If you've ever rediscovered a dress after it had been buried in the depths of your closet for months, you understand the importance of a well-organized dressing room. Not only does an organized closet make for a more visually appealing (and less stress-inducing) space, but it also makes getting dressed and ready more efficient. No one understands this better than Lisa Adams, celebrity closet designer and founder of LA Closet Design. Having designed dressing rooms for A-listers like Brad Goreski and Khloé Kardashian, she knows how to make a closet totally swoon-worthy.
You don't need a space the size of a celebrity closet to make yours look the part, either. We chatted with Adams about all things closet organization, for spaces big and small, and budgets to match, and no matter how much you own, how much space you have, or what your budget is, the rules of wardrobe storage are the same.
Mix High and Low Items
Having everything custom built is the dream, but not everyone has the luxury of space or budget, so Adams relies on a mix of high and low to achieve her signature luxe look. "For my celebrity and A-list clients, I like making their closets feel like a boutique space. I layer different fabrics and textures so it's not just cabinetry," she says. "For smaller budgets, I like using a mix of high and low. You may not have the luxury of doing everything custom, but you can mix and match shelves from IKEA or Home Depot with a custom vanity or shoe shelves."
Have a Place for Everything
No matter how big or small the closet space, Adams has one golden rule of organizing: Everything has its place. "That's my universal rule, especially in kids' spaces. You expect them to be organized, but if they don't know where to put things or shoes back, they can't learn," says the closet designer. "That's true for adults, also—if there's no dedicated space for that one thing, it tends to get put in a drawer or on the floor. With everything in its place, even if you're not an organized person, at least you know where things are supposed to go.
"People always want the beautiful, non-cluttered closet look, and you just can't have that if you're buying and not releasing," warns Adams. "As a general rule, it's important to purge, and not just once a year. I really encourage my clients to do it on a daily basis. If you pull something out and it doesn't fit or there's a stain on it—throw it out."
While purging your closet can feel like a daunting task, the closet designer has a trick to make it more manageable—do it with friends or professionals. "This goes even for me—I know what to do, but when it's your own things, it's always harder." She recommends asking somebody you trust to say no when you're holding on to things. Sometimes, you just need that voice of reason.
Know Your Preferred Organization Method
Having a closet filled with rods is great, unless you're a folder, and vice versa, so Adams recommends identifying your preferred organizational style. "If I'm designing a closet for clients, and they can say, 'I prefer to see everything hanging,' I build around that," she says.
Divide Your Drawers
For people who prefer having many drawers, Adams recommends a filing system. You can do custom partition inserts, or just get something simple from a place like Bed Bath & Beyond. But without organization inside the drawer, it's natural for things to become disorganized. "I don't like stacking clothes in drawers, because then, aside from the two top pieces, you never know what's on the bottom," Adams says. "I love organizing in a file from front to back so you can see everything."
The closet designer doesn't just like to organize big items, she is known to get really granular with even the smallest accessories. "We have an acrylic tray that can go into a drawer or on a nightstand and custom inserts that help organize jewelry and sunglasses," says Adams.
Build Around What You Own
You don't need to inherit a closet and move right in. If it's not the right space for you, it can lead to bad storage solutions. "I just revamped Brad Goreski's closet, and it's a prime example of somebody who had this system in his closet and moved right into it. Jackets didn't fit; they were dragging on the shelves. It doesn't occur to people that you can raise the rods or raise the shelves to accommodate what you have," Adams says.
To learn everything you need to know about the art of organizing your closet, order Adams's book, Closet Design Bible.