of installation – all without you lifting a hammer.
But if you run between DIY genius and hands-off organizer, consider some basic essentials that can update your closet. A shoe rack, hanging sweater organizer, and some hanging wire drawers can go a long way in turning a cluttered closet into a calm one.
#5: Refill Your Closet (and Purge Again)
Time to put everything back inside – carefully. Remember the new designated areas you have and put your stuff there. If you don’t have enough room for the tenth pair of shoes or your fifteenth plain t-shirt, it’s time to consider letting it go – or at least getting rid of something else to make space for it.
As you hang things back up or put them in boxes, think in terms of groups. Of course, you’ll want all your clothes together, but don’t just hang things randomly. Keep coats, jackets, and sweaters together, and put pants next to your skirts, leggings, and jeans. Organize shirts from sleeveless to long-sleeved, and keep bottoms together by seasonal use. If you have many of the same item (such as a sweater in a few different colors), consider investing in cascading hangers so they can be stored together.
The same rule goes for more than just clothes. Stack boxes of holiday decorations together, and keep all your out-of-season items in one place to make the transition seamless when the seasons change. And don’t forget that as you put items away, you want the items you’ll use the most to be the easiest to grab.
#6: Make Your Closet Your Favorite Space
Sometimes, when you describe a closet as a “black hole,” it’s meant literally. Even with overhead lighting, closets are dark, dank spaces – and that makes you want to avoid spending time cleaning them all the more. To keep yourself committed to making them clean, you’ll need to change that.
Start by adding more lighting: stick-on LED lights come in rounds, squares, and even strips to make the space brighter and more welcoming.
Next, it’s time to keep it fresh. Air fresheners are always a plus, but if you’re storing lots of clothing, it’s a good idea to keep some moth balls or cedar hangers to deter any unwanted visitors or musty smells. Throw a dryer sheet in any drawers or shelves of clothes to keep your clothing from smelling too stuffy.
Finally, add some decor. While framed photos aren’t very practical (and in a closet, are frankly a bit odd), hanging belts, hats, or jewelry in a decorative fashion on the back of the closet doors makes it feel less like a storage unit and more like an extension of your room. You might even find yourself leaving the doors open, just for your own aesthetic enjoyment.
#7: Keep Your Closet Clean
Source: Organized Options
Voila! Your perfect closet is now yours – all that’s left is to keep it clean. Vacuum it and dust down its shelves regularly, and make sure to replace any moth balls or air fresheners every few months. Most important of all, continue to purge its contents every so often. If you make that process part of your seasonal clothing swap, you’ll find yourself with a closet that gets emptier instead of getting fuller.
Whatever design you choose for your new closet, get the help you need making it yours. Dolly can bring your unwanted items to a donation center or dump, and we can help bring home the new pieces for your closet. Going with a fully customized closet? We can take care of delivering that, too. We make moving and delivery easy so all you need to do is push a few buttons and start building the closet of your dreams.
Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.