Double master closet
A professional organizer overhauled my closet heres what happened mydomaine
Professional Closet Organizer

Professional Closet Organizer Professional Closet Organizer

Remember to choose a professional that has years of experience, lots of past projects to show you, glowing references, and most importantly, someone who you feel that you can get along with. For further closet inspiration read this Top 30 Walk-In Closet Ideas post.

Full disclosure: I normally swap my closets every season like a normal person. But between a few too many recent trips and a hectic work/life balance, there I was standing in front of my closet with my professional organizer staring at a collection of sandals and summer dresses. “All the bags and coats I actually wear frequently are actually hung on my barstools,” I hesitantly admitted. “I don’t remember the last time I wore the coats in my closet.” This was true. “So then you’re just keeping clutter,” she says. “First, you should keep it seasonal. Put your summer shoes away, and purge the ones you don’t wear. You have sandals front and center here—there’s no way you’re wearing them for a while.” I knew this was Closet Organizing 101—and yet by letting my closet go day after day, I had failed to realize the obvious: It was February, and I still hadn’t stored my summer clothes.

This scenario happens to us time and time again because we are not skilled in the trade of organizing. Professional organizers go through years of training and work experience in order to learn how to customize our wardrobe spaces into something functional and beautiful. They know the unique systems to put in place in order to get us organized, and they know the triggers that cause us to collect clutter—and how to beat those triggers.

“What are all these big totes?” she asked, referencing the two or three large tote bags taking over my top shelf. In all honesty, I couldn’t even remember their contents. So I pulled them down and looked inside—more totes! A veritable collection of reusable shopping bags I had amassed at a variety of events—none of which I had actually ever used. I knew they didn’t belong on my valuable shelf real estate.

A professional closet organizer could create this amazing modern closet for you. Image Source: LA Closet Design

If you have at least 12 inches of space between shelves, that’s an opportunity to add in an extra shelf for more storage. “Customize shelving to work for you and your things,” says professional organizer Jeni Aron of Clutter Cowgirl, “not the other way around.” If you have a lot of tall boots, move the shelves up so they fit. If you have mostly folded clothing move them down so the stacks don’t become unwieldy and topple over.

Hire a closet organizer that has years of experience and great references. Image Source: Murphy Co Design

The ultimate closet organizer is professional, kind, well-trained and there to educate you on how to achieve a more functional closet space.

“You should put your smaller bags—like clutches—inside bigger bags so it’s easier to store. There is nothing worse than storing a bag inside a storage product. Save some money and use the biggest bag you have to store all your other purses and clutches to keep them all contained in the same place.” While I really would have loved an entire closet section dedicated to shoes and bags, this would have to do for now. And for the number of times I used my evening bags, it actually ended up being a very clever (and space-saving) solution.

There are a lot of  questions to ask (see below for examples), but there are some basic questions that when asked will give you an idea if you’re hiring the right person. Essentially, closet organization is a very personal process—you don’t want just anybody digging through your personal belongings, so do a lot of inquiries before hiring.

With the amount of organizing and decluttering stories I had written, I thought I knew everything I needed to claim the title of most insanely organized wardrobe… I knew the KonMari folding method, I owned matching felt hangers, and I color-coded my clothes. But after months of shopping for the latest event, work function, or trip—it didn’t matter how many storage hacks I knew—the clutter behind my closet doors painted a different portrait.

Divide your closet into zones with a designated category for each: shoes here, accessories there, gym clothes there. “This forces your brain to make the connection quickly of where to find each item. And you’ll know exactly where to return it when you’re done,” says Aron. Reich suggests using drawer and shelf dividers along with closet rod organizers to arrange each of the zones.

” I absolutely cannot find anything to wear!”  Does this sound familiar? We stand there staring at a closet chock-full of clothes, shoes, scarves, ties and belts— yet we have nothing to wear. Wouldn’t it be amazing to just walk into your closet and easily find your favorite black pants and that perfect shirt to match—without a lot of stress or the time-suck of trying on one-thousand different outfits?

So I brought in the big guns. In this case, the ammunition to help me conquer the perfectly organized closet came in the form of a witty and charming (but slightly ruthless) home-staging expert and professional organizer named Tori Toth. A born-and-bred New Yorker, small-space living held no secrets for her. I was already doing a few things right, she told me, my pride momentarily restored: I hung my clothes by style, length, and color, all my hangers were nonslip, and I even had wire baskets to organize my winter accessories. As it turns out, I was doing everything else all wrong. You may think you’re a pro at organizing—but how much do you really know? Read Toth’s advice and find out.

A true professional organizer should be able to give you a pretty accurate price range before going into the project. Yes, there will be some unexpected costs that arise (as with all home projects), so have a little wiggle room in your  budget. Don’t forget— a closet organizer can help with not only your bedroom closet, but ALL the closets in your home.

