Closet Organizing: Susan’s Closet

Closet Organizing Susan's Closet

I’m in Seattle, visiting my sister and her family. They live in a 108-year old farmhouse in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seattle, and there is very little closet or storage space. All the upstairs closets are under the eaves, which makes them particularly tricky to organize. To top it off, her closet is actually in my niece’s room, and my niece’s hanging clothes are in her brother’s room! Susan really wanted my help redoing her closet, so while my brother-in-law took my niece and nephew out-of-town, we tackled the closet clutter.

I reorganized her closet a couple of years ago, before Marie Kondo’s book made its way to the States. I hung dresses and scarves on the left; pants, skirts, and tops in the middle; and sweaters and jackets on the low bar to the right. She’s added many pieces to her wardrobe since then, but because of the awkward layout, it’s hard to put everything back where it belongs.

Susan Closet Before 1

There are shelves at the end of the long rod, one above the window and a couple below. You have to hunch over to get to them.

Susan Jackets Before

Last time, I put her shoes on the shelves behind the clothes rod, but I didn’t want to do that again. Discarding everything before we put it back in the closet helped me figure out what to do with them.

Susan Hanging Clothes Before

You can see some shoes peeking out from behind the clothes; the shoes she really wears are in piles in front of her clothes.

Close Up of Shoes

Susan Closet Up of Shoes and Jackets Before

She keeps her folded clothes in this chest and in the Elfa shelves in her bedroom.

Susan Dresser and Elfa Shelf Before

Susan Elfa Shelf Before

We started by taking everything out of the closet.

Clothes on Bed

Pile of Shoes Before

See what I mean about this awkward space?

Empty Closet Before

Looking Down at Empty Closet

I explained the KonMari Method to her, and then we started going through the piles. She’s very analytical, so it took a few minutes for her to tune into her joy meter, but once she connected to her feelings about her clothes, she quickly decided what to keep and what to discard. These are the clothes and shoes she kept:

Clothes and Shoes Susan Kept

All of this went to the donation bin:

Susan's Donation Piles

While Susan went through her dresser and Elfa shelves, I hung up all the clothes and put away the shoes.

I did the dresses first. I hung the maxi dress at the far left, then the long-sleeved, short-sleeved, and sleeveless dresses from dark to light (black, grey, brown, ROY G. BIV*, and white/cream.)

Susan Dresses

She has such pretty dresses!

Side View of Dresses cropped

I repeated the hanging order for the jackets and sweaters…

Jackets and Dresses

… and did the same for the tops. Our tastes are really similar, which is funny, because it wasn’t always that way. We both like soft, unstructured tops in vibrant prints; neutral pants, mostly black, denim, and white; colorful, patterned dresses; and winter clothes in solid colors. Neither of us wear skirts, although I do have a couple of maxis.

Dresses, Jackets, and Tops

I hung pants and outer wear on the low bar. I decided not to put anything she wears regularly behind the clothes, so the only items on the shelves are her golf clothes, hats, and golf shoes. I like the boots and shoes where they are; I think it’s a good use of the space. Flip flops are in the straw basket on the floor.

Large View of Hanging After no scarves

In my opinion, the most important thing to do when organizing your wardrobe is to make sure everything is visible. Stacking, piling, and shoving clothing, shoes and accessories into tight spaces is what leads to the “problem” of having nothing to wear. When you can easily find something you truly love and are happy to wear, getting dressed in the morning is a breeze!

These are the scarves she decided to keep. I threaded them through the holes in the scarf hangers and hung them between her pants and coats.

Scarves on Bed

Pants, scarves, and jackets after

Winter hats and gloves, a belt, and a few purses fit perfectly on the shelf above her clothes.

Cloeup of Top Shelf

Before and After Susan's Closet 2015

I love the way Susan’s closet looks now. When my brother-in-law saw it, he said, “It’s like she has a whole new wardrobe!” Her clothes look so pretty, and everything is accessible – I think it will be easy for her to put her clothes and shoes back where they belong. The only thing I need to do is switch all the hangers to these velvet suit hangers from Amazon:

Velvet hangers

I really enjoyed working with my sister to create this beautiful, functional space, and I hope she likes using her closet as much as I liked helping her put it together!

