One of my favorite jobs as a Professional Organizer is getting a call from a client to organize a closet. Whether it’s the entryway, clothes or office storage closet, it’s super rewarding and often-times, a one day job. And when a client sees quick results, they are often inspired to keep it up and it will usually lead to getting the rest of the home in order. Of course all closets are not created equal but following these 5 steps are a huge move in the right direction for a ‘new’ made-over storage space.
Take Everything Out I know it sounds like a chore but unless everything comes out of the closet, it’s hard to know how things will best fit once they go back in. Taking everything out also ensures that you’ll be able to give everything a wipe down and possibly even give the space a fresh coat of paint. When a space is clean and feels new, you’ll be surprised at how you’ll want to keep everything in its place. As an organizer, this step is imperative so a client can see all that they’ve been storing. Some items get lost in the depths of a closet and usually, almost half of things get donated, sold or move to a more appropriate place–which frees up lots of space.
Create Zones As you’re pulling items out, try and work fast and challenge yourself to make quick decisions. Place items according to where they’re going: Donation, Toss and Keep are great zones to get you started. Just stick a labeled note above each pile so that things don’t get confusing once the closet is completely empty. You may realize that you need more categories (like Sell, for instance), so keep a marker and paper close by. If you get distracted easily, you may want to have a buddy or family member help you during the process as the space will feel chaotic–so just make sure to prep yourself mentally.
Removal of Items Most importantly, leave time to take donations the same day you empty the closet out. Otherwise these items may just stay piled up in the entryway– or worse yet, they end up back in the closet. If you have items to sell, take pictures and put them up for sale on Craigslist. And if there are any returns going to friends and family, let them know their items are ready for pick-up. Take trash and recycling to their respective bins and if you can, schedule your organizing day to coincide with the day after trash pick-up—that way, you’ll ensure that everything has a place to go.
Take Measurements Once the closet is completely empty, take measurements of each shelf and cabinet so that if you need to purchase containers or tools, you’ll have them on hand. I also find it helpful to take pictures of the items that are going back into the closet so I’ll know how many containers to buy. I always encourage clients to repurpose what they already own (if possible) before going shopping. And don’t forget to do some light research online before hitting the stores. Buying containers is overwhelming for most and the last thing anyone wants is to get home and realize the box doesn’t fit or work in the space.
Putting Items Back As you place items back into the closet, give them homes according to how you’ll use them. Most often used items should be placed front and center with easy access. Items that are used less often are best situated on high shelves or harder to reach spots. And finally, I love labeling drawers and containers as I’m placing them on their shelves so that everyone in the family can quickly and easily locate their belongings.
Image from Flickr user Erica Joy for use under Creative Commons license
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