This open and airy closet is very welcoming and well-designed. Image Source: Craig Alan Homes

“Matching hangers, shoe boxes, and containers will transform your closet visually and make you more motivated to maintain the space,” says Shearer. She also suggests having extra hangers on-hand at all times for new purchases or items that have just returned from the dry cleaner. This uniformity will eliminate visual clutter within the space, making it feel instantly neater, Reich says.

Lesson learned: There is something to be said about a clothing rod that actually has enough free space to let clothes fly across from one end to the other. Don’t overpack your closet, and keep it free of loose hangers.

After all, we hire professionals in numerous other aspects of our lives (such as professional trainers).  Why? Because they know the tips and tricks of their trade— they are experts.

Your first step should be to attempt to get organized on your own. Get three boxes and mark them— toss, donate, sell. When you feel yourself at a stand-still— hire a professional. They will step into your closet and  immediately know what systems and methods you need to get and stay organized. But first, let’s read more about the things we need to consider before hiring…

Allowing a complete stranger into one of the most personal rooms of your home can be intimidating, and it takes a pretty special person to be able to come into your home and tell you what you are doing wrong—without insulting you.

Feel free to move outside the confines of the closet walls. If you have a nearby nook or wall space, use it for added storage or set up a dressing area with a mirror and small table. If there are items that won’t fit in your closet or dresser, Reich suggests making use of under the bed storage as well.

As mentioned above, some of us are capable of getting organized on our own, yet fast-forward a few months later and once more we are staring at a messy unorganized closet, asking ourselves what happened to our clean closet and how did it get this way, again?

Explore More:Closet OrganizationProfessional OrganizerdeclutteringSmall Closet Orghanization IdeasSmall Closet Orghanization IdeasSmall SpacesTiny Closet

Opening Images: Justin Coit for Who What Wear and Shira Gill

Lesson learned: Keep tweaking the system. “That’s what most people do,” Toth told me during our meeting. “They put something somewhere and never go back to tweak the system.” Just like the old adage goes “The more you think you know, the less you know,” I realized that the best road to an ultra organized space is to know you’ve never really reached your destination and to keep striving to get there.

Full disclosure: I may have the world’s tiniest closet. Studio living is a fact of life in New York City, and the real estate gods did not grace me with the wardrobe square footage a woman really deserves. When I first moved into my “charming” (read: small) East Village apartment, I saw it as a challenge—it was the year of Marie Kondo, micro-living was the new buzzword, and my décor editor brain spun like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle in the making. I can do this. I can live in 280 square feet and have only one closet. 

A little pattern or texture (like a sheepskin rug) will instantly transform your storage space into a zone that you respect just as much as any other room in the house. Reich suggests adding a chandelier as well. “These small decorative touches will force you to keep that space in check so you can continue to enjoy it not just for storage, but for the esthetic pleasure it offers,” says Aron.

Lesson learned: Make a point to swap out your closet every six months and cut your clutter in half. If you haven’t worn something all season, don’t store it away. Toss it in the donate pile instead.

The organizer you hire should have years of experience under their belt. They should be able to provide numerous references and pictures of completed projects. Most importantly, you should hire the person that fits your personality the best.  It may sound silly, but you should hire the person that you like most—because honestly, no matter how much you may like them at the start, when they begin telling you to toss things, you will begin to dislike them.

The number one thing that a closet organizer can give you is peace of mind. It is very pacifying knowing that someone is in control of your messy situation and can help relieve your stress. Closet organizers can take our disorganized closet of chaos and turn it into a dreamy designer walk-in.  Today’s modern closet organizers are professional interior designers who literally think outside of the box; they know how to use space that you never imagined you had —coming up with amazing storage solutions that work.

“Hang clothes using simple systems that you can easily maintain for the long-term. Group all tops together, all pants together, all dresses together, and color-code each category,” says organizer Clea Shearer of The Home Edit. Aron suggests that you also break it up by season. “If there are six whole months when you’re not wearing a heavy wool skirt, that piece can be placed with her winter sisters in another spot.”

“I’ve tried the Marie Kondo folding method and found that it doesn’t work for me,” she says. “That’s not really the way we fold clothes to begin with—I find it’s an extra step. I like to organize in a way that I’m not taking all these extra steps. My thought process when I saw your closet was to put more of your sweaters and pants on the top shelf and section them off with shelf dividers—because these are taking up so much space on your rod. Many times sweaters and pants can eat up valuable rod space because they’re bulky hanging up. Plus, sweaters can get deformed if they are hung for long periods of time. Try folding your pants and sweaters on the shelf above the rod. This helps display the different items you have while being able to store more.” By the time I completed that step, I had over 30 hangers freed up on my clothing rod.

