Nov20

Are You Wasting Closet Space? Short Answer: Yes

If I had to guess, I’d say cleaning out the closet is right up there with losing weight as one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions (not that we’re ready to think about that yet). And like shedding those last five pounds, organizing a closet is a lot tougher than it sounds — unless, of course, you’re Melanie Charlton.

As CEO and creative director of the high-end closet design company Clos-ette, she’s written the book on creating a functional, stylish closet. Literally. Considering the sorry state of my own closet, I picked her brain on everything from making the most of a small space to the best way to store shoes and accessories. Here are her must-follow tips.

  • Buy matching hangers. If you’re only going to do one thing, Charlton says, it should be this. Why? Uniform hangers save space and look clean, which are reasons enough to buy your favorite kind in bulk. Also make sure you’re using the right hanger for the job — coats, suits and some shirts require special ones.
  • Know when to fold them. That said, not everything belongs on a hanger. Plan on folding nearly all of your sweaters, especially if they’re made of finer cashmere or have beading or embellishments. Place acid-free paper in between sweaters for extra protection.
  • Organize clothes by separates and then by color. Charlton is a big believer in being able to open up a closet and see everything. Sorting clothes by type and then in blocks of color is a great way to achieve this. This visual merchandising trick makes finding what you want that much easier. It also helps if you don’t overstuff the hanging rod with clothes. A little breathing room between pieces goes a long way.
  • Use hardware. “There’s no such thing as a wasted wall,” Charlton says. Make awkward spots work for you by installing hooks and pegs in them and hanging belts, scarves, ties and other accessories.
  • Be smart about shoe storage. Most of us line up our shoes at the bottom of the closet and call it a day — until that neat line morphs into a big, confusing pile. Save yourself the headache — and create more storage space — by lining up shoes heel to toe right underneath your hanging clothes. Also ditch shoe boxes for a shoe shelf — it’s more functional, Charlton says.
  • Shelve handbags. Purses are notorious space hogs. Create more space for your collection by installing durable hanging shelves or adding acrylic dividers to a regular shelf. Then organize totes by size (large, small) and type (clutches, hobos).
  • Move seasonal stuff to an out-of-the-way spot. Overhead space, like very high upper shelves, is where Charlton likes to stash her clients’ out-of-season things. Be sure to store everything in clearly labeled boxes or baskets, so you can access it easily next year.

What’s your closet organization secret?

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow

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Bonnie Vengrow

is a sucker for pretty stationery, postmodern art, and any furniture with a claw foot. A lifelong neatnik, she's learning to embrace the cheerful chaos that comes with living in a New York City apartment with her husband, son and two pets.

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Joanne Lowery November 23, 2013 at 11:14 am

helpful thanks

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Anne December 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

My husbands side of the closet was looking really crowded. I started by just removing the empty hangers and couldn’t believe how much space that one simple step alone created on his side of the closet! We use the hangers from the dry cleaner… not fancy, but they take up little room, look consistent in the closets and can be recycled back to the dry cleaner when we have too many.

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Above & Beyond December 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Great idea to use dry cleaner hangers in your closet, Anne! They certainly are thin and practical. We like the way you think ;)

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