Plenty of us vow to be more organized as we enter a new year, but it can be a struggle. So we asked a DC organizer for tips on keeping your closet clutter-free.
January is the month for fresh starts, and I always begin it with my New Year’s resolutions in tow. It’s also National Get Organized Month, which seems fitting since organization is an area where plenty of us struggle.
But by the time February comes along, the fun of new resolutions has usually worn off—and, if you’re like me, sometimes you’re really struggling. Clutter starts to inch back into our lives.
So to encourage us all to stay the course, I got in touch with local DC closet organizer Ashley Hatcher from NEAT Method. She offered up these best practices for keeping your custom closet organized, even after your initial motivation has worn off. Here’s what Ashley recommends.
1. There’s no better time to purge than the present. Ashley says: “Purging is always the first step in my organizing process, and early in the year is the perfect time to do it. All those clothes that you didn’t touch in 2016, or all those bottles of shoe polish that haven’t been opened since 2008? Send them to a new home.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Sort and categorize your closet first so that you can clearly see what you own. From there, make separate “purge piles” for items that can be donated or consigned.
2. Consistent hangers. Ashley says: “These are an organizer’s best friend! I know it’s quite an investment to purchase new hangers all at once, but it’s absolutely worth it. It can instantly transform your closet.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Black velvet slimline hangers for clothing and black matte wooden hangers for suits and coats.
3. Prioritize your clothing categories. Ashley says: “We’d definitely love for all of our clothing to be easily accessible. But the reality is, to maximize closet space, you’ll need to store some items on hanging rods that won’t be easy to reach. Figure out which categories you actually use the most. Then design your closet layout around those items.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Track the clothing you wear during one week to figure out which categories you use the most.
4. Don’t over-categorize your closet. Ashley says: “I love to make very specific clothing categories. But I also believe your closet should be easy to maintain. And too many categories can make that challenging.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Categorize by style (such as dressy versus casual) only if you have a significant amount of clothing in each category. Otherwise, just stick with basic categories, like tops and pants, and organize each category by color.
5. Put tops on top and bottoms on bottom. Ashley says: “The layout of a custom closet does give you more options—but if you can, arrange your clothing like this to make the space feel more balanced.
NEAT Method Recommends: Put categories like skirts, pants, and shorts on bottom rods.
6. Color-code everything in your closet. Ashley says: “Seriously, I’m obsessed with color-coding. It doesn’t stop with clothes, either. Shoes, purses, and jewelry are all worthy of it. Just trust me on this one. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you can find everything.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Color-coding using the ROY G BIV system.
7. Baskets on shelves help your custom closet stay tidy. Ashley says, “My colleagues and I are firm believers in the importance of lots of shelving, but depending on the layout, shelves can sometimes be hard to keep neat. Try using baskets to organize these areas. Just make sure to label the baskets.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Try baskets for categories like tanks, tights/leggings, and accessories. The NEAT team also loves Closet America’s slide-out chrome baskets.
8. File-fold items in your drawers. Ashley says, “Most people fold clothing and place it in piles inside each drawer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this system—but since it’s hard to see all your clothing this way, I’m guessing the t-shirts at the bottom of each stack sometimes get lonely.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Fold your clothing the regular way, and then just fold it in half again. This will give you an item that can be put in the drawer standing up. And of course, don’t forget to color-code your drawers, too.
9. Use drawer dividers. Ashley says, “These let you separate multiple categories in each drawer. Your short sleeve and long sleeve shirts can remain separate, and you won’t accidently grab the wrong type.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Choose bamboo or white drawer dividers, depending on the finish you choose for your custom closet. Dividers come in two depths (shallow and deep) to accommodate various drawer heights, and they can be moved easily if your storage needs change.
10. Separate shoes by style, then color. Ashley says, “You probably don’t realize it, but when you’re looking for a pair of shoes to put on, the first thing you think of is the TYPE of shoe you want (say, strappy heels). Organizing by style first will save you so much time if you’ve got a large collection.”
NEAT Method Recommends: Separate heels by style, like strappy, closed toe, wedge, peep toe, etc. If you’re pressed for space, try storing flats, flip flops, and sneakers in baskets.
Custom closets are an investment, and a beautiful space deserves to be beautifully organized. With these tips, I’m hopeful that I can get my closet so tidy that it looks like Ashley arranged it for me. And if you’re realizing that a custom closet is the incentive you need to finally get organized, reach out to us for a free design consultation. We’d love to help!
Image credit: Lead photo courtesy of Ashley Hatcher