Tuesday, January 21, 2020

how I organize my closet!

Ever since I first began blogging one of the questions I get the most is about organizing my closet. How do I organize my closet? What do I do with seasonal items? What tips do I have?  I've attempted "Closet Organizing" posts in the past but the problem was always that even a medium size walk in closet usually is so dark and small once you take a camera to it that it's been difficult to really properly capture how I organize my closet.

This past fall we decided to take our "bonus" room that was being used as a guest room and turn it into a closet and office for me. Previously I was working at a very tiny desk in our mudroom and I had about 3 feet by 5 feet to run my business.  It was tight! At the time I was using our master closet in it's entirety so my husband was a closet-less and making do with sharing a coat closet.  Our "guest room" at the time was being used maybe six to eight nights a YEAR, so rarely, and technically it wasn't even a "bedroom" because the room is a true "bonus room" - it has no windows and no closet. So really it's not 100% safe as a guest room with no egress and not practical as a long term bedroom with no closet. It was labeled as a "bonus room" when we bought the house with the option to turn it into a theatre room. If we had little kids this would be the PERFECT play room, but since we are past the toy phase and not into having a "theatre" room the guest room was kind of fall back using furniture we had from our previous homes' guest room.

My husband installed these closet cabinets from IKEA on one wall (plus a small half wall) and voila! I can now SEE all my clothes much better and this room is still in process, but another wall houses my desk and some shelves and once it's done it will have some nice soft seating as well. It's great to have a room to organize my clothes AND my business and not be in the center of the action in the mudroom anymore - I have a door!

In comparing these closet cabinets to the storage space I had in our Master closet, they are almost the same. I might have just a touch less space here in the new area. Because of that I still have a few seasonal items hanging in the Master closet since that space is still a little too big for my husband. I will move those items into these cabinets when the weather warms.

Let's take a look at how I have it all organized and then I will answer some questions you all have below too!

(above) We used PAX system from IKEA and my husband is pretty handy so he found it quite simple to assemble and attach to the wall. It took about one evening of work. Maybe two. On the left and in the middle (and below you will see a photo of one more) we used the 39 (wide) x 92 (tall) x 22 (deep) cabinets. Which are HUGE. For the left side we used the 39 (wide) x 92 (tall) x 13 (deep) cabinet. Not seen in this photo is an entrance to a mechanical room to the left. So the cabinet couldn't be as deep on the left side in order to keep the doorway free for accessing the mechanicals. It worked perfectly because I found I don't need super deep shelving for shoes and sweaters like I do for clothing.  You can also add more options like drawers, lighting and doors to these cabinets as well. Since we installed them I have considered maybe adding doors in the future. If I ever wanted to use this room for something besides my office in the future we could keep the closet in place and the doors would make it look like built in storage with a more polished feel. I love that this system is so flexible!


On the left from the top down I keep smaller purses and clutches. Then below that I have tees and tops. I keep my short sleeve shirts here alongside long sleeve tees because I have the space and sometimes I still grab for tees to layer under cardigans or blazers. For the most part I keep out of season items packed away - more on that later! I use all white hangers (these!) to keep a uniform look. Below tees and tops I have blazers and jackets and fleeces. In general I like to group like colors with like so that it's visually pleasing and also so that items are easy to find. 

(above & below)

Now let's look at the middle section. Starting at the top I have larger handbags and totes. Then below that I have jeans folded. I have skinny jeans on the left, leggings in the middle and straight leg jeans on the right. Below that are cardigans on the left (I use THESE hangers to keep them from getting stretched out) then scarves folded in half and hung from hangers too. I like to see the scarves and they easily get wrinkled folded. Once the weather warms I will swap out the scarves for dresses in that section. Below the scarves in baskets are hats and gloves. Those too will get put away when the weather warms leaving room for maxi dresses. Since I rarely wear dresses in the fall/winter they are kept in a small corner of my husbands closet (I don't even own that many dresses!) during the winter.


