My friend, Bethany recently converted a large den-type space into her bedroom. It turned out fantastic with a big bay window to enjoy daily. The one problem is that since it was a former living room, there is no closet.
She took a built-in bookshelf, removed the shelves, and added a closet rod. Clever use of space, but this new closet is totally visible and open. This makes for easy access to clothes, but we all know our closets are not always sightly and organized. She called me in on special assignment to get her closet up to par with the rest of the studio-like room.
As soon as I saw her closet cubby I knew there was a broken system. This was not a case of being too lazy to hang up clothes, there was no more room. It was time to sort through all of the clothes and purge.
The hanging rod was packed with clothes on the right. On the left was an unstable pile of pants (which toppled down on us a few times until we finally just threw everything on the bed).
Shoes trailed across the bedroom floor beyond the closet space, oh the horror! Call me dramatic, but I love my shoe organizer.
Bethany was longing for an accommodating space to house clothes that fit well and that she felt confident in. Right now it was hard to find much of anything.
Clutter Problem #2
One of the main reasons her closet is overflowing is because she was holding on to clothes that are too small. Ordinarily I might have been tempted to encourage her to get rid of everything that doesn’t fit. However, her focus has been on becoming healthy and losing weight. Since she was making great strides towards her goals, purging clothes that don’t fit her needed to be approached in a different way.
Her smaller sizes are essential as she continues to shed pounds. The valid argument of her unknown future size made it impractical to purge everything that doesn’t fit. (You can read more about her journey at B getting hot.)
The solution for clothes that will accommodate her fluctuation in weight is to containerize with limits. All while keeping the amount of available space in mind. In this closet we needed to pare down the items that don’t fit and refocus on the clothes that work right now.
As we sorted the clothes into relative sizes, we questioned each item. We asked if it was out of date or style, if it flattered her figure, and if it was still in good shape. We also took into account how many of those same types of items she had in a particular size. Even she had to agree that four white button up shirts that don’t quite fit was just too much. As we emptied hangers she began to realize how much extra clothing she had been holding on to.
Most of her pants, the toppling pile of pants and the ones stashed above the hanging rod, were pants that didn’t fit or that she didn’t wear for a myriad of reasons- uncomfortable, unflattering, or bunched here and there. So we kept the best and got rid of the rest.
The two blue fabric storage bins, plus one grabbed from another spot in the room, were the perfect containers to store clothes she almost fit. The bins gave a firm limit. If you start piling clothes above the bin it won’t fit on the shelf.
One bin stores pants in the next size down, one for shirts and the last bin holds shirts and pants in the goal size. The remaining section of the shelf is open for easy access to the pants that fit right now.
We also repurposed a hanging shoe organizer as a scarf, mitten, and hat holder. After we purged a lot of purses and some shoes, we put everything back together again. Let me remind you of the closet before,
After sorting, purging and containerizing we have a closet that is a peaceful place to get dressed.
There are no more piles of clothes peeking out underneath the hanging clothes or shoes trailing off into the distances. Everyday shoes are lined up on the floor with specialty shoes on the bookshelf turned shoe and purse rack. And most important the items that fit are the ones that are most easily accessible.
What I love
My favorite part in this whole process was the unearthed area just beyond the closet. It is a perfect place to sit and enjoy anytime of the day.
So the big question is, how long do you hold on to clothes that don’t fit you anymore? Is there a rule?