Closet Organizing Tips
by Bill Huntley
Some of the best lessons in closet design I've ever gotten have come from professional organizers. You know---those nice folks that publish the newsletters with all those organizing tips that promise to save you time or money or to reduce your anxiety. You print them out with such good intentions only to have them end up in a pile with the diet plans and recipes that you never quite get around to reading again. Or could ever even find again if you wanted to read them.
The thing is, some of these tips actually work!
One of the best tips from an organizer's newsletter that I have used in my own life was to create a shelf in my entry closet dedicated to emptying my pockets when I come in the door from work. Previously I had always done this in the bedroom when I changed from my work clothes. The result was a hodgepodge of screws, tools, closet parts, car keys, cell phone---it accumulated, it got lost---what a mess!
Now with my dedicated shelf, all the odd screws, etc. that end up in my pocket at the end of the day go into a small bowl that periodically gets sorted out. Keys go on a hook, cell phone, loose change, and wallet all have their place and are waiting right where I left them as I get my coat and head out the door in the morning. With my old system I might find my car keys or wallet anywhere from the laundry hamper to the desk. What a time saver!
Here's some of the design tips learned from professional organizers that I regularly apply to closets that I design for my customers:
- Avoid 30" wide drawers: Stuff tends to get jumbled and tangled in overly wide drawers. Since many folded items use up a 12" wide space, the 24" wide drawer is perfect for most situations.
- Avoid overly deep drawers: Again, it is difficult to keep it neat when you need to paw your way to the bottom looking for the item you want. Unless you are storing bulky things like sweaters, isix to eight inches is the deepest drawer that I recommend.
- Avoid overly wide shelves: As with drawers, clothing tend toward chaos on wide shelves. The worst case is the closet with one, long continuous shelf. Clothing grows into piles, piles tip over, and a big mess is inevitable. As with drawers, a 24" shelf comfortably stores two items. A 12" to 18" shelf is better suited for specific items, like handbags, hats or a single sweater.
- Use shelf dividers to contain clothing on long shelves.
- Adjustable shelves allow for adjustment to individual items and so avoid wasting space.
- Roll-outs: Using roll-outs at the bottom 42" of a closet makes things so much more visible and keeps you off your hands and knees looking for stuff. Roll-out accessories include: drawers, baskets, shelves, shoe shelves, ironing boards, pants racks, mirrors, and hampers.
- Adjust closet components to accommodate your height and size. Put the things you use or wear regularly within easy reach.
- Avoid corner shelves in clothing closets: They work well in pantries but clothing tends to become disarrayed and difficult to access.
Don't think you need to follow all of the organizing tips you read about all at once. Consider implementing one organizing tip that addresses a problem that nags at you and see how it goes. And if getting organized has you completely overwhelmed, consider consulting with a professional. It could change your life.