give your closet a makeover

The closet you’ve always wanted may be only 10 steps away.Professional organizer Monica Friel has seen it all–from closets so full you can’t open the door to closets blocked by all the clothes and belongings filling the floor. We thought if she could handle those messes, your closet should be easy. And according to Friel, who has appeared as an organizational expert on popular television shows, your dream closet is only 10 steps away. Let’s get started:

Purge, purge & purge some more

“You wear 20 percent of your clothes, 80 percent of the time,” Friel said, who owns Chaos to Order. “The more you get rid of, the simpler it is to find things. If you keep too much, you can’t find what’s important.” What should go? Clothing that doesn’t fit, hasn’t been worn in the last year, and is not in season or needs mending or cleaning. Sentimental or keepsake items should also be moved elsewhere.

United we stand

There’s no need to invest in a pricey organizational system to give your closet a crisp, uniform look. Instead, invest in a collection of the same hangers. Friel prefers thin clear plastic hangers rather than tubular plastic ones (”they take up too much room,” she said) or popular felt-covered slim hangers (“they’re cumbersome; you have to peel clothes off them,” she noted).

Clients, she said, are surprised by the impact. “It makes a big difference,” she said of the hangers, which should face the same direction. “It’s a little more like a store. They love that.”

Then donate hangers that don’t match and recycle those from the dry cleaner, except the pant hangers, which Friel uses in her closet.

Create order

Then begin to gather and hang like items. Place skirts, dress pants, jeans, sweaters and jackets together. Don’t forget about shoes, handbags and scarves. Then group by color, light to dark, and by length, so that long pieces and short pieces hang together, respectively.

Divide and conquer

If you have drawers in your closet, Friel recommends Dream Drawer Organizers to arrange socks. Because they’re spring-loaded, the dividers can adjust to whether you’re storing thin trouser socks or thick wool socks.

Think outside the box

Not everything has to go inside your closet, Friel said. For shoes, consider under-the-bed shoe dividers or display your shoes on shelves or ladders.

Let there be light

“If your closet is dark and dreary, you won’t want to be in there,” she said. “Lighting is huge. It perks up all clothes and they look better.”

Recessed can lighting brightens closets without taking up too much space, Friel said. Or for serious closet lovers, install a chandelier.

Get creative

Think beyond hangers or drawers and use vertical space to display jewelry in a shadow box or picture frame. Friel also suggests placing small plastic adhesive hooks on an empty wall to hold jewelry or scarves. Rows of larger hooks can be especially useful in children’s closets because they’re easier on little hands. “It’s little less likely it’ll end up on the floor,” Friel said, joking, “but there’s no guarantee.”

Friel also has used foam pool noodles and rolled magazines and newspapers to keep boots in shape.

Purge again

Be critical of what takes center stage in your closet. Friel said, ask yourself, “Can those jackets and blazers go in a front hall closet?” or “Do I need those special occasion shoes or dresses to be front and center?”

Any pieces collecting dust? “If they’re in there long enough to get dusty, they shouldn’t be in your closet,” Friel remarked.

Moving up

Make the most of high spaces by using baskets marked with big labels or old luggage tags, “but never put a basket up high without a label,” she warned. High shelves are the perfect place to store out-of-season gear or rarely used pieces like ski pants. Friel recommends using Ziploc®brand Flexible Totes to store off-season clothes or shoes on higher shelves because the totes are lighter and more flexible than plastic bins.

Keep it going

Don’t think all the work stops here. Predict your needs so your closet won’t get cluttered again. Friel recommends placing a basket or bin within arm’s reach for out-going clothes, such as those to be donated or stored away for the season.

Then take a moment to enjoy the fruits of your labor. “People are so excited,” Friel said about a clutter-free, organized closet. “People just love to have that sense of peace and calm of having everything in order.”

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