Escaping the Clutter: How to organize your closets
I don’t know about you, but I find clutter to be insidious. You don’t really see it happening in real time but before you know it, you feel like your family may be nominating you for an episode of “Hoarders: Buried Alive”. So, how can you turn this around before you are living in 3 square feet of your 2000 square foot home? I am going to show you the simple steps to take to organize your closets.
Starting small is key here. I know you may have bigger fish to fry, but if you start with a few commonly cluttered areas, I think you’ll be inspired to do more. The 2 areas I took on this week were my linen closet and my master bedroom closet. I felt they were manageable enough for me to handle on my own yet important enough to make a dramatic impact.
Let me start by saying that the linen closet isn’t really my fault. I blame those people I live with. Now, I’m not one to dodge accountability, but hear me out. I have my own master bath. I house my own (and hubby’s) towels under our sink. I also keep my extra bed sheets on a shelf in my master closet (I’ll get to that issue in a minute). Therefore, the towels, blankets, and sheets kept in the hallway linen closet are solely for the teenagers (a.k.a. slobs).
Whenever they wash their bath mats or towels, I tell them to fold them and place them back in the linen closet. Clearly, they don’t fear me enough. I uncovered this disaster after bravely opening the door to take a look at the contents. I had a sneaking suspicion it was going to be a mess, but of course, ignorance is bliss. I was just fine not knowing what evil lurked behind closed doors.
The only way I know to start this type of project is to just pull everything out and start with an empty closet. I threw everything on the hall floor and started to sort through it. It is incredible how many moth-eaten towels those boys own (in my defense, I did buy them new towels when I updated their bathroom, see here, but apparently I didn’t specify that they should discard the old ones). I made the quintessential piles. You know the ones all the organizers tell you to make: Keep, toss, donate. Yea, mine was mostly toss but that’s fine.
I ended up throwing out anything with holes, stains, or whatever deemed it unworthy of donation. I did have a few things to go to Goodwill but not much. Next, I folded up everything properly (most things were rolled in a ball and stuffed into said closet) and gave it a shelf based on the category of the item.
Not bad for 30 minutes’ worth of work, right? I felt accomplished and decided the next day I would tackle the master closet monster.
Much like the pantry I previously organized see post here, my husband is big on nagging me to clean up major disaster zones. The pantry was his too, so I didn’t take too kindly to his suggestions of me organizing it by myself; however, I had no one to blame for my master closet but me. My husband had moved his stuff out of there almost a decade ago and relocated to a smaller, slide-door closet in the sitting room area of our bedroom. Yes, the shame here is all mine.
Yikes! The sad thing is that I actually took this on a couple of years ago and I thought I had tamed the beast. I have discovered that, while the beast may appear docile and domesticated for a while, it is really just lying in wait for its chance to return with a vengeance! Time to slay it once and for all!
Just like the linen closet, I unloaded everything from the master. I worked in sections because I don’t think I would have had the room in my bedroom for all of it, but this system was fine as I have 4 distinct areas to my closet. I did my piles (keep, toss, donate, and sell) and starting sorting into trash bags. I will warn you, it gets worse before it gets better with a job of this size. It looked like a retail store threw up on my bed.
I even pulled out every single drawer from the 3 dressers that live in my closet (don’t judge me) and separated out the keep-worthy items and refolded neatly so I could see at a glance what was in there. I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I has some underwear in there from the 80’s. Not that I’ve been wearing it (I was MUCH skinnier then) but for some unknown reason it’s been traveling around with me for 30 years. Strange. I folded everything in my drawers and on my closet shelves per the KonMari method. It’s a lot more time consuming than my normal fold style but it does look nice!
Here is the biggest takeaway I can give you: be merciless. I mean really. If you don’t wear it, don’t really love it, are hoping to one day fit into it, or have some bizarre irrational attachment to it, it needs to go. I found myself putting things in my keep pile, taking a breath, and pulling it back out for the donate instead. It’s okay. I promise, it’s just stuff. It doesn’t matter.
I got rid of so much crap, I was able to give one of my boys a dresser from my closet as I didn’t need the additional drawers anymore. I ended up removing 2 garbage bags of “sell” items, 1 garbage bag and a box of “donate” items, and 2 trash bags of “toss”. Now, let me put this in perspective for you. I actually had TWO bags of clothes so bad, I couldn’t even (in good conscience) give them to the homeless. What?! Why the hell was I keeping this stuff?
I know letting go of our possessions can be hard. I know these things aren’t just things (in our minds, anyway). We place value on what we feel represents something bigger to us. Like those sexy jeans you wore when you were 22, pre-babies, and 30 lbs lighter. You wore them every time you wanted to look great on a date. Sure they have been sitting on a shelf for years, but who knows; you may get back into them one day and return to that fancy free life of clubs, beach trips with the girls, and cute guys hitting on you, right? Wrong.
You are a responsible adult with kids, perhaps a husband, and a home to tend to. You’d much rather put on a comfy pair of yoga pants and a loose t-shirt for day to day life. On the rare occasion you do get to go out, you choose to look a bit more sophisticated and polished. Sexy, skin tight, acid-washed jeans with holes in all the right places doesn’t feel appropriate anymore. Let. Them. Go. They served you well, but it’s time to move on to the next chapter of your life.
Holding on to things will never take you back in time. It will never make your life more fulfilling. I found the process of purging to be very cathartic. As I took crap out of my closet and out of my home I felt a freedom. I felt lighter. I felt ready to be in the now and not in the past. It’s okay to keep what you love but I guarantee if you look around your home, you will see lots of things there that just fill in the empty spots. They aren’t special and you don’t really care about them. If need be, start there. I am sure as you get going you will understand the sense of freedom I am talking about. You will feel inspired to continue to purge and organize. And if the beast attempts to rear its ugly head, just knock it out with that 90’s military boot and reclaim to your space!