Mission: Possible

March 1, 2008 by  
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Clean That Closet Clutter

It’s packed to the brim with clothes, boxes, books and a random assortment of unexplainable junk. Delving into the closet to select your daily wardrobe has become more daunting than navigating morning traffic. It’s time to call in the experts. The Houston area is brimming with enthusiastic professionals who are passionate about organizing closets. With spring right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to start a fresh new relationship with your favorite walk-in.

Getting Started When it comes to organizing a cluttered closet, three important processes are on the list: purging, sorting/organizing and maintaining. The first step, purging, is the most important. It is also the most emotional because it involves deciding what stays and what goes. Organizers recommend that any item of clothing that is too small, too large or downright unflattering goes; only keep what fits and feels comfortable. They also warn not to hold onto items that “might fit” in the future. Remember this is a fresh start. If you’re not sure about a particular item, get rid of it if you haven’t worn it in a year. Once you decide what you are going to keep, try on every piece that survives the purging process. This small but crucial step will ensure that everything remaining in the closet is a perfect fit.

The future for your purged clothes depends on the garments themselves. High-quality items can be sold or consigned through resale shops; many pieces can be given to charity. The rest of the purged clothing, particularly any items that are stained, torn or threadbare, should be thrown away.

After the Purge Sorting, which involves arranging clothes by category, is the second major step to organizing an out-of-control closet. Rearrange your newly culled wardrobe into categories: pants, skirts and shirts (or any other grouping you choose). When each item has a spot in the closet, organize within that unit, putting certain colors or styles next to each other. Although there is no “right” way, the items should be organized in a manner that makes sense to you and allows for quick decision making.

After making decisions on your clothing, start organizing your accessories. Shoe, belt and tie racks, jewelry drawers and even hangers can make a huge difference in maintaining an orderly wardrobe. Julie Hibbs, president of the Houston chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers, says, “If you choose one [style of] hanger and stay with it, it will give your closet the overall appearance of being organized because everything sits at the same height.” Organizers typically recommend a system of racks and drawers as essential closet additions because they provide places to put every accessory, preventing future clutter. “I like to use the elfa® line from The Container Store,” says Karon van Vuuren, a certified professional organizer. She is also familiar with many other lines and works with clients to select the best match for their space, storage needs, style and budget.

Maintaining Organization Once your clothes and accessories have been purged, sorted and organized, the final objective is to maintain your perfectly structured closet. As with any long-term goal, it takes commitment and determination to ensure old habits do not return. Here are some tips from Hibbs and van Vuuren to help you stay on track. • Put clothing back in its designated spot in the closet. • Put items that become worn out or ill-fitting directly in a donation box. When the box gets full, take it to a local charity. • Follow the one-item-in, one-item-out rule. If you buy something new, get rid of something old. That goes for anything: shoes, pants, shirts, etc. • Consistently track progress and evaluate your situation. It helps to meet with your professional organizer; they have tips and recommendations to keep your closet neat and tidy.

Controlling clutter can be easy to achieve; you may be surprised how simple steps can make a big difference. If you don’t want to do it alone, call a professional organizer. They have years of experience transforming big messes into systemized perfection. To find an organizer, Hibbs and van Vuuren recommend checking the NAPO Houston Web site at www.napohouston.com, where hundreds of professionals can be found.

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