One of the curses of living in a small or poorly designed space is lack of storage. You can't live without stuff, and the older you get, the more stuff you accumulate. It's a fact of life.
If your belongings have started spilling out into your living space because you don't have any place to put them, then you really need to give your closets a makeover. Hey, it isn't your fault. With any luck, some planning and a few changes will net you some prime storage real estate and help you finally get organized.
Go Up, Not Out
Stand in your closet and look up. If you see empty space, you have an opportunity to take advantage of it with hanging racks, pegs or hooks. From pesky items, like scarves, to horizontally hung umbrellas, you can usually find a way to take advantage of closet space near the ceiling. If you're lucky, you may even be able to fit a couple of shallow wire shelves on the wall up there.
A space bag and your vacuum cleaner can reduce the volume of many of your bulky items, like blankets, winter coats and pillows. Just put articles in the bag and suction out the air. All the dead space between the folds will be eliminated. It'll save you precious inches and keep your gear safe from mold and mildew until you need it again.
Why use a tall shelf when a shorter one will do just fine? When you have shelves that you can customize, you might be able to salvage enough wall space for a whole new shelf. It might even justify a shopping trip to score some additional stuff. New shelf, new stuff, right? It's almost like it was meant to be.
If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, you may be able to split your wardrobe and store items in another location when you're not using them. It's not the most desirable solution because you'll have to switch out things a couple of times a year, but it's better than total chaos.
Yikes! Sometimes a worthy cause requires sacrifice. If you don't have enough room, something may have to go. Just think of it this way, if you haven't used that bowling ball, pair of mittens or electric blanket in a while, it may be time to share the bounty by donating to Goodwill or your local shelter. Someone will benefit from your generosity, and you can console yourself with the tax write-off.
Yes, wicker is always in -- the closet, that is. Wicker baskets are an inspired storage solution that will corral your small items and organize your larger ones. They'll streamline your shelves and liberate your floor space, too. If you don't remember the color of the carpet in your closet and your shelves are prone to occasional accessory avalanches, baskets will save the day.
You knew this part was inevitable: having to pull everything out, sort it into piles and put stuff into some logical order. Organization will help you maximize a small closet by encouraging you to keep like items together. When you start to see groups of things that just don't fit, you'll really be having an organizational aha moment -- say, like a group of seasonal shoes that could be stored in another room, a pile of purses that might work on hanging pegs or a bunch of leg warmers and shoulder pads that are in desperate need of recycling or tossing.
Over the door, on the floor, on hangers or under the bed, shoe racks can be lifesavers. If you love shoes (and who in their right mind doesn't love shoes?), then get a grip and put them somewhere safe and sane. Properly stored shoes will look better longer and you won't be wasting time with one shoe in your hand and the other, well, who knows where.
A Major Overhaul
There are lots of cool gadgets that can get your clothes and other items in order and keep them that way. From rotating tie organizers to modular wire-shelving that you can customize, the days of rigid, drab wooden closet shelves are over. The next time you visit your home improvement outlet, check out some flexible options. You may be able to redesign your entire closet in a weekend for less money than you think.
Layering is good for more than just hiding those extra pounds. When you use creative hanger solutions, like tiered hangers that let you stack clothes conveniently, you can sometimes double or even triple your useful space. OK, it doesn't work with everything, and you have to reprogram your brain to understand and use the system consistently, but when it works, it works really well. If the alternative is keeping things in a pile on the floor, tiered hangers and other hanger wizardry is a smart way to go.
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- Chatham Journal Weekly. "ShopSmart Shoe Poll Finds Women Own an Average of 19 Pairs of Shoes." 11/12/07. 3/25/10.http://www.chathamjournal.com/weekly/living/consumer/women-own-many-shoes-71112.shtml
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- Norris, Tameka. "How to Organize Small Spaces." 3/14/08. 3/22/10.http://furniture-for-small-spaces.com/organizing-small-spaces.html