by Kristen Bagwell

I am a closet nut…meaning that I love an organized closet, not that I am a nut and no one knows. (Pretty much everyone knows.) I honestly believe that if you get dressed every day in a messy closet, the rest of your day will be a mess as well. If you’re a Clean House fan, I am not as strong in my convictions as Trish Suhr, but I do love a clean closet.

With that said, though, it is hard to share a closet with someone else, and it’s also very hard to keep a child’s closet organized. There are just too many things, and they get outgrown so quickly! If you’re in the midst of “changing seasons” in your closets this weekend like we are, here are five easy tips that may help.

Keep your seasons separate
If you don’t have enough space to remove your summer or winter clothing at end of season, try to create a separate space in the closet for your off-season items. Store any boots, mittens, scarves (or flip flops, swimsuits, cover-ups) in storage bins that you can keep on higher shelves for twice-a-year access. If you have room to store off-season items, make sure you pack them away and label the boxes by season and by clothing size for kids clothing.

If it’s the wrong size, store it
This goes for both adult’s and children’s closets: if you can’t wear it right now, you should not be looking at it. (This refers to both sizes and seasons, but for now, I am talking about sizes.) If your kids have outgrown it, either pack it away for the next sibling, or to donate or sell at consignment. For adult clothes, if you’re saving because your weight fluctuates, choose everything that is too big or too small right now and store it by size. I highly recommend having separate boxes or bins that you can label by size and by gender (or name, if they are yours/your husband’s clothes). That way, when you need them again, they are easy to find.

Use every inch of space
Do you have a blank wall in your closet that is bored, with nothing to do? Consider adding an accessories rack, or stack some shoe racks up the wall. If you have open shelves and lots of little items like scarves, hats, or big jewelry, consider getting open-topped baskets so you can see what is inside, or closed-top boxes that you can label. (For items that change with the seasons, closed-top boxes are easier to move and store accordingly.) You could also put a small dresser or jewelry/lingerie chest back there if you have the space, which will help store your smaller items.

In children’s closets, put the shoes in large baskets or bins so you’ll always know where they are, or get a shoe bag that hangs on the back of the door and store each shoe in its own pocket. The kids can help collect and clean up their clothing if they know where it goes! I also recommend baskets for tights, hair bows and headbands, or caps and hats. Sports equipment is another great basket or bin item – if you keep a basket specifically for soccer items, such as uniform, cleats, and socks, it’s that much easier to find when you need it. We also have a basket with pool items in my daughter’s closet – swim suits, cover ups, goggles, etc – so we know where her things are when we need them. If you the room and are light on shelf space, you could pick up a small bookshelf at a home-improvement store and place it on an empty wall to hold your baskets or to act as a shoe or equipment rack.

Stay on your side of the closet
If you share a closet with a spouse or significant other, it’s easiest if you can each have one half of the closet. I realize that the stereotype is for women to take over the entire closet and leave the men 2-3 inches, but it truly is much easier to stay organized if your belongings don’t touch. (This sounds childish, but it is true, believe me.) Try not to infringe upon your partner’s space – if he wants his half to be a mess, so be it, as long as it is not touching your sparkling clean, organized area.  If you’re lucky enough to have separate closets, it’s best if you don’t go in his/her space, and vice versa. Should you want to recommend some organizing tips, do so at your own risk…

This sounds ridiculous, but it really does help when you’re getting dressed in the morning….Once you have your seasonal items front and center, put all of the tops in one area, and all of the bottoms in another. Then go through and organize by color – all white, off white, and cream together; all pinks and reds together; then oranges/yellows, etc. Do the same for both tops and bottoms, keeping them separate.

If this seems like a weird idea, it may help to understand that the idea is to walk into your closet and easily see the item you’re looking for: “oh look, this is the green shirt I wanted with these khaki shorts.” If you aren’t sure what you want to wear that day, you’ll have “matching” items all in one area to help you choose what to wear with your black pants, for example. When I get lazy about keeping my closet clean, this is usually the area that is messed up…once it is set back to right, everything seems much cleaner again.

At this point you are either thinking “wow, she really is a bit nutty about her closet space” or “hmm, maybe I will try one or two of these tips.” If it’s the latter, let me know how it goes!