I don't know what it is about the ringing in of a new year that always has me itching for a fresh start but 2015 is no different. The day the clock struck midnight I wanted to purge like a crazy woman and get rid of all the clutter we've accumulated over the past 365 days and living in this smallish apartment only made this desire ever more pressing come 12:01 January 1st. Did anyone feel this way too?
January may be coming to a close but I've been working hard to get this place back in tip-top organized shape! One of the hardest hit areas of our house over the last year was our itty bitty coat closet that sits right off the front entrance. See for yourself:
Neat and clean? Think again! Over the last year we really used and abused this space, so much so that it was literally bursting at the seams. It was filled to the brim with so much junk that every time we tried closing the door on all that chaos, the door would pop back open.
The closet is right inside the doorway and a space we utilize everyday so it was the perfect 1st project for the new year. Since space is so limited in our apartment and because my boyfriend has 80 jackets (someone please tell him we live in California, not the North Pole), I really needed to find some storage solutions that would make this space work better than it had in the past.
So last week I decided to get this closet in order and I couldn't be happier with the result! Read on to find out how I went from that disastrous before, to this beautiful, organized after:
One of the first things I do when tackling an organization project like this is to take note of the areas that are causing problems and preventing the space from being and staying organized. Even though this space is really small, it still had quite a few problem areas.
The first being the blue shoe box in the upper left hand corner of the closet. In it we keep shoe polishing supplies and while it definitely makes sense for this box to stay, having it stacked on top of those other containers made getting into the other boxes a hassle. The blue bin in the upper right hand corner of the closet held extra throw blankets and for a while keeping them here made sense but when I recently consolidated all our other blankets to the 2nd bedroom closet it no longer made sense to keep blankets here as well. The other 2 major issues with this this space was the hook rail we installed on the door of the closet. The hook rail has great potential but we were using it to hold too many bulky items that would be better suited elsewhere and I think this was a major contributing factor to the door not staying closed. The last problem area in this little closet was the mail bin we have shoved all the way in the back of the closet. It was too big, too heavy and it wasn't a great way to keep our mail or other paperwork organized.
After identifying all the problem areas, I always like to clear everything out of the space and start fresh. And when I say everything, I mean EV-ERY-THING! It really helps to see what you're working with and get a visual for how you can utilize a space better. Once I cleared everything away I started sorting through all the junk and made 3 piles...a pile to keep, a pile to donate, and a pile to trash. From this little closet I had one trash bag to donate and one trash bag to throw away. Crazy!! That's an insane amount of stuff shoved into a teeny tiny space!
Once I had sorted through all the contents I gave the closet a good scrub down, vacuum, and made a few cosmetic changes. We already had this hook rail from Ikea but I decided to give it a face lift with some leftover paint I already had on hand. Now we hang less bulky items here like our keys, scarves, umbrellas, and even my purse! Its a great little rail to unload all our items after just walking in the door. I also used the same paint to paint the edge and handles of the wicker basket that sits on the closet floor which I'll use to hold any items that I need to return or ship out. Something as simple as paint can breathe life into items you already own and make them feel new again and the best part is that it doesn't cost any money so long as you have the supplies on hand!
Another quick and easy fix for any closet is to change out your old plastic hangers. I've been slowly changing out all our plastic hangers over the last few years for these inexpensive ones from Ikea and they really just take any closet up a notch. They come in several great colors and every time I make a trip to Ikea, I grab a set or 2 so the conversion from cheap-o plastic hangers is a little easier on the wallet. As silly as it sounds, having matching hangers instantly and visually de-clutters even the messiest of closets.
To solve our mail issue, I added 2 wire baskets to the back of the door that I picked up from Home Goods and attached them using 3M Command Strips and Hooks. Paneled doors such as these are usually hollow so I couldn't use nails to hang up my baskets, plus these 3M Command Strips save you from having to patch any nail holes which makes them renter-friendly! And the best part about these hooks, is that even for a short girl like me, I'm able to grab top basket, bring it down to put what I need in it and hang it back up, no problem. When organizing closet spaces, don't forget to use the back of the door when you can! It's a great way to maximize space and clean up the clutter with some inexpensive baskets and hooks!
We now have a basket for incoming mail and one for outgoing mail. I printed up some simple labels on the computer, backed them on some fun scrapbook paper, ran them through my laminator (what, you don't have a laminator? Well...you really should! I use this inexpensive one I snagged at Target and it totally rocks!), hole punched them, and tied the on with some fun grey and white rope I found in the gift wrap section at Target.
Aren't these labels so cute? Super easy too and now there's no mistaking what goes where! Now all our mail has a fun and organized place to live and it doesn't have to hide in the depths of our closet like it did before! And while I was at it, I made labels for all the other containers too. The 2 clear bins now hold all our loose cords and chargers and emergency kit supplies like flashlights, batteries, tape, etc. Relocating the blankets in the blue bin made space to store all our reusable bags, lunch bags, and our shoe polishing supplies.
Total Project cost:
2 wire baskets from Home Goods - $9.00 ea - $18.00 total
2 sets of 3M Command Hooks - $3.49 ea - $7.00 total
Grey and white rope from Target - $2.99
Everything else - already owned
Project Grand Total - $28.00
And that's that, folks! What do you think? Do you have some closets that have seen better days? What have you done to contain the clutter?