*ROY G. BIV is an acronym teachers use to help kids learn rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

For information about my closet organizing services, click here.

Closet Organizing: Kelle’s Closet

Closet Organizing Kelle's Closet

My friend, Kelle, asked me to help her declutter and organize her closet. Kelle is a wife, mom to two boys, and owner of Crafty Kelle, a party planning and design business. She has a large walk-in closet that she shares with her husband, Chris, and she wanted to go through her wardrobe, get rid of outdated clothes, and change the look of her side to make it more feminine. Kelle’s closet is already organized, with dedicated places for tops, pants, shoes, and dresses. She has lingerie, workout clothes, t-shirts, and shorts in the drawers; there is plenty of room in this closet for her wardrobe.

Tops and pants before

Shoes before

Dresses before

Drawers beforeYes, that’s a cowboy hat. We are in Texas, after all.

We started by removing everything from the hanging rods and piling it on her bed.

Kelle Empty TopsKelle Clothes on Bed

Using Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method, Kelle picked up each item, asking herself if it sparked joy. This is different from traditional decluttering methods because Kelle had to decide what to keep in her closet, which is a higher bar than deciding what to discard. Like most of my clients, Kelle had questions about what to do with items that weren’t clear joy-sparkers:

  • What do I do with something I don’t wear but has sentimental value?
  • What do I do with this top/dress/skirt that I love but no longer fits?
  • What do I do with something I haven’t worn that still has tags on it?

Clothes should fit well, look great on you, and make you happy. A dress with sentimental value (like the red dress with matching shoes and purse Kelle’s future husband gave her ten years ago) might make you happy, but if it doesn’t fit and/or it’s outdated, it’s taking up space in your closet that should be reserved for current items.

When you pick up an item you love that’s too small, it’s tempting to keep it in case you can wear it again. Resist the urge! If you lose weight and can wear that size again, you’ll probably want to buy something new, not wear something you bought five years ago. Clothes that don’t fit take up valuable closet and mental space – every time you see the jeans that are too small, you’ll feel a twinge of regret, taking away from the joy you should feel when you look at your wardrobe.

One of the hardest things to discard when cleaning out your closet is clothes that still have tags on them – the dress you bought to wear to a wedding, but you ended up wearing something else; the top you loved in the store, but you couldn’t find anything in your closet to wear with it; the shirts that were on sale, so you bought them in several colors – it seems like a waste of money to get rid of them, but keeping them out of guilt isn’t good either!

It’s hard to let go of things we think we should keep, but if we consider whether something truly sparks joy, it’s easier to decide if it deserves a place in our wardrobes. When you have a hard time letting go of something, Marie Kondo recommends thanking it for its service and releasing it to a new owner who will use and cherish it. After working through each item in her closet, Kelle had a pile of clothes to keep (on the bed) and a pile of clothes to donate (foreground):

Kelle Discard Pile 3

Then we put everything back in her closet in neatly organized sections:

Kelle Dresses After

Kelle Shoes After Kelle Tops and Pants After

I followed Marie Kondo’s recommendations for hanging clothes:

  • hang heavier fabrics on the left, lighter on the right
  • hang clothes from longest to shortest
  • hang clothes from dark to light colors (black, grey, and brown clothes on the left, then rainbow (ROY G. BIV*) order, then off-white and white)
  • clothes should rise up in length from left to right, which is pleasing to the eye

After Kelle and I sorted through everything and hung it up, we noticed a few trends. First, she likes soft, unstructured tops in black, navy blue, and white/cream with touches of pink, coral, green, and lavender. She doesn’t have a lot of clothes in heavy fabrics; light-weight fabrics under a coat or jacket is fine for Houston in the winter. Second, she wears pants, mostly jeans, but not skirts. And third, she likes maxi dresses and short dresses in the same color palette as her tops. She also tried on a bunch of shorts (not pictured) and discovered that all the ones she loved are from White House Black Market. Cleaning out her closet clarified her style and preferences, which will make it easier when we go shopping to fill in gaps in her wardrobe.

