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     Turn Closet Chaos Into Closet Nirvana

Imagine how marvelous it would be to open your closet door and in place of the regular junk pile, you find a well-organized, attractive array of clothes, shoes and accessories. Imagine the focus, calm and EFFICIENCY you would realize as you look into your closet and can walk straight to the item you need and get dressed in a snap. You are experiencing closet NIRVANA, and it is possible, if you follow these seven simple steps.

Before you get started, you need to visualize what purpose you want this space to serve for you. What do you want to ACCOMPLISH by organizing your closet? Consider your lifestyle and what you need to have good access to. For example, do you want better access to shoes; do you want to be able to do all dressing in the closet? Brainstorm the current problems you now experience and visualize the RESULTS you would like to see at the end of your efforts.

If you are like most clients I work with, your closet has become a dumping ground for a sundry of unrelated stuff that you do not know where else to store. Before you can improve a space you have to purge the EXCESS -- clutter and stuff that does not fit the purpose of the space, in order to get to what is most valuable to you. As you start purging, consider the 80/20 rule and be honest with yourself about how this applies to you.

You wear 20 percent of your clothes, shoes and accessories 80 percent of the time. Think about it...you likely reach for the same pair of favorite jeans, khakis, blouse, pajamas, and shoes yet your closet is bursting at the seams with clothes that have not seen the light of day in months and even years. I recall a client who held onto more than fifty pairs of pajamas all stuffed in several drawers that could barely be opened. She did not have any idea what was stuffed in these drawers. As you consider each item, be HONEST when you ask yourself:
  • When did I last wear this?
  • How did I feel when I last wore it?
  • Do I find it beautiful?
Let the ANSWERS to these questions drive your purging decisions.

A common complaint I hear is there just is not enough space. Many clients make the mistake of storing in their closet every piece of clothing and accessory they OWN rather than just what they WEAR. To free up space for better access to what you currently wear, remove off-season clothes and accessories to another part of the house. Storing in the main closet items like formal wear or ski-wear, that is rarely worn, contributes to closet chaos.

In many homes I see, the hanging structure of the closet consists of ventilated shelving that the builder installed. By installing a second hanging rod, you can DOUBLE the hanging space for pants, shirts and some skirts. By improving the use of the vertical space with a second hanging rod, you improve your access to your belongings.

During the purge, it is essential to be able to view the entire INVENTORY you own of each color and style in order to make educated decisions about what to keep and what to purge. I recall a client who had so many sweaters that when sorted she owned as many as 25 sweaters in each same color. By viewing them all together, sorted by color and style, she could easily purge the excess and duplicates. When rehanging items back in the closet, sorted by length and style, you improve ACCESS to your possessions and the efficiency of the space. If all blazers are hung together, space is opened up for a second hanging rod, a bank of shoes or laundry basket. Hanging clothes by color and style also improves your ability to quickly match outfits and find what you need in a snap. I have clients whose primary goal of contracting a professional organizer to organize their closets was to reduce the time it took them in the morning to get dressed and out the door to work. This step will definitely reduce your dressing time.

In most closets, there are opportunities to install additional SHELVING above the hanging space. Less used items like hats and dress shoes can be moved to this less accessible space and free up areas at eye level for most used items.

Most of the hard work is behind you and you are now experiencing closet nirvana. In order to keep your newly organized and peaceful space from RETURNING to closet chaos, implement the one-in and one-out rule. Every time you bring a new item into your closet space, choose at least one item that goes out.


Janet Nusbaum, of Simplified Spaces, is an Organizing Consultant, Senior Move Manager, Author and Speaker. Janet loves creating order out of chaos. She has waded through all kinds of clutter and mayhem since 2003 to bring serenity and order to frazzled parents, overwhelmed households, cluttered offices, and transitioning seniors and families. She is the author of “Mom, Can I Help Around the House: A Simple Step-by-step System for Teaching Your Children Life-long Skills for Pitching in and Picking up” Visit her website at www.SimplifiedSpaces.net.

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