Condo Blues: How to Organize Your Closet and Clothes in Three Easy Questions

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How to Organize Your Closet and Clothes in Three Easy Questions

I am convinced bedroom closet organizers are made for tall people. If you are short forget it. You are doomed to live in messy and unorganized squalor.

how to organize a closet in three easy questions

Or at least it feels that way to this short person.

I loved our Elfa closet system when we first installed it. Husband and I can share a closet and not fight over space. It the custom design works but we later learned it sorta doesn’t. 

The part of the closet system that organizes our clothing works although the top clothes rod in both of our sections is a little high for me to reach.  Unfortunately they automatically put the storage shelves that are supposed to hold my purses and accessories above the clothing rods. That doesn’t work well if you are 4’11’’ and like to change accessories frequently.

The result? A pile of purses on the closet floor.

messy closet BEFORE
My purse with my keys are somewhere in this pile.

The same goes for the shelves in my armoire. I Sky Hook my clothes onto the upper shelves when I don’t want to dig out the step stool.

amiore BEFORE
Armoires allow us to store all of our clothes in one place and in a smaller footprint than a dresser or chest of drawers. It is helpful since we don’t have room for off season clothing storage.  From past experience, the minute I put the winter clothes away, we will need them again because Springtime in Ohio often means we experience all four seasons in a single day.

I need to find a way to get this mess organized in a way that works for me. I applied the ideas from my Condo Blues post How to Organize Your Garage In Three Simple Questions to help me reorganize my bedroom closet and clothing storage.

I have a history of buying organizers I think will work without thinking it through or taking measurements. I end up taking more trips to the store as I’m buying, trying, and returning things until I find the perfect combination.

I find if I sort, group, and declutter my items first I have a better handle on what organizers I need to buy in one trip to the store, not 20. I asked myself:

1. Why aren’t my current organizers working? What changed since I first used them?

Answer: The solid shelf dividers aren’t as deep as the armoire shelves and things flop over. My purses and tote bags are stored in a pile o the floor because the shelves were they are supposed to live are too high for me to reach. My scarves keep falling from their hangers and onto the purse pile. There are other issues but these are the most pressing.

2. Is there anything glaringly obvious I can get rid of (donate) that will make the job easier?

Answer: Another part of my problem is digging though clothes that don’t fit to find the ones that do.I made a donate pile as I sorted and organized. I have four bags of clothing, shoes, and accessories ready to take a trip to the thrift store. Yay!

3. Where should I create new and workable storage zones based on everything I learned in Questions 1 and 2?

Answer: Keep reading for clothing storage ideas using things you might already own!

How to Organize a Clothing Armoire

I pulled everything off the armoire shelves,made piles of like items (jeans, t shirts, sweaters, etc.) I made a small Repair pile and only added to it after some tough love on whether I really would repair the item or not because there is no sense in adding to the clutter around my sewing machine. I added to a donate pile as needed. 

how to sort closet clutte
I was on a roll during the clothing sort and didn’t take a photo. This is a photo of the closet accessory sort.

Until I can find a long, narrow, and deep storage bin with an open front so I can see what is in the bins on the upper shelves, I am experimenting with cutting boxes to the size and shape I think I want.

diy armoire organziers
Organize my shorts!

I put some of my tote bag stash to work on the top shelf to hold sweaters after I ran out of boxes. I like how the closed fronts look but pulling bags off the shelf and digging through it for the item I want to wear is a pain.

organized armoire AFTER
Organized armoire AFTER with room to grow.

I cut drawer dividers from foam core I got from the Waste Not Center. I am trying a new fold to keep my unmentionables neat. Chinese takeout containers corral those weird little no show and half socks that refuse to be tamed by traditional drawer organizers.

DIY dresser drawer organizers
If the temporary drawer dividers keep me organized, I’ll cut new ones from cedar planks.

How to Organize a Closet With Things You Already Have

I kept the configuration of our Elfa closet system. It works well for the His and Hers clothes. I tweaked how I use it to organize my accessories.

The upper shelves of our closet organizer are now dead to me. I use those shelves hold boxes full of family things I want to keep.

After a purge, I hung my hung my purses, tote bags, and backpack on hangers in the unused back corner of my lower clothes rod. Originally I was going to use the Buzzfeed trick of organizing my purses with shower curtain rings but the spare shower curtain hangers I have are the wrong kind. Clothes hangers it is then.

how to organize purses
Hang time!

The Purse Mountain Basket now holds my in use purse and tote bags (I have a separate totes for dance and swimming.) No more digging through a a pile of stuff to find my purse and workout totes!

totebag storage

My scarves frequently fell off their organizer no matter what kind I used. I tied my scarves a hangers with a half knot. My scarves haven’t fallen off their organizer into a pile on the floor. It isn’t pretty, but I’m calling it an organizational win.

no slip scarf organizer
I needed three hangers to organize my scarves by type and color.
This is the pashmina hanger.

My next step is to live with the temporary organizers for awhile. The think the real test will be trying to keep the shelves above my eye and at my forehead level neat in the armoire. If the proof of concepts work, then it will be time to look for/build a more durable and prettier prototype from cedar for extra moth protection.

How do you keep yourself organized? How did you get that way?

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