Kelle Dresses Before and After Kelle Shoes Before and After Kelle Tops and Pants Before and After

We’ve spent about three hours on the project so far; we still need to go through her jewelry, remove everything that doesn’t belong in the closet, and fancy up the space a little bit. I can’t wait for the next step!

*ROY G. BIV is an acronym teachers use to help kids learn the colors in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

To be continued…

For information about my closet organizing services, click here.

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Halfway There, Part 2

I’m halfway through my KonMari journey. It’s been a rewarding process, and I’m eager to finish so I can enjoy a clutter-free home. (You can read part one of this post here.) I’ve completed clothes, books, papers, and bath and beauty products; I have a lot of komono, or miscellaneous items, left, including the kitchen, home and office supplies, general home decor, and seasonal decor. Before I tackled the remaining categories, I had to do something about my second bedroom/office, which I use as a sitting room. It’s a catch-all for everything I have to put away quickly when tidying up for guests or right before my housekeeper comes. I can’t wait until I can enjoy reading and watching TV in this room!

I decided to take everything out of the closet, console, and etagere and sort it into plastic bins by category. Then, when I get to home supplies, office supplies, the kitchen, etc., I can grab that bin and sort it with the other items in that category. Here’s what they looked like before:

Closet CollageThis has been a thorn in my side for so long! I tried to store things in an orderly manner, but nothing ever seemed right. One of the things Marie Kondo says in her book is that your possessions will tell you where they want to go; you just have to listen to them. Now that I’ve had some experience with her method, I understand what she means. One of the reasons I’ve kept my KonMaried spaces tidy is that everything is in its right place. I really hope listening to the closet, shelves, and drawers in this room works, too!

The drawers are a mishmash of pens, business cards, tape (why can’t I ever find tape when I have several rolls in these drawers?) and old reading glasses, which I no longer need because I have a prescription for both far- and nearsightedness now.

Drawer close upI took everything out of the drawers and cabinet and sorted it into the bins.

Empty drawers

Bins labeledI did the closet next.

Empty closetI thought I was finished, but then I closed the door.

Behind the doorSee all that Tupperware? I ordered it from my friend, Robin but never washed and put it away in the kitchen. This is why I need the life-changing magic!

Everything sorted with dogs

Now that I’ve sorted everything into bins, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the komono. 

Tidying Up Komono List 5 checked

In her book, Marie says it’s not necessary to do komono in order, especially if you live alone. I don’t have much electrical equipment, I purged my kitchen a couple of months ago when I was following another organizing program, and my household supplies are minimal. I’m saving the kitchen for last because it will be pretty easy for me to re-declutter.

I think home decor probably falls into “other” on the list. I listened to my house, and it told me that I should do Christmas decorations, then all other holiday and seasonal decorations, then general home decorations, including knick knacks, vases, candles, jars, bowls, and serving pieces, so that’s what I plan to do.

Most of the things in those categories are in my garage, and although I’m not looking forward to working in my garage in a Houston summer, I am eager to check off decorations on my list. Once I finish going through those, I can quickly complete the other categories and move on to sentimental items, which is the last KonMari category.

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Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Halfway There, Part 1

After facing - all tops ver 2

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, p.182

I’m about halfway through the process of tidying my house according to Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingI’ve done clothes, accessories, books, paper, and bath and beauty products. I’m working on komono, which Marie defines as miscellaneous items, including office supplies, kitchen supplies, electronics, and utility items.

Books on nightstand after

Marie Kondo developed the KonMari Method of decluttering in Japan; her book was recently translated from Japanese into English, and it has quickly become one of the most popular organizing books in the United States. KonMari is more than just another organizing program. Marie asks her clients and readers to rethink their attachment to possessions. She believes that when your home is filled with things you love, stored sensibly and neatly, your whole life changes. It’s absolutely crazy to say this, but I think she’s right.

The KonMari Method of decluttering is quite simple:

  1. tidy by category, not location
  2. keep only the things that bring you joy
  3. discard completely before organizing

Makeup close up

The life-changing magic occurs when you release things that aren’t useful anymore or make you feel sad, guilty, or embarrassed and embrace things that make you feel good about who you are and what you are doing with your life.

