Deconstructed – Easy Closet Design with Hanging Shelves and Shoe Storage

Sometimes we want a little more structure in our closets without the total confinement of custom shelves and DIY organizer units. This very basic closet setup featured on Real Simple shows us how we can achieve a very clean, easy-to-maintain aesthetic by adding just a few organizing products. Let’s deconstruct it!

What You’ll Need:

How-To:

Similar to doing a new hairstyle, closet organization projects have the best results when completed in a freshly cleaned, purged closet. Once you have determined the items you would like to keep in the closet, dusted, and cleaned the floors, you can achieve the above pictured organized closet design by following these steps:

  1. Position your shoe rack in the corner. The two-tier wooden shoe rack listed above is designed to store six to eight pairs of shoes while the three-tier rack can store up to 12. Depending on the size of your closet, you may be able to fit more than one shoe rack if you have more shoes. In a standard, non walk-in closet, I most frequently position shoe racks against a wall or directly in the corner with the most frequently-worn shoes within easiest reach.
  2. Position your fabric hanging shelf on the left side of your closet rod. Within the shelf you can store small items like scarves, socks, tights, perhaps t-shirts. The addition of the fabric drawers makes the shelves ideal for storing intimate apparel or items you don’t need to access throughout the year like hats, gloves, and earmuffs. I recommend using the drawers to store items you can afford to have out of sight, but won’t forget their location and go out and purchase duplicates. On the open shelf, I recommend sticking to items you can neatly fold. Alternatively, you can also store items that do not require folding like a few small handbags and clutches or perhaps a few stackable hats. Whatever you decide to store on the open shelf, be sure you are able to keep it maintained neatly!
  3. Decide which clothing items you would like to keep on hangers, and transfer them over to the wood hangers. The closet in the photo only houses tops on its hangers. However, I’ve selected the full triangular wood hangers that allow you to also fold pants over the bottom rung. While these hangers are a little bulkier than some other styles like the popular velvet hangers, the hangers I’ve selected will give your closet a more upscale retail store aesthetic, and they feature notches that allow you to secure your tops with very thin straps. To achieve the color scheme pictured above, start by positioning your white tops on the left side, and gradually add tops of darker colors as you move rightward, keeping your color groups together. Beginning with your white tops on the left side will also help prevent color transfer onto your light-colored clothes. If you would like to include pants in your close, I would recommend putting them on hangers and keeping them together in a separate section further to the right and also organized by color. You can also check out my post on my quick, go-to color-coordinating closet organizing strategy.
  4. Lastly, place your small hamper adjacent to your shoe rack on the right side of the closet. I recommend keeping the hamper in a position within the closet that will allow fresh air circulation if possible. Place your wire cube bin on the left side of the top shelf to create easy storage for lint rollers, fabric sprays, and other clothing and closet supplies.
  5. Step back and admire your work. We did it!

Once again, the following supplies can be found at Amazon and delivered conveniently to your home. Thank you for supporting me by purchasing through my affiliate links:

Stay tuned as we deconstruct more organized spaces in the home!

Get Organized to Go Back to School!

Many of my clients are anticipating the start of a new school year for their children. Some are even returning to school themselves, either to teach or to work on earning a degree. This post is for those who are looking to map their route to success by putting an organized plan in place for the year.

[Note: The following products are available by clicking on the images, which will direct you to Amazon’s website. I am an Amazon affiliate; therefore, Amazon will pay me a small commission for all purchases made through the links from my site. The price for the buyer remains the same regardless!…Also…you can DIY many of these ideas should you choose to do so!]

Letter Trays

I am a huge fan of these, and I recommend them in various forms to virtually any client who owns and desk and uses it!

How do I get organized by using letter trays?

I’m glad you asked. For most adults, I suggest having three trays and labeling them as  follows: 1) urgent, 2) mid-term, 3) long-term.

As you may have guessed, the labels indicate the immediacy of the deadline by which you must address the items within each tray. Bills that are due within less than a month should go into urgent. Permission slips for next week’s trip to the zoo? Urgent. Choosing a new cable provider before the contract expires three months from now? Mid-term. A reminder that your yearly donation to your favorite non-profit is due by the end of the year? Long term. However, as a long term deadline nears, you should continue to move the item to the more immediate letter trays until the item is addressed.