Then the final cabinet on the left is for sweaters and shoes. I fold all my sweaters and organize them by brand. This is a new technique to me - I used to organize them by color but it got a little confusing since I have so many neutrals. All the whites and beiges were blurring together. Haha! So sorting them by brand helps me easily find what I am looking for. If I am in a mood for an Everlane or Madewell sweater I just grab from that pile.  Then shoes I organize by type. From the top I have ankle boots, sneakers, black flats, leopard and brown flats and heels on the bottom. All my sandals are packed away. Once the weather warms the ankle boots will be packed away and replaced with sandals. I randomly grabbed this stool at Home Goods and put it here randomly - then realized it's perfect for sitting on take shoes on and off!


So this is the not so pretty part... but still very functional! This is a half wall around the corner from the main wall shown above. In the large grey bins (very old but similar) I keep seasonal items like Christmas themed items, sandals and shorts. I also stash my steamer (highly recommend!), a sweater shaver (also highly recommend) and a lint roller. Below that is some jewelry (similar) and sunglass storage, some hats that get a lot of wear this time of year and other accessories like headbands. Below that is a staging area I use for prepping blog posts. It's a mash up of items that I need to photograph for the blog, new items I need to try on, a basket for returns and a step stool (short people problems!).

Now to answer some of your questions...

Q. How do you store or handle out of season clothing and shoes?
A. So I answered this above - I use these fabric bins (similar) and I label them with what's inside. If you don't have open space in your closet like this then I would suggest under the bed boxes or plastic containers that can be put in a basement or attic. I used to keep everything together but that takes up so much space and also it's difficult to make outfits when half of the items I see in my closet aren't for the right season. Taking those items out makes a huge difference in just visually reducing clutter, which for me makes getting dressed easier.

Q. Hang or fold sweaters? Hang or fold jeans?
A. I am team fold both! But that is 100% personal preference. I think jeans can easily be hanging, especially if that helps you see them better. For sweaters I am reluctant to hang because they can easily get shoulder bumps from the hanger. Although using these hangers on cardigans has helped that tremendously. 

Q. How to store t-shirts in a small closet?
A. I like to hang t-shirts, but again, this is purely preference. You can easily fold them and use storage  drawers like these to keep them all in one place. 

Q. How do you store your workout clothes?
A. I keep workout clothes in my bedroom dresser. They get ONE drawer, which is tight. But it's a good reminder for me to keep ONLY what I love and when it comes to buying new I think twice because I know that drawer is almost at capacity already. 

Q. Where do you store pajamas?
A. Just like workout clothes my pjs get ONE drawer in my bedroom. Which is also quite tight because I love stocking up on leggings and sweatshirts for sleep. But again, I can't buy more without getting rid of some old ones so it definitely makes me think twice. 

Q. How do you store long necklaces?
A. I just bought this necklace organizer and it's beautiful and works PERFECTLY for long and short necklaces. I don't have a good spot for it right now, so it's next to my computer. But I'm working on that!

Q. Shoes? My shoes are always on the floor?
A. I have a strict "there is a spot for everything" rule in my whole house (just ask my kids and husband! ha!) and in my closet it's no different. Again, for me it's all about being able to SEE everything so I can quickly make outfit decisions. I stagger my shoes on the shelves, one forward and one back so that they nestle together and you can fit more shoes on a shelf. It's not always easy to return them to their proper place every night. But I try and I'm always thankful I did.

Q. How do you store purses and belts?
A. I don't have any belts!?!? Actually I have one and I couldn't tell you where that is right now. Hmmmm.... But for purses I always store them upright filled with small pillows I had made for purses to keep them from falling over and wrinkling. If you don't have pillows for them you could use those packing bubbles that Amazon always sends that looks like small plastic bags filled with air that are so annoying!

Q. How often do I clean out my closet?
A. ALL. THE. TIME. This is ALL the space I have... no more (minus the very small corner in my husbands closet for dresses I am using right now). It's not small, but it's not huge either. If I haven't worn something in a few seasons, I find that I am just not grabbing for it regularly or I'm running out of space then it's time to clear out. I usually keep a small pile of items for donation or resale going at all times and drop them off 6-8 times a year.  I LOVE clothes and I love buying new ones... but I also hate having a lot of clothes. It's too overwhelming to me. So I'm constantly clearing items out. These photos were taken after quite a big clean out and ideally I would own even less than is shown here. I'm always trying to streamline my wardrobe and balance new with old.

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