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:
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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 efficiently?
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 tools below.)
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."