Master Closet Reorganization

COST: 6 hours labor, broken up into two days PLUS 0.00 for supplies 

Sometimes an attempt to organize ends up with too many organizational tools for the space- a shelf unit, a valet chair, and a plastic drawer set.  For this master closet, floor space had been lost and surfaces were created which resulted in dumping clothes, rather than putting up clothes.  In addition the shelf, valet chair, and plastic drawers had resulted in adding more clutter.  What began with the best of intentions ended up creating more problems.

If an organization project does not include an attempt to change or modify behavior, as well as accounting for patterns of behavior, then it will not be completely successful.

This master closet measures 5'4" wide by 12' long, over 60 square feet total.  The walls are over 9 feet high. The door opens against a wall with only 4 inches behind it.


A wall of wire shelving lines the right wall.

On the back wall is a deep shelf unit covered in purses, scarves and canes.  The shelves are too deep and too tall.  Lining the top are shoe boxes containing more scarves, billfolds and other things. The left wall is covered with hats, jewelry, purses, and shoes, double stacked.

In the foreground draped by a black and white floral scarf is a 2 drawer shelf unit which has become a dumping ground for anything and everything.

A black basket filled with paperwork, etc, belongs in the home office. Behind it, nestled next to the deep shelves, is a CPU and travel bags.

The closet door opens in.  There is a mirror on the door.  Behind the door there is just enough space for  a tie rack.
Purses are double hung. Jewelry is tacked to the wall and hung on a valet chair.  The two drawer set, covered by the black and white fabric, holds "long term" storage. It's easier to toss clothes on these surfaces than put them away.
Shoes are doubled up or stuffed under hanging clothes, out of sight.  Purses and scarves are in a jumble. The shelves beyond hold seasonal clothes or seldom worn clothes. It's time to weed out some things and organize the rest.

Make room to walk.
Make purses accessible.
Get the shoes in one spot, in view.  Give each pair a space.
Toss some clothes.
Make a place for jewelry, hats and scarves.
Get junk out of the closet that doesn't belong there.
Accommodate the travel bags.

Create a seasonal swap out system.
Work around the "work clothes" toss.  Create a spot where around-the-house clothes can be placed.
Make a space for everything so that it's easy to put everything where it belongs.
Save money. Reuse and repurpose. Use what's on hand.

In order to make room to walk, the deep shelf unit, the valet chair, and the two drawer set were removed.
It was decided that the wire shelves on the right wall would remain in place. If it works, don't fix it.

Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum- the corners, the baseboards, the cobwebbed heights, the carpet, everything. And then vacuum again. The vacuum cylinder was cleaned out twice.  It's unbelievable how much dust, fibers, hair, etc. accumulates in closets.

Starting simply, the space behind the door was tackled.  Limited in depth, the tie rack would remain but would be moved lower.  An old cork board was brought out of storage and used to organize jewelry. Cup hooks would have worked nicely, but were unavailable. Picture nails were on hand. Staring with the largest and longest pieces, things were added to the board.  The advantage of a board is no more tangled necklaces.  It's also easy to see what you own. Nicer jewelry was stored in a jewelry box elsewhere.
A few pictures and postcards fill in the unused space.
Scarves were weeded through. 
The remining scarves were hung in row beside the jewelry board.

Because the shoes had taken up so much of the floor space, their placement was tackled next.  Using shelves and brackets on hand, the far corner opposite the door was chosen. Over thirty pairs of shoes were kept.  It was the shelf size that determined how the layout would work. 

These shelves are the basis for a permanent setup later when expenses allow some changes; but the layout will remain the same. 

When organizing shoes, first separate each person's shoes. Beginning with the largest, such as hiking boots or work boots, determine where the first layer will sit.  The height of the shelf above will be based on the tallest pair. Flat, low sandals were placed together on one shelf to save wall space. Similar styles and colors were placed together. High heels together. Tennis shoes together, etc. It's okay to keep shoes in boxes if you know what's inside.

Next, the collection of three dozen purses was tackled.  It was decided that everything would be kept.  The other big collection were the hats.  In the end, it just seemed easier to keep the hats and hat racks where they were.  So the purses were worked in under the hats.

