Open the Door to an Organized Closet
How to organize a closet to create
extra storage space
by Lorraine Brock
We all have areas in our homes we call storage space, but not all storage spaces are created equal. Some of us have an abundance of these hidden spaces that contain the things we need and value, while others torture themselves by trying to squeeze too many things into tiny storage spaces we call closets. When designing a home, many home builders focus more on the visual spaces such as a large kitchen or big bathrooms, when in fact the more important feature is the availability of closet space to allow families to store items they identify as valuable. On the other hand, many home buyers do not recognize the lack of storage space when making a home purchase. They see large bedrooms, high ceilings, and beautiful kitchens as their vision of the perfect home. When they attempt to put away their belongings and create functional spaces, they realize there is not enough storage space.
A few weeks ago I was visiting my niece after the birth of her baby. As usual, I asked them to come up with a few projects they would like me to do while I was staying in their home. A day into the visit, my niece took me down a long hallway and to a back room. It was set up as their home office and included a storage closet. I could tell that it had been some time since this space had any love and care. There were piles of unfiled papers, project items still in plastic bags, and loose family photos scattered around the room. While I had seen worse in my years as an organizer, it definitely needed to be purged, cleaned, and organized. I noticed right away that we did not have the supplies I needed to maximize the storage space, so I sent my niece shopping. The end result was a closet that had been over stuffed was now neatly organized with room to spare.
Excited about my niece’s closet, I drove straight home energized to organize my own coat closet. I assessed the current state of my closet, considered my ultimate goal, and planned my project. I did my shopping one day, put together a new shelf another day, then spent the final day organizing my closet. As a wife, mom, and business owner, I have to get creative when scheduling something new. If I can’t complete a project all in one day, I develop a plan to work on it a little at a time until it is finished. Keep in mind that this strategy works well with a few projects, but if you have too many you may become overwhelmed and wind up not finishing any of them.
Once I established my closet organizing plan, I took measurements of the space and made a list of the types of items I wanted to store in this particular closet. The list included winter scarfs, hats, gloves, umbrellas, a vacuum cleaner, and an area for items that need a place to stay until they go back to their owners. At this point I was ready to go shopping. The second day I spread my new products on the floor in my living room and brought in my tool box. I had purchased a set of ClosetMaid cubes to fit on top of the shelf already in the closet. I also purchased fabric cubes, a scarf organizer, and plastic labels to go over the edges of the fabric cubes. I opted to leave the existing hooks on the inside of the closet door instead of replacing them with a clear pocketed shoe organizer that could hold other small items.
With a set of instructions and my drill and mallet in hand, I put together the shelf. Based on the initial measurements of my closet space, I chose the ClosetMaid piece with six cubes. The six cubers (that’s what I call them) can be positioned vertically or horizontally. If you place the unit on high shelves where a person might be pulling items from it, be sure to anchor it to the wall with “L” brackets. You can find “L” brackets at the hardware store in a variety of sizes and metals. Two other tips to help with the assembly of furniture pieces like this cuber are making sure that the finished edges face the same way and to use a rubber mallet instead of a hammer to protect the surfaces of the panels. I personally use a mallet with a white head so as not to leave black marks on any surface.
The final day of my closet project was the most fun – organizing day. I took everything out of the closet and sorted the items into containers and piles of like items. In the process I found a glove with no match, four coats that were too small for my boys, and miscellaneous straps for items I had gotten rid of long ago. Once the closet was empty, I noticed rather quickly that the six cuber was not going to fit into the closet without removing the shelf and the hanging rod. I used my mallet (not a hammer) and knocked out the shelf and unscrewed the rod using my drill. When the shelf and rod were removed, my son and I wedged the cuber into the closet. While one of us held the heavy shelf up high against the wall, the other one replaced the shelf underneath it. Once the original shelf was back in place, the six cuber rested on top of the shelf where it would stay. This process took both of us in a small closet with elbows in each other’s faces, saying “hurry, hurry, this is heavy, get this end, grab that end, watch your head”, but working as a team and getting it done. Now I could designate a home within the closet for all the items I took out, label the fabric cubes, hang the scarves, and then with a smile on my face, close the door on this project, ready to start another.
Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of Get Organized!. Get Organized! is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. Get Organized! specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management. A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more information about Lorraine, visit http://www.getorganized.ws/.