Closet Organizer – where to start with de-cluttering

I was once a closet organizer full time.  When I was an image consultant, a stylist if you will, and it was part of my services. Now it’s one of the most requested items that my interior design clients ask for.  The thing about storage is that everyone needs it.  Sometimes this is because they don’t have any and realise their place looks messy, sometimes it’s because they ARE messy and aren’t utilising their current storage – and sometimes it’s they simply have too much stuff!

I saw an awful lot of wardrobes and an awful lot of storage issues when I was a stylist, and those issues still come up to this day.  Being a closet organizer was enlightening.  I found many things that shouldn’t even BE in wardrobes…such as lawnmowers and stag’s heads!

Those cases are down to lack of appropriate storage. But sometimes, it can just be down to sheer volume of items.  Mostly this is clothes, but hoarder personalities can’t resist hoarding other things too. So…how to tackle this issue? Let’s start with the clothes as that is essential to creating a calm bedroom and seems to be people’s number one gripe about bedroom storage.

Where should I start first?

To start, you need to have a cull.  By that, I mean you need to chuck away – but in an organised manner.  Do the easy things first.  If you know you have too many clothes and most don’t fit you, then tackle those things first.

Clothes should be put into FOUR categories.

1. Keep – this are items you need and want to keep (winter coats, summer bikins)

2. Repair/Clean – these are items that you want to keep, but need cleaning or repairing in order for you to use them (buttons put back on, hems resewn, dry cleaning to remove food stains etc)

3. Store Permanently – these are items you want to keep but that you no longer want to use (old school tie, vintage blouse your mother wore, skirt you loved that you now can’t get into)

4. Chuck – these are the items that need to leave your property urgently. They can be split into two catorgories: a) recycling or b) chucking away as rubbish.

When to do this:

The best time is when you change your clothes over from spring/summer to autumn/winter. Wait, what? You don’t? You have everything hanging up all the time?!

And THAT’S where you are going wrong.

By having everything hanging up or in a drawer to be looked at each day, your eye becomes bored and doesn’t see the possibilities anymore.  Instead you will wear the same things over and over because that’s what you are used to. Hence the term, ‘I have a full wardrobe but nothing to wear’.


So, let’s look at the steps you need to take..

Step By Step..

It should be fairly easy to get rid of the ‘Chuck’ items. Put them into bags and take them out of the house. Leave them there until you either take them (via the car perhaps) to the charity shop or until the rubbish bin men take them away to be recycled. Get them out of the property now. Be brutal. Get rid of these things. This is at the heart of being a closet organizer. You need to be ruthless – especially with yourself.

Store Permanently items should be put into boxes/bags and sealed. They are then put into an attic or other storage area that is not used, hard to get to, off site (if you have a storage unit elsewhere). These can be put in a car until you get there. But DON’T let them stay in their boxes in your bedroom. Move them out.

Repair/Clean should be dealt with right away. Take them to the cleaners, put them in the washing basket or put them somewhere where you will do the work (button sewing for example). If you are not going to do it, take it to the dry cleaners who will do it. Get it done. Now.

The Keep items are now all the items that you need to store effectively in your property. These should be divided into two seasons. Spring Summer and Autumn Winter.

You MUST put the summer stuff away if it is September. Likewise, if it’s March, put the winter things away. This includes, shoes, hats, swimwear, holiday wear, coats and jackets, skiwear, Christmas party dresses etc. Free your wardrobe and have only things that you are going to wear now hanging up and in your drawers.

I promise you, this will revolutionise your outlook on your clothes.  Every six months you’ll have a whole new wardrobe to play with as you won’t remember most of what you’ve stored and you won’t be bored with all of your clothes.

What to do when changing over your seasonal clothes

If you are moving from winter into spring, as we are now, take a good look at things that are in your wardrobe and whether you have worn them. Indeed, whether you actually LIKE them still! If you don’t like them or haven’t worn them, then send them to the ‘Chuck’ pile. Anything that has been worn and needs washing, do that now – ie, put them into the laundry basket. Fold everything else up and put them on the bed, ready to be boxed and stored for summer. These should be clean clothes, ironed and non ironed.

Next, go to your spring/summer wardrobe.


If you have items hanging up in another cupboard that are for warmer weather, that perhaps have been dry cleaned and so not folded, then move those into your wardrobe.  Next, go to your boxes or bags of spring and summer items.  Take things out one by one and evaluate whether you will wear these immediately or very soon (these will be Spring items, such as lightweight cardigans, long sleeve tops and slim fitting trousers).  Other items that are ‘summer’ items will shout out at you such as silk dresses, short sleeve tops or shorter skirts. Shorts and swimwear are obviously ‘holidaywear’ so these can come out and be put into drawers, ready for the summer sunshine. The spring items that can be hung up, should be hung in the wardrobe. Do not worry that they are creased. We will deal with the creases later.  However, if there are any items that could do with a dry clean or professional iron, then put those by your front door to take out of the house.

Once all your spring/summer clothes are out, you can pack all your autumn and winter things away in the empty boxes and bags. Put them or stack them away, just as your summer things were.

Tips to follow..

TIP ONE: Leave three outfits from the ‘old season’ still hanging up or accessible. You will need some cross over as the weather shifts its patterns.

TIP TWO: Leave one bag/box open and accessible so you can pack the items in the laundry away when they are dry.

You should now have your autumn and winter wardrobe put away (except for the crossover outfits) and your spring/summer wardrobe hanging up or in drawers, ready to be either ironed/steamed or worn.

I personally steam my items as they can remain hanging up and they don’t fester in an ironing pile. If you need a small hand held steamer head to my Resources page and grab one there.
So there you take on having a clear and functioning wardrobe and being the ultimate closet organizer.
Let me know how you get on!

Also in today’s podcast is Ask Belinda.  Lucy from New York asks ‘What equipment do you carry with you day to day?’.

Well Lucy, the main thing I take with me is my filofax (yes I am still old fashioned) and also my measuring tape. There are various other additions too so listen to the podcast and get the low down on what to keep with you and what to leave at home.

Happy designing!