When tackling the purses, it became apparent that there were mostly black and brown purses, then numerous assorted  colors. These were grouped first into black purses and brown purses. The largest were placed first at the lower parts and gradually smaller purses above. Of the colored purses, cloth bags were grouped and stiff ones together. To help purses keep their shapes, stuff with newspaper or cut-to-shape cardboard. Keep them zipped.  

For this homeowner, using different purses regularly meant creating a way to make it easier. An empty letter tray is used to store purse contents.  When returning home, the purse is emptied into the tray and then hung up.  This makes it easier to deal with receipts, replace used items such as tissue and meds, and gather loose change.  When choosing an outfit the next time, a purse is selected and filled.

So many purses!
No more double stacked purses.  Easy to get to. Easy to see. Each purse has its own hook.

Three inch screws are cheaper than 36 purse hooks. The screws are long enough to seat easily into a wall and adjustable according to the strap width.  After screwing it in, slip a pencil grip over the exposed screw area where the purse handle will hang. Cheap and easy to cut to size, pencil grips protect the handle and are a great money saver. 

The next step was the wall of wire shelves. The shelves remained in place. 

The shelves closest to the door are in season and most commonly worn.
They will be rotated out with what's on the long high shelf above, which holds out-of-season clothes.
A housecoat hangs on a convenient hook.

Wire shelves are great for forcing yourself to limit what goes in the closet.  If you use the separate spaces between wires, you can limit yourself to one hanger per space, leading to less clutter.  It means you'll have to bump what you store on the shelf back an inch or two, but it's worth the trouble for some people.

For the husband in this home, it's different. Taking behavior into account and using what is on hand, the far bottom rack of clothes is on a single closet rod.  These clothes are what the husband uses now, this season.  He hates the separate slot arrangement because he likes to flip through the shirts quickly, pushing clothes out of his way.  Above it are out-of-season clothes separated into the slots.  Seasons change and the clothes will be switched out.  
REMEMBER: When changing clothes out seasonally, take time to vacuum these hard to reach spots.

Originally it was thought that the space without a low hanging rack would be extended.  As clothes were tossed out, it was determined that there was enough hanging space. Several long dresses had to be accommodated and more importantly, those troublesome "house clothes" had to have a space.  Before reorganization, the house clothes were tossed on any surface.  So without a hanger as an option -old dogs, new tricks...-something else had to be devised.

Using what was on hand, three milk crates and a basket hold work-around-the-house clothes and house slippers.

Up top, the high shelves were put to better use.

Travels bags were stored inside a larger bag.  Extra hangers were hung. Boxes were stored at the 9 foot level. As for all those clothes on the deep shelf unit, some were tossed, some incorporated into current use areas, some were put up for seasonal storage on the second highest shelf.

At last! Room to walk.  A place for everything and everything in its place.


Make room to walk. -YES
Make purses accessible.- YES
Get the shoes in one spot, in view.  Give each pair a space. -YES
Toss some clothes. -YES
Make a place for jewelry, hats and scarves. - YES
Get junk out of the closet that doesn't belong there. -YES
Accommodate the travel bags. -YES

Create a seasonal swap out system. - DONE
Work around the "work clothes" toss.  Create a spot where around-the-house clothes can be placed. -DONE and happy to report it works!
Make a space for everything so that it's easy to put everything where it belongs. -DONE
Save money. Reuse and repurpose. Use what's on hand.- SUCCESS

No money was spent because we repurposed some things: milk crates, old shelving and brackets, a basket, a cork board, screws, pencil, grips...
The shoe shelves are laid out but incomplete, awaiting either money or inspiration on how to repurpose something else.  Sometimes temporary solutions are best for a large project.  If you wait until there's enough money for that fancy organization system, you may never start.  If the mood strikes, do it in part or in whole. Be willing to change your mind as you go.  After clearing out and cleaning up, you may not need everything you thought you would.
This project took two days.   Reaching overhead, stooping, lifting, and climbing up and down will take its toll.  Plan accordingly.

The shoe rack was completed after the reorganization. Built to fit into the space we had created, it was inexpensive but very functional: $8 in lumber plus use of existing shelves.

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