Thursday, April 12th, 2012
Do you ever find yourself uttering that classic phrase “I have nothing to wear!” when you stare into your jumbled closet? Perhaps the real problem is that you can’t FIND what you have and love amongst the chaos. Since I’ve probably read just about every column/ article/ book I’ve ever come across on the topic, let me share the top tips here and save you some time. Hopefully this will inspire you to get over your fear of the time commitment and effort to finally tackle the project. Remember the final reward: happiness when you look in your closest and drawers!
Have a good objective friend come over to help you in the purging decision making process.
We all make excuses why that top from 2006 could come back in style or will fit again after a more dedicated exercise routine. You need someone who can look you in the eye and objectively tell you to let it go because it will never come back in style in the exact same design. If it doesn’t fit NOW, why take up valuable real estate with wishes?
Divide clothes into these piles: Donate, Repair/Rework, Trash, and Makes Me Look Fabulous So It Stays.
Because really, why hold onto ANY clothes that don’t make us look fabulous?! My husband always preaches the value of a first impression as the reason you should always look put together because you never know who you are about to meet/ run into. (Though somehow trips to the hardware store on Saturdays seems to be the exemption to this rule in his mind.) I’m not the greatest at following through on this as “comfy” seems to be my first instinct when putting together an outfit, but I’m always trying to keep it in mind.
There will be some pieces that need a little tailoring repair or could fairly easily be reworked into a current and appropriate piece. Having a good tailor in your list of resources is key for this. I love NE Tailor on 22nd St & Johnson St in Northeast Minneapolis. I trusted him to tweak a Herve Leger dress, need I say more?
Oh, and get those Trash and Donation piles out of the house ASAP to prevent any second guessing.
Organize clothes and accessories by type and then by color.
Here you can see how a random assortment of clothing and accessories topples out of control on the left without structure. On the right, all clutch purses are grouped together (by type) then by color (wow, she has a whole shelf of gold clutches!). I like this solution for the always growing stacks of tote bags. Stacking them folded flat so that part of the design is easily visible and by stacking them this way you don’t have to try to keep them from flopping over as they would if stacked upright.
This is the key tip/rule as you start putting your clothes and accessories back into your closet after the big purge. It will make it easier to look at all your blouses and pick ONE and then look at your skirts all together and pick ONE. Now go to the Shapeware box or drawer and pick the appropriate piece for this outfit. Go to your jewelry area and pick a bracelet or two (depending on the look) and then earrings and a necklace from their zones. See how this sounds much less stressful?
But how do you organize all those pieces? Here are a few favorite organization examples for accessories to inspire you.
Let’s start with handbags. Here you can see how handbags that can stand on their own can sit on a shelf. Clutches are best stacked together since they are slim and when one is removed the rest won’t fall over much.
The larger handbags with unstructured bottoms do well hung from hooks. Don’t try to double up on hooks. It gets clunky when you try to grab one and inevitably both sets of handles won’t fit comfortably on the hook.
For my clutches I use a Real Simple Purse Organizer to take advantage of hanging space in my closet.
Since they are narrower than handbags they don’t get smooshed under the elastic bands and I can group a few similar clutches together in one section.
Depending upon the size of your jewelry collection and your organizational style (do you like to have everything out and visible at a glance or do you prefer it tucked away with easy access?) there are a number of different solutions.
You could hang necklaces from hooks on the wall and keep earrings and bracelets in an assortment of small bowls and dishes on the top of your dresser (top image). If you tend to wear a few pieces day after day, keeping them out with a few beautiful items might be sufficient (middle image). Or you could create a system of organized compartments in your drawers for each type of jewelry so they are organized and still accessible without sitting out and looking cluttered (which is how the first arrangement style would look to some people).
Here is an example of a vanity with clear organizers in the drawers to separate jewelry by type and style.
You can also see this style of organization in Gayle’s revamped closet design above. Notice that all her workout gear is grouped together (top right image) apart from general t-shirts and pants.
What do I use?
I like a mix of organization style 1 & 3. Key items out and visible, less frequently pieces organized in a closed drawer.
My favorite necklaces are out and visible (and organized by type) on this jewelry stand by Umbra.
My earrings are organized by type (studs, fancy long earrings for parties, hoops, blue earrings, brown earrings, etc.) in small bowls on top of my dresser for quick access in the morning. If I put the fancier items in a drawer I’d probably wear them less frequently. Seeing them out reminds me to wear something a little more punchy day to day.
The rest of my jewelry is either hanging on hooks on the inside of a door or in an assortment of small boxes and cutlery trays in a dresser drawer that was suddenly empty after a purge when we moved into our new house last year. I could eventually upgrade to prettier organization pieces, but they are pricey, and these work just fine. I like having the 2 cutlery trays stacked because I get more function out of the drawer depth.
Above: the drawer of necklaces, bracelets, pins and rings. Very special occasion pieces are kept in closed boxes.
Above: the lower cutlery tray of necklaces and bracelets.
If you collect shoes as works of art, perhaps displaying them in a case like this would allow you to appreciate their beauty even when you aren’t wearing them.
Is space limited? Utilize wall space by hanging them on the wall.
Is your collection substantial? Organize them by type in standardized boxes with photos on the front.
Do you store your shoes by the front door so you aren’t tracking dirt into the house? I loved this tradition in Japan, and since space is at a premium there, I frequently saw this style of shoe storage there. You can find these at the Container Store.
There are a million different styles of organization tools out there to suit your habits. The key is to purge to what you love and looks good on you first. Don’t buy any organization bins, etc until you’ve completed the purge and know what you REALLY have left. Be creative with what you already have and live with those solutions for a bit to see how they work before investing in more.
I hope this has helped demystify the process for you! And if you need help, don’t be afraid to email or call me!
