This article, written by Caroline Eberly, appeared in the April 2011 “Bed and Bath” issue of Colorado Homes and Lifestyles Magazine.
1 ) First, put fashion forward. “What I see in a lot of closets is a mishmash of clothes,’ says Polly Lestikow, closet designer and president of Closet Factory Colorado, “because people don’t know what image they’re trying to portray.” Ask yourself what kind of image you want to create at work and in your casual life, then eliminate what doesn’t fit with that image.
2 ) A professional organizer can help you wade through the oftentimes paralyzing decisions about what can stay and what should go, says Laura Leist, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and author of Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home and Life. “Resist the urge to say, ‘I might wear that some day,’ or ‘that will fit after I lose 20 pounds.”
3 ) If you’re building or renovating a home, involve a professional closet designer from the get-go. He or she will be able to look at your blueprints and tell you if your architect has carved out enough closet space and if it flows well within your bedroom suite.
4 ) Most professionally designed closets are custom-fabricated off-site. That means you won’t have a carpenter tracking dust through your halls and you’ll have access to a whole portfolio of options beyond your standard builder-grade shelf and rod.
5 ) Decide if you’re going strictly utilitarian, lavishly ornate, or somewhere in between – and pinpoint your budget accordingly. (Lestikow has designed closets ranging from $800 to $50,000.)
6 ) Think about how you like your clothes presented: pants hanging straight or folded over? Sweaters in drawers or on padded hangers? Shoes tucked away or on display? These preferences will help your closet designer create a smart, efficient space that’s perfectly tailored to you and your wardrobe.
7 ) Follow the latest trend in closet design and opt for a space that acts like a full-fledged dressing room – with storage for everything you need to get ready for the day – and looks as beautiful as the rest of your home.
8 ) Have fun with “frosting.” Crown molding, jewelry drawers, furniture-like built-ins, belt and tie racks, ironing boards and mirror-encased cabinets are just a few of the extra touches that can take your closet from practical storage unit to luxurious haven.
9 ) Understand the payoff. “Being organized saves time. It provides peace of mind. It allows us to wear all the hats we have to wear,” Lestikow says. You won’t lose time trying to unearth your favorite sweater or spend money on duplicates of items you already own.
10 ) Once you get organized, stay organized. “Everyone’s definition of being organized is different,” Leist says, “whatever ideal you chose to create for yourself, you need to maintain what that is. It’s not good enough to go organize your closet; you have to do that maintenance, the follow-up work.”