Clutter is out, organization is in- inside America’s homes. “Our frustration with clutter appears to be creating a growing trend toward a ‘place for everything and everything in its place’ movement,” says Paula Erickson, consumer affairs manager for Ace Hardware. Of all the areas of the house that seem to be the most troublesome when it comes to clutter, closets top the list. One reason may be that most closets are too small to hold the amount of things we put in them. Another problem is the fact that closets have doors- making it easy to hide the clutter.
The Origin of Clutter
Most experts will say that the problem isn’t any of the above. If you really take a good look at your closets you will see a lot of wasted space, especially at the top and bottom. And doors can only hide the clutter temporarily- sooner or later you are going to have to open the door and see the mess. According to Brian Kinkaid, a home organization expert at Rubbermaid, the battle to control clutter is won one step at a time and by having the right attitude and the right tools to help you organize. “Clutter is usually a result of disorganized space rather than insufficient space,” he says.
Christy Best, a professional organizer who has her own website, www.clutterbug.net, says surplus clothes and miscellaneous household items are the primary source of closet clutter. “We wear twenty percent of our clothes eighty percent of the time,” she says.
“That’s a lot of clothing in our closets that we’re not going to wear. Add that to the stuff that ends up in the closet because it just doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else and you’ve got a cluttered closet.”
So What’s the Solution?
First decide what you want to use the closet for- choose its function,this can be based on location. For example, a closet located between a kitchen and bathroom that currently has luggage, old clothes and boxes of photographs could be used instead to store linens for both kitchen and bath. Or if your family is into sports or gardening, designate a hall closet near the back door to store sporting equipment and gardening supplies. After deciding on the function of the closet, it’s time to clean it out. Start by weeding out the obvious items, things you haven’t worn or used in over a year, broken items that will never be repaired, and items don’t fall under the closet’s function. Keep in mind that articles that are destined for this particular closet are probably stored in other closets in other parts of the house. Go around to the other closets and pull out any articles that belong in the closet you are organizing. Do not attempt to organize more than one closet at a time, this will cause chaos. Just pull out the articles you need for this particular closet.
Kincaid suggests that if space is at a minimum, determine a second location for off-season clothing and items, such as the attic or basement. Store these items in a container that protects the contents from moisture and dust, such as a Rubbermaid Roughtote.
Planning a System
- Before installing shelves, make a list of what will go in the closet.
- Figure out what storage accessories you will require, like hooks or baskets
- Place drawers in the center so they don’t interfere with folding doors.
- Vinyl-coated and metal-wire products can be purchased at home center stores or closet companies. Wire products provide ventilation and easy viewing of the shelf’s contents.
- When organizing your closets think creatively; furniture doesn’t have to be used as the manufacturer intended. Put a bookcase in the closet instead of shelves. Use kitchen storage containers to hold socks, gloves, or pet toys. Place a lazy Susan on the closet shelf; it’s an easy, convenient way to locate items.
- Shoes can be a messy problem in a closet. Try stacking them in the boxes that they came in, then label them.
- Retail stores and catalogs specializing in storage products offer a selection of modular closet furniture that is designed to mix and match. These stacking units can help you to customize your closets to your needs. Items include two-and three- compartment cubes with drawers, vertical stackers and double-width shelves, available in a variety of natural wood finishes.
Once a closet has been uncluttered, the problem becomes keeping clutter from returning. Installing a system of shelves, drawers and pole at different heights will help. “The problem with cluttered closets is that they have a single shelf and a single pole,” says Ginny Scott, director of learning and development for California Closets, a franchise that designs and installs closet organizing systems all over the world. “That’s inadequate. Clothes come in different lengths and we need different types of storage.”
Keeping clutter at bay requires a change in mind-set, according to Christy Best.
“You can spend five thousand dollars on new shelving but all the storage solutions in the world won’t help you if you don’t get to the core of the problem: collecting clutter.”
Best says an effective tool in keeping a closet organized is a donation box. The box can be stored in any room, she says, but it’s important that every member of the houshold knows about it and contributes to it consistently. Make it a rule when something new comes in a similar item goes out.