It’s a tale as old as time. January 1st comes along and we all start taking inventory of our lives — what’s working, what isn’t, how we can improve, etc, etc. I sort of love that even though the new year is just a day on a made-up calendar, we use it as a marker to reflect and aim to achieve new things for the next 365 days. It’s quite endearing. I say this as someone who is really bad at sticking to resolutions but loves a fresh start. “Organized” is a word that has never been used to describe me but like most people, I can’t resist a satisfying organized “before and after”. So when our fearless editorial leader, Jess, came up with this budget closet organization challenge, I didn’t know whether to thank her or crawl in a hole and hide. I’ll be honest. I’M SCARED! My closet situation is bleak and it’s the one thing I look at every day and try to ignore. But a challenge is probably just what I need, so I’m hoping that this will turn me into the organized queen I’ve always aspired to be. And the best news is I am not alone. The entire EHD team is up for this challenge to get organized on a budget. These won’t be gorgeous, camera-ready closet transformations (like Sara’s above). Instead, our hope is to come up with easy, affordable storage solutions that will help us (and you) stay organized throughout the year. Here goes nothing.
– Can’t spend more than $150
– Must be done by Jan 31st
Easy enough right? (ha!) Now let’s meet the players:
I recently saw a meme that read “Deadline near enough to inspire anxiety but not near enough to inspire action”. Sadly, I’ve never related to anything more. My toxic trait is I require a deadline to get anything done. Even if said thing would benefit me immensely I am a master procrastinator and avoider, a symptom of undiagnosed adult ADHD I am sure. So it is absolutely advantageous that this little closet org challenge made its way onto our editorial calendar. I have you all to keep me accountable and a clear deadline to feel anxious about. What a win! Truthfully, I needed this and feel for the first time that I can finally tackle my abhorrent closet conundrum.
Our Single Tiny Closet
I wish this was the first time I have succumbed to showing my closet on this blog. This photo was taken *gulp* two years ago when I presented all my storage woes. Sadly, not much has changed except it may have actually gotten worse?? I am ashamed, but I will also remind you that I share this tiny closet with another human being and it is the only closet in our entire apartment. So that’s fun.
One thing that has changed is our mattress is no longer on the floor, so we’ve acquired under-bed storage. I’ll spare you that photo because dust bunnies and loose socks are not something anyone needs to see on this blog, and this is about our closet after all.
The Shelf Situation
Right now the top shelf has double the amount of sweatshirts stacked on top of each other. I basically have to keep chucking sweatshirts up there hoping they’ll land. It’s bad. What I think we desperately need are stackable storage solutions. I am imagining a two-tier shelf and storage boxes so we can utilize all that vertical space.
The Unsightly Clothing Rack
Can you believe we look at this every day? Sometimes it is slightly more organized but I can’t tell you how much the dry cleaning bags pain me. I want to scream at myself JUST PUT THEM IN THE CLOSET. Also, and this isn’t the biggest deal, but how much nicer would it look if we had uniform hangers? I think that’s the clear next move. But as you can see our main pain points here are shoe storage, laundry storage, and overall clutter (aka too many clothes on the rack). Ideally, we would have our most ~attractive~ looking clothes here so it can act as a storage solution and be less of an eyesore.
Side note: What do you do with dry cleaner hangers? Rocky (my fiancé) gets dry cleaning done once a week and it’s unavoidable that he comes back with those god-awful hangers. It feels so wasteful even though we do use them because what else are you supposed to do? I just can’t keep collecting them and they are also the worst hangers ever. Can we give them back to the dry cleaner to recycle? Excuse me while I do my own research (but feel free to drop some suggestions below).
1. Storage Case | 2. 3 Drawer Closet Organizer | 3. mDesign Metal Wire Closet 2-Tier Shelf Divider | 4. mDesign Plastic Divided Closet Storage Bin | 5. Household Essentials Small Drop Front Vision Storage Box | 6. 2-Tier Portable Adjustable Closet Hanger Rod | 7. Two Shelf Horizontal Cube Natural | 8. Stackable Fabric Closet Storage Organizer Box with Lid | 9. 5 Tier Pants Hanger Black with Natural Wood | 10. Simplify Under the Bed Storage Box Gray | 11. Stackable Connect Open Storage Cube | 12. Simplify Medium Storage Box Gray
Okay, I think we have a lot of good options here. I want #7 for the closet shelf, #1 and #10 for under the bed storage, and either #5, #8, or #12 for additional stackable closet storage (perhaps for shoes or sweatshirts). I am intrigued by #6, which essentially adds a second tier to your closet and I figure it could be great for hanging jeans and pants. My only worry is my closet doesn’t have enough space for it to be functional. #2 could be a good stand-alone drawer solution if I can actually fit it into the closet. But let’s keep in mind the budget is $150 so I’ll need to pick and choose which solutions are the best fit.
That’s enough about me. Now let’s move on to the rest of the team.
Hey all you out there, and welcome to the inside of my closet. Now let me preface with the fact that I consider myself a decently organized person, I like to set up systems but what happens is slowly and over time you collect more and more things and have less and less space. My ‘things’ seem to have gotten out of control in my closet, so it’s time for me to pare back and square up. So to give you a little backstory my boyfriend and I live in a 500 sq ft studio apartment and this closet is the only closet. So it needs to be incredibly hardworking. For example, our vacuum and a beautiful, ‘still-in box’ light fixture are both stored in the depths of this tiny room (feel free to play a game of ‘I spy’ in the photos below). There’s also some random record storage and a few other easter eggs you’ll notice, so, well, let me just show you:
Here she is, my bursting closet that once had all matching hangers and a place for everything. Well, that’s just not the case anymore so it’s time for a little closet refresh (especially for those janky bins at the top that I’ve had since, uh, my freshman year college dorm (HAHAHA)). First off: see that little white dresser in the bottom left corner? I found it via Facebook Marketplace the week we moved in here… $20 and a sketchy encounter later, we were very happy to have something to store our socks, undies, and bathing suits in…the drawers are a little small for 2 people, but it works totally fine. Behind that little dresser though, is where I’m hiding my shoe problem. Feast your eyes.
My Secret Shoe Hiding Spot
When you peel back the long dresses right here you’ll see my vacuum (spotted!) and a BUNCH of shoes that just don’t fit in here. Some of these I don’t even wear anymore, so it’s time to pair back and donate so I’m not afraid of going back there anymore…
The Hook Situation
Onto the hook problem. We used to have 2 hooks hanging here: 1 for bags and things, and the other for laundry. The laundry hook just could not support weeks worth of 2 people’s dirty clothes (I’m being dramatic, we do laundry pretty often but still), so the hook finally burst off the wall and now our hamper is currently residing on the floor in a laundry bag (it drives me nuts). So, that’s the main problem I need to fix: some sort of more accessible/taller/skinnier/maybe hanging again laundry hamper.
The Bin Problem
Like I said, the bins are another major problem. Yes, they are from 2015, so no, they are not in the greatest shape. I need some better bins that will last (because clearly I never rebuy them), that are also tall enough to hold these massive stacks of clothing (and my sweatshirt bin is getting out of hand, I know). I’d also love to put some shelves above the bins so I can store our big ‘weekender’ type duffle bags that are currently laying on the floor. The question is do I do one shelf or 2?? And lastly, I need to pair back on the clothes I don’t wear very often and then grab some new black hangers to match (bc matching hangers make me feel like 1 million bucks).
I’m Sorry Is That Record Storage??
Yes. Yes, it is. I don’t mind our records living here (there’s truly nowhere else for them to go) and they don’t get damaged by sunlight or anything since they’re tucked away. If I can think of a better solution for where they go or how to store them I will, but for now, I’m working around the records 🙂 So there’s the explanation of what I wanna accomplish, let me know if you have any products or insightful ideas for any of those things!! I’d love some advice!!! THANKS FOR READING!
- Fabric Storage Bin | 2. Storage Cube | 3. Wooden All Purpose Storage | 4. Pull Out Laundry Hamper |5. Leather Handle Storage Cube | 6. Laundry Hamper
Welcome to my “not terrible but also not great” main closet.
At first glance, no one (at least I don’t think) is saying, “Jess, what is HAPPENING here?? Get your life together lady!” I mean I’ve spent years ensuring that all my hangers are the slim fit velvet ones, the clothes are practically color-coordinated, but it’s just not functioning great beyond that.
The Shoes Need HELP
When I first looked at this apartment, this closet was one of many selling points. A huge part was the built-in shoe storage. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Gone would be the days of the ever so charming insufficient shoe rack. I don’t want to speak out of turn but I don’t think I personally know anyone that only has ten pairs of shoes (the average floor shoe rack allowance). So yes, this was a dream. But look at this sad state. My shoes should be living their best shelf life, but instead, I’ve just started to stack. I need to do a little purge and get this situation handled.
Don’t worry, I see that miscellaneous mess too…I’ll get to that.
Wasted, Underused Space
Yes, that bin holds all of my delicates, pajamas, belts, sweatpants, etc. I currently don’t have a dresser so this is my current solution…that’s not working. I want to get a small cubby unit so I can easily find what I’m looking for and look better. A fun issue is it can’t be taller than 27″ and not too wide since I want to be able to slide my suitcase next to it.
Total Random Dissaray!
Here’s where my actual dissatisfaction lies. Again, not horrible but man it could be SO MUCH better. You may have caught at the beginning that this is my “main” closet. I actually have three in total which is crazy. I’ve never had this much storage. But each closet has, let’s say, unique challenges. So I’m really trying to figure out how I can best utilize each closet and what’s in it. I mean why are there solar outdoor string lights, TWO giant lampshades (their bases don’t exist), a Daffy Duck baseball hat from the early ’90s, and the majority of my office supplies in my main “getting dressed” closet? My purses and scarves for sure should be in my second closet where the bins are annoying high to reach so I never wear/use them… *palm to face*
So purging, reorganizing, and honestly just making it look better with some new bins and a deep clean is my plan. The only tricky part is that while special features, like ample shoe storage, are amazing, unique closets also come with unique measurements. So many of the cute bins I was looking at were either too big or way too small. Looking at you 13″ compatible Target collection. My heart hurts for the cute options that will never be.
1. Farmhouse Storage Cubes | 2. Twisted Paper Rope Basket | 3. 13″ 4-Cube Organizer Shelf | 4. 10pk Flocked Hangers | 5. Woven Felt Rectangular Basket | 6. Linen Woven Kiva Storage Cubes | 7. 4 Cube Decorative Bookshelf | 8. Felt Storage Baskets (set of 4) | 9. Woven Water Hyacinth Milk Crate
These are the top picks. Some I am ordering and testing out and others that I wish I could but the sizing just wasn’t right. I’m going more neutral and textured since I’m not sure where my bedroom design is headed and I don’t want to have to rebuy. Maybe down the line, I might throw some paint and/wallpaper on this bad boy. Who knows what crazy things I might do!?
I just seriously can’t wait to have this closet looking really organized, easier to use, and $150 should be more than enough (she says with a tinge of fear in her voice) to make that happen.
It’s my first walk-in closet and it’s an utter disgrace. But remember we are only living here till May so engaging in making this space amazing is not something my brain, heart, or budget is willing to do. But could it be better for $150? YOU BET. I don’t have a dresser so this is where my t-shirts, athleisure, and unmentionables all live as well as blouses, sweaters, jeans, dresses, etc.
What we need here are drawers, but without them I have some ideas on how to make the monstrous stack on the shelf less terrifying and more functional. When we move to the farm I’m going to have a real seasonal system as we have those here (my former LA self – what is this “winter” you speak of? – My current Portland self – where is my fleece? No. Not that one, the other one?).
Without systems there is chaos, but it’s hard to prioritize when I literally only wear athleisure during the week due to my dog walking habits. So this challenge is a great inspiration to get more organized without investing in something that might not work in my closet later (hopefully I can put whatever I buy in our kids’ closets).