I have seen this system work extremely well for even the most disorganized among my clients and those who absolutely hate structure. The key to staying on top of this system is to address the letter trays EACH time you sit down at the desk for the FIRST time within a 24-hour period, i.e. you should visit the letter trays once per day. If you follow these directions meticulously, I guarantee your desk will not overflow with paper.

This system also works well for older students who tend to have mid-term and longer term projects.

For young kids who have homework, I suggest using an inbox/outbox system. When the child arrives home from school, he or she should immediately place all homework in a letter tray labeled “inbox.” Ideally, the tray should remain on the child’s desk or work table. If the child works at a kitchen or dining room table, the inbox may be brought out when the child arrives from school and stored on a shelf or in another location out of the way once all the homework for the next day has been completed. Once completed, homework should be placed in another letter tray labeled “outbox.”  The outbox tray should be placed near the home’s entrance (also a good location for the child’s backpack once packed) to ensure the child and parent will not forget homework on the way out the next morning. One tremendous advantage to using this system is that it provides a very natural way for parents to monitor their child’s progress in school and to ensure homework completion.

Okay, sign me up!

Here are some letter trays:

A dual wall file also works well for a simplified inbox/outbox system when attached to the child’s door or in another prominent place in the home.

Organizing Letters from School, Permission Slips, and Miscellaneous Papers

Younger students often bring notices, conduct reports, permission slips, and artwork home from school to show their parents. For parental notices, I recommend using a wall file or letter sorter with multiple compartments. Each file or compartment can be labeled by document type (i.e. one for permission slips/things that need to be signed and returned, one for PTA announcements, one for artwork/completed work the child brings home, and one very clearly labeled for signed items/notes that are ready to be returned to the teacher).

 

 

Stay tuned for follow-up Back-to-School posts on lunch boxes, backpacks, and school supplies!

Starting Point

Probably the most common challenges people face after deciding to get organized is figuring out where to start. It is at this point that a person is likely taking in the view of the disorganization in its entirety and feeling overwhelmed. My number one secret to starting virtually any organizing project is actually quite simple: categorize, categorize, categorize.

The easiest way to begin categorizing a pile of “clutter” is to start by grouping “like with like.” If a closet requires more organization, gather all the shirts with shirts, pants with pants, belts with belts, etc. The basic act will bring clarity and allow the clothing to be further organized by season, fabric weight, color, casual vs. formal, or in any other way that will make the closet more visually appealing and accessible.

Organizing a “junk drawer” or items that may be stored on an exposed surface like the top of a dresser may seem more daunting. Nevertheless, the same principle applies. When grouping items in these types of situations, I highly recommend maintaining groups by using drawer dividers or small baskets/boxes/bins/drawer organizers that are of an appropriate size. A key advantage to creating and maintaining categories is by doing so, you will gain a better sense of which items can and should be readily purged.

By teaching yourself to quickly categorize the items in your living or work space, you will likely find that, after your first attempt at organizing, you will be required to spend less time maintaining your newly organized space. And when it is time to reorganize or purge, being able to assess items by category may also make the process seem less overwhelming.

Digging Out of the Aftermath of Depression

[Disclaimer: I am not a licensed counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist. The following post is intended for motivational purposes only for individuals who would like to create a more organized environment. Individuals who believe they may be experiencing depression are urged to seek out a licensed counselor or other mental healthcare professional.]

I recently worked with a client who is an accomplished businesswoman. She is also at the tail end of a six month struggle with anxiety and depression. She described herself as “finally having the motivation to do something, but felt terrible after looking around” and seeing the state of her home. In particular, she had been avoiding her office area and another space that was dedicated to her love of working on craft projects.

Feeling overwhelmed when emerging from a period of physical illness or depression is not uncommon. Oftentimes, people struggle with finding a place to begin in restoring order to their environment. As illustrated in the example above, remaining in a disorganized home or work environment can lead to procrastination and additional feelings of guilt and anxiety, thus potentially creating a negative cycle that can become very difficult to break: eating habits may suffer, work performance declines, and a daily schedule that was once filled with more fulfilling activities may be reduced to simply going to bed upon arriving home or watching television until falling asleep.

