Organizational tools, tips, and tricks have become a thing. From the best way to fold your clothes to the neatest way to label your cereal, finding a place for every item in your household is not as easy as it appears. And when it comes to your closet, emotional attachments to past purchases can make systematic structure seem almost impossible.
And maybe that’s why Marie Kondo says tidying up is like magic. It takes a whole lot of abracadabra to make it all work. But at the end of the day, a clean closet where everything has its own place elicits a calm that is well worth the pain of the purge. So, whether you find this process enjoyable or not, here are some very practical and applicable steps to make organizing your closet a cathartic experience.
Step one: take everything out
The first step in the organizational process is seeing what you actually have to organize. Take every item out of your closet and dresser and assess each piece. In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo uses this practice to ensure her clients handle each piece of clothing they own. Her secret to success is to “start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely in one go.”
Grotto has a full set of tips on how to purge your closet of clothes on a seasonal basis, but Kondo also asks her readers to consider if an item sparks joy. This is a wonderful way to consider the usefulness of a piece of clothing, or any other item, really. If something does not bring a sense of happiness to you or anyone else in your family, then it’s time to discard. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but if it doesn’t bring about joy, will you even use it? Ultimately, this process of elimination will help narrow down items to keep and items to donate or toss.
Step two: find systems
After you have selected the items you want to keep, you may notice that you have far fewer items than you thought. This is a good thing — keeping only the clothes you love and wear makes the organization process far more successful. The next step on this organizational journey is to find systems to organize your items.
Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, owners of the organizational company, The Home Edit, rule when it comes to storage solutions. In an interview with Domino magazine, Clea finds that people often confuse cleaning up with organizing. She says, “If you just clean up a room, it goes right back to being a mess. But if you spend the time to put systems in place, you can sustain the organization long-term.”
This is terrific advice for achieving and maintaining an organized closet. Purchasing a shoe rack where you consistently place your sneakers and work shoes is a system that will keep your shoes off the floor. An over-the-door shoe holder with clear pockets is another way to store jewelry or smaller items that clutter the tops of dressers and bathroom sinks. Additionally, bins, whether plastic or metal, can help group together accessories like socks or stockings without taking up too much space in the closet. Drawer dividers and hooks are staples when it comes to maximizing space. Dividers compartmentalize large drawers that hold many things, while hooks keep things hanging in one place, like purses, ties, and even belts.
Find systems that work for you and your lifestyle in order to maintain your new organizational habits. Baskets are always the real secret to success — not only do they look neat, but they also can store a lot, from sweaters to scarves.
Step three: store it the right way
Now that you’ve purged, processed, and put systems into place, the next step is to store your items the right way. The way in which you hang up your clothes or fold them in drawers cannot only increase your storage, but also resolve any storage issues you may have had in the first place.
Marie Kondo highly recommends folding items into rectangular shapes, then laying them accordion-style (fold side up) in your drawer for maximum efficiency. If utilizing your closet will help keep your space better structured, though, then try to categorize your clothing — hang pants together with pants, jeans together with jeans, shirts together with shirts, etc. Color families are also important. If you can keep all items in their categories based on color, you will be more visually organized too.
Whether your closet is the size of a postage stamp or you’re working with a department store floorplan, it’s important to practice and maintain the good organizational habits you’re creating.
There is a sense of freedom that comes with the territory of organizing, especially when it comes to purging your closet. Taking the time to streamline your belongings, while also getting rid of unwanted items is good for the soul.