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Tiny closets need big organizing

Matthew Grocoff

February 9, 2016

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Interior Home Improvement

An organized closet

The closet organizing industry is big business. There is even an organization for organizing: The Association of Closet and Storage Organizers. This is a small indicator of just how big and mind-incinerating overstuffed storage can be. It's a multi-billion dollar a year enterprise to free us from the chaos of clutter.

Cleaning and organizing a closet can be like meditation. The first step is to breathe. Next, remove everything from your closet. Everything. Even the shelves and rods. Once the closet is a clean blank slate, you can begin the real work.

With everything on the floor of the room, pour yourself a drink. I suggest a Peach Bellini.

Now, with drink in hand, be brutal. Figure out what is really essential. Your closet is sacred. Which worldly possessions deserve a place in this sanctuary? If you haven't used it in six months, donate it to someone who will.

Once you're done getting rid of what you don't need, do it again. Then again. Have no mercy. You'll soon discover that these things aren't making you happier.

Take a few minutes to finish your Bellini and admire your empty closet and your simplified collection of things. Enjoy the moment. Focus on how good the simplicity feels.

Next, begin designing the space you'll need to recreate the perfect closet. Use every square inch from floor to ceiling. Think about creating more small spaces rather than fewer large spaces. A diversity of space will give you the opportunity to categorize and organize your things into sensible sections. For example, in a coat closet create a separate space for mom's hats & gloves, dad's hat's & gloves, and each kid's hats & gloves rather than throwing them onto a single shelf or stuffing them into one large basket.

If you have a shallow closet with bars on each end, consider moving the bars to the back of the closet and creating a flush mount for hanging coats and clothes. I got this brilliant idea from Lianna Iacob from Reside Sustainability. A conventional closet rod is placed so that the clothes hand perpendicular to the wall. This does maximize the number of hangars you can get on the rod, but it does not optimize your total useable closet space. Using Lianna's flush mount method allows the clothes to hang at an angle. Hanging them at an angle accomplishes three magical things:

  1. You can see more of each hanging item. This makes quick work of finding the coat you want.
  2. It frees up space on the sides of the closet. This creates open space to build floor to ceiling cubbies or shelves.
  3. It allows for slightly fewer hanging items per rod. Yes, I consider this magical, because less can be more. This give you an opportunity to decide which items you own are worthy of your beautiful new closet. Get rid of the stuff you don't use and enjoy the best of what you have.

Lastly, avoid the urge to buy more stuff to fill the extra space. Use the "items in - items out" rule. When you buy a new item that pushes you over your total number of hangars, then decide which item you are willing to part with. If you have space for 20 hangars on a rod, then that's how many items you can have on that rod. It's self-limiting.

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