The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life. The yardstick by which you judge is your intuitive sense of attraction, and therefore there’s no need for complex theories or numerical data [about how many of each item you should keep/discard.] pp. 64-65

Like many people, I have a home full of stuff. I thought I had a manageable amount of stuff, but the more I tidy, the more I realize I have many things I don’t need, want, or use. I’ve held onto things because they have sentimental value or I might need them someday or I spent money on them and to give them away would be a waste. I have five closets and a garage filled with stuff that makes me feel sad or guilty every time I see it. That’s no way to live!

When I first heard about the KonMari Method, I visualized what it would be like to touch everything in my house, from the top of the entry way closet to the bottom of the bathroom cabinet, and decide whether or not it brought me joy. I just knew it was the right way for me to go through all of my belongings once and for all.

Close up of white shelf

Of course, when someone introduces a new idea, there is the inevitable backlash. Some people confuse KonMari with minimalism or think it’s just about being extremely neat. Others think it’s too time-consuming and impossible to do if you have a family. KonMari isn’t about getting rid of everything you have and living an austere existence. It’s not about turning your family into a platoon of tiny tidy-ers (although, that may have its benefits!) It’s about choosing to surround yourself with things that are beautiful and useful and bring a smile to your face when you see them.

When you discard everything that doesn’t bring you joy, you have room for what does. You find a place for everything you own, and, because there is room to breathe in your cabinets, closets, and shelves, you don’t have to shove things into an already-crowded space, which leads to more calm in your home and in your mind. As a fellow KonMari adventurer said, we don’t have a storage problem, we have a stuff problem.

The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past. p.183

I’ve already experienced the life-changing magic in my master suite. I’ve completely sorted through my bedroom, bathroom, and closets. My bedroom furniture, which I bought last summer, brings me so much joy I’m actually making my bed every morning. My bathroom contains only the products I use. My clothes are hung beautifully in one closet, and my lingerie, socks, and t-shirts are neatly folded in my spacious dresser – one drawer is even empty! I keep my Stella & Dot samples in the second closet. This week, I went through everything, choosing which items to sell in my sample sale and arranging the items I’m keeping in trays. When I get dressed in the morning, it’s like I’m walking into a boutique, with beautiful clothes and accessories picked just for me!

S&D Closet

Almost everything in my bedroom is perfect now – it’s the craziest thing to walk through the door, knowing there is no clutter! There are some things I’d like to change – the duvet and pillow shams don’t bring me joy – and I want to remodel my bathroom someday, but for now, everything is as it should be. Freed from disorder, guilt, and sadness, my mind can imagine a life in which my home supports me instead of weighing me down.

Before I move onto the next komono, I have to do something about my second bedroom, which I use as a sitting/TV room. It’s a catch-all for the miscellaneous items I can’t put away because my cabinets, chests, and closets are already full, so I don’t really enjoy being in there. I have a plan for what to do with all of it, and I’ll share it with you in my next blog post, appropriately titled Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Halfway There, Part 2. :)

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Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Sock Folding

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo has overtaken my life (in a good way!) Her magical tidying method has changed how I feel about my home and the things in it, and I love sharing my KonMari journey with you. (You can read my introduction and other posts in the series here.)

Folding clothes is an important part of Marie Kondo’s method. I wrote about KonMari folding here, but I found another way to fold socks that may work even better. It’s still the same idea – you fold your socks so they can stand up in a drawer – but the process is slightly different. It’s sock origami, and it works for long socks and short running socks.

This video from Northwest Edible Life shows how to fold long socks:

So much better than rolling them up and stretching the opening of one sock over the the ball!

Many people wear short socks for exercising, and the traditional KonMari folding method won’t work. One of the members of my KonMari Adventures Facebook group (it’s a closed group, but you can ask to join) shared this picture of how she folds her short socks:

How to KM fold short socks

Genius! It is easy to fold your socks the KonMari way – I promise! – and your drawers will look so tidy, you’ll want to keep them that way.

Happy folding!

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