If you’re a regular reader, you may remember Mary from when she widened the doors to her bedroom closet, making it much easier to store and access the contents in her small closet. But in her new house, widening the doorway to her bedroom closet won’t really help that much. It’s tiny and its location under the eves of her 1920s bungalow leaves no space to tear down walls without major reconstruction.
Mary uses this closet, her husband uses an armoire outside the room (left by the previous owner) and they share a dresser. But still, it wasn’t cutting the mustard, her closet was an unorganized mess.
For help, she called on Laine Hardman owner of Tidy Up Professional Organizing. She remembered Laine from previous posts on DIY Del Ray. Since Mary is also a friend of mine, she let me photograph the process and write a post about it, hoping her experience might be an inspiration to others.
Like many older Del Ray homes, the closet is small — in all, it is 58 inches wide by 75 inches tall. The door is 28 inches wide and the closet expands to the left and right 15 inches on each side. Before getting started, Laine took some measurements. The shelf at the top is only 11 inches tall.
The first step was to take everything out, making piles of things Mary wanted to keep, donate, get rid of and the things that didn’t need to stay in the closet.
Then they organized by type (dresses, tops, etc.), taking a complete inventory of Mary’s wardrobe.
With a clean slate, Laine talked with Mary about her needs — space to hang dresses and tops, storage for shoes and larger boots and a place for workout gear.
For the consultation, Laine brought some supplies Mary might be interested in and a notebook with her arsenal of organizing secrets. For example, these shelf dividers are great for keeping stacked folded clothes in line. She recommended Mary put the workout wear and sweatshirts on the shelf in the closet and use the dividers to keep everything tidy. (These would also be helpful in a linen closet.)
Another secret, hangers! If you are low on space, forget those clunky space-hogging plastic and wooden hangers.
Instead, Laine suggests these super slim non-slip hangers to instantly increase your hanging space. There are also versions for pants.
You can see that for every one clunky plastic hanger, Mary can now fit 2-3 of the skinny hangers.
On the back of the closet door Mary had been hanging scarves. They agreed it made more sense to put a shoe rack on the door instead — ideal for storing Mary’s collection of flats and sandals, with room to grow.
And on the back of the bedroom door, Mary found a decorative rack to store and display her colorful accessories.
The glass accent knobs match the vintage knobs on the closet door.
It’s always great to use what you already have. Mary had three of these wicker baskets that she could use at the bottom of the closet to store boots and shoes that won’t fit on the shoe rack on the door.
An important part of any closet organizing project is decluttering, saying goodbye to the things you never wear anymore. Why keep something in your closet that you haven’t worn in over a year. Letting go feels so good. With Laine’s support and some friendly nudging from me, Mary said adios to the tops, pants, dresses and shoes she didn’t need anymore. Someone else will love them more.
In about an hour or so, the closet was in much better shape. When Laine left, Mary had some homework and a list of additional storage suggestions, which she immediately went out to locate. And later that day, the closet was complete!
Here are some tips I gathered from the organizing session:
- Clear everything out and make piles of things to keep, donate/sell and upcycle/trash.
- Organize by type (shirts, dresses, shoes) and by season (Spring dresses, Winter dresses, etc.).
- Use storage and organizing tools that make sense for your space — bulky hangers might look good in a large closet (or if you are trying to stage your home for sale), but they take up too much room in a small space.
- Before you purchase new storage bins, check to see what you already have in your house. If you aren’t pressed for time, browse Freecycle and Craig’s list (or our local MV Big Flea) for freebies and discounts.
- Be strong and don’t be afraid to let go of the clothes that no longer fit or you haven’t worn in eons — invite a friend over to help make those decisions.
Do you have any secrets for organizing and maintaining a small closet? Have you used the super skinny hangers or shelf dividers? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments.