The Closet Story

It seems like warmer weather brings out the urge to clean, remodel, and organize. Now, that doesn’t mean we I always follow through on that particular desire, but it is there. I guess that’s why Spring Cleaning is a thing, although now it’s more like summer cleaning. Anyway I was checking out Pinterest and saw some cool closets, and I was thinking about how happy I’ve been with my closet since I remodeled it. I’m certainly not handy around the house, but I had some help and was able to completely transform my tiny closet in a short amount of time without spending too much money. So even though it’s been over a year since I did it, I thought I would write about it in case anyone out there is struggling with a small closet and is looking for some tips.

First of all, my closet is very small. For years it was dark, dusty, and majorly cluttered. It wasn’t that I wanted it to be messy, I simply had alot of stuff, a small space, and no organization to speak of. My closet was in the exact state it was the day I moved in, and that was definitely not impressive. The walls were white, but showed their age. The hanging bar was one thick metal round bar with a wood shelf directly above it. The shelf had a tendency to collect dust  and was too high to be very practical, even though I’m tall, so I resorted to laying out a beach towel on it and stacking/tossing rarely used items up there. The floor was the same beige carpet the bedroom had (that was the next project) and the inside of the closet door was dark brown wood. The lighting fixture was just a lightbulb with a string because who doesn’t want their closet to look like it belongs to an unemployed character from The Sims?

For a long time I left the closet untouched other than the occasional cleaning, because I thought it was too small to do anything else with. Boy was I wrong. If that’s your excuse for not fixing up your closet, throw it out the window right now (the excuse, not the closet). Even the tiniest spaces can benefit from a little touching up, and making it look nice will at least improve your mood a little when you look at it.

As I mentioned, I am not handy with tools and that sort of thing, so this is just meant to explain what I did, not really to be an instructional guide of any kind. If you start a closet project you can find great instructions on the internet or at the home improvement store.

Step 1 – Garbage Bags. Oh, how I hated to do it. I’m a pack rat, you see. I always have that feeling that as soon as I throw something out, I’ll need it or find a use for it. We all know that’s probably never the case. Alot of sites say that if you haven’t used or worn something in two years or more, you probably won’t. I’m sure there are some exceptions though, so just give yourself a rough estimate and work from there. Special occasion clothing can be one of those exceptions, but there is no reason you should still be holding onto a t-shirt full of holes from eight years ago unless it has DEEP sentimental value. So throw out that Nickelback shirt and call it a day, unless you got married in it – and if you did… please tell me that story. Anyway, so I cleared out the clutter, got rid of what I didn’t need, and then took everything out of the closet. Now, when I say garbage bags I’m not telling you that you have to throw everything you don’t want into the trash. Obviously you can give things away, donate to charity, have a yard sale, etc. And no, I never had a Nickelback tshirt but I did have a few Evanescence shirts because one of my siblings worked at a music store for a while. Do I really need a tshirt with a picture of Amy Lee kissing a crow? Lets go with probably not.

Step 2 – The pole. No, I am not talking about dancing on one. It turns out that the bar hanging in my closet, and even the shelf above it weren’t exactly quality construction. In fact, they were both easily removed in a few minutes. Apparently they were the result of someone else’s do it yourself project, way back when.

Step 3 – The only thing left in the closet then was the carpet. In this case having a small space was a benefit because taking the carpet out was fast and fairly easy. I had to go back and pull alot of staples out of the floor and scrape some areas where the carpet padding was stuck.

Step 5 – I painted the inside of the closet, including the ceiling and inside of the door, with bright white paint. Since it had always been small and dark, I wanted it to look as clean and bright as possible. I used a couple of coats of paint and the difference was striking. I wish I had painted it YEARS earlier. I had no idea it would change the look that much.

Step 6 – I got a new light fixture and a white wire closet organization system. It was about $90 or so for the closet system and it came with three bars and a bunch of shelves, and all the hardware needed. I absolutely did not install either of those myself, but I supervised! 😉 That’s when it comes in handy to have men in your family. The system I picked had several different ways to configure it, so I looked at the clothes I had and planned out what I needed and where I wanted to put it. This is important because you want to be sure you’re setting up the space where the things you use most often will be easiest to get to.

Step 7 – Once everything was installed, I got some peel and stick linoleum floor tiles. Obviously you can leave carpet in the closet but I have allergies and the carpet was old, so I wanted something that wouldn’t hold on to dust as much. The tiles were really easy to install, I did it by myself and they turned out nice. Again the small space worked in my favor for this project. I put a bit of white wood trim around the edges just to make it look a little better.

Step 8 – Admire closet for a while. Then I got to the final and most important thing I ever did to my closet.. I organized it. I don’t just mean that I bought a few baskets or tupperware boxes, I mean that every single thing I put back into the closet had a place. The bar on the left side at the top is easiest to reach, so that’s where I put all of my tank tops and tshirts since I wear those daily. The bar below that is for long sleeved shirts, blouses, and light jackets. On the other side is a bar for longer hanging items, so that’s where all my dresses and skirts go, and at the front of that bar my coats are hanging. There are various shelves above for extra blankets, purses, and whatnot and a shelf in between the shirt bars where I keep some folded items like shorts, pajamas, and sweaters lined up in stacks. I have another cabinet outside of the closet for jeans and things that the closet doesn’t have space for. including drawers for lingerie and a basket for socks.

Step 9 – It’s not crazy. Everytime I tell someone about this part, they think I’m crazy. Each section of my closet (shirts, dresses, etc) is organized by color. On the lower hanging bar I have both shirts and jackets, so each of those ‘sets’ goes by color also with all the shirts on the left and all the jackets on the right. Yes, it does seem obsessive compulsive, but honestly, it’s amazing. If you’ve never considered doing this, try it! It’s aesthetically pleasing. When my closet door is open and the light is on, it looks so bright and clean and organized and having the colors all together adds to the effect. It goes from light (white) to dark (black) so it gives a nice look. Aside from being pretty to look at, it’s AMAZINGLY practical. I never have to waste time searching for clothes or wondering if something is clean. If I’m going to wear a black skirt and need a red shirt to go with it, I know exactly where to look depending on if I want a tank top or long sleeved top, and I know that if it isn’t in it’s place with the red shirts that I’ll need to wash it. This also helps for when you have something that you wear so rarely you forget that you have it. Once you set your closet up this way it’s very easy to keep it organized and it saves so much time and stress trying to sort through racks of clothes. I don’t think I could ever go back to having my clothes hanging up randomly, it just makes so much more sense to do it this way. (If you’ve seen my nail polish rack, it’s also organized by color. Maybe it’s the artist in me but it just looks prettier that way and I love being able to find what I need quickly and move on).

So that’s all. For a little bit of money and some effort I transformed a small closet I always hated into a space I absolutely love. Now that everything is organized I can fit much more into it than before and it still looks great. I was so surprised at how fixing up this one little area made such a difference and continues to make me happy on a daily basis. Never talk yourself into thinking that small improvements aren’t worth the effort; fixing up a cluttered space can have such a positive effect and brighten up your mood.


One thought on “The Closet Story

  1. That sounds so awesome – now come do mine. 🙂 Seriously, though, that really rocks that you’ve got something so useful now from something you hated to open before. (I got married in jeans on horseback – does that count? 😀 )

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