There's only one thing more satisfying than organizing your closet:
Doing it on the cheap.
Sure, I love those closet glamour shots as much as anyone. I'm a sucker for solid cherry shoe shelves and rows of matching canvas bins identified by adorable hang tags. I just don't want to spend my money on them.
Besides, those photos of tricked-out closets invariably show unrealistic wardrobes. Are we really supposed to believe that someone who shells out thousands for a custom closet with velvet-lined jewelry drawers and a chaise can afford just seven shirts, three dresses and five pairs of shoes?
For those of us with a larger wardrobe and a smaller bankroll, I've gathered some ideas for getting a closet in shape without a lot of expense. Set aside a winter afternoon or a few chunks of time, and your closet will be clutter-free in no time.
Let's start by editing.
Yeah, I know, you don't want to hear it, but it's true. The most important first step toward an organized closet is editing what you own.
Make peace with the realization that those pants are never coming back into style, you're never going to fix the rip in that jacket lining, and that linen blouse is going to stay a rumpled mess, because you're never going to develop a sudden love of ironing. It doesn't matter how much you paid for those things. Give them away, throw them away or sell them.
Professional organizer Kandy Walker Sartori of Organizational Cleaning in Akron, Ohio, goes so far as to recommend getting rid of 80 percent of your clothing. Most of us wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time, she said, so getting rid of the excess will free closet space without putting a serious crimp in your wardrobe choices.
In particular, clothes that are too big or small need to go, she said.
Now that you've culled out the excess, here are some nifty ideas for storing what's left:
• Take advantage of vertical space by hanging a shoe organizer with clear pockets on the back of a door or on a wall. Use it to hold small items – jewelry, hats and gloves, socks, even shoes.
• Look up. See all that unused space over the closet door or high on the closet walls? Install a shelf there to store seldom-used or out-of-season items.
• If you're handy, remove the closet rod and reinstall it higher, and then install a second rod below it to double your hanging space. Or just suspend a second rod below the first using rope or chain.
• Install a towel bar to hang decorative scarves, or hang them from the bottom of a clothes hanger with shower rings.
• Use more shower rings to hang purses from the closet rod.
• Hang boots from skirt hangers.
• If you wear a lot of high heels, install a towel bar or a strip of crown molding on a wall to hold them. Hook the heels over the bar on the top of the molding.
• Hang two garments in the space of one by slipping the pull tab from a pop can over the neck of one hanger. A second hanger can be hung from the other hole in the tab. Note, however, that chunky plastic hangers might not fit.
• Compress your hanging space even further by using an S hook to hang chain from the closet rod. You can then hang several garments from the chain.
• Hang pegboard and hooks to hold jewelry. You can even frame and paint the pegboard to make it pretty.
(Hint: Install furring strips – narrow strips of wood – on the wall first, and then attach the pegboard to the strips. That creates space behind the pegboard holes to accommodate the hooks.)
• Glue or staple mesh to a picture frame and hang it on the wall for an earring organizer. You can use any kind of mesh that earrings can hang from – window screen, chicken wire, hardware cloth, radiator screen or even burlap. Hang hooks from the mesh to hold hoop or lever-back earrings.
Don't you feel more organized already?