You are welcome for that image. Now show me yours, kay? 🙂
1. Hanging Fabric Storage Organizer | 2. Stackable Wood Storage Bin Natural | 3. 5 Tier Pants Hanger Black with Natural Wood | 4. Over The Door 26 Shelf Mesh Shoe Organizer
Alright folks. That’s all from team EHD. Caitlin is also joining in but has been stuck on the east coast so couldn’t take any photos. Her’s will be a fun surprise! Are you also on a journey to organize? Let us know in the comments and have a GREAT weekend. xx
Opener Image Credit: Design and Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Sara’s Closet Reveal – The Bold Design Moment She’s Been Craving
While I’m interested to see how you all get on, tbh this is a fascinating insight into the American Mind. The rest of the world is shuffling it’s feet and whispering to each other “Do they not know about wardrobes?”, “How do you explain ‘drawers’ to someone?” and “Maybe it’s illegal in the US to store clothing outside this one area”. In nearly all these before pictures there are piles of garments that properly belong in drawers (folded Marie Kondo style, if that’s your thing), yet only one of you seems to have thought of, well, getting a chest of drawers. For the budget allowed you could get two or three of them. Two of you talk about unsightly laundry, but don’t seem to have thought of having a nice-looking laundry basket with a lid that could be placed outside of the closet. You all talk about shoe storage yet only two of you have better shoe storage on your list, and even then it’s more boxes. Why not think about closed shoe cabinets that could fit outside the closet, even in a narrow hallway? Ikea, those crafty Scandinavian, no-shoes-indoors people have a ton of options. It looks like all… Read more »
I was thinking the exact same thing! Thank you for putting it into words in a funny and respectful way 🤗
No one of these look that bad to me … but I do think that bins are the enemy of everything. You cant see or choose in a tall pile of stacked stuff. Small dressers, tall skinny shelves and freestanding armoires, wardrobes would solve lots of these problems. You can easily get cheap ones from CL or something. Dressers/ skinny shelves can live in the closets, for underwear /t shirts /shoes /office items. I store office supplies, wrapping paper, string lights, off season sweaters in dressers and wardrobes. Big freestanding wardrobe/ armoires in rooms may seem scary but if they corral ALL clutter and its pretty they are a lifesavers. I had sheets and office supplies and sweaters in my mid century burl armoire and cleaning /plant/office/ hardware household stuff in my chinese armoire. They are like freestanding closets and you can style them to make ‘ ‘moments’. I highly recommend proper ( thrifted) furniture for proper closed storage. it eases my mind!
“No one of these look that bad to me” in fact, all of them are really bad and need more purging and organization more than extra storage products
Everythjng thag Sheherself said!💥
Considering almost all of these closets are in homes in LA (ie., smaller spaces), there might not be room for a separate wardrobe or chest of drawers outside of the closet, especially for those who live with partners who might have their own furniture or hobby supplies or bikes taking up valuable space! I hope someone (Emily in particular) surprises us with a secondhand-bought solution for either inside or outside the closet. I know Emily doesn’t want to buy furniture before moving to the farmhouse, but there are so many spaces between that house, the Victorian house, all of the storage/office areas, I’m sure a tasteful piece would find a home!
I mean, this is the thing. The price of square footage being what it is in LA a dresser that’s 4x3x2 or whatever has some pretty extreme hidden costs;).
This is exactly my issue thanks for addressing it! In my studio apartment, we’ve come up with boatloads of storage ideas (under the bed, dining benches with storage for our blankets and linens, and a hardworking credenza). There’s truly no other spot for more clothing storage in my space but if there was I would love a pretty wardrobe or armoire!
Yay someone said it! Dressers people, dressers! If you’re not willing to commit to a wardrobe/armoire, dressers come in all shapes and sizes. I got the four in our house at garage sales and vintage shops for $300 total, including two that were beautifully handmade by the man selling them 60 years later as he prepared to downsize and move to Florida. It’s like a bin or a basket, but one that lets you actually see your clothes and wear them!
Second all of this as a European now living in Canada. Closets were not a thing at all where I grew up, and all of our things were stored in wardrobes and dressers and it was a lot more functional and neat that any of these. I now have a closet but still have two dressers in my room that store everything that doesn’t need to be hung. My dressers are cute and not in my actual closet, and it’s very practical. Not sure why anyone would live with those awful rods when you could get a functional wardrobe from
Ikea for the same footprint.
I know, right? those rods never look good
You are making a lot of assumptions there. Most people have a dresser and chest with drawers, 2 nightstands, and a closet. Most people prefer to keep things on hangers and in a closet because it’s easier to see and you don’t have to iron it. Most people have a closet in an entryway too where they keep some coats and shoes. The problem could be that the closets are too small, and while they are awesome in general, they have doors, so doors and windows remove options of where to put dressers. Wardrobes typically make the room feel smaller and cramped, so they aren’t always desirable. Dressers also make the room cramped. Wooden wardrobes are typically more expensive. Ikea isn’t preferred here. Also a huge Ikea wardrobe might perhaps work better (if it even fits), but it is a bigger problem for those that rent and moves lot. You also can’t safely attach it to the wall without removing a baseboards and a quarter roll. And you can’t always do it in a rental. One of the reasons why the closets don’t have drawers or more shelving is due to cost. If you rent you might not have the… Read more »
Yeah, in earthquake country large armoires need to be bolted to the wall for safety.
I have armoires in my 100 year old bungalow. They don’t take up that much room and they add a strong, vertical element to the room. We have a 7′ wide armoire in a 10′ x 12′ bedroom. It has a mirror on the front of the 3′ wide middle section, which is for hanging clothes. The two smaller side areas have shelves for folded clothes or other storage. The mirror makes the armoire disappear in the room. It is placed opposite the windows wall in the room, so the mirror reflects lots of light into the room. The room feels bigger with the armoire in it than it did without it. Go figure. Same for chests of drawers, which generally are 42″ wide. I put tall mirrors on top of them and they also largely disappear in the room. This small bedroom has the armoire, a chest of drawers with a tall mirror, a double bed, a bedside table, a 30″ wide bookcase, and a small armchair. It’s small, but not claustrophobic. Guests love that room.
Yes many apartment buildings were built in the 1910s-40’s when people simply had less stuff. However ‘Wardrobes typically make the room feel smaller and cramped, so they aren’t always desirable. ‘ is an assumption itself . It may seem that is the case before you put them in but when you live with them wardrobes and armoires become strong vertical features as other posters said. And cute petite art deco inspired storage from the 30’s and 40’s, designed for smaller apartment living , is fairly plentiful in LA, a relic of the OG LA housing boom.
This is not an outside the USA thought. I reside in the USA and have a dresser, a laundry hamper, and used to have an ikea shoe cabinet before I moved to a house with adequate shoe storage.
Yes I really think most US residents have dressers, etc in their bedroom if those items can fit. And they are probably maxed out already. They are simply focusing on organizing their closets!
You definitely have a point, but there’s likely a reason more of this stuff doesn’t live outside the closet. As an American who rents in an older building, most of the bedrooms aren’t designed with room for dressers, vanities, or armoires. For perspective, when I moved in the leasing manager told me I was lucky because my unit has a bedroom big enough to fit a queen sized bed (and that’s WITHOUT any additional furniture, and there isn’t room to walk around the bed if the door is open because the door swing barely misses the bed). However, I do think that reconsidering where things live is really helpful. For instance, I keep my makeup and skincare at my desk in the living room instead of in my bathroom. It’s better for the products (not exposed to heat and humidity) and I can use my desk as a vanity before I start work. I keep my laundry hamper in a hall closet because I like changing clothes as soon as I get home, and then dirty clothes never even enter my bedroom. I definitely agree re: bins and I’m not sure why so many people think putting things in solid… Read more »
Maybe find out your organizing style before purchasing solutions. I recommend Cassandra Aarsen’s clutterbug test: https://clutterbug.me/what-clutterbug-are-you-test. Super helpful
I seriously wish I could reorganize all of your closets; I am a sucker for organization and before/afters. Very much looking forward to your afters! Here’s mine (in part).😬 Did I say I love organization?
This is a thing of beauty!
Ryann- I have returned bags of hangers to the dry cleaner before.
Me too. I return hangers as well as clear bags and safety pins to the dry cleaner. The dry cleaner has always been happy to receive the hangers but more recently even more so as the cost of hangers has increased a meaningful percent. Regarding the plastic bags, he reuses them as the outer layer when he has to double bag something.
Donate them to thrift stores??
I use mine as ‘wire’ and keep them in the garden shed. 🤣🤣
Yes! The dry cleaner is more than happy to recycle the hangers! The supply chain issues is affecting the hanger supply chain. Take them all back 😉
Yes, I give them back to the dry cleaner
YES! There was recently a post in our community that the dry cleaners could get new hangers because of supply chain issues. Most dry cleaners would LOVE to get their hangers back! Just call before you run them over to double check. (Ours was even taking non-dry cleaner type hangers at this point.)
Yes me too! I use an eco dry cleaner now and i bring my clothes on their hangers in a garment bag, and thats how they come back!
I can’t believe I’m weighing in (given the general state of disarray in my closet) but … acrylic shelf dividers have been game changers for me. Best of luck!
I prefer shelf dividers to bins for anything that I’ll be getting into regularly. We keep jeans, sweaters/sweatshirts, and long underwear on the shelf above the hanging clothes. First off, these dividers are a good 2-3″ taller than bins like the ones pictured above in multiple closets (which, I also have those bins but use them for other things). You really need the height for piles of sweaters and jeans, otherwise you only get a couple things stacked before it’s too tall and you need to start another stack. Secondly, I can adjust the space between the dividers to whatever I need as often as I need to. This was a real problem for me with bins. Some of my sweaters are warm but body-skimming, some are very chunky and wide. I either have wrong sized bins for one or the other, or I have to keep up with 2 bin sizes (like, if one gets torn or broken from a “helper” pulling it down and dropping it) and making them look good rather than messy. Having that one larger bin for chunky sweaters really bothered me to look at (I don’t know why, usually I don’t care) and definitely… Read more »
I would recommend first making a list as if you were going on vacation for 2 weeks – a month – think of the clothing categories you would bring with you, and then pull your favorite items from the closet to fill those categories. Anything not fitting into those categories needs to be either donated, sold, or packed away if you have space (but ideally you would find other homes for much of what you weren’t going to wear). I would bet that everyone who shared their closets also has enough in there to sell some of their clothes/items on postmark and use that money to buy better storage. I agree with the other commenter here that shoe storage elsewhere would be better, as would wardrobes when there is space. Also, the dry cleaners hangers could be donated to a local thrift store.
Ooooh…..Jenni….this is good!!
So what will you wear to a funeral, work, gym, etc? My vacation wardrobe definitively won’t cut it.
Oops! I guess I should have worded that better. I didn’t mean a literal vacation – what I meant by my comment was that if you were packing for your regular life like you would pack for a vacation, what would you need for two weeks to a month? It helps to make the list first before looking at anything in your closet. I did this with my kitchen when we packed it up this summer for a remodel and it was a game changer. I thought about the essentials of what I would need to cook for a family of six and packed up the rest. It was much easier to do this than to take each item and think about whether it sparked joy or not – that’s too emotionally exhausting. And surprisingly, I didn’t miss most of what I packed up. In fact, when I tried to move that stuff back into the kitchen once the cabinets were in I realized it wasn’t worth the space – I knew now that I wasn’t using it, just storing it. As for funeral outfits, etc. a few special outfits could be part of your list for occasions like that.
If I have to go to a funeral, I’m just gonna pull a Miranda, buy a sh*tty black dress, and then donate it.
You are your readers might find the yellow brick home laundry sorter DIY to be helpful, whether it goes inside a closet or elsewhere.
Remove the final “p” from the link or it will take you to the homepage.
“Can we give them back to the dry cleaner to recycle?”
No. At least our dry cleaner’s won’t recycle hangers. And I can’t STAND the plastic bags. But our dry cleaner WILL let us provide cloth bags w/ our own hangers! We bring our shirts in the fabric bags and wood hangers (pack from Ikea) to be cleaned, and they re-use the bag and hangers so no more plastic waste, no more hangers that CAN’T be recycled, no more plastic bags that CAN’T be recycled, and the bags look nice on a clothes rack! WIN/WIN!
In MD, and other states, there is actually a dry cleaner hanger shortage! So definitely ask your dry cleaner if they will take them back.
Yep! I bring my clothes to the dry cleaner on my hangers, and they give it back on the same hanger and add the little paper dry cleaner logo over it. Works wonderfully because it’s easy to recycle the paper part, and I don’t have to worry about disposing of the wire hanger.
There are some “second life” uses for the dry cleaning hangers – they are useful for cleaning hair out of drains (gag).
Mini wreaths! I use these every Christmas for greenery.
This is right on time as I’ve been staring at my closet all week and brainstorming different solutions.
Suggestion for Mallory: wall mount an over the door shoe rack (idea source: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CYeoi5zIyNV) where the bag hook is then get a proper standing hamper to live where the shoes are. Looking forward to seeing all the afters!
Great idea for her space!! Also, Mallory, I wouldn’t buy new hangers until you do your sort. It doesn’t look like you have that many unmatched hangers and a good goal might be to eliminate as much stuff as won’t fit on your existing black ones 🙂 just a thought/fun challenge!
yes I love this idea!! and that shoe rack is GENIUS…I’m rearranging as we speak!
This is great- but can y’all do bathroom and linen closets next! I am having the hardest time trying find cute ways to organize there and maximize space 🙂
Ryann – please show me a fantastic closet for $150!! We have the same closets and I just moved all my work clothes to a tiny room on the 2nd floor. Now random crap is thrown in my bedroom closet & it needs to be organized and pretty so my weekend clothes have someplace to live – thank you 🙂
I have always lived in old houses with tiny closets and so am in the habit of doing a seasonal trade out – out of season clothes go in the cedar chest or in the under bed storage. That also encourages me to get rid of stuff I no longer wear.
Same for me because I live in an area with four seasons. I store the non-seasonally appropriate items in bins in the basement, including shoes and boots. As a result, twice a year (Spring and Fall) I am forced to take an inventory, purge and organize. This means I can actually see and wear things that make sense for the next six months or so.
Yes this is the KEY to wardrobe sanity!
As someone also in CA with a similar LA climate, seasonal wardrobes don’t really exist because of the mild climate.
I love over-the-door anything, but I find the hardware is just too thick and makes doors ill-fitting, damages door frames, or makes the doors more difficult to open and close. Any suggestions for these issues? Great finds? Workarounds?
I have the same problem where the doors don’t close right. What I did was just nail the cloth shoe organizer right to the door, and put some command hooks thru the holes (where the over the door hangers used to go) for extra support.
I have always had tiny closets and insufficient dresser space. My solution for myself, husband and three kids? Use laundry baskets on the floor under your hanging items for t’s, sweatshirts, sweaters, jeans, etc. Stacking them on shelves never worked but the laundry baskets (longer ones so you can either file, or have two stacks) work really well.
Hi, I love this challenge! I need to do some serious rehauling of systems in the closet, too. I had an idea for Mallory, with two caveats. I use this over-the-door organizer with laundry bag in my daughter’s closet. I’ve had it for four years, it’s held up, and it was just what I needed to store socks and undies and also hold laundry. I noticed more recent reviews note some quality control issues, though. And on double-checking, Mallory’s closet looks like maybe it has a sliding rather than swinging door. But maybe someone else could use it!
Other commenters mentioned chests of drawers. I’m guessing the team all have chests in the rooms not the closets. Maybe it’d be useful for the readers also to see the chests, even if they’re not part of the challenge.
ah yes my door is sliding so we cant use that space!! Genius idea though and I appreciate the link!!
I love the black and white snake skin boots in two closets – where are they from? 😃
I feel like you all are putting the “failure” on yourselves instead of on the poorly designed, user-unfriendly closets. If it were me, I’d rip out the existing shelf (which is hung too low) and the rod and install a Rubbermaid or Closetmaid system. Elfa won’t be under $150, but these other budget systems are. I would also second another’s suggestions of those slim IKEA wall shoe bins, a standalone wardrobe, and maybe some hooks outside the closet, and maybe store seasonally inappropriate shoes somewhere else like under the bed. I’ve heard someone suggest storing all shoes and socks near the front door, where you use them. I have bought all the products shown here and they are like bandaids. To really treat your storage problems, you need to wipe the slate clean (install a system with a better layout). Am not trying to be discouraging. I think you guys are being too hard on yourselves and not hard enough on the American default builder-grade closet setup.
Very true. And let’s not forget the cost per square inch of housing on the West Coast
Totally agree about replacing the existing shelves/rods. First purge everything in your closet that you don’t need or want. Then rip out the terrible builder grade hardware and install hanging rods and shelves at more useful heights. Go to The Container Store’s website (container store.com) to get ideas. Don’t buy bins and organizers until you really understand what you need to store in the space. For Emily’s closet, if she moved all the low hanging items to the rod above, then she could easily put some kind of drawers below for undergarments, athletic wear, etc. I am coincidentally tackling my closet today and I’m starting with purging things section by section. Then I will reorganize based on what is left. It’s likely not a one day job, either, which is why people get stuck. Choose one section at a time to get rid of things and you won’t feel so overwhelmed. I will also say that I have used some of Marie Kondo’s folding techniques in my drawers and really find it works.
I’d also recommend the IKEA Boaxel closet system. I’ve installed it in three closets and I love it. It cost about $150-$200 a closet but if any of the renters have a landlord that would allow it, I think it’d be a way better use of your money than lots of random bins.
One of the best things we did when we did a total renovation on our condo was redoing the bedroom closets. Everything ripped out and solid wood shoe shelves, double hanging areas, shelves above the hanging clothes and shelves that fit the awkward little space on one side. So much more useful and practical.
I agree 100 percent. I inwardly groaned at the budget of $150. If we’re gonna do this project, let’s not throw good money after bad. Investing just a couple of hundred dollars more in a wall mounted organization system would be a night and day difference for most of these closets. Using every vertical inch is what matters, not a bin or riser. Buy once, buy right as Shavonda would say. That $150 will be a waste otherwise.
This! Especially is Ryann’s case, moving the shelf and pole up to fit a second pole would be so helpful!
Drawers are your friend! Like, way more than those two-faced bins that *look* like they’ll make you a chic master of order but actually just bury things so an excavation team is needed any time you remember there is something you might want to wear lurking in them. Usually a low dresser will fit fine under hanging shirts (less so under ball gowns and trench coats, so move those off to one side).
And shout-out to IKEA for a shoe game-changer in our house- they make little plastic thingies for 99c a piece that allow you to stack your pair neatly, which can double your storage. My husband has managed to keep his insane shoe collection neatly wrangled with these, which- lemme tell ya- is a ringing endorsement.
I guess the obvious for me is “live with less”. I am one of those unicorns that has fewer than 10 pairs of shoes. And I live basically by the “one in, one out” rule. We have the world’s tiniest closet and we share. We put a dresser in our laundry room to store seasonal items and my work clothes. We added a row of floor ceiling shelves across the short end of the closet for folded items. We can store way more on those shelves than what we could hang in the same space. But the over all key is fewer items. I change up my look with jewelry and scarves rather than new clothing. I’m a huge thrift store junky so my clothing changes frequently. I just donate frequently and never feel like I’m stuck wearing the same thing all the time. The exception is work out clothing. That stays the same. We do laundry often enough that I don’t need 7 pairs of workout pants or shirts or bras. I don’t understand people having giant piles of athleisure clothing. I really don’t. I’ve never once had a problem walking my 72 pound dog in whatever I’m already… Read more »
I also have an extra dresser (an old IKEA Hemnes from so long ago) in my laundry room for seasonal stuff! It keeps things so organized. And, yeah, I’ve had the same handful of workout clothes for 10+ years now.
Just adding that those fabric hanging shelves are designed by Satan himself and are a portal to Hell when attempting to use them.
Very true, I find they sag. And there is usually wasted space behind and in front of them.
Wow! Great comments by readers.
My suggestion double hung closet rods. I made my own with a closet rod cut to size, two eye bolts and chains with a twist open chain so you can fasten it to the existing rod above. You may have to raise your upper rod a few inches. You want enough room to hang your rod below. I looked up the info below.
(For a double-rod closet, the standard height of the top rod is 81.75 inches from the floor, and the standard height of the bottom rod is 40.5 inches. For a single-rod closet, the standard rod height is 66.5 inches. Double-rod closets are intended to be used for hanging shirts and pants, which are generally less than 40 inches long.)
Another point. What about searching for small dressers on Facebook Market place or thrift stores to serve as nightstands?
I love the Ikea shoe storage suggestions. And they hold a lot more than shoes. I have shoe cubbies in my closet and trade shoes out seasonally. Winter, booties. Summer, sandals.
Double-rod closet is a must!! Strangely, Emily’s closet had a rod up high which was empty. Sweatshirts don’t have to be folded on a shelf, they can be hung on hangers. Et, voila!
I just wanted to say it is so wonderful and refreshing to see real-life closets and have the EHD team show us how they plan to organize them. I am so tired of Instagram closets that are ENORMOUS and all of these influencers showing us how they “organized” them. If I had a closet the size of my son’s bedroom, it would probably be organized, too. Way to go Team EHD for very useful and relatable content!!! Looking forward to seeing the transformations.
Well said Kim! This is a super fun and relatable project.
Also thanks EHD for explaining re Caitlin, I was wondering where her part was! 🙂
So true! It’s wonderful, refreshing and relatable!
A chest of drawers is your friend! Sooo may of the items hung up, do not need to be hung, but rolled or carefully folded into a drawer. Drawers hold so much more. I use old metal hangers as wire and they l8ve in mh garden shed. Seriously. My mentee’s artwork is hung on metal hooks made from these wire hangers. I use them for all kinds of things! I just bought 3 packs of hangers as I’m about to redo my closet (we call them wardrobes in Australia). I bought stiff plastic ones that are soooo much stronger snd will, therefore, be used snd kadt much longer than tjose so-called “velvet” ones that bend too easily and are just spray on crap that wears off after a short while and will end up in landfill sometime too soon! Beware of extra cheap items that seem too good to be true. Mine were cheap at AU$10 a pack but immensely better quality than those flimsy black $7 ones recommended. Drawers…drawers…drawers. Finally…thin out the abundance. How about a how to do a capsule wardrobe post??? Looking forward to seeing the results of the challenge. (Is Caitlin’s missing coz she’s at her… Read more »
I love this. Love all the storage ideas, love the timely and relevant topic and love that everyone let us see their very real closets! I can’t wait to see the results. I just have to suggest that while I’m ride or die Target for life, I have been shook by the new Home Edit line at Wal Mart. Watching the Home Edit on Netflix was a gamechanger for me – I love that they don’t try to make everyone be minimalists, just have workable systems. They’re all about: it’s ok to have things! But I love their many organization solutions, but the cost of storage items can be so much! So when they came out with nice, acrylic five-piece sets for $25 … I found myself doing a Wal Mart pick up… and then two more. They’re labeled as “laundry” or “pantry” but save for a couple specific items (lazy Susan or three tier shelf), it could all be used and look so good in a closet! Or anywhere. Just putting it out there on this organization topic even though I never thought I’d be the lady hyping something at Wal Mart. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Home-Edit-5-Piece-Laundry-Edit-Plastic-Modular-Storage-System/700588651?gbraid=0AAAAADmfBIouMSb48DGwFtrEbe_PcNtxl&wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&wl13=1995&&adid=22222222228000000000&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=m&wl3=42423897272&wl4=aud-393207457166:pla-51320962143&wl5=9029401&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=local&wl12=700588651&veh=sem&gbraid=0AAAAADmfBIouMSb48DGwFtrEbe_PcNtxl&gclid=CjwKCAiA24SPBhB0EiwAjBgkhn03sLvfrcw3QKUAZ0NV_W8LGq77B_qtnCvUZWKHU22riMj5PcE9ahoCQwAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
All the organizational bins, bits and bobs are pointless unless you commit to using them. I just want to fold and stack Emily’s things, get everything hung properly on the hangers, get the hangers facing the same direction, group colors and styles … it feels like 70% of this issue is just a matter of taking care of her (beautiful! expensive!) clothes, not a matter of buying more stuff. That said, acrylic dividers work wonders — you can see what you have, and it’s easier to grab a pile than wrestle an unwieldy, heavy bin on the top shelf — and those velvet hangers save SO much space. Oh, and get a sturdy stepstool. Can’t take advantage of vertical space unless you can actually reach it!
I basically took it as visual proof that she’s living a full life, including parenting two young kids while working and participating in a giant remodeling project
Oh, absolutely! I can only imagine an Instagram-worthy closet is low on the priority list (fwiw, I moved recently and my closet was the last thing I tackled … until then I just closed the door and blissfully pretended the boxes didn’t exist). But for the purposes of this $150 challenge, I think it’s worth working with what ya got before buying any storage solutions that mayyyy not be solutions at all.
I practicing Feng shui, where clutter=chaos.
I first want them to PURGE all the excess.
When you are drowning in possessions, you’ll never feel like you have life under control.
Then you can organize what’s left-but you have to have a system of upkeep or it’ll look like this again in no time. Those fabric bins are ok if they have labels ( I use a few to store sheet sets on the top shelf of our closet) but if you really don’t know what’s in them after a while they are pointless.
We also do the one-in-one-our rule, and we NEVER buy more hangers ( unless one breaks) which means hubs and I each have a set of 50 ( it’s what came in the box). We share a dresser that holds underwear, grunge wear ( workout stuff, yard work/painting clothes) and PJs, all folded Marie Kondo style. THAT is a game changer for sure.
TL, DR: purge, get a dresser, fold ala Kondo, and commit to a set limit of items.
For the dry cleaner hangers, if you search ‘hanger stacker” you can find all sorts of racks to neatly organize your build-up of hangers until you’re ready to bring them back to the dry cleaner or drop off at recycling (if applicable) Amazon.com: White Hanger Caddy/Hanger Holder/Hanger Stacker/Hanger Organizer : Home & Kitchen
One option for Jess is to look at media storage. I have a similar issue with shallow, non-standard shelves that I’m using as my closet. Everything made for clothing is too big, expensive, or ugly. I ended up with Ikea Tjena boxes that are cheap and easy to transition to regular storage.
Loving this! Thank you and excited to see the outcomes…..
One major elephant in these closets – maybe y’all have too much clothes! I go through my closet at least every 6 months and get rid of stuff that’s stained or holey, and stuff I don’t wear. This is always hard because I like the stuff and I spent real money on it, but now letting it take up space in my life is not the solution. Donate it!) This has led me to stop buying stuff. Literally, just stop it. No one is looking to me for fashion tips. I can just wear what is comfortable and flattering, and when I find something that works for me, I get multiples. Off season stuff gets stored under the bed. No one needs more than 10 pairs of shoes.
Also, ELFA systems are on sale this month at Container Store.
Sorry this sounds so preachy. I’m a reformed clothes hoarder. Peace!
There aren’t enough off season clothes in LA to make a difference. Basically there’s the one puffy jacket and boots that you wear when you drive up to the snow.
Yes! Often you can return the hangers to the dry cleaner. Bags, not so much…but at least the hangers can be reused. Also, don’t we all LOVE a serious clean-out this time of year? Pop on a good Audible and enjoy!
Ryann, I am you when it comes to procrastination and deadlines and anxiety (throw some shame in there when I don’t address something for months…or years!), and something that was a game changer for me is bullet journaling. There is a whole world of how tos out there, but I just went with the actual bulletjournal.com version for my first to learn (you don’t need the book, just watch a 5 minute YouTube video then use the info in the journal as your guide)…I for sure still struggle with procrastination–I think it’s a temperament thing so always gonna be there–but having this system in place for my tasks has helped me finish soooo many things I put off without.
Acrylic shelf dividers work SO much better for me than bins!
Ryann! We just did a budget reorg on my teen daughter’s tiny narrow closet that had the exact configuration as yours. We made the world’s tiniest walk-in closet by removing the long hanging bar and stacking two bars going the short way, so you are facing them if you go in the door and turn to right. Then on the opposite short wall (to left of door), we put 10” deep x18” wide shelving. It works because the closet is 26” deep, so there’s still 8” between shelf edges and doorway, allowing one to walk in and stand between the shelves and the hanging bars. Since you have the garment rack in your room, you can just hang all your longer items there. We used the solid metal Elfa tray/shelves, and total was around $200, but you could do same thing with inexpensive brackets and wood. Also add a battery-operated LED light or two!
Love all the organization gadgets! But, may I gently suggest, you clean out your closets, and donate half of the stuff in them to charity. I see SOOO many shoes. Who really needs 20 pairs of shoes? Go to Banana Republic and get a Thred Up bag. You will get a credit for the clothes to be used at the line of Banana, Gap, Athleta, Old Navy stores. Then when you REALLY need something, you will have a credit to apply for something.
If the ceiling is high enough to allow it, add another hanging rod or shelf very close to the ceiling. I use my rod for off-season clothes that I only need to access a few times a year and don’t mind getting out the step-stool to reach. You can also hang purses from plant hooks on the ceiling.
Could Ryann look into installing a second, lower rod for folded pants? Maybe also a second shelf higher up, with shelf dividers instead of bins? She could hang shirts on the higher rod, then move long items like dresses to the external clothes rack. Keep a nice laundry basket with lid in a corner somewhere. Ideally, the luggage should be taken out of the closet, because it takes too much valuable storage space. Maybe use the shelves on the clothing rack for those bags, and figure out a wall mounted shoe storage solution.
