Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Motivation: Time To Clean Out The Closets

I hope you are able to take advantage of the Monday Motivation schedule to clean through your whole house this year.  It's May so that means it's time to clean out the closets.  Here are the posts from May of 2011 to help you with that task. 

Monday Motivation: Working On The Closets

Whenever I do a consultation with a new client, I find that nine times out of ten they have messy closets. The rest of their home might be tidy, but their closets are a mess. Why? Because closets are behind doors. I guess you could say "out of sight - out of mind".

Where do we start? I recommend starting on your neatest closet. Yes, start on the least messy closet because it will be the easiest and quickest and will give you instant gratification and prompt you to keep going.

Here we go:

1. Prepare a clean area near your closet to place items you'll taking out of the closet. This will be your staging area.

2. Gather together these supplies:
a. Solid colored (so you can't see through it) garbage bag.
b. Box/container to hold items to sell or donate
c. Box/container to hold items that you want to keep but that don't belong in that particular closet.
d. Box/container to hold items that need to be returned to someone one or someplace else (library books, borrowed items, hand-me-downs etc.)
e. Vacuum cleaner, cleaning rags for cleaning off shelves and floor

3. Remove items from the top shelf.

4. Immediately throw away anything that is trash.

5. Sort items into the other boxes, keeping out only those items you love, will use, and have a purpose.

6. Set those "keepers" aside in your staging area, placing like items together. Don't place them back on the shelf yet because you might decide to store them differently.

7. Continue on with items on the hanging bar and/or other shelves, following steps 4-6.

8. When every item has been removed from the closet and sorted into piles in your staging area it is time to do a bit of cleaning. First, vacuum the whole closet and then wipe down the walls, shelves, and baseboards with a cleaning rag and household cleaner. If you're very ambitious, now would be a good time to paint the inside of the closet and maybe add a shelf or extra hanging rod.

9. Before placing your "keepers" back into the closet, revisit each sorted pile and notice how many of each item you own. The first time I did this process in my own closet, I discovered that I owned 9 white blouses. Who needs 9 white blouses? Not me! I sorted the pile and kept 2 long sleeve blouses, 1 sleeveless top, and 1 three quarter sleeved blouse. I donated the rest and never missed them. I also highly recommend that you try on any clothes you haven't worn in a while. You probably haven't worn them because you don't really like them, they don't fit perfectly, or they are the wrong color. If you're not sure about what to keep, ask a friend to help you. True friends don't let friends wear outfits that don't flatter them.

10. Place your newly sorted items back into the closet, placing like items together. Place longer hanging items along the side of the closet that is nearest a wall to keep the floor space available.

11. To keep items on the shelves accessible, store them in fabric boxes and treat them like drawers. Use a shoe shelf to keep shoes in good shape and convenient to grab quickly. Belts and scarves can be hung on hooks or hangers so you can see at a glance what you own.

12. Remember those boxes/containers you filled? Don't put them back into the closet!! Take the garbage bag directly to the garbage can to be disposed of. Put the box of donations directly into your car to drop off at the thrift store. If you've decided to have a yard sale, place that box in an out of the way room that you'll use to gather other yard sale items (I usually use my garage). Place items that need to be returned to other people or places in your vehicle and make time this week to return them.

13. Stand back and enjoy looking at your newly organized closet. Tomorrow morning, you'll enjoy getting dressed quickly, without having to search for missing items.

If you get stuck, shoot me an email and I'll walk you through it. If you have a difficult closet to tackle, let me know and we can brainstorm together to come up with solutions for you.

Monday Motivation: Closets Galore

Last year, when we talked about organizing closets, I got a lot of positive feedback about critiquing some closet pics I found online. It's tempting to want to copy professional ideas, but as we've all discovered, some of those ideas just aren't practical.

While exploring the web, I came across some pics that I thought would be fun to give my two cents of an opinion about. Feel free to add your ideas as well.

First up is a fun children's closet. This is a hanging system available in a specialty children's department. It could be easily duplicated with hanging bars and shelves found in the closet department of of Home Depot or even Walmart. I like the way the lower rod and shelves make the clothes accessible to the little ones. Maybe they'll want to put away their own clothes?

