Confession time: We love clothes. A little too much, perhaps—certainly more than our tiny closets (or lack thereof) can handle. The result: Our precious sartorial impulses are crammed into an overstuffed closet, our makeshift shoe racks are bending at the center, and our dresser drawers are barely closing. Sounds familiar? You, too, may be in need of a closet overhaul. Small-space living, especially in rentals, can be challenging on the storage side—you may be sharing a hallway closet with your roommate, or perhaps you have no closet at all. That is no reason to revert to college days and craft a rug made of clothes.
To solve our clothing-storage woes, we tapped organizational expert Amelia Meena of Appleshine. With years of experience as a professional lifestyle organizer in the tight quarters of Manhattan, we knew she would be a treasure trove of creative small-space solutions. For instance, did you know women typically wear only 10% of their wardrobe 99% of the time? We didn't, but now that we think about it—we're entirely guilty of this. Channel this newfound knowledge into organizing fuel, and follow these five simple steps to overhaul your bedroom into an ultra-organized space.
"Edit your clothes at the end of the season before you put them away," says Amelia Meena. Many people go by the six-month rule, which means they edit their clothes at the beginning of a season, but doing it at the end ensures you're not keeping things that you will likely never wear again for months. "Move out any items that weren't worn or have seen better days."
To declutter, Meena suggests the following method: "Take 15 minutes to quickly sort into three piles: yes, no, and maybe. Go with your gut, and be honest—if you haven't worn it recently (and it's not a special-occasion outfit), it's a no. Then, take the maybes and group them (tops, shorts, sweaters, etc.) and assess." If you find yourself looking at a freakishly large sweater collection, be honest with yourself: Which one do you really see yourself wearing again? Only keep the essentials you really love. Out with the old, in with the new.
For the things you do decide to keep season after season, utilize your underbed space for off-season clothing, suggests Meena. The space underneath your bed isn't easily accessible, but it does store a lot—use it for things you know you won't need until the next season rolls around.
"Make sure to store off-season items in clear storage boxes or zipper bags so you can tell what's inside," she says. "This is especially useful when you need a pair of shorts for that warm-weather escape come January."
Hanging versus folding clothes is a never-ending debate. Meena is a big proponent of the former because everything is on display. "Just don’t let a rod get too full—it only works if you keep the contents edited down enough to see what you have." For those who don't have a closet, a standing clothing rack can do the trick—after all, it's the number one accessory fashion girls love.
"Let your favorite clothes become artwork," she suggests. A hat collection can become a beautiful wall display, while open shelving can showcase your shoe collection. Using the back of a door is also useful for shoe or scarf storage.
Once you're ready to organize your wardrobe, Meena suggests categorizing tops by sleeve length and weight (sleeveless, short sleeves, long sleeves, collared, and sweaters), and bottoms by length and season (shorts, capris, lightweight pants, winter pants, short skirts, long skirts). Each group should then be organized by color, ranging from light to dark.
"When you put together an outfit, you should be able to browse all your tops at once, then pants, then jewelry, then shoes," she says. "If you have two areas (one closet in the room and another in the hall for example), make one your 'weekly uniform' closet for the clothes you wear most often—everything you need for an outfit should be in the same spot. The other closet can hold special-occasion, weekend wear, and workout clothes."
In a small space, one needs to get creative with storage solutions. Beyond the aforementioned under bed storage and clothing rack, Meena recommends investing in a few space-saving essentials that will maximize your storage space vertically: "A double-hang rod literally doubles your closet space," she says. "Open-canvas bins are great for top shelves because they're easy to pull down—use them for scarves, swimsuits, and other small accessories. It's all about using the space you have to store things creatively and seamlessly.
Over-door anything creates a new surface on which to store item: "Hang a hook on the front and a shoe rack on the back— anything to use the vertical surface)," she says. With these few simple tricks, your bedroom will be transformed from an organizer's nightmare into a chic, edited space.