You don't have to live in an old house or a small apartment to suffer from
closet deficit disorder -- although it does raise your risk. If you never seem
to have enough closet space, you may recognize symptoms such as these: avoiding
your closet; approaching your closet cautiously, grabbing what you need, and
quickly slamming the door to avoid the jungle within; or finding shoes jumbled
on the floor, clothes that have fallen off hangers, and belts and hats twisted
together in forsaken piles.
A cluttered, overstuffed closet can even be a safety hazard -- as anyone
who's opened the door and been bonked on the head by a falling box knows too
well. The answer, of course, is more closet space -- but how can you create it
without knocking down walls or moving to a new home? Here are some easy steps
to closet deficit relief:
By Diane Umansky
When many of us are peacefully slumbering, Paula McClure, the owner of a spa
in Dallas, is often jolted awake by what she refers to as her sleep
"The committee meets in my head at 3 a.m., and we run down a list of
problems: all the things I didn't get done that day, people I didn't call back,
decisions I'm worried about," she says.
The dark-of-the-night fretting may follow McClure into the daytime hours,
often making her feel emotionally paralyzed. "My...
Before you get started, take a good look at your closet. What is the
configuration? Could you be using the space, no matter how limited, more
Donna Smallin, who has written eight books on organizing and simplifying
life, says many people waste the space at the top of their closets, where they
can easily add another shelf or two. She advises those pressed for space to "go
vertical," pointing out that even if your new shelves are hard to reach, they
can be used to store items you don't use often, like dress shoes or clothes
that are out of season. (For help planning your dream closet, see the online
The next step is to go through your closet and ruthlessly purge the items
you don't use.
Smallin adheres to the maxim that if you haven't worn an item of clothing
for a year, give it away. "Identify the clothes you love, and get rid of
everything else," she says. "If you haven't worn something for a year, there's
something wrong -- it's not your style, or it doesn't fit right -- and there is
no point in holding onto it."
Kimberly Beyer, a professional organizer based in the San Francisco Bay
Area, agrees. Beyer often has to press her clients to get rid of clothing that
doesn't fit them anymore. "Our bodies change with time, and a lot of
people who've lost or gained weight hang on to clothes for years in case they
someday fit again," says Beyer. "I tell clients, 'If an item of clothing hasn't
fit for a year or more, you're probably never going to wear it. If you used to
be a size two and now you're a size eight, you're probably not going back
there. And if you used to be a size sixteen and now you're an eight, you
don't want to go back there!'"
Beyer also recommends getting rid of miscellaneous hangers. "If you hang all
your clothes on the same type of hanger, it streamlines your closet and makes
it easier to find what you're looking for," she points out. Beyer recommends
felt-covered hangers, which are thin and lightweight. Plus, the felt prevents
clothing from sliding off onto the floor.