Five years ago, the average American home had 300,000 items in it, according to the LA Times, and that number is unlikely to have changed since then. That makes having a proper storage area in your home absolutely essential. But just having that spare room is not enough. You also have to set it up in a way that doesn’t require you to throw away stuff that no longer sparks joy every few months. And this is where Melanie Fowler comes in.
The founder of Clos-ette has over 17 years of experience in designing and organizing closets and her client list is just as impressive (Beyonce, Jay Z, Sting, Eva Longoria). So if you are in a dire need to put some order in your walk-in closet, Fowler has a few pieces of advice for you.
First of all: get real.
“People are very disillusioned by how much they have versus how much space they have,” Fowler says. “I don't have a magic wand for square footage, so I can't increase the square footage.”
Start with “the inventory” as she calls it and edit it down. She suggests inviting a friend over for dinner and a glass of wine and “tell them to be brutal and ruthless with you.”
Nowadays, to avoid that step a lot of people prefer to rent storage space and just move their off-season clothes there but Fowler is against that and she has a point.
“If a client travels, we wouldn't necessarily say get rid of all your resort or your spring and summer wear because that client might be going to warm weather places and need access to it,” she says.
The secret to fitting everything in your closet is being smart about its design. The most common mistake Fowler sees in people’s closets is the misuse of space.
“Their hanging and their shelving aren’t adjusted correctly to fit their wardrobe. They put the hanging rod too low and the shelving above is not appropriate or they put the hanging rod too high, and there's all this unidentified space below,” she adds.
If you own a lot of pairs of shoes, Fowler recommends putting an additional pair of shoes behind the other one. Alternatively, if your shoe storage area is not deep enough for that, just put one toe forward and one heel forward. Believe it or not, this simple trick is actually going to save you some major space.
Another trick for utilizing your storage area wisely is to place larger bags or hats you don’t wear on a regular basis at the top or at the bottom of your closet.
“So not right in the center, taking up large linear footage,” Fowler says. “For clutches, we recommend either [storing them] in a drawer with an insert or in a cubby system. And then for small and medium stand-up bags, those should be on adjustable shelves or sliding door trays.”
Hanging as many pieces of clothing as possible will also not only save you some space but also allow you to see your garments much better. Just be careful with bulkier and heavier sweaters—those are better off folded.
Finally, if you end up hiring a specialist to help you organize your closets, take the time to go through the process with them.
Fowler says that understanding what it takes to get to the final result is essential to keeping your storage areas neat in the long run.
“It's almost like a new diet or exercise regimen,” she adds.