by Melanie Dennis CPO
Today’s Guest post is by a fellow local Professional Organizer, Melanie Dennis CPO (certified Professional Organizer). I consider her the guru of closets. Not only does she plan them out and organize them, but she installs it all herself! Ok…that is way beyond me. I wanted her to tell you and me some of her closet secrets!
You use your closet twice a day. Some of us do the happy dance, and some of us feel contempt for the piles on the floor, the poorly used space, the spouse who hogs the rod, or shelves and rods bowing from the weight of it all. The good news is that it can be better. Lots of today’s melamine and wire kits can be installed with a few basic skills. It can be overwhelming staring at the closet hardware at the store and know what you need to get the results you want.
Where to Begin?
Start with graph paper and a tape measure. Draw your closet shape and size. After purging and donating the old clothes, measure the amount of clothes on the rods in the following categories. Hanging space is either long hang, short hang, or double hang (two short hangs one above the other.) Count sweaters and shoes. When planning your space don’t forget the non-clothes things stored in the closet like cameras, memorabilia, binoculars, or luggage. Here are some of the magic numbers closet designers use to customize your space.
24” – how wide to leave between clothes hanging on each side of a closet for a person to walk through. This is also the average depth of a reach-in closet.
21” – how much room you need from a wall to hang clothes on a hanger
34-36” -where you should hang the lower rod to hang slacks on the bottom of a double hanging wall.
75-80”- where the top rod of double hang goes.
67” -where contractors hang a long hanging single rod leaving an awkward amount of space not used wisely.
7-8” -amount of shelf space needed per each pair of shoes.
12” from the back wall is where a rod generally hangs.
2’ -how much long hanging rod space the average woman needs unless she long hangs her pants by the cuff or waist.
0’ -how much long hanging most men need. A hook for a robe will suffice. I am a fan of hooks for everyone.
45 -average number of shoes a woman has. I am above average and that is all I am saying about that.
2-3 -sizes of clothes in most women’s closets. Yup…you are normal.
No drawers should higher than the eye level of the closet owner.
Piles of clothes should not be more than 12-14” high because they will topple easy- use more shelves with shorter piles will ensure better long term organizing. Some systems have supports for piles of clothes and purses to hold them upright.
Don’t fuss with systems that offer corner solutions. Hanging in a corner is not efficient. It is better to take one side all the way to the corner and hang the adjoining wall rod two feet out from the corner. You can tuck rarely worn clothes in the corner.
Finally, splurge on matching hangers. It makes a huge difference.
Melanie Dennis, CPO® is the owner of
Neat Streak Professional Organizing in Columbus, Ohio. She has designed over one thousand spaces both as a as a closet designer for The Container Store and later as a professional organizer.
Re-purposing a bookshelf in a closet is thinking outside the box.
This picture is actually looking into a closet. I had a challenge with a client. Organize all these office supplies. There was a small closet in the room and a bar across it and a couple of little shelves that had been left by a previous owner. There was no need for clothes for this office….and I wanted to utilize this space.
The client had this bookshelf that wasn’t being used. I did all the measurments before I had it moved into the room. It was going to fit! I was So excited!
Now for the containers. I wanted to use a clear plastic so that you could easily see what was in them. I measured the shelf height and length to make sure I could get the most use out of the space…knowing I was buying the right size baskets or plastic boxes.
If you notice I have the lids off the boxes. It would look very nice and neat to have them on, but would things get put back as easy if you had to lift a lid to do it? This was a place that I could leave them open and easily accessible. But….I did put the lid directly under the basket so that you don’t have to worry about losing them…and they are there if you want to use them.
Usually the first step is to find the floor!
Usually teens (like most of us) have too much “stuff”. There is more stuff than places to put the stuff – so it is easier to just throw it on the floor. Keep in mind this isn’t always the case. My oldest son (at home) has plenty of storage space…but stuff is still on the floor – but he could still stand to declutter again.
Starting at the Beginning means starting with Sorting
Be armed with Black trash bags (trash) and white trash bags (donate).