Excellent idea, show us the way! And, YES your dry cleaner will take back your hangers. It saves them some money and it’s a great way to recycle and get rid of clutter. I’ve done it in multiple cities. I just took back the extra hangers I had and asked if they wanted them. It’s nice to be friends with your dry cleaner.
I just got these for my shelf that was full of different size shoe boxes and it looks way better and can even fit two pairs of sandals/flats: https://www.amazon.com/Storage-Plastic-Stackable-Organizer-Containers/dp/B08FRR2YSN?pd_rd_w=wK106&pf_rd_p=ee521540-07c2-4687-9605-13c98e32ab2c&pf_rd_r=6EJCBRPVBYMB3ZXSQ368&pd_rd_r=b4e2e42e-5d49-48e9-bd25-320016693ecb&pd_rd_wg=sDb4y&pd_rd_i=B08FRR2YSN&psc=1&ref_=pd_bap_d_rp_15_t
I also have a fabric hanging shelf from my sweaters, it gets stored in the summer because I don’t need it as much. Woven baskets can snag clothes, so be careful what you put in those. I don’t like fabric bins because you can’t see what’s inside and they can get heavy and annoying to pull down.
Wow! This was stunning. Very brave of y’all — and empowering for the rest of us who’ve been feeling embarrassed about our closets. Still organizing after a major move, I found three badly needed things here SO EASILY.
Poking around the Container Store site last night, I found nothing, but thanks to you am on my way — all with items from Target. I’ll bookmark this for future use, too. Thanks!!
We have weekly dry cleaning also. Our dry cleaner accepts and recycles the hangers. But you could also have the shirts folded and boxed. You would eliminate the hanger and plastic bag issue – but of course you’d now have to deal with the box. Maybe the cleaner would take that back?
I have fewer than ten pairs of shoes! And I live in a place with seasons. Needing custom orthotics will whittle down your footwear options quickly and with a little practice, not much, you’ll find that a pair of snow boots, a pair of leather boots, gym shoes, good supportive sandals, a foot-friendly pair of neutral dress shoes, a foot-friendly pair of neutral office shoes, and some casual sneakers will cover almost all bases. I save my old, worn out sneakers for yard work.
FYI – you can give those dry cleaning bags to your local pottery studio! They use them to wrap their clay to slow the drying process:)
I’ve also seen people use the bags to wrap baked goods for proofing. Can’t vouch for how sanitary that is (although I guess they only went over clean clothes?) but the proofing bag shouldn’t be touching the food itself anyway.
What a brave post! Haha! You know, I’m a Poshmark Ambassador. Would y’all like a guest post on how to sell your extra clothes on Poshmark? 🙂
I’m looking forward to these solutions! Can I give a shout out to IKEA for having the most affordable and useful range of organizing bins/boxes/baskets/closet hangers anywhere? Also, with respect, I hope you won’t mind if I ask that your blog be edited for grammar? The mistakes (particularly around pronouns) distract from the content. Thanks!
I’ve been banging that drum for a long time. In particular, the term ‘pair it back’ is used here fairly frequently.
‘Pare it back’ is correct.
LOL I have found my ( grammar) people! Thank you for this! I wanted to edit it as soon as I read it; that said, I made a mistake in my reply post and can’t edit so yeah-we all do it, but no one is paying me a salary to keep it squared away!
Return the dry cleaning hangers to the dry cleaners. I worked in one for years and we’d reuse them when people brought them back. Metal should be recyclable too (for those that are beyond saving).
I’ve always returned my wire hangers to the dry cleaners too. They have a box near the counter and they reused them. Now there’s a sign begging for them because supplies are almost non-existent because of covid bottlenecks.
I am going to vouch for the Target cubes (#2 in Mallory’s list) – I have them in several configurations and they are game changers. I have the ones with two shelves & the ones with two shelves and a cubby on top of my upper closet shelves for extra clothes/linen storage. I also have 3 of the ones with the shoe cubbies stacked on the floor of my walk-in closet for shoe & boot storage. They are heavy and sturdy AF – even though the price recently went up, they are a good value and not something that will likely need to be replaced anytime soon!
You need to go on Craiglist or Facebook and get yourself a cool old bureau or armoire or wardrobe. You can then put it in your master bedroom or wherever. aybe give it to your brother if its not needed in your new home. I have a children’s wardrobe in my son’s room. I also bought an english wardrobe that has a mirror on the front. I plan to put it in our family room. The mirror and dark wood is so warm on a cold winter’s night. It would fit in so nicely in your farmhouse. And, maybe Birdie could take it to her apartment someday. I love the many uses of a wardrobe.
I use my leftover dry cleaner hanger for t-shirts. I don’t care if they get stretched or have funny shoulder lumps, and I’m lucky enough to have a whole section of closet space to hang them. I’m retired now, so t-shirts are the vast majority of the clothes I wear. Especially with Covid!
I suggest you all check out The Organised Soprano on YouTube.
I can’t believe no one is using more hooks or an over the door pole addition?? Cubies are more usable than those cloth boxes, just put them facing out. multi pant hangers w slide on sides are usable for dresses too, and guys, ya need a little stool in your closet to utilize the height of closet. cubes work for shoes too, you can cut heavy cardboard to divide further, n contact paper it.. use hanging shoe bags for stockings and undies/socks it can hang BEHIND clothes to slide and grab ( or for shoes of course
I’ve also done double rods and then put a small rod at one end the width of the closet that crosses under the top rod for dresses., you lose a bit of the bottom rod but it facilitates the use of 2 rods. I also have baskets of shoes in my room w lid or a scarf. I use narrow 10′ elfa baskets 9 by 24for shoes and bootshol;ds lots of pairs, 10? and boots are not falling everywhere, 4-6 pairs.
ps. I have done 2 tiny homes and Had to be creative.( baking?) trays, letter baskets also work under furniture