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Blog: Easy Organizing For Active Kids And Busy Parents
Creating a "Designer" Closet for Your Tween or Teen without Breaking the Bank

Teens and tweens these days are much more style savvy than in years past.  Most teen girls already have a good sense of their own personal style and design preferences when it comes to their wardrobe (even if their choices sometimes leave their Moms, and every Mom they come in contact with, wanting to cover them up with a bathrobe!).  Nevertheless, it is only natural when this sense of style spills over to the design of their bedrooms.
But why stop there?  Why not make their closets just as fabulous as their rooms?  A "cool" (do they even use that word anymore?) closet may be JUST the motivation they need to keep this space organized and neat (a win-win situation for both parents and daughter!).
My business partner Rachelle and I recently had the privilege of working with 12-year-old Sophie, the lucky winner of a closet makeover contest we collaborated on for Smart magazine.  Sophie has a clear sense of what she wants her room to reflect.  Moreover, as a prize-winning sketch artist and a possible future fashion designer, she has a wonderful sense of design and color.  She is ready to leave behind the pastels and flowers of her childhood room and surround herself with a more sophisticated palette of shocking pink, crisp white and bold black.
Although we did not redecorate her room as a part of this project, we definitely kept her style in mind when we tackled her closet, which is actually two side-by-side adjoining closets with bi-fold doors.  One of our primary goals as we developed the overall design was to use one side for clothing and the other side for storage and display.
We purged, re-evaluated what items we needed to store, and found fashionable and colorful storage options to make her closet less of a ho-hum jumbled mess, and more of an inspirational attribute to her bedroom. We eliminated toys and knick-knacks she has long outgrown, effectively doubling the available space.  As a result, we were able to eliminate the need for a dresser in her room and give her more living space, a definite plus for an active young girl with countless friends to hang out with.
With less than $175, we transformed Sophie's closet from a cluttered collection of toys and inefficient storage, to an updated, colorful space full of function and room to grow.  Below are some of the ideas we used for Sophie's project.  If you're thinking of re-doing your tween's or teen's closet, be sure to incorporate some of these ideas, for a fashion-forward space that will leave your daughter thinking you're the "coolest" Mom on the block, and leave your checkbook with enough money left over to still hit the malls!
1.   Take inventory of the items in the closet.  Try to be objective and prioritize.  Ask your teen:  Do you love it?  Do you use it?  Do you need it?  If she canft honestly answer yes to at least one of these questions, it's time to let the item go - it's just taking up space that could be better used by items she truly loves, needs, and uses.  If she has memorabilia she canft bear to part with, provide her with a "Special Things" box.  We found a sizable hot pink and white box on clearance for Sophie to store her medals and awards, and other keepsakes.  The box corrals these small items, keeps them nearby but out of the way, and gives her closet shelf a punch of color that coordinates with her room's design.
2.  Once you can see what items you need to store in the closet, take notice of the space they require.  For example, if she has lots of long hanging clothes, make sure to incorporate plenty of vertical space.  If the closet is large enough, include extra room to grow, especially if your daughter is an avid shopper.  If your space is limited, though, you will have to institute a "One in, One out" rule.  In other words, if she just has to have that new outfit, she can only buy it as a replacement for an outfit she no longer wears or cannot fit into anymore. Take advantage of ALL the available space.  Don't forget about the back of the door (hanging shoe organizers are great, but be sure to think outside the box - they don't have to be used just for shoes, and they even come in great colors.  We were able to find black and even pink, in addition to the usual canvas and clear.).  Double hang your clothes to maximize the vertical space and use the top shelf to store out of season or permanent storage.  We used a hanging sweater organizer that we found in black polyester.  The organizer is durable enough to hold folded jeans and sweatshirts and even has mesh pockets on the sides for storing smaller items in plain view.
3.  Do not underestimate the importance of good hangers.  Ditch the wire and clothing store freebies in favor of wood, or a signal color plastic tubular variety.  Good hangers will extend the life of her clothes and provide a cohesive, organized look.  We used hot pink hangers to tie in with the theme of the room.
4.  Keep similar items together.  For some people this may mean color coordinating your shirts and pants.  For others it may mean keeping your short sleeves separate from your long sleeves, or your sports gear separate from your dressy attire.  Whatever system your teen chooses, make sure it works for HER individual needs and lifestyle.  We went a step further and kept all of Sophie's athletic uniforms and practice gear in a portable heavy-duty plastic drawer unit.  When it is time for soccer or basketball, she can find everything she needs in the same section of the closet, and get ready for games much more quickly.
5.  Use attractive bins for shoes.  It is much easier to get kids to dump their shoes in a single bin rather than requiring them to line them up on a shoe rack.  In Sophie's case, we gave her two stylish black canvas bins for the floor of her closet - one holds her shoes; the other keeps her growing collection of purses.  Just be sure to avoid over-sized bins that can hold TOO much, or you'll end up dealing with a bottomless, black-pit of STUFF.
6.  Look to discount retailers and even dollar stores for containers.  Once you determine your color scheme, get creative with the containers.  We found small pink and black bins at the dollar store for Sophie's hair accessories and used clearance priced cardboard magazine holders in bright pink to hold her magazines and double as bookends.  Coordinating cardboard desk accessories now organize her sketches, drawings, and pens and pencils.
7.  Soften the look and create a sense of drama by removing the doors and using a suspension rod inside the closet door to hang coordinating curtain panels.  Or, find fabric shower curtains to use instead.  The shower rings will make opening and closing the curtain a smoother process, and they are usually less expensive and more durable than traditional curtain panels.
8.  If your daughter is lucky enough to have a walk-in closet, try to incorporate a vanity inside, for more of a dressing room feel.  In another tween's closet, we mounted a white 12-inch shelf to the back wall at counter height, secured an inexpensive mirror above it, and added a simple bar stool for seating. Clear suction cup hooks attach to the mirror to keep accessories such as headbands, necklaces, and ponytail holders nearby. For added drama, we painted the walls of the closet lavender, and with a budget of less than $75, we created a compact, but very functional and funky mini dressing room.
Make sure to get your daughter's input and ideas about the organization and design of her closet.  If she feels a sense of ownership, she is much more likely to keep it neat and organized.  And, who knows, after putting together such a fabulous designer space for her, you may just find yourself adding a little more style and pizzazz to YOUR own closet.  Just be sure the rest of your family is ready for TWO fashion divas in the household!
Coming Next Week:  It's that time of the year again . . .  Make a promise to yourself to simplify the holiday season this year.  Next week I'll focus on using technology to simplify your family's holiday preparations and get back more time to truly enjoy the wonder of the season and the joy of spending time with friends and loved ones.  Until then, have a wonderful, stress-free Thanksgiving!
Simply yours,

posted on: 11/16/2007 9:00:00 AM by Debbie Jordan Kravitz
category: Family

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Easy Organizing For Active Kids And Busy Parents

by Debbie Jordan Kravitz

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Debbie Jordan Kravitz is a Professional Organizer, Author, and Owner of Virtually Organized by Debbie LLC. She is also a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD). Debbie's goal is to help her clients customize, organize and simplify their lives so they can spend less time searching for their things and more time doing the things they love.

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