We hear you, how much is this magic going to cost?  We will get to the nitty gritty of cost in a minute, but if cost is a concern, then consider hiring a professional organizer to plan out the design and then leave you to implement it, saving you a lot of money, but adding to the time you will have to personally commit to the project.

My closet had become so dysfunctional that without even noticing, I had started to treat it as a faraway storage place. All my frequently used items (coats, jackets, shoes, and boots in particular) hung on the back of chairs or were tucked under an entryway bench. Why was I not using my closet? “First I think you need to make it a little prettier—maybe add removable wallpaper the back wall—it will make you want to look at your closet more and take care of it,” Toth says.

“So you hang everything, your sweaters and all of that,” she observed while looking through my clothes. While I knew that sweaters should really be folded and not hung, the lack of proper shelving made me revert back to my bad hanging habits. “I have some sweaters in my dresser,” I replied, but it’s also filled to the brim. Then, with pride, I added: “I used the KonMari method to fold my clothes in there to make more space.” This was true, and I actually truly enjoyed this clever folding hack that made finding things so much easier.

Some of us have life challenges that deter us from getting and staying organized, such as those with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), or those who have hoarding tendencies, and then some of us are just too busy and stressed to do it on our own. Professional organizers have skilled training in these life challenges—some organizers even have degrees in psychology and training in the behaviors of hoarding and ADHD.

She also recommended I use my entryway wall to hang a few hooks that could take the occasional overflow of winter scarves, coats, jackets, and hats.

If you only use the air mattress a few times a year, don’t stash it front and center in the linen closet. Aron says to tuck it—and other lesser-used items—away in the back or on a high shelf so you don’t have to maneuver around it when searching for those daily-used pieces.

Want more ideas to organize your own closet? These genius hacks from a celebrity closet designer will help.

Are you ready to dive in and get organized? What room of your home needs the help of a professional organizer?

While most organizers have a set rate of $55-$85 per hour, you must also consider the extra costs of the materials that will be needed to complete the project, and any possible hiring of outside contractors. Before beginning any closet remodel be sure to know all the costs up-front.

Lesson learned: Think outside the box of your closet rod, or even of your closet when organizing your wardrobe. If space is limited, certain items can also be stored in storage systems in adjacent rooms.

PinterestPhoto: Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

They can also design your closet into a room you will want to use. Essentially,  they can make your closet an extension of your home, mimicking the rest of your interior style. An organizer may find space to install that much-needed vanity, or elegant dressing room/sitting room, or a place to display all your luxury silk ties and leather purses. You will be surprised by the ingenious, inventive ideas these professionals can come up with.

“Your ‘main floor’ on the eye-level racks, rods, and shelves are where your everyday life occurs. So store clothing, shoes, and accessories here,” says Aron. “The upper shelves all the way to the ceiling act as your ‘attic’ where you should keep infrequently used pieces and mementos.”

Lesson learned: Clear up the gap between your shoes and your clothes. For me, that meant reducing my shoe collection by half and retracting my shoe rack to only tuck under the shorter clothing. A few pairs of tall boots filled the space under my dresses perfectly.

If there’s empty space, leave it! Don’t fill it with random items that don’t belong just because there’s room. Professional organizer Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants stresses that “the most important principle in closet organizing is to group like things together: Shirts with shirts, pants with pants.” That way, there’s no question about where to find those items when you need them.

Closet organizers can turn your unused closet space into an office. Image Source: Cathy Schwabear Architecture

“If you have limited closet space, a way to gain square footage is store away belongings that you won’t use for each season,” she says. “You can even store these items off-site to stay clutter free. Make sure to use clear plastic bins and label them so you can easily locate the items you have stored.”

Her next order of business: “You need a step ladder,” she told me while watching me struggling to grab items from the higher shelf. “Keep a small plastic one on a hook or on the side of your closet so you can easily pop it up and go.” Considering I most often use the nearest chair to grab hard to reach items—aka a desk chair on wheels—I had to agree. “When storing items above eye level, it’s important to have a convenient way to get to those items,” she says. “I recommend keeping an easy folding footstool that you can grab, use, and then store away between cabinets or hanging on a door.”

Here are some questions that you should ask your potential closet organizer:

Let’s look at more reasons why we should hire a professional closet organizer, and the things we should think about before hiring one: 

Ask lots of questions to be sure that you are hiring the best. Image Source: Planning and Building

Are you still standing there, staring at all the clothes in your closet wondering what to wear? Well, get going and begin  the search for a professional closet organizer.

Professional closet organizers can make your closet an extension of your home. Image Source: M House Inc

What are your areas of expertise?Are you certified?What training have you undergone?What supplies do you foresee this project needing?Will this project require an outside contractor?What is your fee structure?How long will this project take?What do I need to do with regard to this project?Do you have references and photos of past projects?