Then remember your sorting basics. Don’t spend more time on each item than about 5-10 seconds. You don’t want to start reminiscing or you will never get the job done. If they still have all kinds of stuffed animals or toys from their childhood (and they are teens)..help them pick out a couple special ones to keep (if they want to keep any). Take pictures of others if they are having a hard time deciding or not sure about getting rid of things.
If there are clothes that you need to keep to pass down to other children in your family. I suggest clear bins (so you can see what is in them) and be sure to label them well.
Work with them and have them decide: Make paper sorting cards to help remember what to do with their things.
1) Keep – Do I LOVE it? Do I WEAR it? Do I USE it? Does it FIT?
2) Donate – I DON’T like it and will not wear it, It DOESN’T fit, I DON’T use it.
3) Move – It doesn’t BELONG in my Bedroom
4) Storage - This can be season sports supplies or things they need to keep but don’t use but once or twice a year.
5) Trash – It is trash, broken, torn or worn out
Let them just make piles (they love piles anyway right?) on the floor for the different categories. If there is not floor space to begin with. I suggest piling everything in one big pile and then going through it.
Reloading Your Closet
Now that you have everything out of your closet and you have some extra shelves or space in your closet….how do you “reload” your closet?
If you have sorted the clothes down to the ones that you really do wear, you should have less clothes to put back in than when you started.
There are a few tips that you can try if you would like when you put your clothes back in….just to see if you REALLY wear them.
1) Turn your hangers backwards when you hang up your clothes. So that you have to reach under and hook. When you wear it, turn the hanger correctly. After 6 months or a season, any clothes are still flipped backwards – you haven’t worn that item. Donate it.
2) Put a hanging mesh bag in your closet (or child’s closet). Any clothes that you don’t want to wear, or have a stain or tear and you aren’t wearing – put into the mesh bag. Each month or two, empty that and sort into donate or throw away.
Bins and Baskets and Hangers
I suggest plastic or wooden hangers for your clothes. I used to think it was just silly and that the wire ones were just fine. But as I started using the plastic ones I noticed my clothes hung nicer on them and had less “hanger marks”.
You can also Color Code with your hangers if you use plastic.
1) Advantages – you can see who’s clothes are who’s at a glance. It makes taking them up and putting them in closets easy.
2) Disadvantage – Making sure you have enough of the right color for that person. When you run out, going to the closets and gathering them up. Or when you go to buy more (as in my case) of a fun color like bright green or hot pink – they do not have those colors anymore.
I have used shades. I use the bright green, orange and pinks. Hubby uses black or brown. Kids use white, blue and purples. So it is still general, but not as specific…so it simplies but still gets the same point across.
There are also many different hangers that help you add space to your closet.
Bins, Baskets and Dividers
There are many different closet organizers on the market. You can pick up inexpensive baskets or bins at your dollar store or discount store. Be sure that they are ones that you can either see down into when you place them, or you can see through. You do not want to have a bunch of pretty baskets or bins that you have no idea what is lurking in them.
You can find Wire Shelf Dividers in several places that can help you divide jeans, sweaters or towels.
When placing jeans, sweaters or towels on your shelves. Be sure to put the fold side out. It will just look neater and be easier to grab if you have the fold and not the open side facing out. (does that make sense?)
Make a place for each item. If you find you do not have room for it all – then back to some more donating. If you put too much in, you will not have a place for everything and then you will have a mess again soon.
Remember that when you bring in a new item – donate an item.
Disclosure: The links in this post are NOT affiliate links. I just wanted to give you some help where to find things or to show you what I was talking about.
I liked this post to:
A Bowl Full of Lemons Getting Organized Challenge for Closets
Finding additional Room in That Closet
Now that your closet is empty, I am sure it looks something like this. (Note vacuumed carpet!) Actually this is a really good time to really clean it up. So it really could look like this soon.
The next step is creating more room in your closet if at all possible. You might have a lot of wire racks or wooden ones in your closet already (lucky). But that doesn’t mean that they are being functional for you.
Create More space
1) You can call in a professional company to completely build you new “inners” for your closet. That would be a dream for me to have one of those companies come and do a closet for me. But, for most of us the cost is too much to have that luxury.
