The clocks moved forward a few weeks ago and, like it or not, that means it is time for you to move forward with your spring cleaning of closets. Bring some more efficiency and joy to your closets, spaces and belongings and declutter the chaos with the help of home organization expert Marty Basher of Modular Closets, who is here to answer common questions and challenges with cleaning, decluttering and reorganizing closets, and to provide additional pointers for this oftentimes overwhelming task.
Before you even begin this project, whether it be a bigger cleaning and reorganizing or small, have a plan before you begin and be able to roll with the changes. Not every plan will translate from paper to reality perfectly. Don’t panic, just look for the next best option. And don’t be afraid to make use of a closet in a completely different way. By using free-standing pieces for clothes, etc., a closet can become a mini office or a kids play space. Create the space that brings the most use and joy to you.
What is your one must-do for making your closet organized and efficient?
Double Hanging closet organization. Most closets have more room for long hanging items than you need. Save a portion of that space for gowns, slacks that don’t hang folded, and dresses. Then fill the remaining space with two stacked rows of hanging space for all of your shirts, skirts, and jackets, etc. Beyond that, have a plan for items like boots, hats, and jewelry. Keep accessibility in mind. Closet size is an issue that can be overcome with creative and efficient planning of your space. In most closets you can go up. Even if you need to incorporate a folding stool in your closet to make use of the space with shelving, boxes, and baskets. Going up is another great way to safely store those occasional, but vital closet items.
For anyone who might be overwhelmed by the thought of spring cleaning, where do you suggest they start?
Break up the task into manageable chunks of time. If you are overwhelmed at the prospect, don’t set yourself up for misery with an all-day purge (unless you know that’s the only way you’ll ever get it done. In that case, grab an accountability partner and get to it!)
For the most part, after you measure the space and draw a rough plan for it, start a few days before the big job, and just take a few minutes to run through your closet and get rid of anything you don’t love or haven’t worn in the last two years. Box it up for donation that day or send it to the trash. If you hang onto it, it will end up right back in your closet eventually.
After the quick purge, go ahead and sort your closet by length, moving all the long hanging items to the side gives a good visual idea of how much space you really need to have for everything else.
Lastly, determine which of the items left are suitable to store high or low in containers. These items can be stored neatly but aren’t needed daily. Now you are ready to reorganize the space for function and fashion with a clear idea of what you have, what you need daily, and what can be stored in the harder to reach places in your closet.
What advice do you have for parents who are struggling with needing to clean their own closets and keeping up with their kids’ clothes and other belongings?
Keeping up with the changing needs of the kids’ closets is definitely a big job. As they grow and change, you could be faced with a closet revamp project more than once a year. Keeping that in mind, set yourself up for success by incorporating adjustable storage options in the kids’ rooms.
As they transition to independence, you can set them (and yourself) up for a much more manageable closet by using a closet system designed to grow with them. Set hanging rods for daily kids clothes at a level kids can access and use low baskets for shoes and toys. Encourage kids to participate in the set up and maintenance of the closet system. Revisit the kids closets as the seasons change and rotate clothes by season. Rotating what is in the closet seasonally is also the perfect opportunity to purge what doesn’t fit and is no longer needed, while keeping the clutter to a minimum. Make use of a few plastic storage containers for off season items, and keep the closet open and user friendly instead of jammed full of all the things.
What advice do you have for making the most of your spaces?
Makeover an unused, small closet. In some homes you find a tiny closet that’s too small to hold much and too impractical for typical storage. Why not turn that small space into something creative for your home? If you’ve always dreamed of having a wine cellar, why not turn your small closet into a wine bar? Install a few shelves to hold wine glasses and wine bottles and a small drop down table that lays flat when not in use. No office space in your home? Turn that unused closet into an office nook. Install a built-in desk, add a couple of shelves, under desk storage for files and books. Most kids have an abundance of games, puzzles, and art supplies that tend to fill up storage space around the home. Why not create a specific place for everything to be stored together? Add plenty of shelves and assorted storage bins to tuck everything neatly away and hang a shoe organizer on the inside of the door to hold the small stuff. Just include lots of shelves!
Revamp your closets with a customizable closet design.
When it comes to closet storage, most closets can benefit from a complete makeover. Older homes typically have inefficient closet space with shallow shelf depth and narrow hanging space. Many newer homes use wire shelving that don’t include enough storage space for most homeowners. A simple, cost effective option is modular closet organizers. Sectional or modular closets come in a vast array of unit sizes, allow for flexible arrangement, and require little effort to install.
Lighting up a dark closet.
Many closets in apartments and older homes do not come with individual lighting, nor do they have the electric outfitted to add lighting. This usually leaves us holding a flashlight or relying on the bedroom light to shine enough to see (or not see) what you’re doing. The great news is newer LED lighting technology has developed battery operated, install anywhere lighting that’s better than anything we’ve had in the past. You can choose from peel and stick or drill mounted lighting and even get a style with a motion sensor.
Add organization to your existing closet.
Let’s say you’ve got a small closet that is laid out well, but you need additional storage space within it. For shelves, add a few inexpensive shelf dividers to create more organized piles. Double the hanging space with an extender rod. A closet door is typically unused real estate, add hooks or hanging bars to the closet door. Under shelf hanging baskets are perfect for smaller items like scarves, gloves, jewelry, or hand towels and wash clothes.
Storage for random household items.
There are always things around the house that need a place to “live” and you’ve never found quite the right place to store them. A small unused closet may be the perfect spot for those things. Items to consider for this space are suitcases, gift wrapping supplies, books, photo albums and scrapbook supplies, baskets for items to donate/fix/sell, surplus items you buy in bulk, seasonal home decorations, or cleaning supplies.
Goodbye closet, hello unexpected surprise!
So you’ve got a closet that you’ve learned to live without because of its “quaint” size. Why not fashion something totally unexpected out of it? With a little vision and splash of creativity, you can have a nook that adds dimension to your home or apartment. Remove the door completely, paint the inside a bold, fun color or pick up some removable wallpaper and makeover the inside of the closet. Remove hanging bars and add more shelving. Voila! An unexpected place to put collectibles and framed photos.
Marty Basher is the home organization expert for ModularClosets.com. Modular Closets are high-quality and easy-to-design closet systems you can order online, assemble and install yourself, in no time at all. Using closet modules (closet units you can mix & match to design your own closet that fits your space and meets your needs), homeowners everywhere are empowered to achieve the true custom closet look- for nearly 40% less than standard custom closets.