10 Secrets Only Professional Closet Organizers Know

by Stephanie Sisco from realsimple.com

Three pros share their keys to success. Implement these strategies at home to transform your closets.

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Hybrid Zones Are Trouble

If there’s empty space, leave it! Don’t fill it with random items that don’t belong just because there’s room. Professional organizer Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants stresses that “the most important principle in closet organizing is to group like things together: Shirts with shirts, pants with pants.” That way, there’s no question about where to find those items when you need them.

Shelves Are Flexible

If you have at least 12 inches of space between shelves, that’s an opportunity to add in an extra shelf for more storage. “Customize shelving to work for you and your things,” says professional organizer Jeni Aron of Clutter Cowgirl, “not the other way around.” If you have a lot of tall boots, move the shelves up so they fit. If you have mostly folded clothing move them down so the stacks don’t become unwieldy and topple over.

Items Should Be Stored by Frequency of Use

If you only use the air mattress a few times a year, don’t stash it front and center in the linen closet. Aron says to tuck it—and other lesser-used items—away in the back or on a high shelf so you don’t have to maneuver around it when searching for those daily-used pieces.

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Categories Are Key

“Hang clothes using simple systems that you can easily maintain for the long-term. Group all tops together, all pants together, all dresses together, and color-code each category,” says organizer Clea Shearer of The Home Edit. Aron suggests that you also break it up by season. “If there are six whole months when you’re not wearing a heavy wool skirt, that piece can be placed with her winter sisters in another spot.”

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A Rug Can Give Your Space a Boutique-y Feel

A little pattern or texture (like a sheepskin rug) will instantly transform your storage space into a zone that you respect just as much as any other room in the house. Reich suggests adding a chandelier as well. “These small decorative touches will force you to keep that space in check so you can continue to enjoy it not just for storage, but for the aesthetic pleasure it offers,” says Aron.

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Uniformity Is Crucial

“Matching hangers, shoe boxes, and containers will transform your closet visually and make you more motivated to maintain the space,” says Shearer. She also suggests having extra hangers on-hand at all times for new purchases or items that have just returned from the dry cleaner. This uniformity will eliminate visual clutter within the space, making it feel instantly neater, Reich says.

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Closets Are Expandable

Feel free to move outside the confines of the closet walls. If you have a nearby nook or wall space, use it for added storage or set up a dressing area with a mirror and small table. If there are items that won’t fit in your closet or dresser, Reich suggests making use of under the bed storage as well.

Stations Maximize Utility

Divide your closet into zones with a designated category for each: shoes here, accessories there, gym clothes there. “This forces your brain to make the connection quickly of where to find each item. And you’ll know exactly where to return it when you’re done,” says Aron. Reich suggests using drawer and shelf dividers along with closet rod organizers to arrange each of the zones.

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Closets Are Like Houses

“Your ‘main floor’ on the eye-level racks, rods, and shelves are where your everyday life occurs. So store clothing, shoes, and accessories here,” says Aron. “The upper shelves all the way to the ceiling act as your ‘attic’ where you should keep infrequently used pieces and mementos.”

A Ladder Is Essential

Aron suggests tucking a slim stepladder along the closet wall so you can put things away immediately—“rather than getting sidetracked on your way to retrieve the ladder from some far off corner of the house,” she says. A stool with one or two steps should be all you need to access the highest corners of the space.