2) You can install your own system. The Container Store has some great closet organization systems. Just be sure you have the know how when it comes to precess measuring and installing. There are some professional organiziners that will install this kind of system for you (not I, says the “Not a Closet installer” organizer Sandy). The stores also have installers that can do them. This would still be less than a closet company.
3) You can install just a few wire racks, or some simple solutions that are low cost and it can still make a world of difference.
Here is an example of adding an additional wire shelf. So often the wire racks in the closet have the one shelf and then you have all this wasted space until you hit the ceiling. Use that space.
Here is another example of addional shelves being used in a closet. This person did not have a linen closet, so adding these shelves in their closet worked great for their towels and also some extra clothing.
Double your space by buying one of these hangers. It is an extra rod that hooks onto the exsisting rod. It works great in a childs closet so they can reach their clothes. It also adds double the hanging space. Works for blouses and pants.
If your top wire rack is too low to make this work, maybe just moving that wire rack up higher would allow for addional space underneather rather than above.
Think outside the box to make some extra room in your closet
I linked this post to:
A Bowl Full of Lemons Getting Organized Challenge – Closets
Organizing Closets – Too many clothes and not enough space
With Spring here many of us are spring cleaning, trying to make more room for the summer clothes and are having a terrible time with it.
I have heard from several of my friends lately in regards to their closets.
One of my friends Beth from Plus Size Mommy had this post up and had a dilemma. Here is her post on Closet Organization or really her Closet Question.
She wondered what to do with all the clothes that do not fit. She is working on losing weight and she presently has some clothes in smaller sizes that she plans on being able to fit into before long – but she doesn’t have the space to store them.
You can’t fit 5 years worth of clothes into a 1 year size closet. It just isnt’ going to work, so something has to go.
Take out each piece of clothing and give it about 5-10 seconds to make a decision.
1) Do I LOVE it?
2) Does it FIT?
3) Do I WEAR it?
4) CAN I Wear it? Is it Stained, torn, in need of repair?
What do you DO with them?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions – then put it in your KEEP pile.
If you don’t love it, you don’t wear it or it doesn’t fit – put it in your DONATE pile (Use a white trash bag)
If it is stained or torn or in terrible shape – put it in your TRASH bag (use a black trash bag)
The Down Sizing Dilemma solved
Now, if you are in the process of losing weight and you have clothes that you know you will have to re buy – pick out a couple outfits to keep in that size. The ones you love and are in the best condition. Store those in a plastic clear bin and label them with the size. Get rid of the rest. Hopefully these are just “passing through” clothes because you will still be going to even a smaller size that you get to buy new clothes for. yippee!
I liked this Post To:
A Bowl Full of Lemons Getting Organized Challenge – Closets
Organize that Front Coat Closet
By the time spring hits, the coat closet is usually a mess. Winter hats, gloves that don’t have matches, boots and coats that are stuffed in. It is about time to get rid of the winter coats and hats and time to get out the spring jackets and raincoats.
This is a video I did last year for NBC 4 First at 4 with Ellie Merritt.
I had to get a picture with Ellie before she left my house. By the way, I there was a mix up in our times for this interview. She was supposed to come the following day and called me about 45 minutes before she arrived to ask if it was ok to do today. I had been ill and in the ER with diverticulitis for the 3 days before this & had planned to get ready that day. I knew what I wanted to do and had in my mind things ready. But with 45 minutes (thank goodness my son was home from school because he helped me get the house in shape too. – Remember I had been in bed for 3 days…so my house was a mess) Ellie was so sweet on the phone, she told me not to worry about it they could film around it. But of course I couldn’t do that. So we were racing all over. I had to dumb my baskets of hats and just throw them up on the shelf to show what it might look like.
Then like 10 minutes before they got there I realized I hadn’t done my hair, so I ran up and threw my head under the tub facet and did my hair and makeup like fast. LOL Anyway…it was probably a good thing that I didn’t have time to be nervous!
The Dreaded Winter from Summer clothes change out
I have to admit that getting all the bins of winter clothes out of the basement and doing that seasonal clothing switch is not my idea of fun. But we did it this last weekend and I am glad it is over for the season. Here are some tips to make it go smoother for you.
