Why not have a closet that is functional and beautiful? Yes, I said that...beautiful. You can go all out and you don't have to consider what HE will think, after all, it's yours alone! Now, even if you have to share your digs with your man, you can still make it over and make it special. You don't have to have a giant, room-sized closet to make it fabulous. Think of your closet as another room in your house, except this little room doesn't have to match any other room. It can be your own special girl-cave, your little island of girliness in a sea of boys (wait, that's in my house, all boys over here except for me). Anyway, my point is you can do this...it's a small project with BIG dividends and it can be completed in one or two weekends depending on how much organization you need to do first.
I am going to show you actual photos of what my closet looked like BEFORE I completed the steps I am going to outline here for you. Are you sitting down? No? Well, you should be! Oh, and it might help if you go ahead and grab a glass of wine (and put it in a really pretty glass, ok?)...go ahead, I'll wait.
Ok, now that you're back and you've started drinking your wine, I'll reveal my before photos...Don't judge me!!
Ok, now I know what you are thinking..."Good God Diana! How could you find anything in that mess?" Or perhaps you are thinking I staged my closet to look worse than it really did for purposes of this post...sadly, NO! That is the ugly truth right there and also, I had no idea what I had in that hell hole. I just kept wearing the same outfits over and over because they were on top of the pile.
Believe it or not, even with a mess like the one above, you can get it organzied in a weekend. Not only that, by the time I have finished giving you the other parts I am going to do for this closet project, you can also completely redecorate the closet, including new paint and special touches I will show you later.
First things first...you must have a girlfriend come over to help you weed out what needs to go. A second opinion of the female persuasion is essential when completing this task. You CANNOT be objective about what looks good on you and what you MUST get rid of clothing wise. Your friend can help you pull outfits together with the seemingly random pieces in there and, if you choose wisely and get someone you know will be honest with you, you will be able to get rid of things that don't look good on you and that you will never lose enough weight to wear again anyway...cold hard truth here. I have been through it myself and trust me when I say, you are going to feel so much better when the closet is all cleaned and organized.
To complete the organization stage of this project, do the following:
1. Decide what color you are going to paint your closet. I like bright, saturated colors, so I chose Benjamin Moore's Bahamian Sea Blue. I have built in shelves in my closet, so I chose to paint two other colors inside the back of the shelves...a red and an orange because I liked how they looked with the main color. I chose to paint the main walls with an eggshell finish and the insides of the shelves in a semi-gloss. The color or colors you chose should make you feel good. They should be colors that look good on you as well. Buy enough paint to paint the closet. You want to have everything ready when you get started so you can do this all in one weekend if possible. Painting a closet only takes a couple of hours if you do your homework ahead of time and have things prepared...dropcloth, paint, tape if you need it, brushes, etc.
2. Completely empty your closet of everything and then clean the inside of your closet. Make any necessary repairs to shelves, etc.. There really isn't a bigger bummer than having your closet shelf collapse with all your stuff on it. This has happened to me and it is not fun. If you find something is pulling out of the wall, fix it. Home depot sells all sorts of fixtures for closets. If you can't figure it out, call in your man, he can probably do it. If that doesn't work, google it!
3. Paint the closet. Doing this first allows the walls time to dry while you are sorting through your things. You will notice in my photos that I painted some flowers at the top of my closet walls. I liked the idea of doing something really special. The flower design I painted was very simple and literally, anyone can do it. Remember the types of flowers you drew when you were a kid? That's what I did, I just made them big! It's just paint. If you don't like it, you can paint over it. I did sketch the flowers on the wall with a pencil first though to make sure I liked the placement. Don't try to be perfect...random looks great!
Also, I changed out the flourescent light fixture the builder installed in my closet with a chandelier that I found at Goodwill and spray painted red to match the new decor. I bought new shades and voila! Awesome light and beauty at the same time!
4. Separate items into piles, belts in one pile, shoes in another, blouses in another, etc.
5. Once you have your piles separated, start laying out items and inspecting them. If the item is worn out or hopelessly out of style, get rid of it. Donate it or place it in the garage sale stack or garbage, whatever is appropriate.
6. Work your way through each pile once keeping what you think you still can use.
7. Once that stage is complete, go back through the piles and start trying everything on. This part is crucial! If the item doesn't fit or doesn't look good on you (your friend will tell you) get rid of it!
8. After you have tried everything on, you should have smaller piles. Go back through the items and start pulling outfits together...pants, top, shoes, belt, handbag, the whole thing. This will also help you sort things and get rid of things you can't use with other things.
