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Organize Your Closet

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Make Over Your Closet

    If you're like most of us, your closet is probably: a) cramped, b) disorganized, c) aesthetically challenged, or d) all of the above. That's because most closets are not equipped to manage everything we put in them, says New York City interior designer John Loecke. Want to clean up your act? Check out our experts' simple strategies.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Hang It Up

    Instead of folding silky scarves in a drawer where they can wrinkle, drape them on hooks or a tiered pants hanger for easy viewing and to give the closet a bright burst of color.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Focus on Decor

    Whether you have a reach-in or walk-in closet, a cheerful wallpaper print or paint shade can dress up the space. Try fanciful-patterned wallpaper or a bold paint color that you wouldn't dare use elsewhere in the house. To make it look larger, paper or paint the ceiling, too. If it's a walk-in, carve out a dressing area, Loecke suggests, with a washable striped runner on the floor and a small ottoman for trying on shoes.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Use Clear Storage Containers

    Slash your search time by using transparent containers. Plastic-lined drawers or bins keep sweaters in neat stacks, and, unlike baskets, they won't snag the fabric. To make putting together outfits even simpler, sort garments by color and organize by style—cardigan, pullover, and so on.
     

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Shelve Your Shoes

    If possible, store footwear on shelves, as opposed to in boxes or bags—that way you can easily make selections. Angled, wall-mounted racks take up little room and keep the floor clear. Boots hold their shape on special hangers. If you have more shoes than available space, keep those you wear most often accessible and store the rest (such as dressy sandals) in boxes on a high shelf or in another closet.
     

    Women's Boot Shapers, Bed, Bath and Beyond, $10 each, bedbathandbeyond.com

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Bin It

    An open canvas box keeps easy-to-misplace clutches and wallets in plain sight. If you're short on shelf space, hang a fabric shoe bag from your rod—small purses are a perfect fit for the compartments.

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Sort the Laundry

    Make sorting laundry a snap with a trio of labeled metal-frame hampers for whites, colors, delicates, and dry-clean-only items. Loecke likes these bins because they're compact—each is about a foot wide—and light enough to carry to the laundry room.
     

    Laundry Box, Reisenthel, $30 each, containerstore.com

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Hang Up Handbags

    Arrange frequently used handbags on pegs or, better yet, on a rack with hooks you can adjust to suit a changing collection. Install it on the back of a door so you can literally grab and go. Special-occasion purses should be stuffed with balled-up tissue to keep their shape and then organized in cubbies or bins.
     

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Put Jewelry on Display

    Turn a bulletin board into a display for necklaces and oversize pins. This perforated metal one harmonizes with the closet's sleek wire shelving and keeps the baubles tangle free. DIY approach: Stretch fabric over a cork bulletin board and staple in back. Hang jewelry from pushpins or decorative tacks.
     

    Bulletboard, Umbra, from $21, umbra.com

  • Wendell T. Webber

    Essential Tips for Keeping Your Closet Clutter-Free

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    Haul everything out of the closet and divide it into four categories: keep, toss, donate, and repair. "If you're like most people, you wear 20 percent of your wardrobe 80 percent of the time, so be merciless," says Olescia Hanson, a spokesperson for Container Store. Next, reassess what you're keeping in the closet: Does everything belong there? For instance, could your yoga mat be stored in a hall closet?

    Hang in There
    Sort items based on how you'll store them. Sweaters, T-shirts, casual pants, and shorts are best kept folded, while blouses, jackets, dressy pants, and most dresses and skirts should be hung. (Bias-cut and A-line dresses should be folded to maintain their shape.)

    Make Plans
    Take your closet's dimensions and sketch out how you want it to look. To determine how many horizontal feet of hanging room you need, first measure clothes on the existing rod. Gain extra storage by mounting two bars, one about 82 inches from the floor, the other 40 inches. Allot a separate small area to hold "long-hanging" garments like full-length dresses.

    Shelf Examination
    Count on about 7 inches of shelf space per pair of women's shoes. Keep some space free for holding sweaters, handbags, and accessories. Install shelves up high for seasonal apparel and other items you don't use regularly.

  • Michael Kraus

    Clutter Busters

    These products provide easy solutions for taming chaos in the closet.

    Bag It
    This bold fabric hanging organizer holds up to 14 handbags or hats.
     

    Handy Hold All, Room It Up, $25, roomitup.com

  • Michael Kraus

    Illuminating Idea

    "You should be able to see everything in your closet, which means no dark corners," says Hanson. Recessed lights are ideal because they shine down on everything and don't take up much room. But you can get a similar effect on the cheap with battery-operated LED tap lights. Shed some light with a self-adhesive LED that glows as brightly as a 100-watt bulb.
     

    Micro-Mini Twist CFL light, Sylvania, $10/2, amazon.com

  • Michael Kraus

    Get Hooked

    Elegant nickel hook holds necklaces or scarves.
     

    Originally published in the October 1, 2008, issue of Family Circle magazine.
     

    Adhesive-back hooks, 3M, from $6.50, commandadhesive.com

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