Summer Clothes coming out of their drawers and closet:
1) Do you think it will fit next year? (all you can do is guess)
2) Did they ever wear it this year? (if they don’t like it, don’t keep it)
3) Is it in good enough shape to keep for next year?
4) Can you pass it down to another child in your family? (if so, keep it)
Items to keep for next year: Put in a clear plastic bin (ideal) and Label it: with season of clothes and sizes. I suggest keeping boys and girls separate.
For those things that are in good enough shape to pass on, but you can’t use: DONATE IT
Put these things in a white trash bag so you do not mix them up with the black trash bags.
Winter clothes to Go Into their Drawers and Closets:
Bring out each piece and decide:
1) Will it fit them?
2) Do you both of you like it?
3) Is it in good enough shape to be worn again?
If yes for all of these, then put it in their drawers.
If not, don’t feel bad….just decide if its trash or donate.
Tip: Don’t over load their drawers and closets with too many clothes if you have hand me downs. Items will never get worn that are on the bottom or if they don’t like them. These are things that other children can be wearing. Pass them on.
Organizing Your Kids Closet
Closets…you either love the closets in your house, or you hate them. I would have to guess that the majority of people are not happy with their closets. The biggest complaint I get is that they are too small.
It would be ideal for each of us to have someone come in and install a complete closet system wouldn’t it? But that isn’t realistic.
So we have to make due with what we have and be able to expand on it to make it more usable.
You can buy a hanger extension for as little as $9.99. It just hooks onto the bar above and gives you a 2nd hanging bar. This works great for kids. They all of a sudden can reach their hangers!! They can get their own clothes and hang up their own clothes. Not only does it help you, but it gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
Putting in an extra shelf or two in a closet isn’t hard. Most homes today have the wire shelves built in. But there is a lot of wasted space above them. You can fit another shelf above in most cases.
Using the backs of doors can be a great alternative to finding extra space in a room. These over the door shoe hangers can be used obviously for shoes. But you can also use them for toys, combs, brushes, small stuffed animals, barbies, suntan lotion, sunglasses, winter gloves…and the list goes on.
Here is another option for the back of a bedroom door or inside a swinging closet door. It has little pockets for the kids items, blackboard and bulletin board. I found this one at JoAnn’s. But I have seen them also at Walmart. They run about $15.
You can also hang magnetic boards, or just hooks for clothes to go on. The list is long, it just takes a little imagination. But don’t waste that space behind or inside of a door.
Under the bed storage is a great option. Usually the only thing you find under their beds is clothes and toys that have made it there in a “clean up” attempt. You can store out of season clothes in them. Don’t rule out this option if you have very limited space and more than one child in a room. If they don’t have much closet or dresser space…use it for their daily clothes if needed. But be sure to get something that is easy to pull out and easy to open up. Or don’t even put a lid on it if they are using it daily.
Keep things bright and colorful if you can. Baskets make a great addition for organizing socks, underwear, toys etc. This basket I put up on her shelf to put clothes in that she has outgrown. When you or your children come across something that doesn’t fit, instead of shoving it back in the drawer..take it out and put it in the basket (or a hanging laundry bag or garage bag works too) to get it out of your drawer.
Use your floor space as best as possible. Otherwise it just gets filled with shoes, clothes and toys that hit the floor.
If you have room for a drawer unit like this, it is inexpensive and can house toys, workbooks, paper etc.. or can be used for socks and underwear if a dresser is limited.
The white shelves also can be used as such for shoes, but these are also a great space for baskets for any number of items.
Be creative and try and use all the space available.
Create a Craft Room In Your Closet!
by Yard Sale Princess
Have you ever wanted one of those craft rooms that you see in the magazines? But then you think, “But I don’t have a room for it.” Here is someone who took her craft room to a new place….her closet! She is lucky enough to have two walk in closets and she uses one of them for her craft room. I think it is great and love what she did with it. You would never know from the pictures that she is even in a closet. Check it out!
This is her first guest post and I think she did a great job!! She will be doing more soon I am sure.