In these situations, starting small and organizing one area at a time may be most effective. Those who have recently experienced anxiety, depression, or illness my require more immediate results. Small victories up front may provide the momentum these individuals need to keep going and to dramatically transform their environment. The following suggestions may help virtually anyone who is struggling with getting started on a large organizing project, especially those who are recovering from emotional or physical stress or illness.

  • Organize according to your energy level. I am a firm believer in realistically creating a plan before beginning an organizing project and tailoring the steps within the plan to your mental and physical energy level at the time. It is okay (and even encouraged!) to set relatively challenging targets, but plan to take a break or reach a stopping point before you would typically expect to become completely exhausted.
  • Start small. If you lack the time, energy, and focus to organize your entire home or office within a day or over the course of a weekend, divide the project into manageable parts. Can you organize one room at a time? If not, try starting with a single closet, dresser, or “junk drawer.”  Whether removing clutter from a bookshelf or donating old clothes from a closet, completing the first part of a large project often provides the inspiration to do more.
  • Don’t organize alone! Call a friend who will help you and keep you accountable, or call a professional organizer! An organizer can coach you along while offering the encouragement and, if necessary, healthy distraction from the more mundane or perhaps overwhelming parts of the process.

Contrary to what most people believe, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting organized. Therefore, the individual must consider his or her specific needs and goals when setting out to affect a lasting, positive change in his or her environment.

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

More Than “Minimalism”

Whether I am speaking to people in their homes or reading an article about organizing, I sometimes encounter what I describe as a near-obsession with the act of throwing things away. People will often say to me in frustration, “I am a minimalist. I just want to throw everything away.” However, the act of throwing much away in favor of owning little is only a small part of the equation for living a balanced, organized life.

Throwing Things Away is Only the Beginning

Many, many of us in the United States own more than we need for daily survival. And, in my opinion, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, anyone who has become frustrated with “clutter” has likely discovered that there is such a thing as having too many nonessential items. In contrast to that notion, most of us feel much happier when we have comfortable furniture, several clothing options, and aesthetic objects around the home we simply enjoy for the sake of ambiance. While doing a very detailed and thorough purge is essential to truly becoming organized, purging is just the first step. Furthermore, “over-purging” can be more detrimental than helpful.

The Dangerous Over-Purge

On the front end, purging can bring a sense of relief and help most people realize exactly how much space they really have and how little they use certain items they have been storing needlessly. However, it is important to avoid the danger of simply throwing things away to receive instant gratification, then later routinely buying new thing to fill the space. In the end, the cycle repeats and a need for a second major purge will eventually arise.

Deliberation While Purging

In my opinion, one of the most effective tactics in Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is her suggestion to hold and even speak to each item before deciding whether to keep it. While I do not typically advise clients to communicate with their items in this exact way (…unless they want to), I believe there is value in pausing to think about an item before deciding whether to keep it or throw it away. Oftentimes, when I notice what appears to be an impulsive, emotional response toward an item, I ask the client to pause, and we quickly discuss the object. Just by creating a pause, the client is typically able to think through the cause of the strong feelings toward the object and become comfortable discarding (or in some cases keeping) it. He or she is then able to proceed with a clearer understanding of the item’s role (or lack thereof) in the home.  Taking time to think about each item also minimizes the risk of over-purging and allows the person to logically think through potential opportunities and uses for an object they simply never knew they had or never took time to seek out opportunities to use it.

Yes, Some of Us ARE True Minimalists, But…

By nature, most people prefer to surround themselves with certain comforts and with aesthetically-pleasing things. Therefore, it is important for each person to consider where his or her center of gravity lies when attempting to balance the functional constraints (i.e. storage capacity) of a room with individual preference when it comes to variables like decor, technology, and comfort features within the space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kid-Friendly Organizing Tools

[This post contains affiliate links, which means Amazon will pay me a commission on purchases made through the any of following product links]

Parents often lament the state of their children’s play areas and bedrooms. The truth is these are oftentimes the areas that lend themselves to successful implementation f the most basic organizing strategies. When approaching a kids zone, the main objectives should be to categorize, label, then categorize even more if necessary. By getting the child involved, he or she can even improve other skills while learning to maintain his or her room. Color-coded buckets and bins, containers of different sizes and shapes, and keeping toys and art supplies well-sorted can enable small children to practice the same basic concepts they are required to learn and leverage in school. The act of restoring order to their room or play area can also help reinforce positive lifestyle habits and even teach the child to organize his or her thoughts.