9. Figure out how many hangers you are going to need and purchase all the same hangers. I purchased white plastic ones from Walmart. They came in packs of 10 and were only a couple of dollars for each package. Retail hangers look nice too and you can purchase them in large lots on Ebay inexpensively, but make sure you know how many you're going to need so you can order them all at once and pay for shipping only once. This one change will have a major impact on how the finished closet will look! If you can't afford all new plastic or retail hangers, then at least make sure you are using all the same wire hangers. It is impossible to get a neat, organized look if your hangers are all different designs. Ok, enough about the hangers!
10. If the walls are dry (it takes about half a day) you can start placing your possessions back into the closet. Hang like items together. I separated my hanging rods so that pants and skirts are hanging on the bottom of one side of my closet and blouses and shirts are hanging above the pants. On the other side, I have longer dresses and coats. I have a special hanger for my belts that hangs on the rod with my blouses. I actually think this thing was designed to hang ties, but it works great for all of my belts.
11. Figure out if you have any "special needs." I have a lot of purses and shoes and not a lot of space. My ceilings are 10' high so the interior of my closet is very tall. My top shelf is about 7 feet high so there was still a lot of space above the two shelves and then there were the two walls that didn't have any shelves on the. On one of the shelves, I decided to place identical wicker baskets I purchased at TJ Maxx for about $8.00 each. These two baskets hold my smaller handbags and my larger, floppy ones and backpacks. On top of the other shelf, I hung a multi-pronged hook that I hang purses from and then on the rest of the shelf, I put things like boxes and hats that I don't wear often.
On the wall where the sliding doors are, I hung three hooks near the ceiling over the closet doors. I hang more of my purses from these hooks. All of these purses so near the ceiling would be a pain to get to, so I purchased one of those retail hook things that you see the girls in the stores use to grab a hanger from way up high. I purchased mine online for about $20. Here's a link to one just like mine.
On the wall across from the doors, I hung a hook up high and hung my bridal veil (I got rid of my dress during my reorganization. I knew I was never going to wear it again and I have two boys...that's all I'm going to say about that!) because it is pretty and I get to look at it every time I walk into my closet instead of it being tucked away inside a bag. I also needed a place to hang my necklaces, so I installed a towel bar to hang them on. It keeps them neat and untangled and also allows me to see all of them when I am trying to figure out which I want to wear.
My shoes were another problem. I don't have a lot of space for the shoes I have and I don't think I have all that many. I once purchased plastic shoe boxes and had them up on one of the shelves, but I couldn't see what was in the box and I found it to be a pain in the booty. I like to keep things simple, so I purchased a two drawer Sterilite organizer from Target. Here is a link to one just like mine, except mine is white. I placed most of my shoes that I don't wear often in the drawers. Yes, they get jumbled up and I have to reorganize them from time to time, but it works for me. My larger boots and shoes go under my hanging clothes and the shoes I wear all the time are just on my closet floor.
I am fortunate because I have a built in closet system. It came with my house and I really like it. My closet has two tall but narrow areas of shelves on each side of the closet next to the hanging rods. I use those shelves for many of my smaller items and things I need to get to, such as my small jewelry boxes and my gun safe (my husband and I are both cops...remember?)
To make the shelves look pretty, I simply wrapped them with beautiful drawer liner papers I purchased at the store. I used two different designs because I like to combine different looks, but you can use just one or more...whatevery YOU like! Drawer liner paper is heavier than wrapping paper so I think it works better. I just wrapped each shelf with paper like I was wrapping a present. I then used packing tape to secure it on the bottom. With the shelves that sit above eye level, I placed the taped side facing up so the bottom (which is visible) looks pretty. Once I had the shelves in place, in some of the cubbies I painted a flower, in some I hung a picture. I just did what I liked. There are no rules for this stuff, just do what makes you happy. I used this as an opportunity to display things I liked, but that didn't really have a place elsewhere in my house.
Speaking of displaying things, I also made a collage using a mirror frame I had on hand. The mirror for this antique frame had broken. I love the shape of the frame so I simply painted the frame and glued pretty paper to the wood on the back of the frame. I then hot-glued mementos and objects that I like onto the paper...
It was really important to me to put things in my closet that I liked to look at and that made me happy. Every time I go in it now, I get a big smile on my face. I think it's beautiful and I have a much easier time getting dressed now because I know what I have and I can find everything. I hope you will give this project a try...the payoff is more than worth the work!