Thank you, Sandy, for inviting me to be a guest blogger! This is my first time ever and I am super excited!
Well let’s just jump right into this. Okay, I have a deep dark secret place that I even hide from Hubs, it is my crafting closet.
It is a long closet space that is in our master bedroom. (We have two walk in closets and my wonderful husband designated one as my crafting space.)
I try to keep it clean and organized but I also use it as a hiding place for things that I want my kids to stay out of. I literally toss something in and shut the door. I call this my “STASH AND DASH” system.
Due to this fact, it has become uninspiring. Hubs has tried to help me in the organization process. The cabinet and table were Christmas gifts 3 years ago and he is bummed that they are being abused. The pathetic wire shelves around the top were put in by the home builders and are just too high for me to really use effectively. It really has inadequate storage. When I found myself pulling my hordes of crafting supplies all the way down stairs to do a project just so I could spread out, well, I knew that I had reached my breaking point. So we have decided that if we are going to do a “craft room redo” then it should be done right! So we have taken EVERYTHING out of the room! We have repainted it a bright and inspiring color! Hubs was not allowed to have any input on the color, otherwise it would have been “tan”. Then we rearranged the existing furniture and added some new storage! I am so glad that I put everything into plastic tubs and labeled them. It is totally working out for me!
Here is the end result!
This cabinet fit perfect in the cubby space! Look at the great paper sorter, it makes it so easy to see what paper I have and they are right at my fingertips.
Bins and baskets are used to contain items. The clear containers make it so easy to see what I have. Every container is labeled! Notice the spice rack that I used for all the little beads. They work great!!
I am absolutely in love with this room! I love the jars of yummy treasures and colorful tidbits,like buttons, corks, ribbon and such. I may add some of my own framed photography around the perimeter for inspiration but I LOVE IT!
Thanks for taking a look at my craft closet. You can visit me and see more of what I do at Digging For Treasures.
Yard Sale Princess
You don’t always have to have a lot of money to organize. You can use your imagination to help solve some problems.
This is an example of storage for some house blueprints that a client needed some storage for.
We simply took several narrow boxes that we were going to throw out and stacked them on top of each other to make some of his plans close at hand (but still achieve storage). I have to admit, although I would love to take credit for this solution…it was his wife who saw the boxes and figured it out. I think I would have been too concerned to offer boxes to many clients as a solution before that, but I realize that we all want low cost alternatives and worse they could say (other than “You cheap-o..I want another organizer!”) would be, “No, that doesn’t work for me”.
This is what we came up with for his office for the plans he was currently working on.
I had researched all kinds of products for him and there are many out there, both for long term and short term, but he was trying to keep expenses down. In his office he did opt for some storage cubbies that were a low cost alternative to the expensive drawer options that we looked at. He wanted some of his plans to lay flat, others rolled. It bothered me that they were sticking out, but he was alright with that and out of the options, this is what worked best for him, and what he chose.
There can be many low cost solutions that you can find for organizing, you do not always have to run to the store for everything. Here are just a few examples:
egg cartons – take the top off and use in desk drawer for paperclips, rubber bands..
candy trays (inside candy box) – jewelry, earrings, desk drawers..
check book box – inside “junk drawer” to organize little thing …
inside grid from a fruit (pears, apples) box – great sock organizer for drawer
Many many more….
What are some other ideas that you have used or can think of?
I found these closet rod dividers at The Container Store. I bought them for one of my clients that had a baby girl with several sizes of clothes in her closet. She had clothes from her older daughter and wanted them where she could see them since her baby was growing so fast.
We will simply write the different sizes on the tabs and use them in the closet to keep things straight. You can use them for different seasons (if you have the room in your closet) too. If 2 children need to share a closet they could use them to help keep their clothes separated.
What other ways can you think of how they can be used? Let me know.
I am going to be organizing a closet for someone today and I found these closet dividers at The Container Store that I am planning to use.
She has 2 girls and they have plenty of hanging clothes. The baby has many different sizes hanging in her closet and they are all on store plastic hangers. I plan to use the same colored plastic hangers for uniformity and the plastic dividers to divide the different sizes. I think it will improve the look of the closet and the functionality of it.