I recently helped my friend, Beth, with a closet organizing project. Beth and I used to teach together – she first grade and I second. Beth was the most organized teacher at our school. I was in awe of her classroom organization and the way she managed all the paperwork teachers have to do, and I copied her every chance I got! Seven years ago, Beth started grad school, got married, and bought a house in the span of one year. When she and her husband moved into their house in an older Houston neighborhood, she filled all but one bedroom closet with her trademark organization systems. Then she had kids.
Currently she has a small walk-in closet in the master bedroom for her wardrobe, including shoes, handbags, and jewelry. This is what her closet looked like before we started working:
Look at her shoes! I told you she was organized. 😉
If Beth wanted to work out, go swimming, or wear a scarf, she was out of luck, because she couldn’t open any of these drawers.
First, we took all her clothes out of the closet and piled them on her bed.
Then we pulled out everything that was on the floor. We left the shoes on the top shelves.
I forgot to take pictures of the empty closet – oops!
I explained the KonMari method of decluttering which follows one simple rule: keep only that which brings you joy. This is a shift from other decluttering systems, which usually have a set of rules, like get rid of everything you haven’t worn in a year; put items you’re not sure about in a box, and if you haven’t worn them in a month, donate them; and break up the project into short bursts instead of tackling the whole thing at once. Those rules seem like good guidelines, but they often backfire, because you hold onto things you that don’t bring you joy. You think you’ll wear that size 6 skirt again…someday. You feel guilty about getting rid of the sweater your mom gave you for Christmas. You spent a lot of money on something, and it feels wrong to discard it. When you focus on whether something brings you joy, you are deciding what to keep, not what to get rid of, and you start to build a closet full of clothes you love and will actually wear.
Like many women, Beth has clothes that don’t suit her current lifestyle: “going out” clothes she wore when she was single, dresses she bought for her honeymoon, and professional attire from when she was an assistant principal. As a work-at-home-mom – she’s the creator of Kid Fun Houston, a website that offers a variety of information about things to do with kids in the Houston area – she needs cute and comfortable clothing that works for every day, date nights with her husband, and dinner with her girlfriends.
It was pretty easy for Beth to let go of clothes she knew didn’t fit or were from her “old” life, but she had a harder time when it came to clothes on which she spent a lot of money that still had tags on them. I reminded her of the spark joy rule, and she was able to say goodbye to most of those garments. We went through her clothes in about an hour and then tackled the swimsuits, workout clothes, accessories, shoes. Now a seasoned discarder, she pared down those categories like a champ!
One of the challenges Beth has is that there is only one miscellaneous storage closet in her house, and it’s already full. I wouldn’t let Beth put anything back into her bedroom closet that she wouldn’t put on her body, so that meant we had to find other places for spools of ribbon, throw pillows, mementos, and photography equipment. I did let her keep a few non-wardrobe items in the closet, which you’ll see in a minute. I’m not a total meanie!
While Beth wrangled the pile of leftover hangers, I hung everything back in the closet. Marie Kondo recommends hanging heavy clothes on the left, rising to light clothes on the right. I hung her blazers and sweaters, then her long-sleeved blouses, her short-sleeved shirts, and finally her sleeveless tops. The colors go from dark to light within each category: black, grey, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, ivory, and white.
I didn’t do the rising line on the left side because it made more sense to hang the longer, formal dresses at the back and rise up to the pants on hangers at the front.
I put the remaining shoeboxes on the left side and moved the drawers back to their original places.
I allowed a few things that don’t belong in a clothes closet – the empty shoe boxes on the right and her monogramming and sewing machines on the left. We’re going to tackle the hall closet next, and I’m confident we’ll make some room for those things.
We filled up a lot of trash bags for donation!
This project took about three hours while Beth’s kids were in school. Now she has a functional wardrobe hanging in a closet into which she can actually walk, so getting dressed in the morning will be a breeze! The next step in creating a wardrobe she’ll love is to determine her body type and underlying skin tone, which will guide future purchases. I can’t wait to work with her again!
If you live in the Houston area and would like me to help you declutter your wardrobe, organize your closet, and put outfits together, click this link to find out about my closet organizing services. I’d love to help make getting dressed every day a pleasure instead of a chore!