After a seemingly endless winter—one of the coldest on record—punctuated by a succession of late-season Nor’easters, spring has finally declared its arrival. No doubt your winter wardrobe served you exceptionally well as you contended with all forms of freezing precipitation, wind chill, and a few days when you could enjoy the true benefit of snow on local slopes. Given the extent of the winter, you may have even acquired a new item or two to be both fashionable and warm. But now it’s time to put those memories aside and tackle the transition from winter to spring wardrobe.
The process, however, can be particularly challenging if you inhabit an older home with a small walk-in closet. Just as there’s only so much space to put snow when you’re shoveling in Georgetown, there’s limited space in your walk-in closet. You need to make the most of it.
To help achieve that goal, I offer a few tips, based on my own experience of too much wardrobe and too little closet, to keep your walk-in closet clutter free throughout the spring.
Optimizing the Space of a Small Walk In Closet
Tip #1: Inventory Your Winter Collection
Begin with an inventory of your winter wardrobe. Some may approach this as an “editing” process, others take a more sophisticated approach in the “curation” of their wardrobe. If you haven’t done this before, expect to face some difficult decisions. Essentially you’ll be evaluating each item and asking “should I preserve or should I purge?”
Reasons to purge may be the easiest. The item is out of style. (Resist the urge to think that someday it will be back in style. It will, but with a new interpretation.) Does it still fit? (Perhaps the most challenging question, as I face the reality that as I advance in age… well, you know.) Have I worn this recently, or have I for some deeply subconscious reason been holding on to this for years? What about damage? I have a wool overcoat; top quality, warm, lasts a lifetime—but a few years ago, moths attacked. A local tailor, an artist with French weave, restored it. Despite ever-changing trends, some garments are timeless and worthy of preservation.
Organize the items that you want to purge into two categories: donations and trash. As an alternative to trash, some communities accept clothing and fabric as part of their recycling programs.
It’s a good idea to organize the items that you’re keeping by garment type and place them in proper storage containers such as moth-proof containers for woolens, vacuum bags to reduce volume, empty suitcases, and other suitable containers that you can successfully repurpose. Now place these containers in underutilized space throughout the house—attic, under beds, garage; essentially, any place except your walk-in closet.
Conduct a similar inventory on your spring collection; items already in the closet as well as items you’ve stored away. You’ll undoubtedly find a few items to purge, thereby making room for a few new additions to your spring wardrobe.
Tip: Continue to conduct “minor” inventories throughout spring as you acquire new items; the practice helps make end-of-the-season transitions all the more manageable.
Now that you’ve properly prepared your walk-in to accommodate your spring collection, here’s how to maintain organization and avoid clutter all season.
Tip #2: Organize Your Spring Collection
For some, organization comes naturally, for others it may a be a bit of a challenge, but definitely worth the effort in optimizing the limited space of a small walk-in closet. Arrange your clothing on a rod or shelf by basic categories—blouses, slacks, shorts, tees. Within each category, consider grouping by color. If you have a significant collection in a particular category consider arranging by style, for example: dressy and casual, new and not-so-new.
As we’ve mentioned before, hangers specifically designed for clothing types: blouses, skirts, pants, suits, help properly maintain garment shape. They also prevent tight placement of clothes on rods and make it easy to identify and access each item. Use shelves and surfaces to arrange items such as sweaters, shoes, and sporting apparel for ease of access. If you have a tall closet, take advantage of the “upper regions”/shelves to place infrequently used items such as hats, handbags, and backpacks.
Tip #3: Resist the Urge to Cram
Making the effort to organize your spring wardrobe is an excellent investment of time. You’ll spend less time looking for things, and more time selecting and matching clothing to suit your activity or mood. If you have a significant spring collection (more than can be comfortably organized in a walk-in closet), accept that your closet isn’t infinite. Resist the urge to cram everything into the available space which could lead to wrinkles and tears as you try to find or access a delicate item. Your spring wardrobe investment deserves only the best care. Allow “breathing room” for your clothing, your accessories, and for you.
Tip #4: Accessories Can Help Eliminate Clutter
Limited space of a small walk-in closet can be maximized with accessories designed to enhance organization and accessibility of items and accessories that can’t be managed by hangers. Consider adding shelving specifically designed for shoes, a tie rack, and belt rack to help organize these items. A valet rod takes practically no space and facilitates “staging” of outfits you’ll be wearing. You may find that a few valet rods strategically placed help as you transition from one outfit to the next on busy days. These additions complement the organization you’ve already achieved and can help make your walk-in closet work for you.
Still Not Realizing the Full Potential of a Small Walk In Closet?
If you’ve followed our advice and find your small walk-in closet is not achieving its optimum organizational potential and is failing to accommodate your entire spring wardrobe, it may be time to re-evaluate the overall closet design. Be realistic about the “carrying capacity” of an existing small walk-in closet. Don’t force it.
As hundreds of clients who have older homes have realized, the best long-term strategy to obtain the greatest benefit from an existing small walk-in is a custom closet design. Working with you, understanding your needs, our consultants will develop a design, replete with quality hardware and features to maximize the available space within your existing closet, transforming it into a place you enjoy and that works for you, helping maintain organization and avoid clutter throughout spring, summer, fall, and winter. Arrange a free consultation with experts who have the experience to create a closet designed to meet your needs.