Pinterest has tons of images of perfectly organized, bedroom-sized closets – making it seem like such rooms are commonplace. Unfortunately, for most of us, the best closet we have is a standard walk-in or at worst, no closet at all. Lack of space doesn’t mean that you can’t have the benefits of a beautiful and functional clothing storage. Amanda LeBlanc, personal organizer and spokesperson for custom closet maker Organized Living, walks us through how to deal with a small closet space. Her tips on how to fit all your shoes, what to do if your bedroom has no closet, and how to keep it neat after it’s organized are just what you need!
SB: Many women only have a small reach-in closet. What is the most effective way to store shoes in a situation like this?
AL: Always place shoes heel-to-toe next to one another so you have more space, width-wise, on a shelf. Storing shoes this way also helps you find shoes quicker. For instance, if you have several pairs of black shoes with different heels, you can see both the front and the back of the shoe to allow you to choose the right one. What about tall boots? If you have the ability to hang them use boot savers to hang boots. If you’re storing them on a shelf, roll up a magazine and place one inside each boot to keep the shape for longevity.
SB: What if my bedroom doesn’t have a closet? Are there any ways to use an alcove or blank wall for my clothing storage?
AL: Sure. There are rail-based storage systems that don’t require you to mount to side walls. The entire system mounts to the back wall. I like rolling garment racks, too. They’ve really come a long way and you can even find cool, decorative racks with shelves to store shoes.
SB: Are there any semi-permanent closet storage systems that can be installed in an apartment?
AL: Yes. Again, the rail-based storage systems are great. For instance, I use Organized Living freedomRail in these cases because you can install a 72” system and it only requires about six screws to install the entire system.
SB: City apartments can be TINY and sometimes there is barely any room for a dresser. Are there any alternatives or creative ways to store underwear, socks, and other garments that are usually folded?
AL: When you’re lacking square footage, you have to be creative. Try using shallow drawer units that fit under a bed. Keep items separated inside with spring loaded drawer dividers. They’re removable and incredibly easy to use.
SB: If I’m going to splurge on an organizational item for my closet, what’s my best bet?
AL: Shelving – especially if you don’t have enough square footage. Adjustable shelves allow you to use your vertical space to maximize square footage. Plus, you can use them to customize your closet to your needs.
SB: What’s the key to making sure a closet stays neat after the initial organization?
AL: Really, it’s knowing how much a closet can hold. If your closet holds 100 hanging items and you have 120, it can’t be organized. It’s also about aesthetics. If your closet looks great, you will enjoy the space and be more likely to keep it organized. Try matching hangers, pretty side hooks and painting the walls, to start with.
SB: How can I calculate how much my closet can hold?
AL: Use 1” of space per shirt. Skirts that are stored on a clip hanger and pants that are folded over a pant bar require 2-2 ½” per garment.
Female shoes stored toe-to-heel take up about 7” of space on a shelf per pair, while men’s shoes take up about 8-9” per pair.
SB: What’s the most common organizing mistake you encounter?
AL: Buying products without knowing what your true organizing needs are. You might have good intentions, but if you’re not sure how you’re going to use storage products, instead of helping you get organized, they really just add more clutter.
SB: What do you wish more people would try when it comes to closet organization?
AL: Closets are an extension of your home. You use the space at least twice a day, every day. So I challenge my clients to think about its aesthetic elements. This can be done on any budget. Use removable wallpaper in the space. There are fresh new patterns that are easy to apply and remove. You don’t have to do the entire closet, just the back wall to keep costs down. Matching wooden hangers can be bought in bulk. This immediately makes a closet look clean and organized and like your very own clothing boutique.
SB: What’s your favorite way to deal with a closet that has a lot of clothes and just a little bit of space?
AL: Decluttering is always the first step. Many times if a closet is overstuffed, you might be overlooking great outfits because you can’t find them.