on any given day, my closet is where you will find me planning my next outfit for my next blogpost. in the spirit of the new year, i’m going to walk you through my custom closet transformation and give you tips on how to perform a closet cleanse. last year, i renovated my closet and i want to take you through the journey step-by-step. i hope today’s post inspires you to start the year off right by going through your own closet and reorganizing and retooling it.
many of you have seen shots and glimpses of my closet over the years, but i thought you all would be interested in the transformation it underwent.
originally, my closet was just a room that opened to the adjoining bedroom. when we first moved into our house, we hired a contractor to enclose the room with drywall. we slapped a few coats of Dove Gray paint by Benjamin Moore. i lived with this closet for several years with IKEA shelving before I decided it was time to upgrade. i chose Inspired Closets Athens to lead the renovation, and boy oh boy am I ever glad I made the plunge. the storage space i gained with a customized closet is dramatic. here’s what the room looked like before Inspired Closets Athens made the transformation.
the first step towards a custom closet is the consultation with the designer who takes you through the design process step by step, asking key questions: how do i use my closet? what works and what doesn’t?
i was shown designs that connected back to my needs and wants, plus material and hardware samples. after that, a 3D rendering of my closet was sent for final approval. Inspired Closets Athens handled every detail of my closet installation from consultation to design to preparation to installation. they even provided storage racks and boxes to house my items while the custom cabinetry was installed. then the walls came tumbling down.
after teardown, we repainted the walls. i chose to give the closet a pop of color with Razzle Dazzle Pink on two walls.
after that, we installed customized cabinetry from Inspired Closets Athens.
i chose a Possini Flower Chandelier to replace the original light fixture. it gives the room a modern look.
this is what my custom closet looks like today. i love the antelope pattern we chose for the carpet installation. and an upholstered ottoman adds a touch of boutique style.
but the custom cabinetry and special amenities are what help me most on a day-to-day basis considering I’m a lifestyle blogger.
but guess who loves the closet more than me? Oscar and Ollie hang out here quite a bit.
since we’re on the subject of closets, i want to share my closet cleanse tips. twice a year, i ruthlessly purge my closet to keep my wardrobe streamlined and in tip-top condition for the upcoming season.
the first step for a clean sweep? dedicate an afternoon to your busy schedule to assess your closet and go through every item in your wardrobe. i know, i know: a million other priorities compete for space on your ever-expanding to-do list. who wants to sort through pencil skirts, cardigans, and that swoon-worthy dress found on the final sale rack. but I promise, devoting an afternoon to sort through your clothes is time well spent.
if you are like me, you’ll uncover old fashion mistakes made throughout the season, weight lost or gained (let’s face it ladies, weight fluctuates), or maybe, just maybe, it’s finally time to retire that beloved go-to blazer. (you know the one, it has a shiny sheen on the elbows due to years of love, but you’re reluctant to part ways.)
it isn’t easy to rid your closet of items that no longer fit or have sentimental value, especially when you’ve shelled out major cashola for the purchase in the first place. but keep calm and carry on.
since I am a bit of an organization addict—i’m a Virgo by birth and have a strong penchant towards planning and systematizing—i wanted to share my method for a wardrobe detox. whenever i sort through my closet i put on a great playlist— still loving the Doobie Brothers or Steely Dan—I pour a glass of wine and ask these three questions:
1. does this fit?
2. have i followed the ‘one year rule’? i.e., if i haven’t worn it in a year, it’s time to let it go. (ruthless, i know.)
3. is this item damaged, e.g., moth holes, broken zippers, pilling or missing buttons? or can it be repaired? having a great seamstress and shoe cobbler is a must.
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of the above questions, then it’s time to part ways. divide your clothes into three piles. sell, donate, and trash.
the items that make it to your sell pile are the ones that are either currently in style or gently used. it could even be a pair of brand new to-die-for jeans that were bought with the goal of losing five pounds. sigh. but take heart. these clothing items have the potential to make you a profit with little effort thanks to an emerging online marketplace for buying and selling clothes.
there are several marketplaces to choose from, all of which have a streamlined experience that makes it possible to list items, ship them out, and earn money or credit toward on-site purchases while sipping in your pajamas. how’s that for convenience? check out thredUP.
if by chance some of your unwanted items are still in good condition, consider donating them to a good cause. of course, Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army are always good reputable choices for your orphaned clothes. but there are other organizations that deserve and appreciate your contributions as well. personally, i love and support Dress for Success—a non-profit organization that addresses and fulfills the needs of low-income women who have left welfare and are interfacing with the challenges of the workforce.
but also consider local homeless shelters, specifically ones that cater to battered women. blogger The Midlife Fashionista opened a non-profit in the greater Boston area called Uncommon Threads. it’s mission is to empower women. trust me on this: it’s easier to let go of clothing when you know it is going to someone in need.
now onto the hard part. those items that can’t be repaired or have significant wear-and-tear must be tossed into the rubbish bin. i know it’s hard to say goodbye to your beloved LBD or your favorite graphic tee, but don’t let your emotions get the better of you. it must be thrown away. i repeat, the item must be thrown away.
it might take more than one try to get into the swing of downsizing your wardrobe, but the reward is a streamlined closet that makes getting dressed in the morning just that much easier, and maybe even fun. but you have to know what you own is working for you. after the closet purge is completed, it’s time to organize what’s left.
once you’ve purged your closet, it’s time to organize the remainder.
organize clothes by category—skirts, pants, sweaters, blouses, jeans—and arrange pieces by item and color so you can see exactly what you own. the same holds true for shoes. hang sleeveless dresses or shirts first, short sleeves second, and then long sleeves.
jeans, sweaters, scarves, lingerie are all items that I fold then stack on the shelf. arrange cedar strips or mothballs on your shelves to prevent moths from snacking on your cashmere or wool sweaters. jeans can be folded lengthwise and layered one on top of the other. same for chinos and leather leggings too.
lingerie is organized by color, size, and type. these are folded and tucked inside lingerie storage units. place a linen sachet inside for a special treat.
upgrade your hangers.
who else remembers the movie line, “no wire hangers!” well, we don’t have to be quite as obsessed as Joan Crawford, but I would advise upgrading your closet hangers. it’s a simple style trick that will extend the life of your clothes. And it gives uniformity. whether you prefer thin velvet hangers, Joy Mangano huggable hangers, or wood hangers, there is a hanger for you. don’t forget space-saving stackable skirt or pant hangers.
shoes, scarves, hats, and handbags.
store your shoes and handbags where you can see them. use clear shoe boxes or better yet store them on closet shelves or a bookcase. right toe out left toe-in is a space-saving technique. i like my handbags out of their dust bags and visible. “out of sight, out of mind happens” if I don’t! hatboxes are perfect for storing hats with the larger ones resting on top. scarves are color-coded, folded, and stacked.
alright, gang! happy organizing. and here are four more posts to help organize your wardrobe:
is the Founder and CEO of Style at a Certain Age. She writes Sundays-Fridays on all topics ranging from fashion, health, wellness, home design and more.
She’s 63, 5’8, and size 8.
Beth, I love your blog and your style! Would you consider doing a piece where you pull three “unworn in the past year” basic pieces that are still in good condition, and then showing several ways to style them? For example, a navy long sleeved cotton pullover sweater? I’d love to get inspiration to style these more “boring” basic pieces!
Michelle – check out Beth’s latest YouTube video. She did exactly that with a white shirt. It’s the start of a new series.
Hi Beth, This looks awesome! I am getting ready to do the same thing but I’ll install after the holidays when I have more time (I teach). I love how this turned out and will use your ruthless tips for organizing!
Your new closet space is fantastic! I will have to show the pictures to the Mister, even if only to convince him that my shoe collection is not excessive.
ha, ha! always happy to help.
I am checking out the thredUp site now! Do you have a ‘store’ there that I could search for?
lot’s of choices on thredUp from Old Navy to Christian Dior. the sky is the limit.
Hi Beth, as I was reading about your bi-annual closet purges, I had an idea. (Truthfully, I don’t know if it’s a good one or a stupid one! You decide.) Next time you purge, pull aside the clothes you are getting rid of and maybe write about why you thought they were a good purchase at the time and why with time and reflection, they turned out not to be as useful/flexible/wearable as you expected. Maybe that would be insightful? And maybe highlight one or two winners you rediscovered in your purge and style them? I desperately need to do a closet purge myself. LONG overdue!! Thanks for the process suggestions.
thanks for the suggestion, susan!
Love this idea!!
Another option for some things that make it to the rubbish pile is to consider if it can be repurposed in another way. There are people out there that will make handbags from a worn wool blazer, cosmetic bags from a pretty blouses that are no longer serviceable, natural fiber sweaters that the moths got can be felted and made into slipper socks.
Excellent post. Your old closet was lovely, but your new one is knocking it out of the park. Enjoy!
This a great idea. My spouse wears shirts until the elbows wear through then has the sleeves cut off to make short sleeve shirts then, when the seams start to tear, we finally get new shirts. His mother takes the full cotton cast offs and sews rice bags that can be heated in the microwave and used as heating pads. Nothing wasted. Me, I have 3 closets full of stuff I don’t remember and so I have repeats of several items. I need to learn to purge and to actually wear my clothes. I have trouble deciding what fits. I’m big busted so things never seem to look quite right.
How do you store long sweaters. They take up so much room folded and don’t fit in a drawer ( I don’t have shelves.). I have tried padded hangers but after a while they leave a mark on the shoulder area of the sweater.
long sweaters are folded in half then folded over a pants hangar. i never hang sweaters from the shoulder because it does leave a mark and tends to stretch out.