One of the simplest tricks she recommended turned out to be one of my favorites: Hang a hook on the inside of your door to keep unused hangers. “Hanging extra empty hangers on the rod that’s being used to display clothes can make it hard to rummage through the clothes. [Instead], use a large hook or nail to place the hangers on when not in use,” she said to me. As someone who’s always searching for the one empty black hanger in a sea of black clothing, I found this to be a deceptively simple yet brilliant solution. “What you can also do is hang a hook higher up on your door to keep your empty hangers; that way they don’t get lost on the rod. So whenever you use something, you just take the empty one out.”

Begin by allocating your goods into three boxes — toss, donate, sell. Once this is accomplished, start the search for the ultimate organizer in your home town.

Lesson learned: If you haven’t used a portion of your closet in a while, question what is stored there and how you can utilize the space better. 

Professional closet organizers are full of tips, unique methods and organizing systems that can help us get organized and, more importantly, stay organized. They are creative forces whose main goal is to make our lives function better.

Lesson learned: Fold your sweaters, especially the chunkier ones, because the thinner ones may end up getting lost in the pile. Do the same with pants and watch your hanging space multiply.

“You’re not really using your vertical space at all,” says Toth, taking a first glance at my closet. “Look at all that space up there.” She was right. If I was being honest, I couldn’t even remember the last time I used anything stored on the higher shelves of my closet. “You need to use your vertical space and get everything off the floor—shelving is great for that,” she told me. “A lot of people don’t notice the space up above their heads, and that’s crucial space to utilize.” She recommended I took advantage not only of the vertical space of my closet, but also of my high ceilings around the apartment by adding bookshelves with boxes for additional storage.

Professional closet organizers are full of unique methods to help you get your closet from packed to priceless. Hiring an organizer is like hiring a coach. They orchestrate ways to train you and help you excel at getting and staying organized.

“More importantly, the problem with having your shoes down below is that it gets covered by your clothes—it’s just too dark, and you forget about them. If you don’t have a light in your closet, you can just stick one in—especially on the sides and at the bottom where it gets dark.” Sconces would do the trick, but so would stick-on battery-operated lights. “If you can’t see it, how do you know it’s there?” she adds. “Many times closets don’t come equipped with a lighting source, so use a battery-operated light that sticks to the wall so you can finally see all those items you’ve been missing.”

Lesson learned: If you are using your vertical space correctly, you’ll need easy access—one that’s safe and easily tucked away. A foldable step stool hung on the side of your closet is the perfect accessory.

This closet would be lovely for those who prefer modern design. Image Source: Danenberg Design

Aron suggests tucking a slim stepladder along the closet wall so you can put things away immediately—“rather than getting sidetracked on your way to retrieve the ladder from some far off corner of the house,” she says. A stool with one or two steps should be all you need to access the highest corners of the space.

Pottery Barn Build Your Own Gabrielle System Components $19 $15

Lesson learned: It’s not because a surface in your closet isn’t made for storage that it shouldn’t be used as such. 

“You’re not utilizing your doors at all,” Toth also told me. “Whether it be with hooks, shelving, baskets, or pegboards, this will help keep smaller items visible. The back of a door is a sacred space that should be an extension of your storage plan.” Toth suggested hanging jewelry, shoe, or clutch organizers on the inside of the closet doors to maximize storage space. Alternatively, she recommended hanging a hamper for dirty clothes or a donation bin for quick editing.

Small SpacesFeb 2, 2017A Professional Organizer Overhauled My Closet—Here’s What Happened

If all else fails, she told me, a double rod could make space for more clothing—but only if the height allowed. “Expand your closet’s hanging space by using a double hang closet rod,” she said. “It hooks over your existing rod to hang underneath the clothes and provide more space. This again provides a way to customize the vertical space being used in your closet.” While I ultimately decided not to forgo my shoe rack to make way for a double rod, I knew that in a pinch, this solution could come in handy. Moreover, after going through all her other steps, I had brought the clothing on the main rod to a third of its original content. My top shelf was organized, and my shoes were neatly tucked away. It was as if my tiny closet had instantly tripled in size.

As with all professions, cost varies. There are numerous ways that fees/costs can be structured. Some professional organizers charge on an hourly basis, while others charge a set rate based on the immensity of the project.  With closet organization there are a lot of factors to consider: time, effort, cost, materials, etc…

Three pros share their keys to success. Implement these strategies at home to transform your closets.

Container Store Gunmetal 36-Pair Over the Door Shoe Rack $40

It is best to set-up consultations with a few organizers to give you a cost estimate of  your project. Begin your search by going to NAPO’s Directory where you can search for professionals in your local area (the NAPO directory covers 24 different countries).

It is possible to achieve and maintain an organized closet through the help of a professional closet organizer. While some of us can clean out the clutter in our closets on our own (maybe even make it look organized), but we seem to lack the skill(s) to make it stay that way.  This is why people need to hire a closet organizer.

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