Choose Tools That Suit the Child

Children who are very small or those whose motor skills are still in early development may especially benefit from having their toys organized into larger containers that have an open top. Balls and building blocks may be stored in larger open bins. Stuffed animals may be stored in a toy box or on a low shelf. The goal is to make cleanup time easy for kids and parents even if the child does not have the agility to latch and unlatch complex containers. Open bins and large boxes also allow the child to grasp and further develop the important concept of object categorization while participating in the practice of clearing and “resetting” the play area.

Restrict Access When Necessary

Small children may have toys and puzzles that consist of many pieces. Parents who are concerned about the pieces becoming scattered should consider utilizing containers that have a latch closure or a locking mechanism. Storing these types of toys on high shelving can also minimize random spillage. Art supplies may also be stored in a similar manner when not in use.

Cube Storage for Older Kids

Once a child is able to read labels, fabric storage cube are a fantastic option for separating the many different items older children use throughout the week. My client have used cube storage systems to create a designated place for winter accessories like hats and gloves, folded sports uniforms, clothes (in rooms that are too small to accommodate a large dresser), video game controllers, pajamas, arts and craft supplies, and more. Fabric cubes can be used with a cube storage system like the products offered by Closet Maid or on regular built-in or freestanding shelving.

Success in keeping a child’s room or play area organized most often depends on the parent and child working together. Parents can set their children up for organizational success by keeping systems clear and simple, but effective and, most importantly, by involving the child in the process of organizing and maintaining the area as often as possible.

Let’s Get Personal

It’s safe to say the overwhelming majority of people who meet me, especially in a work capacity, view me as a “solutions-oriented” personality. The minute a problem arises, I quickly begin the process of finding and evaluating the best possible solutions. It’s pretty automatic. Sometimes process starts well before a potential problem can arise. Nevertheless, I recognize I don’t have all the answers […at least not immediately?]. In fact, I’ve found that my willingness to be “human” and to share the fruits of my own [admittedly sometimes wacky] trial-and-error episodes brings an added level of comfort and relatability when working with clients. I was at a workshop for startup founders and entrepreneurs tonight when the obvious occurred to me: I should be bringing that level of humanness to my blog. And with that, I’d like to introduce the #ItsPersonal tag!

My journey as an entrepreneur is fertile ground for the very same lessons and principles I impart to my clients day in and day out, week after week. I’m a believer in teaching and encouraging by example. Tonight, in a lightning bolt-esque moment, it occurred to me that others may also be able to learn and grow by getting an inside look at my own exercise in diligently applying the life-changing concepts I’m always sharing with others.

Through my #ItsPersonal posts, I will aim to share more of my personal insights as a young business owner (along with other more personal stories that impact me as an entrepreneur and as a pro organizer). I hope my stories will leave readers feeling motivated, inspired, (and maaaybe a little entertainment…).

In closing, I will highlight a particular principle that especially rang true for me today and inspired this post (…and the #ItsPersonal posts that will follow): sometimes you just have to pick a starting point and GO!

I’ve probably coached hundreds of people in taking the initiative to “launch,” whether it was the beginning of an organizing project, researching a next move, pursuing a dream, going abroad, applying for schools… But very recently, I’ve been quietly struggling with having several business-related ideas and choosing which to pursue…and in what order. After narrowing the  list down to the most immediately feasible, I still found myself procrastinating and unnecessarily dragging out the regular tasks on my daily to-do lists–anything to avoid taking decisive action.  Today, I was reminded that there comes a point at which there is one thing left to do, and it’s to take the first step forward. After taking that step, however large or small, you can always step backward, continue along the same trajectory, or even go left or right. But once you’ve planned, deliberated, and identified a goal, there is one guarantee: the act of standing in place won’t bring you any closer to it… #ItsPersonal