HURRAY!!! I was wondering when we were gonna get to see the new closet!! WOW – I love this Beth! I love the chandelier and carpeting the best I think! This was exciting for me and I especially loved the part of what you fold and how you fold them! I can’t wait to carve out some time and try your techniques. I need to desperately purge :/ Thank you for all your work – many of us wait everyday to see what you do next. OH, love, love, love all the new details and the new format of the blog too! Would love to maybe see more table scapes with your Fridays with Oscar and maybe ideas about decorating around the house with the changing of the seasons since you have a great sense of style!! Thanks again Beth!!
thanks for all of your suggestions, chris!
Hi Beth, what an excellent job they have done for you, very stylish and well organized. I wish we had room for something like that but nevertheless I like to organise and also colour organisation is key too, anything too make life easy. Oscar and Ollie look as though they approve as well xoxo
absolutely loved working with Inspired Closets of Athens. they made my life so much easier.
Another idea for protecting cashmere and wool that I have used is lavender sachets or some type of lavender fragrance in the drawers or on the shelving.
fabulous suggestion! lavender smells so much better than moth balls.
What a great project! You’re going to enjoy this for years to come. And so will Oscar and Ollie! So glad you did this. It will serve you well, I’m sure.
thanks, lisa. this closet just made my life (and job) so much easier.
Great closet! I have so many clothes, and I do go through them each season, but I admit they get squeezed in sometimes, because I don’t have as large a space as you do here. (My fear is the more space I have, the more likely I am to purchase more–you know, we fill a vacuum so quickly!) I do have things pretty well organized though, and a room upstairs has my off-season things sorted in it.
i bet your closet is in tip-top shape sue! i have a feeling you’re super organized.
Love your closet. Just like a cute boutique! Like you, I sort and purge twice a year…but not all at once. One afternoon. I usually do shoes and handbags. Then sweaters and scarves another. Then the pants, jeans another. I organize by color in the spring but by category in the fall.
breaking projects down can help especially if it’s a BIG project. great suggestion.
Love you in the color black and love your hair
thanks so much, jeanie!
WOW WOW WOW! I am drooling over your closet, both the before and after! You lucky lucky girl!
i am truly one lucky girl. absolutely love my closet. it makes my life so much easier to have everything organized.
WOW, what a closet! I thought your closet before was very nice; however, I would call this a room rather than a closet. Not sure how many people have the space for this.
this does happen to be a bedroom that i converted into a closet. but i’d venture to say many of the new homes have master closets of similar size.
I am also a virgo. I placed a door between two adjoining bedrooms to create a dressing room for both my husband and myself. Simply love it! It is efficient and systematic. Even my husband loves the system. I have categorised his outfits into group. When someone tells him that he looks good, quickly he replies “I am dressed by a beautiful blonde”. We have been married for fifty years and his eyesight is dim. Thanks for sharing your tips it allowed me to check and fine tune my dfressing room.
awww, just loved reading your comment, judith! and i highly doubt your husbands eyesight is dim.
Oh wow Beth the closet looks amazing ! What a marvelous and well deserved upgrade.
thanks, lorena! absolutely love the finished project. Inspired Closets did a bang up job.
May I ask how tall you are?
close to 5’8″
I love it !
Where do you keep your jewelry? I do see a row of bracelets, but nothing else on display.
I must keep my bracelets, necklaces, rings & so on out in the open, otherwise I just forget I have it. And then wear the same stuff over and over.
Just wondering why you must have chosen otherwise.
What a great job!
the top two drawers of the built-in dresser are jewelry drawers. it’s a space saver for sure and keeps me organized.
I have a large kitchen trash can (with lid) in my closet that I put clothes in throughout the season that I decide should be donated. Makes the purging easier at the end of the season.
great suggestions, deb! thanks for sharing.
A very timely post, I designed and reorganized my closet this weekend. Thanks for the great tips and a view of your closet! I like to do this at least once a year. I find it helpful to see some of my questionable choices so I can think through my future purchases. Love your blog.
so good to hear from you cathy! thanks for stopping by.
Just a tip of my own to pass on.
Lavender keeps moths away in the same way cedar/moth balls do.
I put loose lavender in organza bags that tie (you know the kinds used for wedding favors–sold at craft stores), loop them through hangers and in between sweaters.
A bonus: lavender has calming qualities. Smells wonderful
absolutely love your tip, kathleen. thanks so much for sharing.
Happy New Year, Beth! What is the best way to care for pullover sweaters? Should they be hung or folded? The shelf in my closet is way above my head and if I want to be really neat, I must stand on a stool, otherwise, I fold and toss. I want them to look fresh when I wear them and I need your help please. Have a great day!!
i always fold my sweaters. i know space can be tight but it’s so much better for knits to folded rather than hung.
make a comment