1 & 2 & 7 – Oprah 3-12,
3, 5, 12 & 13 – Lucky 3-12
4 – Bed, Bath & Beyond
6 – Unknown
9, 10 & 11 – Fox Interiors
8 & 14 – Container Store
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Guess what arrived this week for our viewing pleasure? The new House Beautiful, and it’s their “The Ultimate Entertaining Issue.” I love to entertain and I think it’s fascinating how different people are comfortable throwing different types of parties. For instance, I enjoy a casual cocktail party with an open bar, a long counter covered with unfussy eats that will hold up at room temperature for hours. I’ve tried making fancy hors d’oeuvres or cooking up fresh pot stickers, but when people are milling around for hours time-sensitive food just doesn’t make sense. But if you have a cocktail party with a two hour window, go all out! In contrast, a dinner party for 10 requires a different plan, set up and thoughtful details like the seating arrangement (so the most talkative are across the middle of the table from each other so that everyone will feel involved in the conversation. Or put a quiet and talkative together, as long as they have plenty in common to carry them through the evening.)
Even if your are serving take-out on your best china, you will be spending time in the kitchen before the party begins. A beautiful kitchen makes the party prep more enjoyable. This kitchen has a great mix of rustic and refined elements. The old wood on the walls is all reclaimed as this house is actually brand new. The designer did a great job creating a space that feels like a really nice farm kitchen. The industrial scale faucet is an unexpected touch in this style kitchen, which is all the more reason to do it. And the butcher block counter under the window would make chopping up piles of vegetables so inviting. (But I find chopping up vegetables relaxing anyway, so maybe that’s just me.)
Creating a good impression when entertaining starts with the entry. This is a lovely, warm and inviting example. A nice place to sit down to take off your shoes. (I make my guests take off their shoes in the Japanese tradition. No high heel marks in the wood floors and no dirt tracked in.) The plant softens the space. I like that the rug doesn’t match the pattern on the sofa. It shows they aren’t afraid to be playful.
When entertaining, the front hall closet suddenly takes on importance because you need to fit your guests coats in it in addition to all the usual random items that are stuffed in there. These are a few good examples that highlight both good organization and use of color. I think wallpapering the bi-fold doors to blend in with the walls (bottom right photo) is a great idea for those less than fabulous doors.
Once your guests start arriving you might show them into your living room for some hors d’oeuvres. We don’t want them to get too comfortable and settled, so this living room strikes a nice balance. The beautiful vintage PK Sofa and Finn Juhl armchairs are approachable, so your guests won’t be afraid to take a seat and get conversations started, but they won’t be sinking in and getting lost in giant cushions either.
You might consider returning here after dinner to enjoy a nice fire in the real fireplace. The fireplace surround has such a clean minimal design that complements the furnishings.
An inviting dining area is important if you are hosting a sit-down dinner. This room emphasizes the fact that you don’t need a fancy space. The mix of chairs, worn wood, an old rug and lots of natural light makes me want to sit here for hours catching up with old friends. A couple of bottles of wine, a hearty bowl of soup, a rustic loaf of bread and some good cheeses are all you need for a dinner party.
After dinner you can retire to the library for a relaxing chat with your dearest. I love the mix of mid-century classics (the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen and the ubiquitous cowhide rug) and a sleek fireplace facade. The wraparound floating wood shelves update the library concept in a fresh way.
You’ve survived hosting a lovely party for your friends, so now it’s time to take care of yourself. Sink into a tub of lusciously scented warm water (bubbles optional). Enjoy a few more sips of wine (you don’t want the end of the last bottle to go to waste) with a truffle you kept hidden for your reward.
Now go curl up in that big bed and look forward to waking up tomorrow morning to a fresh new day in this soft and peaceful bedroom. (How fun is that sparkly stool next to the chair?! A great bench at the foot of the bed offers storage along with a place to throw your robe, extra blankets and throw pillows. I love that the bedside table has room for all the bedside necessities, with both open and closed storage options.)
Now you better start planning your next party so you can go through it all again.
Monday, January 4th, 2010
I’m an organizing nut and have been for years. I don’t believe that being organized means you have a minimalist looking home without piles. As long as the piles are a system that works for you, and you can easily access everything, that’s what’s important. My husband still thinks piles = mess, but it’s the way my brain works and he’s adjusted.
With the start of the new year, and fresh resolutions in many people’s minds, I figured I wasn’t the only one looking to purge and start fresh. So with that in mind, here are some inspiring images of organized homes, beautiful built-ins, and tidy spaces.
Some quick suggestions for lightening the load:
- Join a group like “freecycle” in your area to find a good home for your unwanted (but still in good shape) items. You’d be amazed at what people post! Craigslist also has a free items section.
- Donate items to Salvation Army or Goodwill
- Hospital waiting rooms could always use an infusion of magazines
Remember the cardinal organizing rule: get rid of the things you no longer need or use BEFORE buying new storage containers because you don’t know what you’ll need to store until you’ve completed the shedding process.
I like this room’s use of wall space over the TV for additional storage. Notice that the furniture is all at the kids’ scale, including the TV stand/storage piece.
I think the long bed made from two twin mattresses is a great design solution, whether it’s a big bed for one kid who likes to have sleepovers, or it could work as a guest room/den solution. The storage below the bed and on the wall takes advantage of often wasted spaces.
Entry ways are always a challenge, no matter how much space you can allocate to storage. I like this example’s mix of cubby sizes and use of baskets – 1 per family member or type of goods (ex. mittens and scarves vs. sports equipment) tends to work well.
A well organized pantry (and spice rack) is my idea of happiness! I love this creative use of a shallow space to create a lot of functional storage while utilizing an interesting old door to add personality to the room.
I hope these images have inspired you to add a little more organization to your life and home.