Conquer the Closet


by Richelle Kimble

Fresh air is breezing its way through windows, the sun is warming the kitchen and shining in the living room, and the scent of renewal is ever-present. It’s spring, and everything appears open, fresh and full of life. You hum through the hallway, making way to the bedroom closet to change clothes for a porch cocktail before dinner. You grab the knob, twist the handle, and peer into the darkness; everything is spring-ready except for your overflowing, unorganized and hysterical closet.

It’s time to organize!

Fortunately, sorting through the mess winter hibernation created and items hoarded year after year doesn’t have to be a solo job. Professional organizer Judy Warmington, co-founder of The Organizing Specialists along with Treva Berendes, began offering hands-on organizing in 1993. Since, The Organizing Specialists grew to a network of over 400 organizers in 31 states, all who are willing and ready to help raid your closet for springtime fortification.

Warmington kindly shared a heap of her closet-cleaning secrets so you can get started on your own. If it appears to be unproductive in that nothing is getting tossed and organizing isn’t improving, she suggests contacting one of her professionals to aid the process. It’s time to liven even the darkest corners of the home so you feel brightened and encouraged by your surroundings.

Why the closet?

You see this space every day. According to Warmington, it’s one of the most popular organizing requests her business receives. Why? Because we have a lot of them! Additionally, the closet is a fitting location for items to pile up due to neglect, attachment, and the simple fact that it is relatively unseen. Clothes, shoes, memorabilia, games and other objects are often stored, and those that were accidentally shoved to the back tend to remain unnoticed. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken with tidiness.

The Basics

“The biggest problem with closets? There is too much stuff,” Warmington said. “There are frequently too many items there, so we have to purge!”

Purging is critical to eliminating clutter and making a closet more accessible. Warmington suggests:

Be aware of the 20/80 rule. We put on 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. This means plenty can be removed.

Recognize when you’re suffering from the “someday syndrome.”
If you haven’t worn it in the past year, toss it.

Utilize the hanger-turning trick.
Turn the hanger of or create a new pile with each clothing item as you wear it. At the end of a season, view your wearing patterns. This will help you sort through the “someday” thoughts.

Rid items that don’t belong.
If it’s a bedroom closet, keep only personal items and clothing in it. Put the kids’ toys in the toy closet, and the magazines in the recycling bin.

Sort items
with four separate bags or boxes with the following labels: give away or sell, put away, throw away and store. While sorting, relocate the item if it doesn’t belong in the closet.

Keep a box under the bed
or nearby for future castoffs. When filled, donate it or sell it.

Use plastic hangers.
They separate better than cheap wire and will remain untangled (for the most part).

Designate a hanger color
to each person in the household for easy identification.

Store items elsewhere seasonally
if possible. Every new season as you’re replacing the clothes in your closet with new season items, sort through those things being removed and added to the space.


The biggest problem Warmington witnesses with clients is attachment. When an item brings back memories, has sentimental value or simply has been a part of your repertoire for extended time, it becomes difficult to separate from it. Warmington suggests getting in tune with the purging process by eliminating distractions and really connecting with the items as you sort. “Get in touch with what you’re feeling, and if it gives a negative vibe, get rid of it! It’s telling you something,” she said. If there are items you’re unsure about, place it in a separate box for a trial run. If it goes unmissed for weeks, then it may be time to separate with it.

Initiate Long-Term Organization

Closet spaces and shapes range dramatically, and often aren’t being used optimally. Warmington also suggests consulting a closet company, or a few, for multiple ideas. “It’s amazing how different companies will arrange the same space. Some are better than others, so get bids, estimates and designs from several companies,” she said.

If you’re uninterested in consulting a professional closet designer or builder, the following are basic ideas courtesy of Warmington:

• If the closet has a lot of vertical space and is relatively narrow, expand shelving up and keep a stool nearby.
• Utilize wall space. Hang belts or jewelry with knobs or nails for flat, undisruptive storage.
• Maximize floor space by placing shelving, cubbies, baskets or bins under clothing racks.
• Hang shoes on the inside of a door to create more floor space or available shelving.

As you’re going through this process, remember how freeing it will feel to remove clutter and unnecessary items from your life. Sometimes it’s a removed weight you didn’t even know existed! To learn more about The Organizing Specialists or to find an organizer near you,



When she’s not editing for WLM, Richelle enjoys exploring, traveling, writing, reading, cooking, learning and playing. Follow her for adventure inspiration: @thekleerlife




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