By Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick
Excerpted from © Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick, Artisan, 2017. Photos by Matthew Williams.
At Remodelista, our interest in good design extends to our wardrobes. Regardless of our closet sizes, we swear by a pared-back collection of outfits that have become uniforms. Keeping only the true favorites allows us to see what we’ve got and makes getting pulled together fast and stress-free. If we haven’t worn something in the last year, we store it or give it away. And we treat our belongings with old-fashioned valet-style care. Of course, we, too, have our share of closet challenges. Here’s how we tackle them.
A Well-Ordered Closet
Fitted with floor-to-ceiling storage, this closet holds a wardrobe’s worth of clothing. Canvas bins, wire baskets, cardboard boxes, and metal dividers—most from the office and kitchen supplies departments of the Container Store and Ikea—make the shelf storage much more efficient. Here’s why the set up works.
- Jumble-preventing bins and baskets create discrete storage zones on open shelves.
- Piles of jeans, sweaters, and T-shirts limited to six per stack prevent implosion.
- Organizational tools stolen from the office and kitchen (a metal desktop sorter, and pot lid rack, for example) keep bags and clutches in tidy order.
- Metal-rimmed paper key tags serve as labels on bins and baskets and allow for easy sorting.
- Neatly folded tops and bottoms are organized by type and color.
- Glass-fronted drawers are a bespoke detail worth copying: they protect shoes while enabling you to see what you’ve got.
- A Nicolle industrial kitchen stool provides a place to put on shoes and drape clothes as you’re getting dressed, and offers a way to reach high shelves.
Best Closet Decluttering Tips We’ve Found
The most effective way to reorganize a closet, we’ve discovered, is to remove everything and put back only the best. So pile your closet contents on your bed and start sorting. Also, take the time to give the inside of your closet a thorough vacuuming. When going through clothes, a helpful question to ask yourself is: “Will I miss this?” The nos should be given away posthaste. Stow items you’re not sure about in a box that you revisit in a month. Chances are, most will no longer have your name on them. As for items that don’t fit or are in need of repair, put those in the question mark big, too: if after three months the situation remains the same, out they go. Then restock the closet according to the six guidelines below.
- Use matching hangers. You’ll fit more in, and your closet will look much tidier.
- Opt for wooden hangers. Wood is natural—something to always consider when choosing materials. It’s also sturdy and looks good. Pair with cedar hanger discs to ward off moths.
- Group clothes according to type, color and length. This makes it easy to scan your wardrobe and zero in on what you’re looking for.
- Keep only in-season clothes in your closet. What you wear daily should take center stage. Store the other items in another closet, in canvas containers, or on a freestanding rack.
- Space, don’t cram, hangers. So your clothes hang well and have room to breathe, leave regular gaps: a width of three fingers between items is a good general rule.
- Create a section for empty hangers. When you take out an article of clothing, move the hanger to a designated parking area in your closet so you can always find a hanger when you need one.
Where to Keep Your Shoes
To avoid a free-for-all on your closet floor, you need a system, and we’ve found that elevating shoes on shelves or stowing them in drawers works best—the shoes don’t take up as much space as they would in boxes, and you don’t have to hunt for the pair you’re after. The shelves needn’t be expensive: they’re a staple at Ikea and the Container Store.
- Hanging canvas shoe organizers make great use of vertical closet space. They’re also much more orderly looking than door-hung shoe pockets.
- To add maximum shoe storage to your closet, consider incorporating an Elfa kitchen cart from the Container Store into the mix. Its graduated drawers work well for everything from flat sandals to boots.
- Typically used for stowing clothes and blankets, under-the-bed drawers are also great for shoes. A space saver we learned from a fashion industry veteran with small closets: arrange pairs so that one is facing front and the other back for a yin-yang match; they fit more tightly this way.