Faced with an un­der-per­form­ing closet, one ur­ban cou­ple got se­ri­ous, pri­or­i­tiz­ing and dis­card­ing con­tents be­fore re­or­ga­niz­ing the space.


A busy cou­ple re­gain con­trol over a messy closet.


In­suf­fi­cient shoe stor­age and in­ef­fi­cient use of space led to dis­or­der.

The closet was stor­ing items other than cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories.

The own­ers were hold­ing onto rarely worn cloth­ing.


home­own­ers Joy and Chris turned to Cer­ti­fied Pro­fes­sional Or­ga­nizer Yvette Clay of Livin­gorder Austin (see bio in “Meet the Pros,” page 90). Af­ter as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion, Clay de­ter­mined the cou­ple had plenty of space but needed a ma­jor purge and ap­pro­pri­ate or­ga­niz­ing sys­tems.

Their main charge from her was to get rid of any­thing that wasn’t ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial or reg­u­larly used. Any re­main­ing items that weren’t cloth­ing or ac­ces­sories were des­ig­nated to be stored else­where in their town­house. “My rule of thumb is that if you can’t wear it on your body, it shouldn’t live in the closet,” Clay says.

op­po­site: Be­fore their closet makeover, Joy and Chris had to step over piles on the floor. above: Af­ter­ward, a sin­gle-hang rod re­mains on Chris’s side (on left), pro­vid­ing room for a ham­per be­low. New dou­ble-hang rods ac­com­mo­date Joy’s clothes, which she now or­ga­nizes by cat­e­gory (such as short-sleeve tops) and sorts by color within each cat­e­gory.

“I love the mix of dou­ble hang­ing and long hang­ing op­tions. No more wasted space!” — JOY, HOME­OWNER

To jump-start the cou­ple in what can be an over­whelm­ing en­deavor, Clay in­tro­duced her A-B-C-D pri­or­i­ti­za­tion con­cept, with A items be­ing those used most fre­quently and D items those used least or not at all. Af­ter thin­ning out and re­dis­tribut­ing mis­fit items, Joy and Chris took a true in­ven­tory of their be­long­ings and joined Clay in de­vis­ing a plan.

Clay de­ter­mined the sin­gle-hang rod on the short side of the closet could fit Chris’s items, which meant Joy could uti­lize the longer side and back wall. “One thing be­came quite ap­par­ent,” Joy says. “With more than 50 pairs of shoes and boots be­tween us, footwear stor­age was a big pri­or­ity.”

A new shoe tower on her side and two shoe shelves on Chris’s ad­dressed their needs per­fectly. Af­ter cal­cu­lat­ing the lin­ear footage of her long and short cloth­ing, Joy had the closet com­po­nents cut ac­cord­ingly to ac­com­mo­date dou­ble-hang rods on one side of the tower and sin­gle-hang for her dresses on the other.

The ex­ist­ing cubby unit stayed put, dis­play­ing and keep­ing hand­bags ac­ces­si­ble. Two cab­i­nets on top pro­vide con­ve­nient space for folded cloth­ing and al­low just enough room for the carry-on lug­gage Joy uses al­most weekly.

above: In a closet, ac­ces­si­bil­ity is para­mount. But hav­ing ev­ery­thing vis­i­ble can quickly look chaotic. Drawer space for sweaters and jeans was not avail­able else­where, so Joy added cabi­net units above the cub­bies to hide folded be­long­ings be­hind...

be­low: Be­fore the makeover, Joy had the right idea with this hard­work­ing cubby unit po­si­tioned be­hind the door. Clay helped Joy go a step fur­ther, by elim­i­nat­ing the use­less hang bar and or­ga­niz­ing the jumble of bags, books, and footwear.

“Clut­ter is post­poned de­ci­sions. Don’t put it down— put it away.”

above: Al­though an awk­ward shelf was re­placed with cab­i­nets, the mod­u­lar cubby unit stayed put. Can­vas draw­ers and bas­kets stow socks, in­ti­mates, and ac­ces­sories. One drawer, in­set, is for items to give away. When it gets full, Joy makes a trip to a...

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