10 Tips for Settling the Closet War

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10 Tips for Winning the Clothing War

Ample closet space is coveted by everyone. More often than not, we simply do not have enough space to store all of our belongings, namely, our clothes and shoes. It's bad enough for just one person, but if you've recently gotten married or moved in with your significant other, then you quickly realize how a lack of closet space can become a point of tension.

The fact is that many of us are packrats (But, I love these legwarmers!), overrunning our too-small closets with stuff we don't need and will never wear again. With just a little effort, however, you can make the most of your closet space. By following our 10 easy tips you can make peace with your closet once and for all.

Sort your Stuff

The first step to revamping your closet is getting rid of the stuff you don't wear anymore. This is something you have to be honest about! Just because you may wear those five-year old jeans someday are not grounds for keeping them. Here is a rule of thumb: if you haven't worn something in a year, toss it. For items you are on the fence about, start a "maybe" pile. If in a few months you find anything in this collection unworn, toss that too. Second-hand stores such as the Goodwill and The Salvation Army are happy to receive your neon splatter-painted sweaters, and may even come to you to pick them up. Your old clothes might even have some vintage value, so you might make a few bucks by posting them on eBay!

Store Your Stuff

Survey your closet. How much stuff in there do you wear consistently? Any seasonal garments, such as coats, sweaters, shorts and bathing suits can be stored elsewhere. As the weather starts to change, seal everything in plastic containers and chuck them under the bed (if there is any room) or in the garage. Next year, you may have to have some of these clothes cleaned or pressed before wearing, but at least they won't be in the way! This is another opportunity to throw stuff away. If you just can't see yourself wearing that sweater another season, dump it. No regrets!

There are a number of inexpensive storage options available from space saver bags to plastic storage boxes. The key is to be sure to get a good seal on whatever storage system you use to keep insects out during the warmer weather. If you use plastic storage boxes, you might consider running a bead of silicone caulk around the seal. It may seem like overkill, but silverfish and other insects are more clever and agile than we give them credit for.

Either way, before you go shopping for your storage solution, be sure to figure out where you plan to store them in advance so you can purchase the appropriate size. For example, if you have plenty of space available under your bed, make sure you measure the height so you can buy plastic boxes that will fit underneath.

Install a Closet System

Don't be afraid to give your closet a complete makeover. If it means ripping it out and starting anew, so be it! Consider building your own closet from scratch, and customizing it according to your needs. Nowadays, home furnishing stores such as IKEA and The Great Indoors sell closet kits with interchangeable elements. For example, if you can't resist a shoe sale then perhaps you need to plan for cubbyholes in lieu of an extra clothes rack. Maybe you prefer folded clothes to hanging ones, in which case you could install drawers. Browse catalogs and home improvement stores for ideas and styles to figure out what will work for your space.

Consider your layout by taking accurate measurements of your closet and then draw a few diagrams to determine what works best for you. Once you have decided on and purchased the pieces, carefully tear out any shelving in your existing closet and patch up any holes you make in the process. Be sure to give your walls a quick paint job and your carpet a thorough vacuum before installing your new system. On average, you should plan on spending at least a full weekend on a project of this scope especially if your new closet comes with many drawers or shelves.

Let There Be Light

Besides the fact that your closet may be overstuffed with ancient relics, you may not be able to find anything because it's too dark. Closet lighting is a novel concept, though is oftentimes overlooked. If your closet is too dark, consider installing a light in your closet. Even portable battery-powered lights are better than trying to find your most beloved blouse in the dark. If you have a light already installed make sure the bulb(s) wattage is appropriate for your closet size—obviously don't put a 100 watt bulb in a 60 watt light socket. You may also want to clean the fixture; if it is incredibly dusty or dirty you're probably not getting as much light as you could.

Avoid Unwanted Pests

Have you ever taken out your favorite item of clothing only to find it penetrated with dozens of tiny holes? Moths are often the culprit but mothballs are so your grandma's style, right? If you are gutting your old closet consider making the new one with cedar shelving. Cedar naturally repels moths but you must make sure your closet is sealed tightly as well. If you can't go with all-cedar closets try cedar chips or other repellents—they come in all forms—liners, sachets, etc. FYI: Cedar will only repel adult moths; larvae that are already there will not be affected. If moths are a serious problem in your climate store clothes in tightly-sealed plastic bags.

Silverfish are known to eat your favorite pictures as well as your favorite paperback books. If you have silverfish it often means that you have too much humidity. You may want to check your closet for leaks in the wall or ceiling. Seal off any potential entry points at the base of your closet by running a bead of caulk in any cracks and at the bottom of your baseboards.

Do Away with Wire Hangers

Just because the dry cleaner gives them out doesn't mean you should keep all of them. Get your head around the fact that wire hangers are a thing of the past. Multi-tiered hangers help to conserve space and organize your closet. Install hooks and racks for items you use often, such as coats and jackets. Wooden hangers add a touch of sophistication to your closet and retain the shape of your clothes better. Recycle wire hangers by returning them to your dry cleaner.

Think Outside the (Hat) Box

Are there any spare bedrooms or storage areas that you can transform into a closet? The attic, basement, or garage may be an unusual spot for clothes but desperate times call for desperate measures! If you do store clothes in an unusual place make sure they are well-protected. Places such as the attic and basement tend to be damp and could lead to mold and mildew growing on your clothes. Try sealing your garments in plastic or look into a closet system—such as a nylon zip-up—that will protect your belongings. (A few great storage bags can be found at containerstore.com, merchantamerica.com and comforthouse.com)

Freestanding Closets

If your closet is maxed out consider a freestanding closet in the form of a dresser or armoire. Your budget can determine the furniture's quality and decorative features. If you are feeling crafty try finding an old armoire to restore. Thrift stores and Craigslist.com carry all sorts of neglected furniture that has major potential with a little attention and TLC. Reline the drawers with new shelf paper and add dryer sheets to them to keep clothes smelling fresh.

Keep it Clean

Once you have put the time in organizing and possibly re-building your closet, maintain it with constant upkeep. Hopefully all the effort you put into this project will be a motivating factor! Make a place for everything: hats, shoes, dirty laundry, etc., and be mindful to keep things organized.

Knowing where everything is in your closet may get you out of the house earlier in the morning, meaning more time for you and less stress! After the clean out you may see that your closet is in need of a few updated pieces of clothing, giving you an excuse to hit the mall. Your new organized closet may spill out onto the rest of your life, you never know.

By the way, isn't it time you cleaned out the garage?

Related Links:
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