Published: Friday, October 26, 2012 at 10:36 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 at 10:36 a.m.
For many couples in this age of downsizing, the days of his-and-hers closets may be over.
TIPS FOR A CLUTTER-FREE CLOSET
- Buy Something New, Toss Something Old: Linda Pufford of Organize With Divine Style in Santa Rosa recommends this wise rule to keep things in order after you've purged and organized. One for one keeps you from getting out of control again.
- Keep Like Things Together: Whether you choose boxes, baskets, bins or container drawers, keep like accessories together. For instance, don't mix your socks with your scarves or your belts with your underwear.
- Put the things you wear most often front and center or on top, says Pufford, so you can grab them quickly. “Nobody wants to dig.”
- Unless you have a big walk-in closet with an organizational system, keep only current-season clothing in your clothes closet. Right now pack your summer clothes away, keeping just a few items for those unseasonably warm days.
- Make it Easy to See Things: Putting a light in your closet can make it easier to find things. If you are short, keep a small stool in the closet to help you better utilize higher spaces.
- When divvying up space with a partner, start with 50-50 but then negotiate after you both have weeded out everything you don't routinely wear and decide who has the greatest need. Usually in male-female couples, it's the woman with more clothes. But Scott Roewer of Solutions by Scott in Washington, D.C., said he's had clients where the man needs more room, such as a recent couple he helped who are both lawyers. He was actively practicing and she was taking a career break to care for their kids. He needed far more room for his suits than she needed for her casual daily wearing.
- Don't cram everything into the closet. Particularly for accessories like scarves, jewelry and handbags, annex other places, said Roewer, such as a chest of drawers or even decoratively hanging things from hooks.
- Stack sweaters in small stacks and use dividers to keep the stacks from falling over.
- Don't create a system of boxes for shoes unless you're completely committed to it. Roewer says while it seems like a good idea and looks nice, many people are in too much of a hurry and wind up not using the boxes, leading to mess and clutter.
- Use unclaimed space on the back of the door for clear shoe pockets. But don't use them for shoes, which often don't fit well in the slips. Instead use it for pantyhose and other accessories.
- If you're going to invest more in a store-bought closet organization system, professional organizers favor the Elfa brand systems, commonly available at places like The Container Store. They find it more durable and functional than other systems and relatively easy to install yourself.
What: Conference of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers
When: Nov. 2 and 3
Where: Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel, 3555 Round Barn Blvd., Santa Rosa.
Keynote Speaker: Celebrity organizer Julia Morgenstern, author of books “Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life,” and “Organizing from the Inside Out.”
Friday: “Wardrobe Wisdom; Every Day, Every Way, Every Woman,” with Scott Roewer of Solutions by Scott in Washington, D.C., and Geralin Thomas, of Metropolitan Organizing. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. followed by an author panel discussion and a reception. $99.
Saturday: In addition to professional development sessions, there will be general-interest workshops on Eco-Friendly Organizing Practices, Clearing Mental Clutter to Make Organizing Easier, How Technology Can Fix One of the Major Causes of Clutter, Hoarding, Effective Photo Organizing, Helping Couples Meet Organizing Goals, Organizing Using Feng Shui. Cost is $415 and includes Friday events.
To Register: On site or napo-sfba.org. Registration opens at 7 a.m. Saturday.
If you share space with a significant other in an older house, in all likelihood you're both crammed into a single clothes closet, wrestling for hanger space. And the divide is not always clear. One partner may start encroaching on the other's space. Over time, a clothes closet can become so crammed it's hard to see what you have, and clothes can get wrinkled, damaged or “lost.”
The soution, professional organizers say, begins with a hard purge and negotiation.
“It's really about coming to grips with the volumes of stuff people accumulate,” said Kathleen Crombie, an Oakland-based organizer who helps people all over the Bay Area wrestle with their mess. “And it's one of the biggest obstacles for most people, making decisions.”
It is possible, however, for couples to find peace around their respective stuff.
“Most folks don't utilize closets very efficiently. So we try to help them understand the things they use on a consistent basis should be closer and easily accessible,” she said.
Crombie will lead a workshop on “Helping Couples Meet Their Organizing Goals” when the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers — the second largest chapter in the U.S. — converges on Santa Rosa Nov. 2 and 3 for a regional conference.
While geared to organizing professionals, the conference also is open to the general public. It includes sessions packed with tips to help people get control of their stuff.
There also will be sessions dealing with organizing photos, using technology to organize, eco-friendly organizing and feng shui.
And on Friday, Scott Roewer of Style for Hire, a network of personal stylists led by Stacy London of the TV show “What Not to Wear,” will co-lead a workshop on “Wardrobe Wisdom: Every Day, Every Way, Every Woman,” with tips on creating a closet filled with clothes you really will wear.
“You need to make your closet shoppable. Clothes need to hang freely,” he said. His rule of thumb? If you have to squeeze a hanger into the line-up, your closet is too full.
Crombie says that “containerizing” is one of the last steps in tackling a closet, no matter what you keep in it. The first step is the purge, with each partner ruthlessly evaluating every garment and accessory and tossing in a “give away” box anything that doesn't fit, is a duplicate, or that they haven't worn in a long time.
Sometimes it can be tough to let go of things. But one trick, says professional organizer Linda Pufford, of Organize With Divine Style in Santa Rosa, is to give everything a six-month reprieve. Hang all your fall and winter clothes backward. Then when you wear something, turn it around. At the end of six months, any garment on a hanger still backwards is just taking up precious real estate. Donate it, she said.
When it comes to apportioning space, Roewer always encourages couples to start with “50/50,” and renegotiate if necessary after removing everything that both partners don't wear on a daily basis. That means specialized sports clothing, hiking gear and really formal or special-occasion wear you may don once a year. Store all that in a guest closet, a trunk at the end of the bed or in a container under the bed, organizers say.
Crombie recommends removing everything from the closet and putting back in only clothing that fits and that you wear on a regular basis.
“I see a lot of stuffed animals, wedding dresses, ashes of loved ones,” she said. “We make jokes about bringing grandma out of the closet. I see paperwork, old bank statements.”
She likes organizing clothes in zones, starting with type of garment — shirts, slacks, skirts, jackets, dresses, all hung in a group. Then within those zones, it can be helpful to subgroup by color. Some people may want to take it further to subgroup by fabric. But some may want a different system altogether, such as putting entire outfits together.
Organizers love slim hangers covered in microfiber ($8 for a pack of 20 at Big Lots). Clothes won't slip off.
If you have a single long rod, you can maximize space without purchasing a costly closet organization system, with an inexpensive adapter. You can add a second rod that hooks onto your existing rod for a lower layer, handy for his-and-hers apportionment.
You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 521-5204.
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