My opinion about this closet is biased because I have installed a few of these Closet Maid systems in client's closets. They are easy to plan out on the company's website and can be purchased at Home Depot and installed in a few hours. It can be customized and switched around easily as your needs change. See, I told you I was biased. (by the by, Closet Maid doesn't know I exist and they aren't paying me to say this)

I couldn't find a source for the products in this pic, but I know you can find similar items to create this closet from The Container Store. The shoe cubbies, hanging shelves, and "skinny" hangers are all great items for organized storage. Notice, too, how some items are rolled and stored. Not sure I would do it, but if my son would roll his T-shirts and put them on a shelf, I wouldn't complain!

I had to include this photo because. . . drool. I mean, what's not to love. Sunlight, color, spaciousness, and adorable little stool. Fun, fun, fun. I don't know anyone who has this much extra space in their home for a happy closet, but we can dream anyway! The only thing I don't like about this is the window. I love the look of the window, but windows in closets make me nervous - sunlight fades clothing. Just sayin'.


If you're in the market for a custom or semi-custom closet system, here are some of the companies I have used or have seen their products installed and in use.

So what's your two cents worth about these closets? Have you been working on your own closets? Do tell!

Monday Motivation: How Do I Decide What To Keep And What To Throw Away

If you've been hanging around this ol' blog for awhile, you know that I love to clean out closets. And as a Professional Organizer I love to help other people clean out their closets.

Whenever I help clients work in their homes, I have to put myself in their shoes and remember that they most likely Do Not Like To Clean Out Closets. That's why they need me. And actually, I don't clean out their closet for them. I coach them through it. It is impossible to clean out a closet for someone and have the closet stay organized and customized for that particular individual.

When I'm coaching clients through the purging part of cleaning out a closet, we invariably come across several items that are really tough to make a decision about. That where gentle prodding, perspective checking, and sometimes, tough love comes in. If you're working through your closets as part of the Monday Motivation schedule, then I hope you'll find this list of questions helpful in making those decisions.

As you pull items out of the closet, ask yourself these question:

1. Have I worn this item in the past few years? Set a time for yourself. Some people say 6 months, some say 5 years. I usually say 2 years and that works for me. The reasoning is that if you haven't worn it in awhile then it's not one of your favorite things and you'll probably never wear it. Give it away so someone can use it before it dry rots.

2. Do I have multiples of this item? How many white shirts do you have? Stacy and Clinton of What Not To Wear fame also tell their clients to get rid of items that are of the same style but different colors because they are too similar and predictable.

3. Does this clothing item look good on me? If you don't have a helper to give their opinion on the matter, then take a picture of yourself - the camera doesn't lie. Your closet should only contain what you love and what looks good on you.

4. Is the clothing item in style? Several years ago I helped a client who had lost close to 60 pounds. She was in fabulous shape. When we went through her closet, she had a hard time getting rid of her "fat" clothes because she had paid so much money for them. They were also 8 years old and terribly out of style. With tough love I told her that her body was too fabulous to hide behind those awful, saggy clothes. Those clothes were her old life - not her new, healthy life. She dumped them right in a bag and I whisked them off to the thrift store.

5. Do my shoes fit me? Are they in good shape? Really, life is too short to wear painful shoes. They will eventually cause some harm to your feet. Only wear what makes you feel good.

6. Do I have other clothing items to wear with this item? Do you have clothes you've never worn because you don't have anything to wear it with? It's time to let it go.

7. Where will I wear this? If you only imagine yourself wearing this clothing item for a fictictional occasion (like a hoped-for cruise or a in-your-dreams-hip-hop dance class) then it's time to let go of the dream and live in the present.

8. Is this item appropriate for me to wear? Just because you can squeeze your body into something does not mean you should. Just because you're 40 and you still have great looking legs doesn't mean you should wear the latest teen fashion. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. I know, I'm meddling now!

I hope you didn't mind this little bit of tough love! It's all for a good cause.

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