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Behind Closed Doors

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Bet you didn’t know the average American home actually has four closets, per a 2016 poll conducted by ClosetMaid. On the positive side, that’s plenty of storage space for most. But consider the caveats: per that same survey, the typical woman has 103 items in each closet, and at least once monthly 44 percent of people can’t locate an item in that space. One in four respondents believe their closet is unorganized.

Barbara Reich, author of “Secrets of an Organized Mom” (Atria Books, 2013), says it’s crucial to have an organized and efficient closet for several reasons.

“First, you waste time looking for things and waste money buying things you already have because you can’t find them,” Reich says. “Second, your brain is negatively impacted by clutter, which decreases productivity and creativity. And an organized closet minimizes stress.”

Bonnie Williams, renter of a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment with only two small closets, enlisted Reich to help her regain control over her expanding wardrobe and lack of storage options.

“Before, I had no real system of organization in place and was in constant disarray not knowing where my things were. Now, I have a place for everything, know exactly what I have and where it is, and don’t waste time looking for things,” says Williams, who designated closet no. 1 to coats, jackets, shoes and accessories and closet no. 2 to her hanging wardrobe.

Having a tidy closet allows everything inside it “to have a home so that it’s easier to put the items back into their home after use and be found again,” says Bridges Conner, a professional organizer in Phoenix, Ariz.

Want to conquer your closet and make it simpler to store and find your stuff therein? Follow these six expert tips:

1. Start from scratch and empty the area. “Everything in your space needs to come out so that you can get to the root of the problem,” Conner says.

2. Ditch anything you don’t need. “Most people who need to organize are holding on to too much junk. Throw away anything that’s trash, and sort and donate remaining undesirables to Goodwill,” says Jennifer Fisher, principal designer/founder of Austin, Texas-headquartered J.Fisher Interiors. “My rule is, if you haven’t used or worn it in a year, toss it.”

3. Group like items together. “For example, group all your sweaters together,” Reich says. “If it’s a utility closet, group things together like all the light bulbs or all the batteries.”

4. Sort further by sub-group. “You can further organize clothing categories by sleeve length and color – start by organizing long sleeve tops, then quarter, short and sleeveless,” Janet Bernstein, owner of The Organizing Professionals, LLC, in Philadelphia, says.

5. Invest in storage solution products. Consider a closet organizer kit or choose separate hanging rods, shelves, stacking or hanging cubbies, hooks and shoe caddies that hang over the back of the closet door. Measure carefully, and be sure to properly anchor and secure screws and parts into the wall. “Don’t purchase these products before decluttering,” Bernstein warns. Also, choose clear storage containers so that you can easily see what’s inside.

6. Arrange your items based on use. “What is used the most should be placed where it’s most accessible, while items not used on a regular basis can be stored up high or in less convenient locations,” Bridges says.

If you still lack order after these efforts, try utilizing other areas near the closet.

“Get ahold of under-the-bed storage boxes, a standing armoire for hanging clothes, and a dresser for folded clothes,” Reich says.

Lastly, adopt the right mindset to ensure a consistently spruce closet.

“If you think of your closet like a room, you’ll be more apt to keep it neat and organized,” Reich says.

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